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ROLEX BLOG

The Best Big Face Watches – Ultimate Buying Guide

August 11, 2021

BY Paul Altieri

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When men’s wristwatches became popular with civilians after the First World War, the sizes of these timepieces were quite small by current standards. Even by the mid-20th century, men’s watches were typically in the 34mm to 36mm size range for dress watches, while sports and tool models were slightly larger with cases generally measuring around 38mm to 40mm. The trend for big men’s watches really began around the 1990s and the oversized watch style really took hold in the early-2000s when watches larger than 45mm became more frequently available.

Rolex had always been quite conservative with its watch case sizes; for most of the brand’s history, men’s Rolex watches measured between 34mm and 40mm. However, in 2007, Rolex introduced its first bigger-than-40mm model in the form of the Yacht-Master II. Since then, we’ve seen a bevy of big face Rolex watches join the lineup and several collections have even replaced traditional 40mm case sizes with larger new-generation references. If you’re into big men’s watches then here’s a roundup of our favorite big face Rolex watches and other large timepieces from a variety of top luxury brands.

Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller Reference 116660

Big Face Watches Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller 116660

Deepsea 116660 Key Features:

– Deepsea ref. 116660 “James Cameron”

– Functions: Center hour, minute, and seconds hand, quickset date window

– 44mm stainless steel case

– Black Cerachrom unidirectional bezel, 0-60 minutes

– Helium escape valve

– D-Blue dial (blue to black gradient) with Chromalight lume

– Sapphire crystal

– Stainless steel Oyster bracelet

– Caliber 3135 automatic movement

– Water Resistance: 3,900 meters (12,800 feet)

Rolex 116660

Released in 2008, the Rolex Deepsea is an extreme version of the Sea-Dweller saturation diver’s watch. Aptly named the Deepsea, the watch boasts a hefty 44mm case that can dive down to 12,800 feet deep due to its patented Ringlock System consisting of a nitrogen-alloyed steel central ring, a 5mm thick domed sapphire crystal, and a two-piece caseback with a titanium center.

Six years after the Deepsea ref. 116660’s debut, Rolex added another variant to the collection with the same reference number but with a very special dial. Characterized by a blue-to-black gradient with the ‘Deepsea’ name in neon green letters, the D-Blue dial was launched by Rolex in honor of James Cameron’s historic solo dive to the deepest part of the Mariana Trench. As such, this special version is known as the Rolex Deepsea “James Cameron” watch.

Rolex Yacht-Master II & Yacht-Master 42

Big Face Watches Rolex Yacht-Master II 116689

Yacht-Master II 116689 Key Features:

– Yacht-Master II ref. 116689

– Functions: Center hour and minute hands, small seconds counter, programmable countdown with mechanical memory and on-the-fly synchronization, Ring Command bezel

– 44mm 18k white gold case

– Platinum bezel

– White dial with Chromalight lume

– Sapphire crystal

– 18k white gold Oyster bracelet

– Caliber 4161 automatic movement

– Water Resistance: 100 meters (330 feet)

Rolex Yacht-Master II

When Rolex announced the Yacht-Master II in 2007, it was the biggest watch the company had ever made, sporting an imposing 44mm case. The Yacht-Master II is much more complicated than the original Rolex Yacht-Master and was developed with the professional yacht racer in mind. The watch not only features a programmable countdown (0 to 10 minutes) but that countdown has a mechanical memory and can be synchronized either backwards or forwards, completely on the fly.

Like many Rolex sports watches, the Yacht-Master II is available in a range of metals and the ref. 116689 combines an 18k white gold case and bracelet with a platinum bezel. It’s worth noting that this particular reference has two different dial executions depending on the year of production. Earlier models included blue baton-style hands and square hour markers while those made in 2017 onwards have white gold Mercedes-style hands and the square hour markers are accompanied by a triangle at 12 and rectangle at six.

Rolex Yacht-Master 42

Big Face Watches Rolex Yacht-Master 42 226659

Yacht-Master 42 226659 Key Features:

– Yacht-Master 42 ref. 226659

– Functions: Center hour, minute, and seconds hand, quickset date window

– 42mm 18k white gold case

– Black Cerachrom ceramic bidirectional bezel, 0-60 mins

– Black dial with Chromalight lume

– Sapphire crystal with Cyclops date magnification lens

– Black rubber Oysterflex bracelet

– Caliber 3235 automatic movement

– Water Resistance: 100 meters (330 feet)

Rolex Yacht-Master

Rolex released the original Yacht-Master in the early-1990s and the collection soon grew to become the brand’s most diverse sports watch collection with plenty of size and material options available. While 40mm was the largest Yacht-Master size for almost 30 years, in 2019, Rolex added an even bigger option to the lineup when it introduced the Yacht-Master 42 ref. 226659 with a 42mm case.

At the present time, the Rolex Yacht-Master 42 is exclusively offered in 18k white gold, which is the first and only white gold Yacht-Master ever made (not counting Yacht-Master II watches). Furthermore, the ultra-luxurious white gold case is paired with a black dial, matte black Cerachrom bezel, and black rubber Oysterflex bracelet for a thoroughly modern take on the classic luxury sports watch.

Rolex Sea-Dweller Reference 126600

Big Face Watches Rolex Sea-Dweller 126600

Sea-Dweller 126600 Key Features:

– Sea-Dweller ref. 126600

– Functions: Center hour, minute, and seconds hand, quickset date window

– 43mm stainless steel case

– Black Cerachrom ceramic unidirectional bezel, 0-60 mins

– Helium escape valve

– Black dial with Chromalight lume

– Sapphire crystal with Cyclops date magnification lens

– Stainless steel Oyster bracelet

– Caliber 3235 automatic movement

– Water Resistance: 1,220 meters (4,000 feet)

Rolex Sea-Dweller

Of all the Rolex watches that have increased in size in recent years, the Sea-Dweller stands out as the one that grew the most. The Rolex Sea-Dweller, which debuted in 1967, evolved from the Submariner diving watch but it included additional features for saturation divers such as a helium escape valve and deeper water resistance. As such, the Sea-Dweller and the Submariner shared the same 40mm case size for five decades.

However, in 2017, Rolex unveiled the revamped Sea-Dweller ref. 126600 with a much bigger 43mm case. In addition to the expanded dimensions, also new to the stainless steel Sea-Dweller 126600 “50th Anniversary” model was the inclusion of the Cyclops lens over the date window, the “SEA-DWELLER” name in red text on the dial, and a new-generation Caliber 3235 movement that offers Rolex’s Chronergy escapement and a longer 70-hour power reserve.

Rolex Sky-Dweller Reference 326938

Big Face Watches Rolex Sky-Dweller 326938

Sky-Dweller 326938 Key Features:

– Sky-Dweller ref. 326938

– Functions: Center hour, minute, and seconds hand, second time zone via 24-hour display, quickset date window, month windows, annual calendar, Ring Command bezel

– 42mm 18k yellow gold case

– Fluted yellow gold bezel

– Multiple dial colors with Chromalight lume

– Sapphire crystal with Cyclops date magnification lens

– Yellow gold Oyster bracelet

– Caliber 9001 automatic movement

– Water Resistance: 100 meters (330 feet)

Rolex Sky-Dweller

The Sky-Dweller is not only one of Rolex’s largest non-sport watch models but it is also the company’s newest collection and its most complicated watch. First released in 2012, the Rolex Sky-Dweller is equipped with two time zones, a date indicator, and a month indicator. Plus, the Sky-Dweller is also an annual calendar that adjusts for the different number of days in each month and only requires one manual adjustment per year on March 1st. Finally, the Sky-Dweller’s fluted Ring Command bezel is not merely decorative but turning it allows the wearer to flip through the different functions to facilitate setting and adjustment.

While the Rolex Sky-Dweller is a varied collection, the most classic and luxurious option is undoubtedly the full yellow gold version. The Sky-Dweller ref. 326938’s matching 18k yellow gold 42mm case, fluted bezel, and three-link Oyster bracelet make for a striking big face Rolex watch on the wrist, while its advanced in-house Caliber 9001 movement offers unparalleled functionality.

Rolex Explorer II Reference 216570

Big Face Watches Rolex Explorer II ref. 216570

Explorer II 216570 Key Features:

– Explorer II ref. 216570

– Functions: Center hour, minute, and seconds hand, second time zone displayed via independent 24-hour hand pointing to the 24-hour marked bezel, quickset date window

– 42mm stainless steel case

– Fixed steel bezel, 24-hour

– Black or white dial with Chromalight lume

– Sapphire crystal with Cyclops date magnification lens

– Stainless steel Oyster bracelet

– Caliber 3187 automatic movement

– Water Resistance: 100 meters (330 feet)

Rolex Explorer II

Rolex released the Explorer II ref. 216570 in 2011 to celebrate the model’s 40th anniversary. Compared to its predecessors, the then-new Explorer II 216570 offered plenty of design updates, including a larger 42mm case that replaced the previous 40mm size and a new in-house Caliber 3187 movement.

To match the larger case silhouette, Rolex also furnished the reference 216570 with bigger numerals on the fixed 24-hour bezel, wider hands, and bolder hour markers. Furthermore, the dials (available in black or “Polar” white) of the Explorer II “40th Anniversary” models welcomed back the orange 24-hour hand of the maiden reference 1655 from 1971. After a decade of production, Rolex discontinued the Explorer II ref. 216570 in 2021 to make way for the new Explorer II ref. 226570, which offers much of the same overall aesthetic but with a handful of small updates and a new-generation movement.

Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M XXL Small Seconds

Big Face Watches Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M XXL Small Seconds

Aqua Terra 150m XXL Key Features:

– Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M XXL ref. 231.13.49.10.06.001

– Functions: Center hour and minute hands, small seconds subdial

– 49.2mm stainless steel case

– Smooth steel bezel

– Gray “teak concept” striped dial

– Sapphire crystal on dial-side and caseback

– Black leather strap

– Caliber 2211 manual-winding movement

– Water Resistance: 150 meters (500 feet)

Omega Aqua Terra

With an enormous 49.2mm stainless steel case, the Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M XXL ref. 231.13.49.10.06.001 is one of the biggest Omega watches ever made. As with many Aqua Terra watches, this reference features a smooth fixed bezel and a striped “teak concept” dial to mimic the decks of luxury boats.

The dramatic gray dial of the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M XXL Small Seconds is punctuated with a small seconds indicator at 6 o’clock and a “broad-arrow” handset at the center. Powering this big face Omega watch is a manual-winding Caliber 2211 chronometer movement, which is visible via the sapphire crystal display caseback.

Panerai Luminor PAM00557

Big Face Watches Panerai Luminor PAM00557

Panerai PAM00557 Key Features:

– Panerai Luminor Left-Handed PAM00557

– Functions: Center hour and minute hands

– 47mm stainless steel cushion case with lever-operated crown protecting bridge

– Polished steel bezel

– Black dial with luminous oversized Arabic numeral and stick hour markers

– Sapphire crystal on dial-side and caseback

– Leather strap

– Caliber P.3000 manual-winding movement

– Water Resistance: 100 meters (330 feet)

Panerai Luminor

If there’s one high-end watch brand that led the oversized watch trend of the 1990s and beyond, it is Panerai. Although Panerai became part of pop culture thanks to celebrities like Sly Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the company had been making supersized water-resistant watches for the Italian Navy as early as the 1930s.

With their large cushion-shaped cases and stark dials with big Arabic numerals, Panerai watches are recognizable from a mile away. The brand’s flagship model is the Luminor, which is characterized by a distinctive crown-protecting device that protrudes from the side of the case. Although most Luminor watches have the crown and protective bridge on the right side, some models, such as this imposing 47mm Panerai Luminor PAM00557, have it on the left-hand side. Inside the steel case is the manual-winding Caliber P.3000 movement with a three-day power reserve.

Breitling Super Avenger Reference A1337011/A660

Big Face Watches Breitling Super Avenger A1337011

Super Avenger A1337011 Key Features:

– Super Avenger A1337011/A660

– Functions: Center hour and minute hands, central chronograph hand, three subdials (chronograph counters and running seconds), date window

– 48mm stainless steel case

– Steel unidirectional rotating bezel, 0-60 mins

– White dial with luminous hands

– Sapphire crystal

– Steel Professional bracelet

– Caliber 13 automatic movement

– Water Resistance: 300 meters (1,000 feet)

Breitling Super Avenger

Another watch brand that’s known for its wide assortment of big men’s watches – especially chronographs – is Breitling. And one especially big offering is the Super Avenger ref. A1337011 with a massive 48mm stainless steel case, which wears even bigger due to the large chronograph pushers and crown that are positioned on the right side of the case.

The Breitling Super Avenger ref. A1337011/A660 houses a crisp white dial with a trio of sub-dials at 6, 9, and 12 o’clock, along with a date window at three. The smattering of red accents on the dial emphasizes the sporty style of the chronograph while the watch runs on the reliable Caliber 13 automatic movement. Completing this steel behemoth is its matching Breitling Professional three-link bracelet.

Tudor Black Bay Bronze

Big Face Watches Tudor Black Bay Bronze 79250BM

Black Bay Bronze 79250BM Key Features:

– Black Bay Bronze 79250BM

– Functions: Center hour, minute, and seconds hands

– 43mm bronze case

– Brown aluminum unidirectional bezel

– Brown dial with luminous Snowflake hands and indexes

– Sapphire crystal

– Caliber MT5601 automatic movement

– Water Resistance: 200 meters (660 feet)

Tudor Black Bay

Ever since Tudor re-launched in the U.S. market in 2013, the Black Bay stood out as the brand’s flagship collection. The Black Bay taps into Tudor’s archives of vintage dive watches for inspiration with features such as old-school “Snowflake hands” and domed crystals above the dials. Yet, the watches are most definitely tailored to modern tastes with (mostly) in-house movements, generously sized cases, and plenty of material and bracelet/strap options available.

The largest Tudor Black Bay watch came about in 2016 with the introduction of the Black Bay Bronze ref. 79250BM with a 43mm case. The case of the Black Bay Bronze reference 79250BM is fashioned from a special bronze/aluminum alloy with a brushed finish that will eventually develop a unique patina, transforming from a golden hue to a darker and sometimes even greenish tint. Complementing the case material is a brown aluminum bezel and a brown dial, which, unlike other BB models that came before it, has Arabic numerals at 3, 6, and 9. The Black Bay Bronze 79250BM was only in production for three years as Tudor replaced it with the Bronze ref. 79250BA in 2019.

Oris Big Crown ProPilot Big Day Date

Big Face Watches Oris Big Crown ProPilot Big Day Date

Big Crown ProPilot Day Date Key Features:

– Big Crown ProPilot Big Day Date ref. 01 752 7698 4065-07 8 22 19

– Functions: Center hour, minute, seconds hand, day and date window

– 45mm stainless steel case

– Steel bezel

– Blue dial with SuperLuminova coated hands and numerals

– Stainless steel bracelet

– Caliber Oris 752 (base SW 220-1) automatic movement

– Water Resistance: 100 meters (330 feet)

Oris Big Crown

Oris is known for its collection of high-quality, yet reasonably priced, Swiss-made mechanical watches. As its name suggests, the Big Crown ProPilot is Oris’ range of pilots watches, complete with highly legible dials and easy-to-grip oversized winding crowns.

Although there are several model variations including chronographs, GMTs, Worldtimers, and others, one of our favorites of the collection is the Big Crown ProPilot Big Day-Date ref. 01 752 7698 4065-07 8 22 19. The watch’s large 45mm stainless steel case is home to an expansive blue dial, which sets the perfect backdrop for the straightforward Arabic numerals and day/date display at 3 o’clock.

Whether from Rolex, Omega, Breitling, Panerai, Oris, or others, the choice of big men’s watches is varied and plentiful. It would be misleading to call big men’s watches a trend since they’re most definitely here to stay. As we see it, oversized watches will always have a fan base – even Rolex is clearly on board with wider case dimensions. Not only do larger watches cater to larger wrists but they are also ideal for wearers that simply like a big and bold timepiece silhouette.

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