Austin Butler & Tom Brady Lead Cartier’s Miniature Timepiece Trend, Australian Men Left Wondering: Does Size Matter?
7 mins read

Austin Butler & Tom Brady Lead Cartier’s Miniature Timepiece Trend, Australian Men Left Wondering: Does Size Matter?

After years of big watch supremacy, small watches are making their long-overdue comeback, and we’re all for it. 


For the past ten years, we’ve all been obsessed with decidedly normal watches. Dive watches, chronographs, aviation-inspired and the downright hideous Breitling for Bentley collection which we would rather forget. Now, it’s the small watches that are making their comeback, and we’re all for it. 

But what about the weird ones? The ones that go against the standard Australian male culture of buying a Rolex or Tag? What if: You purchased a watch that was a f-you to tradition, instead telling the boys down at the pub that you’re a man of taste and avant-garde refinement? 

Well, then you would opt for a Cartier… but not any old Cartier; a crash, tank or even a Panther. 

The OG small watch from Cartier. Image: Cartier/DMARGE

We’re excluding Santos from this chat, simply because nobody invited them to this party… this is a party for the freaks, for those who don’t fit in with the conventions of modern society. This is like band camp for watches, where the freaks end up getting all the s*x while the cool kids go without. This one time, at band camp, I put a Cartier Crash on my wrist. 

I digress… but at what point did Australia get so caught up in our beach culture that we forgot how to loosen up our watch selection?

For the benefit of younger readers… the man, the legend, Errol Flynn. Image: Getty

Take Errol Flynn, the local Tasmanian who conquered Hollywood and bedded many leading ladies, yet had one of the creepiest moustaches you’ve ever seen. Now there’s a man who would have, and probably did, own a Cartier. Why? Because big watches didn’t exist back then and people mostly wore suits.

A pointless take but nonetheless. My point is this: there is no right or wrong when it comes to watches. It’s often the weirder the better, IMHO. 

Have you ever sat next to someone on a plane and noticed they had some left-of-centre timepiece on their wrist? I always resist the urge to ask them if they’ve sustained serious brain damage and, if they have, if that’s why they purchased it. Instead, there’s an acceptance of how cool it is to see someone not wearing what everyone else is wearing. 

From left, Must Tank, Santos Dumont and Panthere. Image: DMARGE

Oh cool, another Daytona or Nautilus. How long did you wait for that? Do you know where I can get one? Just stop. You’re embarrassing yourself. Back to my story. 

It’s time to embrace the unconventional. The watches that are for ‘sissys’, perhaps ones you would only wear with a shirt. The watch doesn’t make sense, but adds some Ike to your Tina. 

We asked Kristian Haagen, a notable watch Viking from Denmark, who’s been wearing a Tank Must for a while now. He tells us…

“As a kid of the 70s Rolex and Cartier were the most common luxury watches sitting on the wrists of people with success. A watch from Cartier, especially, has always been a ’30 metres watch’ as the dial with the distinct Roman indices is an obvious giveaway.”

Kristian Haagen

He went on to say that “the Cartier watch, especially the Santos and Tank, which were a-his-and-hers thing already back then and hence a non-gender specific reminder that elegance is the highest complication of Cartier, have always been a horological top of mind to me.”

He’s a Scandinavian though. What about Australia’s #1 watch journalist who lived through the glory days of advertising? Bani McSpedden, tells us that “Cartier, rightly, prides itself on its decades of deft design which to my mind is about proportions as much as shape…

“When it comes to their squarer or more rectangular offerings… I’ve always felt there’s only one that truly suits the watch, and that’s usually a smaller one. [The] larger versions of the Tank or Santos seem to lose their charm in inverse proportion to their size.”

Bani McSpedden, Watch Editor of The Australian Finanical Review

He went on to add that” in nearly every case the original size seems to be the one that still works best from both a visual and wearing standpoint”, before confessing that “the Cartier I wear most often is a small Santos with a black ceramic case and black dial that I’ve beefed up with a NATO strap in the same hue as the beige numerals. Sounds weird, but it’s much-admired thanks to a presence that belies its acreage.”

Imagine your next watch was small, square, thin and quartz. Would that be so bad? This is where watch collecting begins, when you’re buying timepieces because f*ck what the people think. This sh*t is weird and I’m all for it. 

Most recently we see Hollywood’s who’s who and athletes opting to jump ship from their chronographs, opting for Cartier’s smallest timepieces on leather straps.

Image: Getty

Tom Brady wearing a Cartier Crash at the Laureus World Sports Awards, Austin Butler was spotted wearing a Cartier Must and Tank — even though he’s an Ambassador — and even the Gladiator in-waiting Paul Mescal was seen wearing a less-than-conventional iteration in recent months.

Don’t even get me started on living legend Jeff Goldblum, who has been pairing his Saint Laurent leather jacket with his Tank for years.

So what are the rules for wearing a small Cartier? To be honest, there are none, but the first time wearing one can be scary. I recommend not wearing a T-shirt to the boutique; these watches need sleeves. That’s about the only rule I can think of, but they do look better this way. 

Then it’s a matter of dressing it to match the watch. Bracelets help make your wrist feel less naked with a small watch but they can take away from the ‘f**k you, I’m wearing a small watch’ statement.

If you get stuck, just look for photos of celebrities wearing them. Jake Gyllenhaal often wears a large Santos Dumont or, the aforementioned, Austin Butler has it all worked out and wears multiple versions of the Cartier Tank.

Now, the only question is: ‘Are you ready to make the jump back to the future and sport something that isn’t a penile extension for your wrist?’

If you’re considering your second or third luxury watch purchase then it’s only fair to push the boat out and get something small and sexy. But can you go from a bulky 44mm to a dainty 36mm and not miss the presence on your wrist?

As someone who’s gone down this path recently it does feel odd, but like a hot bath, you need to give it time and you’ll get used to it.