Watches are a basic piece of wearable jewelry in terms of design. However, if you dig deeper into their technicality and investigate the specifics of each feature, you’ll find that they’re not quite as straightforward as they seem. Instead, each component is meticulously designed and constructed to produce a magnificent timepiece. The watch lug is one aspect that we often overlook.
What is a watch lug?
A watch is a complicated and beautiful piece of machinery built to tell time while still appealing to our daily fashion and dressing style. The watch lug is the huge part of the watch that links the watch case and the strap (band).
A watch lug is a protruding component of a watch that is connected to the watch case and flexibly holds the watch band with the aid of a metal spring bar (pin). Watch lugs are often referred to as horns. The watch lugs are an essential part of the watch case, but they are often overlooked, and they aren’t often or even listed in watch specifications. Pocket watches do not have watch lugs.
When searching for or selecting a wristwatch, the band size is important to remember, and the lug width is key to finding the right strap size for your watch that fits your wrists. The form, the style, and the design of a watch lug define the gorgeous appearance, comfort, and look and feel of a timepiece. However, a watch lug contributes to the overall look and feel of the watch, and its width is crucial in determining/finding the right watch band.
Types of Watch Lugs
Let’s dive into different types of watch lugs in detail.
The straight lug, which is commonly seen on minimalist watches, is the most basic and straightforward form. They’re best for modern-style watches, and depending on the watch, they can be fatter or slimmer. Most Daniel Wellington and Nomos watches have this kind of lug. This style of lug can be found in models like the classic Tangente, Ludwig, and Ahoi.
Bombe or Speedy Lugs
Another lug style was created based on the classic Rolex Explorer. Explorer appears more similar to Speedy lugs, but they are built straight, featuring rounded and curved edges. It has a squared and geometric look, according to most watch fans. However, the style is unique in that, in addition to having a straight lug appearance at first glance, they are pointed. They’re made to be big near the watch case but get slimmer when you get closer to the bracelet.
Hooded or shrouded lugs
Shrouded or hooded lugs, at least in modern watches, are a somewhat less common type. Two lugs are usually placed next to each other in a traditional lug configuration. Instead, a single horizontal bar connects the case to the bracelet in this one-of-a-kind lug design. This form of the lug is still used by some manufacturers, such as Seiko, in many of their designs today.
Other brands have used this theme in the past, and you’ll see it again now and then. Certain variations of the IWC Da Vinci are an example. Vintage models from brands like OMEGA and Patek Philippe, on the other hand, are more likely to have veiled or hooded lugs.
Just like Speedy lugs, Explorer lugs got their name from the lug shape of the Rolex Explorer. In fact, Explorer lugs are sort of a subset of the Speedy lugs. Speedy lugs are straight, have a distinctively supple, curved, and rounded edge. In contrast, Explorer lugs are more linear, geometric, and squared. They are different from straight lug because of their taper design. They have a wider case and slimmer bracelet, whereas straight lugs have a uniform width.
Teardrop lugs are built with a teardrop shape in mind. This lug design can be found in vintage IWC, Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Jaeger-LeCoultre watches. With an incorporated teardrop lug, this Patek Philippe 1530R Rectangular Watch is a must-have.
Cushion-shaped case watches have the most of these lugs. They are very common lugs in modern watches, but they appear to be popular in vintage watches for water activities such as diving. The vintage Tissot Seastar PR516 is one of the vintage dive watches.
Longines and Vacheron Constantin vintage watches featured this last form of watch lug. As you would expect, the crab claw lugs are shaped like crab claws. They have a bolder, more robust appearance and are curved yet angular. Check out this 1950s Longines Wittnauer Revue for a better understanding.
What Does a Watch’s Lug Width Mean?
A watch has four lugs; one pair is on the case side at 6 o’clock, and the other pair is on the case at 12 o’clock. The lug distance is the distance between lugs along a horizontal line (along with the 3 to 9 o’clock). Lugs all protrude outward along the 6-12 o’clock vertical line, but the lug distance is the distance between lugs along a vertical line (along with the 3 to 9 o’clock).
The interior space between one lug and the next closest lug is referred to as lug width. The distance between these closest lugs allows spring bars to secure the watch strap to the watch case. This small space determines the size of the watch bracelet. Lug width is greater on watches with larger straps, while lug size is narrower on watches with slim bands.
When selecting a watch, it is often sufficient to measure and decide the strap size, and it is at this point, the value of lug width becomes apparent. Since they have embedded bracelets that are not reversible or interchangeable, some watches don’t even have lugs. The largest end of a watch band is called the lug width, equal to the lug diameter.
How Lug Width helps in choosing the band size?
The lug distance heavily influences the aesthetics of a watch, so understanding how to calculate the lug distance is critical when choosing the right watch for your wrists. Here are some basic methods for determining your wristwatch’s actual lug size and right strap size.
How can I measure lug width?
Using an Old Watch
Remove the watch’s strap and measure the dimensions of both ends if you’ve ever had a tight-fitting watch. This is a simple method for determining the proper lug width and strap size for a watch. If the watch strap is silicone, measure the width of the ends with a ruler or tape.
The watch lug width is determined by the size of the largest segment of the old band. Some watches with leather straps have printed lug width/strap size values on them.
E.g., if the vintage Seiko timepiece has a leather strap width of 20mm, this corresponds to a lug size of 20mm. Values are often printed on the straps if you look closely.
Directly measure the watch lug.
If you’re buying from a local watch store, you may only need to go there, pick out the perfect watch, and use a ruler or digital calipers to measure the lug width. This is the correct approach if no information is written on the strap to help you assess its scale.
You simply use a tape or a ruler to measure the watch’s dimensions and choose the appropriate band size. Take, for example, if TAG Heuer formula 1 has a 21,5mm lug width on my ruler, then a 22mm band would fit just fine in there.
Get It from The Manufacturers Site Online
Check out the watch features on the manufacturer’s website. The timepiece’s manufacturer can provide measurements and other details, such as the lug width of your watch. The Watch database – WatchBase – is another online resource.
Using A Ruler or Tape to Measure Lug Width
Many people confuse lug size (width) with lug-to-lug distance, which is why they buy watches with oversized cases, bands, or undersized bands. When you mix up these watch measurements, you’re more likely to purchase a watch with a case that extends beyond your wrist.
You might find people claiming, for example, that the lug-to-lug distance of a 42mm case watch is 20mm if you visit some amateur watch forums. Some watch microbrands still don’t understand the distinctions between lug width and lug to lug.
Those seven types of lugs effectively cover all of the lugs you’ll see or have seen in watches. The first four lug styles – smooth, swift, explorer, and shrouded – are the most common in modern timepieces. The last three – cushion, teardrop, and crab claw – were, on the other hand, more common among vintage watches. You can use these to determine the ”age” of any timepiece simply by looking at the lugs.