I lean towards slightly smaller bands, but I don't think the difference matters too much on a 42mm watch case. A 22mm band may more appropriate for a diver but in general I would still prefer a 20mm, especially if it was a dressier/casual watch.
BEST? is really subjective to the individual, given the size you mentioned! personally a 20mm would be nice, nice balance for the size. I have 47mm watches with 21mm lugs and for me it is the "sweet spot" although on those particular watches a 22mm would also be nice but no bigger, I like a watch to be like a portrait the watch being the subject and the strap to be the matting and frame, combined and done nicely compliment each other in perfect unison.
Thanks guys. Interesting. I was looking at a Seiko Presage and it seems like they like to put 20mm bracelets/straps on the 42mm ones which seemed odd everytime i looked at them. I even have 40mm watches with 22mm straps that look good. Might have to keep looking for a suitable 22mm.
Tough call depends a lot on the watch, specifically the style of watch. I would say either will work well but at 42mm maybe 20mm lug is better suited for most styles of watches? If we are talking tool or dive watches I would go 22 though. Anything above 42 I would definitely say 22mm however.
I posted earlier but I agree with @SHANE 1000 and find his response even more worthy of consideration since he is also a strap maker.
Personally I do not like the strap to overpower the watch, and at a certain point a larger width can interfere with comfort, particularly when wearing your watch in a hot and humid climate. But I certainly agree it is all about personal taste in the end. For example I have a Timex weekender which I occasionally wear and enjoy, but it is a fairly small watch with a 20mm band which often appears too large at first glance. I think a 18mm would have been a better choice, but it still works.
As a nobody consumer I obviously do not dictate what watch makers choose in their designs, but given a choice I might prefer that watches <40mm use 18mm straps, 40mm/42mm watches use 20mm straps, and 44/46mm use 22mm straps.
From what I've seen, the vast majority of watches have lug width as 1/2 the case size, subject to:
a) lug width is always an integer, so a 43 case will have 22 lugs, not 21.5
b) odd lug widths (17,19,21) are uncommon in both commercial pre-made and even many made-to-order. I'd say they usually go slightly wider more often, so the 42 case gets 22 lugs more often than 20. 23 and 25 straps are QUITE hard to find.
So 38-41 will most often have 20 lugs; 42-45 will have 22, because 45/2 is 22.5. 23 is a pain; 24 would be QUITE wide. So 22 would be the norm.
This won't necessarily hold true for small ladies' cases, as the strap could get too skinny, but I can't say I've ever really looked.
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