Watches come in many shapes and sizes: round, oval, square, octagonal, and sometimes even in undefined shapes like the MB&F HM6 Space Pirate, for example. Although you could say most wristwatches are round, one of the first wristwatches ever was rectangular: the Cartier Santos.
In this article, we’ll show you 10 watches from 9 different brands that have a rectangular shape. Before you rush out to buy one of these watches, make sure to try a rectangular watch. You need to experience the feel of the rectangular shape on your wrist first, look at yourself in the mirror while wearing one, and look at the watch on your wrist a couple of times. It is not for everyone, but once you get used to it, there are quite a number of beautiful watches out there with rectangular cases.
Some of these watches still feature round movements. The corners are filled with metal in the same color and finish as the movement in most of those cases. However, in other watches, you will find rectangular-shaped movements; calibers that were specifically designed to be in rectangular watches. For some collectors out there, it is important that the watch and the movement really belong to each other. It often also shows how important these (iconic) watches are to the manufacturer – they created specific movements just for them.
Without further ado, let’s have a look at the 10 rectangular watches that we’ve selected for you.
The Santos is the oldest wristwatch collection from Cartier. The Cartier Santos that we know today was introduced in 1978, on the 20th of October, to be precise. It was a historic event, as the Santos grew to be an iconic and highly sought-after watch, especially in the 1980s and 1990s. The current Santos collection consists of two different models: Santos-Dumont and Santos 100.
The Santos 100 is a sportier, bulkier, and amazingly popular execution of the reintroduced Santos from 1978. It has impressive dimensions (51.1 mm x 41.3 mm), is available in either gold or stainless steel, and is equipped with the unmistakable 7-sided Cartier crown.
Louis Cartier created the Tank in 1917 and it has been in the Cartier collection ever since. That first watch was called the Tank Normale and was followed by perhaps the most iconic Tank model: the Tank Louis Cartier or LC Tank as collectors call it. It has smoother and rounder lines than the Tank Normale and has remained in the collection ever since its introduction.
The Cartier Tank has adorned the wrists of kings and queens, but also artists and stars like Andy Warhol, Clarke Gable, and Duke Ellington. Today, the Tank collection consists of 6 different models: Tank Anglaise, Tank Louis Cartier, Tank Américaine, Tank Française, Tank MC, and Tank Solo. All together, the models comprise over 50 different watches.
Besides the Cartier Tank model, this is perhaps the best-known rectangular watch in the world. This reversible watch was developed and introduced 85 years ago, in 1931, allegedly to protect the watches of polo players from being damaged while enjoying a good game.
The Reverso was out of production for a long time, but was later revived and became one of the most important watches for Jaeger-LeCoultre in Le Sentier. The Reverso Tribute to 1931 model was released in 2011 to commemorate the watch’s 80th anniversary. It is a thin watch that is very similar to that very first model from 1931. The dial does not say ‘Jaeger-LeCoultre,’ but only ‘Reverso’ – a powerful statement.
Perhaps it is not the first watch you think of when you are searching for a rectangular watch, but the NOMOS Tetra has been given awards in various publications and design contests. It is basically the rectangular version of the famous NOMOS Tangente. The NOMOS Tetra has grown into an entire collection of watches, available in different sizes and with different (in-house) movements.
While this watch has not reached the iconic status of the Reverso, Tank, or Santos, it is an interesting choice for those who are looking for a rectangular watch with a great (minimalistic) design and fair price points.
Vacheron Constantin Historiques Ultra Fine 1968
This watch was introduced in 2010 to commemorate the original rectangular Vacheron Constantin that was introduced in 1968 with reference number 7614. It is a timepiece with a lot of attention to detail such as the finish on the case and dial, and of course the movement: the Vacheron Constantin Caliber 1120.
This movement might sound familiar to you, as it was also used in the Vacheron Constantin ‘222’ and today’s Overseas in white gold. It is an ultra-thin movement that was originally designed by Jaeger-LeCoultre (caliber 920, but JLC never used it). Audemars Piguet uses this movement, dubbed the caliber 2120 in their Royal Oak Ultra-Thin, and Patek Philippe briefly used it in their Nautilus watch in 1976. Thanks to this ultra-thin movement, Vacheron Constantin is able to keep this rectangular watch very thin at 5.5 mm in total.
Patek Philippe Gondolo
Introduced in 1993, the Gondolo collection is Patek Philippe‘s modern interpretation of rectangular watches in Art Deco style. Apparently, they designed similarly shaped watches for a renowned Brazilian retailer Gondolo & Labouriau in the early 20th century. Originally marketed as Chronometro Gondolo watches, they’ve had their own contemporary collection since 1993.
Reference 5124G in white gold, for example, has a beautiful rectangular manual-wound movement inside (caliber 25-21 REC PS) with a small seconds sub dial. The design of the watch is very interesting; the case has flanks on its side, making the Gondolo very easy to recognize.
TAG Heuer Monaco
Following the development of one of the first automatic chronograph calibers, TAG Heuer introduced their Calibre 11 in a couple of watch models (Autavia, Carrera, and Monaco). The Monaco was – and still is – a rectangular sports chronograph that became famous after being featured in the movie Le Mans with Steve McQueen.
McQueen wore the Monaco (reference 1133) on his wrist after studying how driver Jo Siffert appeared during his races. Although Jo Siffert wore the Autavia, McQueen picked the Monaco to be his companion during the movie. Only a few years later, the crown was moved from left to right and stayed there for several generations. Recently, TAG Heuer decided to release a new Monaco that is very close to the original 1133 reference; it has a crown on the left side and pushers on the right.
A. Lange & Söhne Cabaret
Although this watch has been out of production for a while, the A. Lange & Söhne Cabaret is definitely worth mentioning in this list of 10 top rectangular watches. The Cabaret watch, with its big date, was an impressive timepiece (only available in precious metals) offered by this prestigious manufacturer from Glashütte. The rectangular movement that A. Lange & Söhne used met the typical Glashütte requirements, including the Glashütte three-quarter plate and bridges with Glashütte stripes. There were even versions with gold bracelets available at the time of release.
The cream of the crop, however, was the platinum A. Lange & Söhne Cabaret reference 703.025. It was an amazing timepiece that offered a highly advanced tourbillon and still managed to keep some of the dial design elements from its round brother (Lange 1) on a rectangular dial.
Bell & Ross BR03
While this relatively young brand started out with watches that were strongly based on Sinn timepieces, they really found success with the rectangular BR01 collection. The BR03 is its smaller brother, but features the same design elements. It’s a modern watch that uses modern materials for the case, dial, and bracelet, and has a strong link to aviation.
The Bell & Ross BR03 (and 01 for that matter) models became icons with a fan base of their own in a relatively short period of time. They are sporty watches with highly legible dials (for aviation use) and are also available with a range of complications such as a chronograph, GMT, Grande Date, and power reserve indicator.
Baume et Mercier Hampton
Baume & Mercier are known for their affordable luxury watches. The Hampton is perhaps one of the best-known models with some longevity in the collection. Although their round collections – the Classima and Clifton models – are perhaps a more obvious choice, the Hampton is an interesting alternative for those who are looking for an affordable, yet refined rectangular watch.
The Hampton comes with a rich dial (sunburst finish, applied hour markers), alligator strap (or even a metal bracelet), and an automatic movement. You have a choice between central or small seconds, and for sporty people, there’s also a chronograph version available.