In a sea of round watches, square watches definitely stand out. As they have always been a minority in the watch world, square watches are slightly unusual, but they are still versatile and very wearable.
Square watches are reminiscent of the Art Deco era, and are iconic pre-World War II designs. A square watch then is retro, but is at once classic and contemporary – and proof of this is that they are still being sold and worn today.
The Tag Heuer Monaco was first launched in 1969, and was the world’s first automatic chronograph. Inspired by the city and motorsport haven that it was named after, it became legendary after Steve McQueen wore it in the classic 1971 Hollywood racing film “Le Mans.”
The bold, square case, masculine design, and luxurious touches really make a statement. The most popular model features a blue dial with raised polished, nickel-plated index hour markers and luminous hands. It’s also built to withstand the elements – the case features a beveled sapphire crystal glass, and is water resistant for up to 100 meters.
In 1904, Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont lodged a request to his friend, Louis Cartier – to be able to tell the time safely while flying. The aviation pioneer found it difficult to use the watch while airborne, as he had to check his pocket watch during flight in order to time his performance. Cartier came up with the Santos, one of the first wristwatches ever made.
The watch features a square stainless steel case protected by an octagonal crown, and a bezel punctuated by 8 steel screws. The Santos is a great example of integrating an Art Déco and industrial design without sacrificing function.
Especially created for the Italian navy, Panerai was launched in 1938 as the first military divers’ watch. Tasked with designing watches that are legible enough while underwater, Officine Panerai came up with a simple solution: to create watches that are extremely large. Up until the 1990s, Panerai watches were reserved for the marines, but as international watch trends began to favor larger watches, Panerai was introduced to the public.
The Luminor and the Luminor Marina were two of three models presented in 1993 as part of the official collection of the brand. The models feature a bold case that vary between 40-47 millimeters, a clear dial, a look that’s both sporty and industrial, and extreme strength.
The Patek Philippe Gondolo, introduced in 1993, is a modern interpretation of the Art Déco style. The watch is directly inspired by the “Chronometro Gondolo” series created by Patek Philippe during the early 1900’s for upscale Brazilian importer “Gondolo and Labourier.”
A key component of Gondolo watches are the unusual shapes, combining squares, ovals and rectangles. The dials also vary, with some coming in simple, uncomplicated designs, and others with more complicated details, such as artistically rendered numerals. While there is much emphasis on aesthetics, they all have the inner workings of a Patek, such as hand-wound movements and 48-hour power reserve.
Part of the iconic Cartier Tank line of watches, the Tank Francaise was launched in 1996 as a single model collection, to bring a sportier, more contemporary option to the classically French line of watches.
The Tank Francaise features a yellow-gold and steel chain-link bracelet in place of more elegant leather straps, a larger dial than other Tank watches, and an octagonal crown. While it is more contemporary, it’s still undeniably a Tank with the painted black roman numerals, sword shaped blued steel hands and the crown set with the blue spinel cabochon.