Watch Case Shapes: How Many Do You Know?

How well do you know your watch shapes? The dial is where the watch can be its most expressive, but one can say that it’s the case that really forms its “identity”. Some shapes lend themselves well to tool and robust timepieces, while others were made for dressier, more formal watches.

We all know the round and rectangle shapes, but the next time you’re shopping for a watch, you may just encounter a “tonneau” or a “carage”. Here’s a rundown of the most common watch shapes, that every watch lover should know:

 

Datejust 41

ROUND

This shape needs no introduction. Round watches are by far the most common and most popular. The shape offers the easiest way to read time;and is also versatile enough to go from dressy to sporty; and to host different designs, from minimalist to embellished.

pictured: Rolex Datejust 41

 


 

Tag Heuer Monaco

SQUARE

Square watches have seen resurgence every few decades. A popular style in the 20s – 30s, it made a comeback in the 1960s, with the likes of JFK and Steve McQueen rocking the look. It has become a distinctive, retro look that has recently become popular again.

 


 

Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso

RECTANGLE

Like the square watch, rectangular ones are associated with the early 20th century. The first models made their appearance during the Art Deco era; and the prosaic beauty of the movement always came hand in hand with rectangle watches.

pictured: Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso

 


 

Panerai Radiomir

CUSHION

One can think of cushion-shaped watches as a cross between the square and the circle. That is, squarish with bowed-out edges. The shape is most commonly associated with the Panerai Radiomir watch, which first appeared in the 1940s. It’s often used in dive watches, and sometimes seen in dress watches.

pictured: Panerai Radiomir

 


 

Cartier Tank

TANK

Introduced in 1917, the Cartier Tank is one of the most recognizable watches, ever. Technically a triangle, its rounded edges and proportion proved to be so influential, other watches of the same shape have been called “tanks”. The Cartier Tank is inspired by the Renault tanks of WWI.

pictured: Cartier Tank Solo

 


 

Cartier Roadster

TONNEAU

“Tonneau” is the French word for barrel; and it describes watches whose top and bottom edges are straight but whose sides are “bursting”. One can think of the tonneau as the elongated version of the cushion. The shape gives watches an Art Deco vibe, hence its popularity among dress watches.

pictured: Cartier Roadster

 


 

Patek Philippe Ellipse

ELLIPSE / OVAL

The combination of a rectangle and a circle creates this shape. The ellipse has flatter top and bottom edges, while the oval has more pointed ones. Due to the delicateness of this shape, it’s more apt for dress or cocktail watches.pictured: Patek Philippe Ellipse

 


 

Cartier Ellipse

CARAGE

Carage shaped watches are similar to oval or elliptical watches, but they are turned 90 degrees – so they’re more horizontal than vertical. The orientation of the watch gives more space to play with on the sides, so it’s often decorated with diamonds.pictured: Cartier Ellipse

 


 

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak

OCTAGONAL

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watch is the undisputed pioneer of the octagonal or eight-sided case shape. The Royal Oak was a trailblazer during its time, and it sure looks modern until today.pictured: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore

 


 

Omega Bullhead

AVANTE GARDE

While most watches fall under the realm of round and rectangular shapes, some watch makers have created futuristic, unconventional designs. Some popular avante garde styles are the Hamilton Ventura, Rolex Cellini Midas, Cartier Crash, and the Omega Bullhead.pictured: Omega Seamaster Bullhead

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