The Different Types of Watch Shape
While the majority of watches are round or rectangular, there are a wide variety of different shapes and sizes out there that you may not have even heard of.
Shaped watches became popular in the early 1900s, especially during the Art Deco period, and we’re here to help you identify the different styles in a simple guide.
The different types of watch shape include;
Let’s start with the most popular (and thus most common) watch shape: round. A classic round case features a typical circular shape and offers the easiest way to read time.
Watches with round cases are versatile enough to be worn for pretty much every occasion.
They can come in sporty styles like the Rolex Submariner, Omega Speedmaster, Tudor Black Bay, and Seiko Prospex. They can also be dressier such as the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master, IWC Portofino, and Breitling Premier.
In addition to round cases, some watchmakers offer oval cases too, which can be aligned east-west or north-south. Some famous oval watches include the Cartier Baignoire, Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse, and the Chopard Happy Sport. These days, oval watches are typically thought of as women’s watches.
The Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon represents a sleek and sporty new addition to the iconic collection. It is crafted from a single block of black zirconium oxide ceramic and redefines the iconic design of the Moonwatch while evoking the mysteriousness and allure of space.
Engraved on the ceramic caseback just above the sapphire crystal, are the words "Dark Side of the Moon" - an appropriate tribute to this Speedmaster's heritage and captivating design. This timepiece is powered by the OMEGA Co-Axial calibre 9300.
The watch boasts superb accuracy thanks to its precision Calibre MT5652 mechanism, high legibility with its high-contrast dial featuring luminescent indexes on a jet black backing, and enhanced functionality with its date readout at 3 o'clock and bidirectional rotating bezel with 24-hour markers.
Square watch cases have four equal sides with four right angles, and have been around since the turn of the 20th century when Cartier introduced the square ‘Santos’ watch in 1904. Although not as popular as round cases, a square watch makes much more of a statement.
As well as Cartier, other popular watch brands also make square watches. For instance, there is the TAG Heuer Monaco, which was made famous by Steve McQueen in the 1971 movie, Le Mans. Plus, most Bell & Ross watches also have square cases.
The TAG Heuer Monaco is one of the brand's main pillars of success, and for good reason. Featuring an iconic square motif and strong motorsport credentials, the TAG Heuer Monaco series exist to embody the high-rolling, high-octane and high-class spirit of its city-state namesake.
This example boasts a polished steel chassis and radiant blue dial equipped with luminescent indexes, contrasted with a pair of white chronograph sub-dials. The entire assembly is mounted on a quality black leather strap, maintaining the two-tone aesthetic while also adding a complex, natural accent.
Just like the square watch, rectangular watches are associated with the early 20th century, with the first models making their appearance during the Art Deco era. The most popular rectangular watches ever made have to be the Cartier Tank and the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso.
Rectangular watches are incredibly distinctive, beautiful, and primarily used for dress watches. Unfortunately they are much less common today, and those that do exist are mostly throwbacks to those early wristwatches.
Next up we have the Tonneau shape, also known as barrel-shaped, featuring a rectangle-shaped case with rounded corners and bowed-out edges (i.e. resembling a barrel). The tonneau shares similarities to the cushion case, which we look at next, but the overall shape is taller and longer.
The Tonneau watch was first introduced by Cartier in 1906, and still to this day remains a popular style among ultra-high-end watch brands. For instance, most Richard Mille watches sport tonneau cases as do many Franck Muller and Parmigiani Fleurier timepieces.
Once considered an elegant style exclusively for women, the Art Deco period was when the curved and unusual design truly took off.
Last but certainly not least there is the cushion shape - a shape most commonly used in dive watches, and sometimes seen in dress watches. The best way to describe the cushion-case is simply a cross between the square and the circle shape watch, resulting in a squarish profile but with rounded edges and with bowed-out sides.
Interestingly, cushion cases are harder to find than the other shapes mentioned above. They are often square versions of tonneau cases that swap the tonneau's rectangular profile for a square one. They are essentially squares with puffed-out lines or circles with four corners. Either way, they are easily worn, feel and look similar to round and square cases and won't need too much getting used to.
The Bamford ⨉ Peanuts "Beagle Scout" GMT Limited Edition for Hodinkee has a 40mm × 11.7mm stainless-steel case that recalls some the greatest 1960s military dive watches. The dial features a stunning hunter green background that highlights Snoopy's "Beagle Scout" scout uniform, while the bidirectional internal rotating bezel has a 24-hour display split into two halves representing day/night.
Snoopy stands alert in the dial's center, with his outstretched paws indicating the local time. Packaged in a novel box, modelled after Snoopy's iconic doghouse and adorned with fabric in the same hunter green accent that the watch carries.
Written by Kate, for Watch Obsession.