Historically, timepieces are by default round, dictated by reason of economy due to the shape the sweep of the hands make. But as the horological world progressed from pocket watches to wristwatches, the difficulty in securely attaching straps to a curved case – not an issue with the former, which are attached at a single point to a chain – gave rise to the rectangular form seen in many fin-de-siècle tickers. Advancing manufacturing techniques have long since solved this problem, but the retro appeal of such pieces endures. Here’s five of the most iconic:
Cartier Tank Anglaise
The French luxury house has in fact three flavours of the Tank, but we focus on the latest addition, the Tank Anglaise. All trace their history back to the original inspired by the profile of a World War I armoured vehicle and the Anglaise is the streamlined embodiment of this. Note, for example, the crown that’s set within the band around the case. The “large” models are the most sought after: it houses Cartier’s in-house 1904 MC movement, visible through the open back.
Patek Philippe Men’s Gondolo Ref: 5124G-011
First launched in 2008, the only rectangular watch in the Patek catalogue (the Nautilus is more of a over-rounded square) receives a fresh look this year with a new sunburst blue dial in white gold, complemented by the shiny navy blue alligator leather strap with handsome square scales. Finishing is, naturally, top-notch. Expect a surfeit of chamfering, polishing, circular graining and Geneva striping on the manufacture movement.
TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 11 Automatic Chronograph
In a watch like this, the details matter – which it has in spades. The truest reissue of the 1969 original worn by the legendary Steve McQueen in the film Le Mans, it has a left-handed crown, the classic “Heuer” logo and a strap with a pebbled texture that mimics the one found on vintage Monacos. The production model similar to the limited-edition piece launched in 2009 – a second chance if you missed out on that.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Grande Reverso Day & Night
A unique design that needs no introduction. The watch with an entire case that swivels 180 degrees to protect the crystal from damage now comes with a new automatic movement – no mean feat, considering the thin construction needed for its unique switcheroo feature. At six o’clock is the Day & Night indicator, a 24-hour sub-dial with the bottom part in pinstripe to indicate night and the top in sunburst guilloche – how appropriate! – to indicate day.
Glashütte Original Seventies Chronograph Panorama Date
The lone German in this roundup is packed chock-full with features – its namesake chronograph (with flyback mechanism), a power reserve indicator and a large “Panorama Date” display. Blue, gunmetal and silver dials with sunburst finishes extend the late Bauhaus look. Cases are presented in stainless steel with a choice of alligator or rubber strap, or steel link bracelet.