The Return of the Rectangular Watch

·2-min read
Photo credit: Oris
Photo credit: Oris

The author Truman Capote was, according to legend, once so incensed by the watch a journalist interviewing him was wearing that he flung his own across the table. “Take that ugly watch off your wrist, and put on that one,” he is supposed to have said. “I beg you, keep it, I have at least seven at home.” The watch was a Cartier Tank.

While it’s advisable to take any Capote story with a pinch of salt, it doesn’t really matter how true it is. The Cartier Tank is precisely the watch Capote should have had seven of – with its distinctive elongated square case, it was not like other watches. It spoke of refinement, elegance and distinction – of good taste and of standing apart from the crowd. Andy Warhol and Yves Saint Laurent wore Tanks. So does Jay-Z.

Rectangular watches are back in fashion. Fans of Hermès’ Cape Cod, Longines’ Dolce Vita and Patek Philippe’s Ten Day Tourbillon Ref. 5101P would say they never left the party.

Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso is currently celebrating its 90th year with a chic exhibition in Paris, where you may examine dozens of examples of the iconic watch that comes with all the right angles, and sample fine rectangular-shaped pastries in “Cafe 1935”, Reverso’s birth year.

Still, there has been a rash of new rectangular models in 2021. An updated version of A. Lange & Söhne’s fancy Cabaret Tourbillon Handwerkskunst, its rectangular watch now coming with added artisanal decoration. The micro-brand Fears, revived in 2016, celebrated its 175th anniversary with a pair of rectangular watches, both called Archival 1930, and both powered by vintage movements found in old stock and rebuilt. And for less-deep pockets, today Oris launched new versions of its Oris Rectangle.

Dressy, unisex and with obvious Art Deco influences, the new line comes in white, blue, anthracite and “Bordeaux” colours, with a “rail track” running around the outer edge of the dial and retro numerals on the face. Each watch comes with a matching quick-change leather strap (the white-dialed one is on yellow) and cost CHF1800 (about £1,4500).

oris.ch

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