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Top 12 Watch Case Shapes You Should Know

Do you have a favorite watch case shape?

There are many different watch case shapes to choose from, and it can be hard to find the right one.

The shapes range from octagonal, tonneau, asymmetrical, or even ellipse. Some of the most popular ones include: round (the most common), rectangular or square.

If you’re not sure what type to get for your next purchase then read this blog post on the top 12 watch case shapes out there.

Watch Case Shapes

  1. Round
  2. Rectangular
  3. Tank
  4. Square
  5. Tonneau
  6. Cushion
  7. Octagonal
  8. Oval
  9. Ellipse
  10. Carage
  11. Asymmetrical
  12. Avant-garde

We also have a comparison chart of all the watch case shapes.

1. Round

Orient Bambino Version 2 ( Image : Orient)

The round watch case shape is the watch shape that you’ll see the most. This shape is the most common and the most popular of the watch case shapes.

Round watch cases were the first shape used on the first wristwatches worn by men during World War I. 

Nicknamed Trench Watches, these timepieces set the trend for men wearing round shaped wristwatches. Before that wristwatches were seen as a feminine accessory. 

Wristwatch Commercial 1918 (Image : Wikipedia)

Since then circular cases have remained the favorite among watch wearers around the world.

2. Rectangular

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso (Image : Jaeger-LeCoultre)

There’s something timeless and elegant about a rectangular shaped watch case. This Art Deco design started in the early 20th century, with many models made to follow suit.

The Reverso from Jaeger-LeCoultre, is a watch collection made up of watches with a rectangular watch case shape.

Though rectangular watches are nowhere near as popular as round watches. It’s a style that is still featured in many watch collections today.

3. Tank

Tank Louis Cartier (Image : Cartier)

The Tank watch from the luxury French watch brand Cartier, is one of the most recognizable watches in the world.

First created in 1917, it was inspired by the shape of a World War I tank. 

Cartier’s famous watch case has a rectangular watch case shape. However the tips of the lugs are rounded. Plus the crown has a gem stone attached to it.

The dial has Roman numerals surrounding the timepiece. It’s a classic watch design that will never go out of style.

4. Square

Square watch shaped cases have been around since the early 1900s. They were a popular style during the 20s and the 30s.

Square shaped watches have a retro vibe to them.

TAG Heuer’s Monaco watch was the first square case shaped automatic chronograph. Released in 1969, and is still available today.

TAG Heuer Monaco (Image : TAG Heuer)

This case shape goes in and out of fashion. Right now it seems to be a hit, with many watch brands featuring square watches.

Bell & Ross are another luxury watch brand that are a fan of using square watch cases on their watches. This French brand specialize in square shaped pilot and military timepieces.

Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Black Matte (Image : Bell & Ross)

5. Tonneau

The tonneau watch case shape gives watches that Art Deco vibe. These watch case shapes were popular in the Art Deco era.

The word “tonneau” is French for a barrel. Meaning that this watch case looks like the shape of a barrel. With straight top and bottom edges, and then with sides that burst out. 

Longines Evidenza collection uses the tonneau shape. This collection embodies the style of the 1920s.

Longines Evidenza (Image : Longines)

Whereas the Malte collection from holy trinity watch brand; Vacheron Constantin. These Tonneau watch case shapes have been around since 1912!

Vacheron Constantin Malte (Image : Vacheron Constantin)

6. Cushion

A cushion watch case shape is a cross between a square and a circle. Some watch enthusiasts even call this shape a squircle

The cushion-case is most commonly found on dive watches and sports watches. But you’ll also find them on dressier timepieces from time to time too.

Panerai Radiomir Venti (Image : Panerai)

The Radiomir cushion shaped watch is still legendary today. These watches were some of the first cushion shaped watches, and were first released in 1936.

This Italian watch brand, Panerai, helped pioneer this watch case shape. 

Then Japanese watch brand, Seiko, released a later cushion-shaped watch range in 1976. Nicknamed the Turtle, this watch collection was a hit, and was re-released in 2016.

Seiko Turtle SRPA21 PADI (Image : Seiko)

7. Octagonal

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak (Image : Audemars Piguet)

The octagonal watch case shape of Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak watch has been one of the brand’s signatures since the 1970s.

Audemars Piguet are known as one the holy trinity watch brands.

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watch can be considered the very first real “luxury sports watch”. Sparking a whole new style of watch, i.e. the luxury sports watch. Probably one of the most popular styles of watches today.

The octagonal Royal Oak watch has inspired so many other luxury watch brands to make octagonal watch case shaped watches today.

8. Oval

Chopard L’Heure du Diamant (Image : Chopard)

Oval watch case shapes are not as popular today. However, they’re a very delicate and dainty timepiece most often worn as a dress watch by women. 

A watch with an oval case shape offers a more elegant aesthetic than traditional round watches. Making them perfect to wear on formal occasions.

Their bands tend to be thinner than round watches which can make them seem even classier.

You’ll often see watch brands that specialize in jewelry too. Like Swiss luxury brand Chopard who feature oval watches in their collections. Often beautifully decorated and dripping in diamonds.

9. Ellipse

Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse Platinum (Image : Patek Philippe)

The combination of a rectangle and a circle creates this watch case shape. Forming a rounded rectangular shape known as an Ellipse watch case shape.

The ellipse is often confused with the oval watch case shape. Yet the ellipse has flatter top and bottom edges, while an oval case has more pointed ones. 

These watch cases make perfect shapes for elegant dress watches. As seen in the Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse collection.

Patek Philippe launched this range of ellipse shaped watches in 1968. They referenced the use of the mathematical ‘golden ratio’ discovered in ancient Greece. To help create this case shape.

10. Carage

Piaget Treasures (Image : Piaget)

The carage is a watch case shape that only experts would know.

This term is not often used to describe a case’s shape. It’s an old fashioned term, and now watch brands often use the word oval to describe this shape instead.

A carage shape is similar to an oval on its side. A horizontal oval shaped watch case.

11. Asymmetrical

Asymmetrical watch case shapes can be super cool timepieces. These watches lack symmetry in some way and usually look pretty unique in terms of the shape of their case.

One asymmetrical timepiece that is an icon is the Crash by Cartier.

Created first in 1967. This watch captures the essence of the swinging sixties, according to Cartier.

Crash de Cartier (Image : Sotheby’s)

However, asymmetrical watches can also take place inside the watch case. Specifically on the dial.

Take the PanoMaticLunar watch by Glashütte Original as an example.

This watch features a standard round watch case shape. Yet the dial is laid out in a very unusual way and can only be described as asymmetrical. 

Glashütte Original PanoMaticLunar (Image : Glashütte Original)

12. Avant-garde

Then, lastly, there are the avant-garde watch case shapes. These are for the watches that have no specific watch case shape.

The term “avant-garde” in the watch industry is an unconventional shape for a timepiece, and this design represents something that has never been seen before. 

The avant-garde watch case shapes are all unique, but they have one thing in common: each of them redefines conventions by challenging norms. 

These designs first came into being through Hamilton’s Ventura and Richard Arbib watches from the 1950s. 

Nowadays many of the top watch brands release beautiful avant-garde timepieces to show off their watchmaking skills.

Like Audemars Piguet’s Sapphire Orb watch, which doubles as a beautiful bracelet too. It takes the shape of a teardrop when worn on the wearers wrist.

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Audemars Piguet Sapphire Orbe (Source : Audemars Piguet)

Watch Case Shapes Comparison Chart

Check out our quick comparison chart of all the case watch shapes that you should know.

Watch Case ShapesExample
Round
Rectangular
Tank
Square
Tonneau
Cushion
Octagonal
Oval
Ellipse
Carage
Asymmetrical
Avant-garde

To Sum Up

The cases of your watches can come in many different shapes and sizes. From the classic round case shape, to a rectangular shape, to a cushion-case. There are plenty to pick from.

Learn more about some of the watch brands featured here in our guide to world’s best luxury watch brands.

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