The 5 best square watchesTom Austin
Over the past 100 years, wristwatch trends have changed significantly, yet none stand out more so than the classic square case design. The enduring appeal of this four-sided movement continues today, and if your tastes align with the more angled variety of watches, there are plenty of choices – here’s our pick of the five best.
Bell & Ross BR03
Described as “professional instruments for extreme professions”, Bell & Ross pride themselves on their aeronautical connections. With the case and dials designed specifically to suit the look and feel of the instruments in vintage aeroplanes, the 42mm BR03 series is an interesting and unique collection of watches, which would catch the eye of any aspiring pilot. Focusing on legibility and function, the BR03 is available with GMT and Chronograph complications, or a simple three-handed configuration. Even though the range-topping sapphire-cased, tourbillon-equipped models stray a bit from the cockpit-inspired industrial design, they’re one of the most recognisable square designs around.
Nomos Glashütte Tetra
Probably the squarest of square watches in this list, the Nomos Tetra is a mix of modern simplicity with some vintage 50s’ touches. Hailing from the small town of Glashütte, known as the birthplace of German watchmaking, the Tetra, first launched in 1991, is a staple in the Nomos catalogue, with its simple manual winding movement. The 29.5mm stainless-steel case is made up of three parts, and finished with a sapphire crystal up front. The Tetra is available in a multitude of dial colour and strap combinations, each with its own look and feel. The Tetra’s name is derived from the Greek meaning for four of something – I wonder what that might be referring to…
Unveiled in 2021, the H08 became the luxury French designer brand’s sports watch entry into the market, and raised some eyebrows. For a long time, fashion brands have struggled to be taken seriously in the world of luxury watchmaking, but the playful contemporary design sparked some significant interest. The softly rounded edges of the square 39mm case are crafted from a solid block of glass fibre composite, coupled with brightly coloured rubber straps that mean this watch is incredibly lightweight. There’s even an exhibition caseback showcasing the Vaucher movement inside, powering the simple three-hander with date complication. The H08 is a unique, luxury timepiece and has established Hermès in the luxury sports watch sector.
Cartier Santos de Cartier
It’s a well-known fact that the Cartier Santos was one of the first men’s wristwatches ever created, dating back to 1904 when Louis Cartier made a wristwatch for Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont, who disliked using a pocket watch while flying. Thus, the Cartier Santos was born, making it the first pilot’s watch. The design experienced Art Deco changes through the ’20s and ’30s morphing into more or less what we have today, and it’s become one of the most iconic watches available. Carrying Cartier’s fantastic levels of quality and style, the Santos is beautifully finished and available in black PVD, steel and precious metal versions.
TAG Heuer Monaco
An icon of design, there’s no square watch more instantly recognisable than a Monaco. Launched in 1969 in honour of the Monaco Grand Prix, this square chronograph became synonymous with the wonders of motorsport, especially back in the glory days of Formula 1. Famously worn by Steve McQueen for the 1971 film Le Mans, McQueen’s effortlessly cool demeanour almost became part of the watch itself, with TAG Heuer using the images for decades onwards. At the recent 2023 Monaco Grand Prix, TAG Heuer released its latest version of the iconic square timepiece, featuring a full titanium case with a skeletonised dial exposing its in-house made movement, the Heuer 02. Available in three different styles, the Monaco has been brought bang up to date, while retaining that ubiquitous style and effortless cool that the watch is so famous for – we’ll see whether Verstappen sticks with his Dark Lord.