Watch Review: 5 Square and Rectangular Watches Under $3,000

Are you a fan of four-sided watches and looking for a “Square Deal?” In this watch review feature from our archives, we take a look at five watches from Eterna, Fortis, Frédérique Constant, Nomos and Oris, all with square or rectangular cases and all priced under $3,000*.

Square and rectangular cases have a venerable history reaching back to the earliest days of the wristwatch. Although they’ve nearly always been outnumbered by round ones, their appeal has endured a full century. Some of the most famous watches ever made have been rectilinear: the Santos-Dumont, a square model that Cartier launched commercially in 1911 (the company had produced a prototype several years earlier); the Movado Polyplan, from 1912, a curved, elongated rectangle (there were also oval Polyplan models); the Cartier Tank, from 1919; the Gruen Curvex, from 1935; the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso, introduced in 1931; and, an icon of the quartz revolution, the razor-thin Concord Delirium, from 1979.

The popularity of squares and rectangles has waxed and waned over the decades. These days, it’s on a definite upswing: recent years have produced a wave of four-sided styles. Here, WatchTime looks at five, all with prices under $5,000, so you can freshen up your watch “wardrobe” with something a little different without breaking the bank to do so.


Eterna Grand Automatic 1935
The case of this watch measures 28.8 mm x 37.5 mm, a modest size, by today’s standards, but plenty big enough to show the time and date. A layer of luminous material on the hands — though not on the markers — makes the watch legible enough at night, provided you don’t need a to-the-minute reading.

The architectonic case, with its numerous levels and edges, is matched by the faceted, applied hour markers and stamped dial. Eterna solves the innate problem of rectangular watches — of hands not extending into the corners — by lengthening the markers at 1, 5, 7, 11 and 12 o’clock. The hands are very delicate, however, and do not contrast enough with the dial to provide a sure reading of the time at first glance. A satin finish on the back of the case, and the transparent sapphire aperture that provides a view of the decorated movement, give the watch an air of elegance.

Eterna Grand Automatic 1935 - front


Download the full review here. 

Fortis Square
The Fortis Square conforms to the Fortis credo of high functionality and ease of use. White triangles beside the day-of-the-week and date indicators show which direction to turn the crown to adjust these displays. The crown itself is deeply knurled for a non-slip grip.

Legibility is ensured by broad hands and indices with luminous coating. They contrast very well with the black background. Equally high contrast enhances the legibility of the black-on-white date and day displays. The case has 38-mm-long sides and a curved back to improve its fit on the wrist. Nonetheless, this model is a bit top-heavy and has a tendency to snag on one’s shirt cuff. The case is water-resistant to 100 meters, giving the Square the highest level of water-resistance of any of the watches we examined.


Fortis Square - front


Download the full review here. 

Frédérique Constant Heart Beat Date Carrée
The Heart Beat Date Carrée contains a movement modified by the watch’s manufacturer, Frédérique Constant. The numerals around the circumference of the disk are visible not only in the window at 6 o’clock but also at the top of the large circle cut in the dial above the balance. A circular aperture of this sort is typical of all models in the Heart Beat line.

This watch is interesting from both a design and a technical point of view. Stark, angular elements (e.g., Roman numerals and an angular date window) alternate on its dial with rounded shapes (e.g., a herringbone-patterned circle in the center of the dial and a circular window above it). The elongated rhombic hands lie somewhere between these two extremes.

Frederique Constant Heart Beat Date Carree - front


Download the full review here. 

Nomos Tetra Gangreserve
Nomos is rarely content with the conventional:  the power-reserve indicator (the “gangreserve” of its name) is not the usual single hand pointing to a track; this watch has a disk with a special aperture that turns above a moving black-and-white surface. The watch will run as long as some black appears through the tapered opening. A totally white circle indicates the mainspring is completely wound down. This unusual display is not for everyone, but clearly fits within the consciously contradictory design of the watch. Nomos creates contrasts, like the circular layout of the hour markers and numerals within the rigid outline of the square dial. Tension is heightened further by the asymmetrical placement of the brand’s logo and the power-reserve display, interrupting the otherwise straight lines of the square.


Nomos Tetra Gangreserve - front


Download the full review here. 

Oris Miles Rectangular Day-Date
Although the Oris Miles Rectangular Day Date has an interesting case, it is the typography on the watch dial that really catches our attention. The curved hour markers are so lively-looking they almost appear to dance across the dial. The layout of the dial contributes to this feeling. The numerals on this watch, like the markers on the Eterna Grand Automatic, have been enlarged where necessary so that the hands can reach them: they are smaller along the sides and larger in the corners.


Oris Miles Rectangular Day-Date - front

Download the full review here. 

Prices with an asterisk (*) are circa October 2008.

This article was originally published on February 27, 2014, and has been updated.




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  1. Are there no versions of the Heuer Monaco @ 3k? I believe that would be a square watch worth looking into.

  2. One of my favorite watches in my collection is a Hamilton Square Jazzmaster automatic which unfortunately they do not make any more. Great looks, decent performance and was lss than $1000 when I bought it many moons ago.

    I do like all the ones you profiled and have been aiming to add a rectangular, as opposed to square, ‘-), Frederique Constant and while I love the Heartbeat Caree, I do not think I have ever seen one available for sale in the USA. Bummer as it is the one I would probably want.

  3. I expected to see a Bell and Ross, although they may be > $3,000.

    I liked the Fortis most and the Oris is also nice. The Fortis appeals because of the stark contrast and large numbers … clarity. Very nice indeed.

  4. No sevenfriday on the list? Its a great square watch for under 3k

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