There is something special about a square, rectangular watch, something unexpected. The first square watches came into fashion in the 1920s and 1930s. For generations, gentlemen had carried pocket watches, of which almost all were round, but as watches migrated to the wrist, men were looking for shapes that pushed this new style even further. Enter the square watch.
There are two models that define the art deco look of that period, the Cartier Tank, inspired by the actual Renault FT-17 tanks of that time, and the Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso. These watches became instant icons with the help of some legendary silver screen appearances and some of the day’s biggest stars (see Rudolph Valentina in The Son of The Sheik and Cary Grant in North by Northwest). The square and rectangle trend wouldn’t last long, however, as the round watch quickly became the standard. That doesn’t mean that they died out completely, but rather they became the exception, not the rule. It wasn’t until the late 60s that the square watch would have its renaissance, where we find today’s reference.
The ’60s were a rebellious time with a diversity of thought expressed through music, cars, drugs, and yes, even watches. The eponymous square watch of this era is undoubtedly the Heuer Monaco, made famous by Steve McQueen in the film Le Mans, but the Omega Seamaster Compressor we have here today actually predated that design. At this point, the Seamaster line had built quite a reputation for Omega. It stood for durability, quality, and most importantly, water resistance. Water resistance and square watches, however, don’t play well together as the corners are weak points in gaskets and case backs. Yet the designer of this watch had other plans in mind. He employed the newly invented ‘compressor’ technology which used four wedge-shaped ‘bolts’ on the lid which snap into recesses on the case and ‘pressed’ the bottom against the crystal, with a seal in between. The greater the pressure on either the crystal or the lid, the better is it pressed against the seal thus blocking the entrance of water more effectively. This innovation is what makes this watch stand out among its dressier, rectangular peers. It was meant to be sporty.
Don’t be deceived by the 34mm case width on this watch as it wears large on the wrist. Square and rectangular watches wear completely different than their round counterparts. Hodinkee has a great write up on how to think about these two comparatively. The stainless steel case of this watch is in excellent condition for its age. It shows only minor scratches throughout and still retains its sharp edges. The case back is in rougher shape. It shows a number of keep scratches from tools used to remove the compressor case and change straps.
The Dial and Hands
The watch wears a simple silver dial with subtle vertical brush marks. The simple dial is highlighted by polished and black sandwich applied hour markers. There is a bit of dirt or grime along the edges of the dial that should be able to be cleaned up by a competent watch maker.
This watch is powered by the in-house quickset calibre 565, the twenty-four jewel sister to the famous Constellation chronometer movements of the 1960’s. The watch is running and keeping good time. The service history of the watch is unknown.
|Location||New York City|
|Movement||Automatic Calibre 565|
|Case Material||Stainless Steel|
|Band Material||Leather Strap|