Back to square one
Calling someone a 'square' is something of an insult. Squares are seen as boring, conventional and predictably reliable. Ned Flanders is a square, for example, as is post-Beatles Paul McCartney. However, being square doesn't have to be all bad. Indeed, being square in the watch world usually indicates a predilection for going against the grain, and some watches revel in their squareness.
The undisputed king of the square-dial watch is Jaeger-LeCoultre, the brand behind the legendary Reverso. New for 2012, and available in Hong Kong in September, is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Grande Reverso Ultra Thin SQ (above left), which any fair-minded man would agree is a stunning piece of watchmaking. The functions on this Reverso are kept to a bare minimum of hours and minutes but the watch is all about the art of the impossible - the 46mm, 18-carat, white-gold square dial has a thickness of only 7.27mm, with the 128-part movement inside measuring just 1.85mm. The dial is open-worked, giving a remarkable view of the ultra-thin movement. Art-deco detailing adorns the dial and case. The intricate arabesque shapes are all hand-crafted making this watch a must for collectors. Completing the elegance of the time-piece is the gorgeous alligator-leather strap. Unsurprisingly, given the level of craftsmanship that has gone into making this watch, the Grande Reverso Ultra Thin SQ is limited to 50 pieces and is priced at HK$469,000.
Something a little less pricey but no less elegant is the Baume et Mercier Hampton (above right). The 2012 Hampton range is a pleasing and refreshing version of a tried and trusted design, with a leather strap replaced with a polished-steel bracelet and the feature-rich dial returning to something simpler. The polished-steel, 45mm case houses a square dial design that retains its classical styling with the nice use of riveted steel numerals. Despite the seemingly large case sizing, this watch feels small on the wrist. Features-wise the new Hampton keeps things simple with a small seconds hand at the six o'clock position and a date window at the three o'clock position. The watch has a 42-hour power reserve and is water resistant to 50 metres. Available with a black or white face, the Baume et Mercier Hampton is priced at an attractive HK$27,600.
Finally, we have the Urwerk CC1 (below), a watch that could never be described as 'square' in the pejorative sense. The Urwerk CC1 is about as futuristic as wristwatches get, with the 45.7mm gold (either grey or black gold) case housing a dial that unlike the previous two classically styled watches is all about being loud and proud. The time-telling mechanism on the CC1 is complicated at first but involves an ingenious 'linear' time method where the three displays on the front show hours, minutes and seconds but once the watch is flipped over the time on the back is represented in percentages, with three coloured bars. It sounds complicated but this watch isn't really about telling the time. The inspiration behind the CC1's linear time-telling design comes from retro car speedometers and this watch is a curiously satisfying mixture of old and new. Coming with a black alligator-leather strap, the Urwerk CC1 is limited to 50 pieces: 25 in grey gold, 25 in black gold, and both with a titanium baseplate. As for the price? Well this Urwerk CC1 isn't publicly priced but it is likely to set you back a few million.