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02/06/2024
 5 minutes

Five Beautiful Art Deco Watches

By Sebastian Swart
Five Beautiful Art Deco Watches

Five Beautiful Art Deco Watches

Art Deco is a visual art style that arose in the first half of the 20th century, replacing the previously prominent Art Nouveau movement. The term is derived from the French Arts Décoratifs, which translates roughly to “decorative arts.” The Art Deco style had its heyday in the 1920s and 30s.

A main characteristic of the style is the use of geometric shapes such as rectangles, trapezoids, and triangles. Clean lines and perfect symmetry dominate, as do luxurious materials like gemstones, gold, and platinum. At its peak, Art Deco style made its mark on a number of areas, including architecture, painting, art design, fashion, jewelry, and of course watchmaking.

In this article, we’ll introduce you to five beautiful contemporary Art Deco watches from different price points. Each brings with it its own unique aesthetic and charm.

1. Cartier Tank – Design Inspired by Tanks

A prime example of an Art Deco luxury watch is none other than the Cartier Tank. First introduced in 1917, its rectangular design and long lugs were inspired by WWI tanks. In addition to the case shape, slanted Roman numerals are a characteristic feature of this cult watch from the French luxury manufacturer.

Another typical mark of many Tank watches is a blue sapphire cabochon that sits atop the crown. Blued hour and minute hands round out the design. Cartier offers the Tank in a wide range of materials and variants. Regardless of whether you opt for a gold, platinum, or stainless steel timepiece, your Tank will be recognizable as such at first glance.

Eine der ersten Luxusuhren im Stil des Art-Déco: die Cartier Tank.
One of the first Art Deco luxury watches – the Cartier Tank.

The variants from the Tank Louis Cartier line share many attributes with the original model. For this list, we selected the ref. WGTA0011, an 18K rose gold watch that measures 33.7 x 25.5 mm. Although this is considered the “large” Tank, the dimensions are modest enough to make it a perfect unisex watch. The timepiece is powered by the manual Cartier movement 1917MC, which has a power reserve of 38 hours. A Cartier Tank Louis Cartier ref. WGTA011 will set you back roughly $13,000 in unworn condition.

2. Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso – An Art Deco Watch With a Reversible Case

Any list of beautiful Art Deco watches would not be complete without a variant of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso. The unique selling point of the Reverso is its reversible case, which was developed exclusively for polo players in the early 1930s. The idea was to create a robust watch that could withstand a match without breaking its crystal. What could be better than a watch that simply flips over in a few easy steps? Like the Cartier Tank, the JLC Reverso has developed over the decades and become one of the most popular timepieces in the Swiss manufacturer’s lineup. There are now countless versions of the Reverso available, ranging from gold, platinum, and stainless steel versions to those set with diamonds.

The Grande Reverso Ultra Thin 1931 (ref. Q2788570) comes very close to the original Reverso from the 1930s. Jaeger-LeCoultre introduced this watch to mark the 80th anniversary of the model in 2011. The 33 x 27.5 mm stainless steel case stands just 7 mm tall. It houses a manual, in-house caliber 822 with a 45-hour power reserve. In this model, the time is displayed using individual hands for the hours and minutes. With its black dial and narrow trapezoidal indices, this Reverso has a decidedly simple look. Priced at around $13,000, this timepiece serves as a good introduction to the world of mechanical Jaeger-LeCoultre Reversos.

Der Klassiker von Jaeger-LeCoultre – Reverso Ultra Thin 1931.
The classic form Jaeger-LeCoultre – Reverso Ultra Thin 1931.

3. Patek Philippe Gondolo 7041R Small Seconds

Patek Philippe first unveiled the Gondolo collection in 1993. The Gondolo is reminiscent of historic Art Deco-style Patek watches from the early 20th century. The models are characterized by rectangular or tonneau-shaped cases, all of which are crafted in precious metals. The series stands for timeless elegance and sophisticated craftsmanship, as is typical of Patek Philippe.

Art déco auf die vielleicht eleganteste Weise – Patek Philippe Gondolo 7041R.
Art Deco and elegant – Patek Philippe Gondolo 7041R

For this list, we’ve selected the reference number 7041R with a small seconds. This beautiful luxury watch is exceptional in a number of ways: the square rose gold case stands out with its rounded edges, giving it a somewhat cushion-shaped appearance; the delicately crafted lugs, which appear to be one with the case, are especially elegant; the 7041R features a silver-white dial printed with Roman numerals. Patek Philippe doesn’t hold back with this model: the rehaut is set with a total of 108 diamonds, which weigh some 0.31 carats.

A hand-wound 215PS caliber powers the watch. This movement displays hours and minutes and has a small seconds at 6 o’clock. The power reserve comes it at 44 hours. Expect to see prices around $41,000 for this watch on the secondary market – slightly more than its official list price. All things considered, this is a bargain by Patek standards.

4. Frederique Constant Art Déco Oval

The Genevan watchmaker Frederique Constant is a comparatively young player in the world of luxury watches. Founded in 1988, the company focuses on high-quality timepieces that are accessible for a wider audience. However, the brand is not lacking in exclusivity; in the past few decades, the manufacturer has developed its own series of in-house calibers. Frederique Constant has been a member of the Japanese Citizen Group since 2016.

The Art Déco Oval (ref. FC-200MPW2V6B) is an attractive stainless steel women’s watch that offers exceptional value for money with a market price just under the $1,000 mark. Of course, you won’t be finding precious metals or gemstones at this price. The 30 x 25-mm case is crafted in stainless steel and does without any bells or whistles. Nevertheless – or perhaps because of this – the watch exudes a classic elegance and makes a high-quality impression. The silver mother-of-pearl dial features printed Roman numerals and a stylish guilloché finish at its center.

The Art Déco Oval does not, however, offer a sophisticated mechanical caliber. You’ll find a very precise quartz movement inside, which FC sources from the traditional Swiss movement maker Ronda. According to the manufacturer, the battery life is 60 months.

5. Girard Perregaux Vintage 1945

Luxury watchmaker Girard-Perregaux from La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland demands slight higher prices, but with the extra money comes extra exclusivity. Girard-Perregaux has roots dating back to 1791. The brand is best known for its popular Laureato model from 1975.

The manufacturer’s 1945 collection offers a different vibe with numerous Art Deco-style timepieces. The Vintage 1945 XXL Large Date with a moon phase (ref. 25882-11-121-BB6B) is one such watch.

Manufakturqualität zum attraktiven Marktpreis – Girard Perregaux Vintage 1945 XXL.
Manufacture quality at an attractive price – Girard-Perregaux Vintage 1945 XXL

The model is housed in a stainless steel case measuring 36.10 x 35.25 mm. Its size makes it more geared toward larger wrists or those who appreciate a sizable watch. As you’d expect, the silver dial is very elegant with its applied Arabic indices. The date is located below the 12 o’clock position, and the moon phase sits between 5 and 7.

At the heart of the Vintage 1945 XXL Large Date is the in-house GP03300. This movement features a system to display the outsize date that has been patented by Girard-Perregaux. The date is shown via two discs that measure just 0.10 mm thick, allowing the date to change within a tenth of a second. The power reserve is approximately 46 hours. You can enjoy a view of the movement at work through the watch’s sapphire crystal case back. Market prices for the Girard-Perregaux 1945 are very attractive. While official list prices are closer to $15,000, you can find examples on the open market closer to $7,500.

So, that’s our taster of some beautiful Art Deco watches at different price points. Which is your favorite?


About the Author

Sebastian Swart

I've been using Chrono24 for years to buy and sell watches, as well as for research purposes. I've had an infatuation with watches for as long as I can remember. As a …

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