A round dress watch with simple stick indices and an elegant design is classic for a reason, but the formal style can be much more than that. The tonneau and squarish shapes that were popular in the 1960s and ’70s — most commonly seen in the likes of sporty divers — are now experiencing a resurgence among modern watches with “vintage inspiration.” For more basic dress models, however, that slightly unusual, barrel-like (“tonneau”) case shape combined with vintage sizing can offer a standout wrist presence unlike almost anything else, even despite small sizing and otherwise conservative designs.
Each of the three watches below, from respected and prestigious brands, offers a slightly different take on this killer look — and they are all in the relatively affordable range.
What We Like: In decades past, King Seiko existed alongside the Grand Seiko tier of higher-end watches from the Japanese brand, but they are less known today because of Grand Seiko’s modern rise to prominence. This one from 1969 not only features the seductive combination of a very conservative dial design with the tonneau case shape, but also a linen-textured dial. A thin 38mm-wide case makes it essentially equivalent in size to many modern dress watches. On top of it all, the movement inside is one of Seiko’s “hi-beat” mechanical movements operating at 5Hz.
From the Seller: The case’s brushed surface is completely intact with one ding under the crown, and the polished surface has some scratches normal for a watch of this age.
Omega Geneve Automatic
What We Like: For not much more than the King Seiko above, you can get a beautiful Swiss-Made Omega from 1974 with an interesting and unique look. At 36mm wide, this has an unusual case shape that is almost rectangular but with curved edges and a “tv-shaped” dial. It results in a restrained but striking silhouette. Behind a screw-down case back, it has a beautifully finished Omega 1020 automatic movement.
From the Seller: Overall the watch is in NOS condition. The recently serviced watch works perfectly.
What We Like: Zenith had a number of funky case shapes in the 1960s and ’70s, and they offer another great take on the tonneau dress watch style here. With a brilliant blue dial and blocky indices that give it a real ’60s charm, this example is powered by a Zenith automatic movement. At 36mm wide, it’s “vintage sized” but is sure to stand out on the wrist.
From the Seller: The watch is new-old-stock with the protective cover still on the case. Movement runs great.