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11 of the Best Art Deco Watches to Buy Right Now

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Small Seconds

Art Deco is a term that gets thrown around a lot in the watch industry, although we’re by no means the only industry guilty of this – architecture can’t get enough of it either. Meaning that there are an awful lot of Art Deco watches out there. We’ll take a look at 11 of the best Art Deco watches in just a moment but first, where does this term come from and what does it actually mean in the context of wristwatches?

Well, Art Deco (short for Arts Décoratifs – derived from the Exposition Internationale de Arts  Décoratifs in 1925) is a visual arts style that was developed in France during the 1910s and which proliferated across Europe and America in the 1920s. It brought a sense of modernity to design through the use of geometric and repeating patterns. This modern attitude to design was embraced by the boom period of the 20s all the way from trendy Parisian cafés to lavish American mansions à la Great Gatsby and iconic buildings like the Chrysler.

Chrysler Building New York 1932

Chrysler Building, 1932

In wristwatch design, this expresses itself in several ways. Firstly, there’s case shapes. Instead of the traditional round case, Art Deco embraces more unusual shapes with rectangular, square, tonneau and cushion shaped timepieces becoming champions of the style. Secondly, the dials also have a similar geometric focus with sector dials, railway minute tracks and cursive or Roman typefaces being popular elements.

There are a lot of watch brands out there that have dabbled in the Deco. If you’re looking vintage, some of the biggest players were Longines, Cartier, Bulova, Patek Philippe and Elgin. If you’re looking for a new watch, the market is full of a wide variety of Art Deco watches that are either heritage recreations in the vein of the Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921 or modern tributes like Farer’s Cushion Case. Let’s get into the best Art Deco watches to buy right now.

Best Art Deco Watches

Cartier Tank Louis Cartier

Cartier Tank Louis Cartier

The Tank Louis Cartier is one of the seminal models in the wider Tank range, first debuting back in 1922. It’s named after Louis-François Cartier who founded the brand in the 1800s, although it was actually designed by one of his grandchildren who was also called Louis Cartier. In the early 1920s the Tank was still a very new design and was known for having military influences – specifically a Renault tank from 1917.

The Tank Louis Cartier moved away from those military elements by lengthening the piece and softening the brancards and edges. The modern Tank Louis Cartier follows this same design ethos with 33.7 x 25.5mm rectangle case in rose gold, a white dial with Roman numerals and a railway minute track. You can’t talk about the best Art Deco watches without mentioning this one.

Case/dial: 33.7mm x 25.2mm, 18k rose gold case, white dial
Water resistance: 30m (3 bar)
Movement: Cartier calibre 1917 MC, manual winding, 38h power reserve
Strap: Leather
Price: £12,500

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Longines DolceVita

Longines DolceVita

Longines have a few models that could easily find a home in this article such as the Evidenza. However, the collection that sees the most regular updates and additions is the DolceVita with an extensive range of men’s and women’s timepieces.

This DolceVita Ref. L5.757.4.73.8 is on the more masculine side of things with a fairly chunky rectangular case and cool sector dial. It features a railway track minute scale around the periphery with a 12/3/6/9 hour display and central crosshair pattern.

Case/dial: 27.7mm x 43.8mm stainless steel case, silver dial
Water resistance: 30m (3 bar)
Movement: Longines calibre L592, automatic, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 45h power reserve
Strap: Synthetic and leather
Price: £2,150

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Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Small Seconds

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Small Seconds

Looking back at the heritage of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso it dates back to 1931, technically just after the boom period of Art Deco design but it has subsequently become one of the archetypical Art Deco designs.

It’s also one of the few objects where you’ll find Art Deco design and horses side by side as the Reverso was originally designed to be worn during horse polo. The Reverso Tribute in its many variations, including this small seconds model, pays homage to the original 1931 design with the lines of its gadroons, Dauphine hands and applied hour markers.

Case/dial: 45.6mm x 27.4mm, stainless steel case, white dial
Water resistance: 30m (3 bar)
Movement: Jaeger-LeCoultre calibre 822, manual winding, 19 jewels, 21,600 vph (3 Hz) frequency, 42h power reserve
Strap: Grey leather
Price: £10,100

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Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921

Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921

I need to put my hands up and say that the Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921 is my absolute grail watch so calling it one of the best Art Deco watches is a little bias. I love the sleekness of its white gold cushion case, the unique positioning of its crown, the off-kilter dial with Breguet numerals and Breguet hands.

It strikes the right chords of artistic design, quality and novelty. That rotated dial is designed to make the watch easier to read while you’re driving, holding your arm at 45 degrees as you hold the wheel. Exactly the kind of cool, modern thing people were doing in the 1920s.

Case/dial: 40mm x 40mm 18k white gold case, white dial
Water resistance: 30m (3 bar)
Movement: Vacheron Constantin calibre 4400 AS, manual winding, 21 jewels, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 65h power reserve
Strap: Brown leather
Price: £38,900

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Hamilton Boulton

Hamilton Boulton

The Hamilton Boulton itself doesn’t date back to the Art Deco period, debuting in 1941. However, over the last 80 years it has earned a reputation in its own right for being a cool heritage timepiece with an Art Deco design – it’s cool enough that Indiana Jones wears one.

The modern version of the watch is a quartz timepiece with a tonneau shape and that signature railway track scale that we’ve seen so often in this article for the minutes and small seconds.

Case/dial: 27mm x 31.6mm stainless steel case with gold PVD coating, white dial
Water resistance: 30m (3 bar)
Movement: Quartz
Strap: Brown leather
Price: £690

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Farer Cushion Case Durham

Farer Cushion Case Durham

With the Farer Cushion Case Durham we finally arrive at a modern, contemporary watch with Art Deco inspiration with no heritage connection to the early 20th century. The steel case measures 38.5mm in diameter in the titular cushion shape, which is a curved hybrid somewhere between a round and square design.

Adding to the Art Deco homage is the sector style display of the dial, where the dial is clearly split into separate areas for the railway minute track, hour scale, subdial and central hands. There are other colourways available but the grey and salmon of the Durham feels the most retro.

Case/dial: 38.5mm diameter stainless steel case, salmon copper dial with slate grey circle
Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: Sellita calibre SW216-1, manual winding, 24 jewels, 45h power reserve
Strap: Leather with stainless steel buckle
Price: £895

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Bremoir Lexington Cloud Club

Bremoir Lexington Cloud Club

Bremoir don’t hide the fact that they pay homage to the Art Deco movement, in fact they celebrate it effusively. Even their logo is in an Art Deco geometric style. The Lexington Cloud Club also pays tribute to one of the iconic pieces of Art Deco architecture, the Chrysler Building, named after the exclusive men’s club found on its upper floors.

You can also see the influence of the Chrysler Building in the watch’s design with the triangular tips on the hour markers that mimic the tapering point of the building.

Case/dial: 39mm diameter stainless steel case, white dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Swiss calibre STP 1-11, automatic, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 44h power reserve
Strap: Leather
Price: £789

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Van Brauge Empire

Van Brauge Empire

Where Bremoir pay homage to the Chrysler Building, Van Brauge pay tribute to that other famous Art Deco New York landmark, the Empire State Building. From the front, the Empire follows a fairly conventional Art Deco design with Roman numerals and a peripheral minute track.

However, turning the watch over reveals its party trick, the rotor for the automatic movement is shaped like the Empire State Building. It’s one of the most striking and fun interpretations of a rotor I’ve seen and it looks incredible.

Case/dial: 38mm diameter stainless steel case, champagne dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Van Brague calibre VB-24A, automatic, 26 jewels, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 38h power reserve
Strap: Tan leather
Price: £2,200

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Fears Brunswick 40

Fears Brunswick 40

Fears is modern heritage revival brand so while in its current iteration it wasn’t around in the 1920s, they do have archival, heritage designs dating to the height of the Art Deco period. There’s specifically an archival watch from 1924 that formed the basis of the Fears Brunswick 40.

The Brunswick features a 40mm cushion case with a salmon dial featuring a quasi-sector display and the obligatory railway track minute scale. It’s one of the more understated Art Deco dials out there and earns it a place among the best Art Deco watches.

Case/dial: 40mm diameter stainless steel case, salmon dial
Water resistance: 150m (15 bar)
Movement: ETA calibre 2824-2, automatic, 25 jewels, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 42h power reserve
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet
Price: £3,750

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Vario Versa

Vario Versa

Not many brands dare to tackle the concept of the reversible display considering how much of a JLC signature it is. However, one brand who have taken it on is Vario, with their watch the Versa, which features a dual face display that flips vertically rather than horizontally.

It features a rectangular design with both faces featuring well established Art Deco design elements such as the style of the minute track and sector layout. It also happens to be one of the most accessible at less than £400.

Case/dial: 39mm x 26mm stainless steel case with DLC coating, white dial
Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: 2 x Rhonda Slimyech 1062 Quartz
Strap: Veg tan Italian leather
Price: £345

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Duckworth Prestex Coronation 2023

Duckworth Prestex Coronation 2023

This limited edition produced for the 2023 Coronation of King Charles by Duckworth Prestex is yet another classic example of British Art Deco design, similar to the Fears Brunswick.

The limited edition is based on the Bolton range with its stylised numerals and stepped dial with raised ring for the hour scale. I like the off-centre subdial adding a splash of character to the display kind of like the off-kilter VC American.

Case/dial: 39mm diameter, brushed stainless steel, salmon dial
Water resistance: 200m (20 bar)
Movement: Miyota calibre 82S5, automatic, 21,600 vph (3 Hz) frequency, 21 jewels, 48h power reserve
Strap: Leather
Price: £795

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About the author

Michael Sonsino

As Digital Editor for Oracle Time, Michael needs an eye for detail, which makes it a good thing that his twin joys in life are miniatures and watches. He's a lifelong fan of fine timepieces, especially those of a more historic nature - if it has a twist of Art Deco, all the better. Recent purchase: Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-Interpretation. Grail watch: Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921.