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Move over round dials: barrel-shaped watches hit the big time

Tracey Llewellyn
Steel Grip, £1,150, Gucci  - Michael Bodiam 2019

Round watches may be the norm but, increasingly, there is a demand for something a little different. Tonneau- or barrel-shaped cases hit peak popularity during the art deco period when they were heralded for their unusual design, particularly flattering to a female wrist. Today they are available in a variety of sizes, and in styles that range from the everyday to the formal.

Venerable Vacheron Constantin recognised the beauty of the barrel early on, and the shape has been a collection staple since 1912.

The contemporary Malte family of watches for men and women offers models in various precious metals and dial finishes, with a range of case- and dial-setting options.

Credit: michael bodiam. set design: zena may hendrick

From top: Titanium and diamond Spirit of Big Bang, £34,200, Hublot. 18ct-white-gold and diamond Malte manual winding, £28,700, Vacheron Constantin. FP Journe platinum and diamond Elégante, £21,300, William & Son. Steel Grip, £1,150, Gucci 

Taking a more modern approach, Hublot has chosen super-strength titanium for its latest collection of sporty Spirit of Big Bang watches. Each is set with 612 diamonds, powered by a self-winding movement and available with straps in alligator leather and sporty rubber.

Launched in 2014, the Elégante by master watchmaker FP Journe is renowned for its revolutionary electromechanical movement that, if it remains motionless for 35 minutes, switches to standby mode in order to save battery power.

Using a range of materials from titanium to platinum, with various setting options, the aesthetic finishing is everything one would expect from a Journe timepiece.

Fresh off the catwalk, Gucci's new cushion-shaped Grip is a happy halfway between round and tonneau. The collection features the gently rounded corners and bulging sides of a barrel but in a squarer form, giving a more traditional fit.

Available in PVD gold or sleek steel, with or without interlocking 'GG' logo, this quartz timepiece has three dial apertures, featuring digital jumping hours, minutes and date.

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