‘Great Gatsby’ Style Watches

Baz Luhrmann’s adapation of The Great Gatsby made its US debut this week, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan.

Fitzgerald’s famous novel, described by some as “the greatest love story ever told,” is a twisting tale of passion, drama and tragedy and the film has been highly anticipated for the last few years. Set in the roaring 1920’s, with its lavish decadence and Art Deco style, the film is set to be a hit amongst vintage fans and film lovers alike.

We asked watch expert Ariel Adams to talks us through some of his favourite ‘Great Gatsby’ style timepieces…

The 1920’s was the first major decade after the birth of the modern wrist watch. It was a time of incredible experimentation, resulting in a rich world of design that celebrated the marriage of a strap and pocket timepiece. The conservative watch, as we know it, was not popularized until later so the 1920’s wrist watch was very much a luxury item. Many were inspired by Art Deco décor and to this day a lot of the best designs from the 1920’s remain quite classic. I’ve selected five of my favourite modern wrist watches which celebrate the era…

Baume & Mercier Capeland

The new Capeland model is really an “old” Capeland, as Baume & Mercier borrowed its design aesthetic from vintage sports chronographs, which were first produced in the 1920’s. Chronograph watches, with stopwatches inside them, were useful when participating in any type of sporting activity where timing was required. Legibly, these early sports watches took inspiration from gauges but they also retained a warm decorative feel. The 44mm wide Capeland with its rounded Arabic numerals and snailed scales is a great representation of the past. Inside is a La Joux-Perret automatic flyback chronograph movement.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso

Jaeger-LeCoultre finished up the design of the Reverso in the late 1920’s, as a watch to be worn whilst playing Polo. Why? It had a flipping case design which allowed the solid metal back part of the case to be displayed at the front in lieu of the glass crystal. Similar Reverso watches are still sold today, and they retain that beautiful art deco appeal in the rectangular case, which is available in both steel and gold. Inside the watch is a 100% in-house made Jaeger-LeCoultre mechanical movement.

Cartier Tank

Cartier’s first Tank watch was created as a gift for US World War I officer General John Pershing, by Louis Cartier. The iconic rectangular/square case design was inspired by the lines and proportions of World War I tanks, which were found on the battlefields across Europe. Today’s Tank model still retains this vintage heritage with its extra flat case, Roman numerals and sword shape blue steel hands which complement the sapphire beaded crown. It is powered by a hand-wound calibre 430MC in-house mechanical movement.

Longines La Grande Classique

For men, as well as women, Longines offers the lovely and ultra-thin La Grande Classique collection. Simple round dials make way for elegant Roman numeral hour markers, reminiscent of pocket watch faces. The bar-style lug that attaches to the strap is a design that started close to when the wrist watch was born. A range of La Grande Classique models are available in either steel or gold cases, with alligator or metal bracelets.

Frederique Constant Art Deco

One of the most popular case shapes of the 1920’s was the tonneau, or barrel-shaped case. It is difficult to pinpoint why but there seemed to be a distinct effort to move away from round cases as much as possible. Round cased watches were probably too reminiscent of pocket watches and consumers at the time were looking for something new. The Frederique Constant Art Deco watch for ladies has a petite 21.5mm wide tonneau case which is plated with 18k gold. Pomme-style hands and Roman numerals mark watches of the art deco era, as they were seen as a symbol of class and status. Arabic numerals were too pedestrian much of the time. This Art Deco-style watch is attached to a five-link metal bracelet.