Enter The Octagon: Watchonista’s Guide to the Most Iconic Eight-Sided Timepieces
Seven quintessential pieces of eight from Bulgari, Audemars Piguet, Girard-Perregaux, G-SHOCK, Cartier, Ferdinand Berthoud, and Yema.
Octagonal timepieces have a very special place in horology. Watches with eight-sided cases and bezels have been around since pocket watch times. And while squared and round cases are still the dominant watch shapes, octagons possess a unique aesthetic that appeals to the sporty and the avant-garde alike.
We’re here to argue that every enthusiast needs at least one example of an octagonal watch in their collection. And even though they all share a shape, each has its own instantly recognizable silhouette, which means that there’s a piece of eight for every sensibility and price point.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
The “O.G.” octagonal watch, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, was first imagined by the great Gérald Genta in 1972. According to the legend, Genta, inspired by a diver wearing an old-fashioned helmet attached to his suit by eight screws, drew up the design in a single night.
However, whether that story is true or apocryphal is not our focus today. What matters more is that its design elements were shocking in the 1970s, but it has since become recognized as the first sport-chic timepiece – a hybrid between a tool and a formal watch.
One design element, for instance, is the way the octagonal shape is accentuated by the use of hand-polished and satin-brushed finishes to emphasize its angular lines. Others are, of course, its famous tapisserie dial and integrated bracelet.
The latest version of the Royal Oak, released in January 2022, is the “Jumbo” Extra-Thin (ref. 16202). The case measures 39mm by 8mm and is 0.1mm thinner than the previous 16202. It still retains the funky chunkiness of the original but at a more universally wearable size. Finally, it should come as no surprise, but this is among the pricier of octagonal timepieces as the base model, which is encased in stainless steel, retails for $33,200.
Bulgari Octo Finissimo
When Bulgari introduced the Octo Finissimo in 2014, it became an instant icon. Its ultra-thin design emphasizes the eight-sided case shape. But proving that looks are only part of the story, this series has consistently upped the ante with innovative materials and record-breaking mechanisms.
One of our favorite iterations of this cool, contemporary timepiece is the Octo Finissimo Automatic. Why? Because this titanium-cased timepiece exemplifies all the design codes of this minimalist masterpiece. Though not as expensive at the Royal Oak, this model retails for the not insubstantial sum of $14,700, so it’s an investment for your watch gallery.
Cartier Santos Octagon
The classic Cartier Santos always had eight screws securing its rounded tank bezel, but the Santos Octagon was actuallly shaped like an eight-sided polygon. What’s particularly arresting about this two-tone (gold and stainless steel) watch is its smaller 37mm size and integrated bracelet.
When it was introduced in the 1990s, it was criticized as a wannabe AP, but with its clean white dial, Roman numerals, and use of screws as a design element – it feels 100% Cartier.
Although it was a short-lived version, there seems to be plenty on the secondary market, usually priced around $4,000.
Launched in 2019, the G-SHOCK GA2100 is the most accessible eight-sided watch. Better known by its nickname, the “CasiOak,” immediately stood out amongst its competitors because of its architecture, resilient resin case, and its strap.
More recently, however, G-SHOCK shook up the series with a collection of octagonal cases constructed out of carbon. The bezel remained resin, but the matte black finish to the cases and its neon dial accents really elevated the sporty look of the collection. For those who want to explore trends, the neon accents are also available in four color varieties: black, green, blue, and orange.
Finally, priced between $99 to $200, collectors can feel free to explore the possibilities of the CasiOak.
Perhaps the most refined of these sporty, octagonal watches, The Laureato from Girard-Perregaux made its first appearance in 1975, then reintroduced in 2016.
Compared to the more angular case shapes listed above, the Laureato features a circular dial set within an octagonal bezel surrounded by a round case. Additionally, alternating brushed and polished textures create a pleasing contrast between these shapes.
However, Girard-Perregaux’s Laureto also leans into the trend of more unusual case shapes, but in a more sophisticated way. Take, for example, the Girard-Perregaux Laureto 42mm Eternity Edition. Not only does this model, limited to 188 pieces and priced at $16,700, feature luxe finishes, but it also comes with eye-popping blue or green in-house grand feu enamel dials.
Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 1.3
Ferdinand Berthoud is one of the most intriguing independent watchmakers in the world today. And one of the brand’s most emblematic models, the Chronomètre FB 1.3, debuted in 2017, and a more recent version, the Chronomètre FB 1.3-1 Sapphire Blue, debuted in 2019.
Inspired by the underside of an 18th-century Ferdinand Berthoud marine chronometer, the futuristic Chronomètre FB 1.3-1 Sapphire Blue contains the hand-wound Calibre FB-T.FC-2. With three sapphire bridges, one-minute tourbillon, and blue accents, the intricate FB-T.FC-2 movement features pillar-type architecture with a reversed and suspended fusée-and-chain transmission mechanism.
There’s a lot of haute horology happening here, yet it never feels overwhelming thanks to its 44mm octagonal 950 platinum case. This timepiece has a modern, light feel, but with a price tag of €265,000, the Chronomètre FB 1.3-1 Sapphire Blue is for hardcore collectors only.
Why should analog watches have a monopoly on the octagon?
In the 1970s, French watchmakers YEMA launched its first LED display watch. And even though it meant going digital, the company also embraced bold designs to try and survive the low-priced competition brought on by the quartz crisis.
As far as we know, the YEMA LED is the original octagonal LED watch. That is why it’s so cool that YEMA has reissued this retro-futuristic piece in gold and silver. And one of the most fun features of the YEMA LED is the battery preservation function: The LED’s display only lights up when you push the button on the side of the case. A second push prompts the current date. Finally, a third push displays the seconds. All of this activation provides a ton of tactile satisfaction.