alexa Tonneau Type Cases | Louis Cartier | Franck Müller | Vacheron Constantin | Richard Mille

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A Brief Overview of Tonneau Type Cases

Today we will talk about forms and shapes, not brands, models, or features. The rising star, more precisely the rising shape, of the watch world, "Tonneau" is under the spotlight.


Tonneau means barrel in French... It is also one of the greatest gifts Louis Cartier offered to the world of horology. Just like the square-shaped Santos or the rectangular Tank or even the Crash series that looked like it just popped out of a Salvador Dali painting. Tonneau was a form that would respond to all the wishes of Cartier, who was looking for a comfortable and stylish watch compatible with the natural curve of the wrist. I'm sure he wasn't aware of what a striking invention he had made in those years.


Just six years after Cartier's Tonneau, another giant, Vacheron Constantin, showed up with a Tonneau-shaped watch in 1912. The contrary design of the developing watch world, the Tonneau represented the future and innovation. Round forms were then said to belong to the past.

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We cannot say it happened exactly like that, but the Tonneau case form has certainly found a strong place for itself. In today's watch world, many brands include these watches in their collections. Moreover, these cases can adapt to almost any style, from stylish categories to extremely sporty models.

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We can never deny that Franck Müller is one of the pioneers of the modern Tonneau-watch trend. These watches, which we could not avoid seeing wherever we turned our heads for a certain period, had extraordinary lines and details, where elegant lines were combined with bold forms. Today, Vacheron Constantin still includes tonneau-shaped watches in the Malte collection. Of course, we cannot go without mentioning Cartier, the creator of the form. The Tonneau model, positioned within the Prive collection, reinforces its proud image with its simple lines. Hublot, the Swiss brand, which stands out with its sporty models, includes tonneau-shaped watches in its collection. The Spirit of Big Bang series includes watches adorned with complications and produced with alternative materials. Chopard, Longines, Tissot, and many more. Many brands continue to feature Tonneau case watches in their modern collections.

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There is such a brand that in today's world of high watchmaking, it is a name that reinvents the Tonneau case and carries this form as its signature. Of course, I'm talking about Richard Mille. Richard says: “I arrived at the shape one night when I couldn’t sleep. I was trying to create a form that would sit perfectly on the human wrist, and that had a certain organic sensuality but also expressed my obsession with performance and technicality. I went to a hotel bathroom, unwrapped a bar of soap, and began carving it with a knife. I carried this piece of soap with me back home. Eventually, it broke and I created a cardboard prototype. That was the genesis.” It would be difficult to find someone who talks about the Tonneau case with such love.

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