Humans are capable of seeing an entire rainbow of colours, but when it comes to what colours we choose to buy or wear, we tend to be quite unimaginative.
When it comes to clothes, most people stick to basic hues. The kinds of cars we drive are even more conservative, with white, grey and silver responsible for well over half of all cars sold in Australia. Watches are a similar story, too: leading watch marketplace Chrono24’s stats consistently show year after year, black is the most popular dial colour for watches. Yawn.
But it seems as if brands (and their fans) are getting more imaginative when it comes to dial colours. For the last 12 months, the big trend in watch dials has been blue, with countless op-eds being written about ‘the year of the blue dial’. Models like the Tudor Black Bay 58 ‘Navy Blue’ or the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner collection have been flying off the shelves – demonstrative of the watch-buying public’s appetite for more than just black and silver-dialled pieces.
We’re already seeing glimpses of the next big trend: green dials. Green-dialled watches have gone in and out of fashion over the years, with the colour experiencing a slight revival in the middle of the 2010s that was quickly subsumed by a return to black and the ascendancy of blue.
Now, green is back in a big way – and we’ve found a few brands worth investing in if you want to get in on the action.
No serious discussion about watches – whether it be about affordable everyday pieces to the absolute crème de la crème of luxury wrist candy – can be had without mentioning Seiko. One of the largest watch brands in the world, Seiko has been responsible for a number of world firsts in the world of watchmaking, most notably introducing the world’s first quartz watch. Prospex is their sub-brand that specialises in dive watches, which are widely respected among professional divers and landlubber watch fans alike.
Seiko boasts one of the most passionate watch customisation scenes out of any watch brand, so green-dialled Seiko dive watches aren’t anything new. But for those who aren’t so keen on amateur watch surgery are in luck: the Japanese firm has just unveiled a limited-edition collection of green-dialled Prospexes that pay homage to Iriomote Island, an Okinawan diving Mecca famous for its verdant sights, surrounds and sea life.
We love a watch with a story behind it, and Iriomote-inspired dark green that colours these watches is particularly handsome. These might be serious tool watches but such a hue is surprisingly versatile and would suit the office just as well as the ocean. Retailing for between AU$1,250 and AU$4,995, they won’t break the bank either if you’re looking to get in on the green watch wave.
The very first green-dialled watches were military watches, with the colour chosen for its functional benefits over any sense of aesthetic brilliance. While many watch manufacturers have supplied militaries over the years, one of the most famous is IWC Schaffhausen, whose famous Big Pilot model line pays homage to the pilot’s watches the brand produced during WWII.
Naturally, many of IWC’s pilot’s watches are available with a green dial, but just as military watches are but one facet of IWC’s oeuvre, it’s not just their pilot’s watches that are available with a green dial. In an industry that’s often eschewed the green dial (much to their future detriment, we’d say) IWC choose to bless their dressier models like their iconic Portugieser and Portofino with green dials, too. It’s easy to see why too: the colour works particularly well with the brand’s consistently minimalistic aesthetic.
Adding weight to the green dial trend is their latest release, unveiled at Watches & Wonders earlier this year: the IWC Schaffhausen Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition “Woodland” – and while that might be a bit of a mouthful, it’s perhaps the best green watch ever made. Not only is the Woodland Chrono’s case made out of 100% dark green ceramic, but its dial is also dark green, while its numerals and hour markers are printed in a lighter hue of green. It also has a matching green textile/rubber strap. That’s a lot of green.
All we’ll say is if IWC is getting behind it, it bodes well for the trend. Watch this space.
H. Moser & Cie.
Also based out of Schaffhausen is H. Moser & Cie., a relatively small independent watchmaker that’s famous for their avant-garde designs. You might know them for their headline-grabbing, rather cheeky Swiss Alp Watch ‘Final Edition’, a mechanical watch that retails for over AU$40,000 which intentionally resembles an Apple Watch that’s crashed. But their oeuvre doesn’t just consist of pricey gag watches. What they’re really good at, actually, is making some of the best and most colourful dials in the business.
Specifically, they’re famous for repopularising fumé dials, also known as smoked, ombré or gradient dials. A complex process that involves a number of different dial treatments, the resulting effect is sublime, simultaneously shiny yet matte, faded yet brilliant all at once. H. Moser & Cie.’s fumé dials come in a wide variety of colours, too: blues, browns, greys, reds, and of course, greens.
Their Streamliner Centre Seconds is an example of how good the latter looks. A ‘retro-futurist’ masterpiece with a design inspired by the high-speed trains of the 1930s, its unique ‘Matrix Green’ dial might just be the prettiest watch face in the world. It’s no coincidence that the most modern-looking luxury watch in recent memory has a green face, too…
Let’s put it this way. Dogs can only see two colours: blue and yellow. Humans, in comparison, can see thousands of different colours. What we’re saying is that if you limit yourself to blue or black-dialled watches, you may as well be a dog, so exercise your primate privilege and invest in a green-dialled watch. Your eyeballs will thank you later.