As watch enthusiasts, we tend to get lost in the weeds: technical specs, brand heritage, market position, etc. When you take a step back and appreciate a watch in its simplest form, a lot comes down to the dial. After all, it’s what you’re looking at 99% of the time. Some of us don’t think twice about a dial – we like it or we don’t like it. After some time, it might go missing in plain sight. But that’s not always the case – some dials command constant attention. Today, we’ll look at four notable examples. What makes a dial stand out?
Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake (Ref. SBGA211)
Grand Seiko is known for their scrutinous attention to detail – particularly on their dials. The SBGA211 has a textured white dial inspired by the snow-covered mountains surrounding Nagano, Japan – the location of Seiko Epsilon’s Shinsu Watch Studio. The dial looks like it would melt if it spent too long in the sun. This snowy texture is sharply contrasted by the dial’s mirror-polished furniture, as well as the cobalt blue seconds hand. Around 8 o’clock, we see a recessed, matte power reserve indicator that provides depth and variety to an already mesmerizing dial. This list would be incomplete without the Grand Seiko Snowflake. It’s one of the most remarkable dials in modern watchmaking.
A. Lange & Sohne Saxonia Thin Copper Blue (Ref. 205.086)
A. Lange & Sohne was founded in 1845 – just a few decades after the invention of the wristwatch. Let’s just say they know what they’re doing. The Saxonia and Saxonia Thin models contain a number of references, but one stands out in particular. The Saxonia Thin ‘Copper Blue’ has a dial made of goldstone. Goldstone, which is neither gold nor a stone, is created by fusing silica, copper oxide, and borax. The result is a gorgeous, deep blue glass riddled with golden (but actually copper) particles. Goldstone resembles stars in the night sky. This material is truly the star of the show; A. Lange & Sohne didn’t over complicate this one. The dial contains the ‘A. Lange & Sohne Glashütte I/SA’ text and simple baton indices, all atop the gorgeous goldstone material. The “stars” are dispersed throughout the entire depth of the glass, giving this dial its hypnotic, expansive feel. If I had this watch, I wouldn’t stop staring at my wrist.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41 Yellow Dial (Ref. 124300)
Source: reddit.com (36mm version pictured)
The Rolex Oyster Perpetual (OP) is a classic silhouette: simple, beautiful, and timeless. If you’re at all interested in watches, I shouldn’t have to sell you on the OP. To me, one dial variation stands out compared to the rest. The 2022 OP Yellow Dial is a stunner. The black ‘Rolex Oyster Perpetual’ text perfectly contrasts the surprisingly dark, matte yellow dial. It reminds me of the cover art on Stephen King’sThe Shining.If you wanted to further amplify the black and yellow contrast, you could put this watch on a black rubber strap. Luckily, Everest offers rubber straps tailor made for the 41mm Rolex Oyster Perpetual. Black rubber would give this watch a sportier look, while highlighting the beautiful yellow dial. Whatever strap it’s on, the OP Yellow Dial is one of my favorite dials available (on the secondary market) today.
Girard Perregaux Laureato Eternity Edition (Ref. 81010-11-432-11A)
Yes – that’s a very long reference number. Girard Perregaux’s Laureato is the under-appreciated doppelganger of Gerald Gente’s AP Royal Oak and Patek Philippe Nautilus. Despite its similarities to these watches, the Laureato has a unique charm. In 2021, Girard Perregaux released the Laureato Eternity Edition: available in both blue and green. These dials are made from an in-house grand feu enamel: glass and metal fused together at extremely high temperatures. This process creates a striking, glassy dial with remarkable depth. The Eternity Edition displays a radial, spider web-like pattern that grabs your eye and brings it to the center. With a color-matched date wheel, modest dial furniture, and new Girard Perregaux bridge logo (which, personally, I love), the Laureato Eternity Edition displays one of the most impressive dials out there.
Unfortunately, pictures can’t do many of these dials justice. Materials like enamel and goldstone are special because of the way they interact with light. You can’t get the full experience without seeing the watch in person. Regardless, this list should give you an idea of what to look for in a watch dial. Sometimes, the simplest layouts exhibit the most detail. Take an extra second to look closer; there’s often more than meets the eye.