Fratello’s Top 5 Recent Watches With Salmon Dials — Including Formex, Chopard, Vacheron Constantin, And More
Another Friday, another Top 5! Last week, we took a look at five of the best extreme dive watches out there right now. It seems like you Fratelli take quite a liking to these over-the-top divers. And along with the Oris AquisPro 4000m, it was great to see how much love there is for Seiko’s famous Tuna models. This week’s Top 5, however, is about a completely different topic. It’s all about salmon dials. First of all, we admit that “salmon” is quite a loose term as these dials’ colors differ quite a lot between brands. Secondly, salmon dials seem to be perfect for limited editions rather than standard-production models. Recently, though, we have seen quite a few stunning watches with salmon dials, so it’s time to highlight the best of the bunch!
It’s hard to find watch fans who don’t like salmon dials. Sure, one salmon dial isn’t the same as another, but in general, there is a lot of love for them. This makes it even more puzzling why a lot of brands do not offer the option in their regular lineups. It seems that brands would rather “save” a salmon dial for a limited edition. Consequently, we have often seen an absolute stunner of a watch, only to find out that it was produced in a very small run, making it hard to acquire. Some examples are the stainless steel Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jubilee” ref. 14802 from 1992, the specially ordered Patek Philippe ref. 3970 owned by Eric Clapton, and the Rolex “Bubbleback” models with a salmon dial often exported to the South American market. Throughout the last century, there have been plenty of great examples of the attractiveness of a salmon dial.
We love a good (pink) salmon dial, too…
Granted, we are guilty as charged when it comes to making salmon a limited-edition color. One of the inspirations for this Top 5 list was our very own Fratello × Aquastar Deepstar II Pink Salmon Limited Edition. The dial color in combination with the retro style of the Deepstar II works miracles. But there is hardly a watch that doesn’t look better with a salmon dial. That’s what made putting together a Top 5 pretty tough. It seems like more and more brands are making salmon dials widely available. That’s a good thing, but it makes deciding on the best five salmon-dial watches quite tough. So we have decided to select five recent examples from 2022 or 2023, making it a bit easier to pick. On top of that, we wanted a varied selection of styles and price points, so with that in mind, let’s dive in.
Chopard Alpine Eagle 41 XPS
The first pick was a no-brainer for me. During Watches and Wonders 2023, Chopard introduced the Alpine Eagle 41 XPS with a stunning “Monte Rosa” salmon-pink dial. It is the perfect example of how a salmon dial can make a watch so much better than a regular blue, black, or white dial. As I explained a couple of weeks ago, Chopard’s Alpine Eagle has never been top of mind for me when it comes to picking a modern luxury sports watch with an integrated bracelet. But one glance at the Alpine Eagle 41 XPS, and I was sold. But it was more than just the dial color itself. Just look at it in combination with the unique eagle-iris texture. While that texture blends in more with the regular colors, this salmon tone makes it quite stunning.
But there is more about this Alpine Eagle 41 XPS that makes it better than the regular model. The new dial design has small seconds at six and, unlike the standard Alpine Eagle, no date window at four-thirty. This gives the dial a much-needed sense of balance, pairing it perfectly with the overall design. Thor also explained that the watch comes with a 41mm Lucent Steel case that is only 8mm thick and an integrated stainless steel bracelet. The sapphire-equipped case back reveals the chronometer-certified manufacture caliber L.U.C 96.40-L. This 4Hz automatic micro-rotor movement features a 65-hour power reserve and is graced with the Poinçon de Genève quality hallmark. This is one of the best recent watches with a salmon dial, and it retails for €24,400.
Formex Reef Radiant Bronze
If you know the Formex Reef Radiant Bronze, you know that it’s not actually a “salmon” dial. Nevertheless, the hue of the bronze dial fits perfectly into this color category, so that’s why we decided to include it. Besides having a bronze dial, it is also a limited edition, making it fit even better in this category of salmon stunners! I am only kidding, of course, but the Formex Reed is a very serious watch indeed. As Thomas explained in his review, the watch is “a cool, off-the-beaten-track alternative.” It features a 42mm stainless steel case that is 11.4mm thick and 47mm long. This reasonable lug-to-lug makes the Reef suitable for a variety of wrist sizes.
Formex equips the watch with a COSC-certified Sellita SW300-1 with a 56-hour power reserve. On top of that, as Thomas also explained, the watch offers great quality and a superb level of finishing for its €2,080 price tag. In particular, the special vertically brushed bronze dial proved to be a showstopper. The dial is refined and has an amazing finish, nicely counterbalancing the very technical appearance of the Reef. This watch also features an interchangeable bezel and was produced in a limited run of 50 pieces for Collective Horology. All 50 pieces sold out in no time, so if you want one, you’ll have to find someone who wants to get rid of this stunner.
Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Perpetual Calendar Chronograph
A gorgeous timepiece that debuted last year during Watches and Wonders was the Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Perpetual Calendar Chronograph. With the introduction of the brand’s brilliant Historiques 222, some of its other releases disappeared into the background. That’s why I featured this Traditionnelle Perpetual Calendar Chronograph in an article about the less talked-about releases of last year’s show. The watch has a 43 × 12.94mm round platinum case with a beautifully balanced presence. The case features straight lugs and rectangular chronograph pushers, giving it an elegant yet not-too-classic design.
But the star of the show in terms of presence is the salmon-colored opaline dial with a black tachymeter scale. The well-balanced dial also dons applied 18K white gold hour markers and white gold hour and minute hands. As you can see, the three registers are not all the same size. The one located at 6 o’clock is larger than the two at 3 and 9 o’clock. It has an integrated platinum moon disc that offers brilliant detail. The watch is powered by the manual-winding in-house-produced caliber 1142 QP, combining a perpetual calendar with a chronograph compilation. The result is a beautifully balanced watch with a stunning dial on a navy leather strap that costs €121,250. What you get in return simply oozes class.
Longines Master Collection Small Seconds
A perfect example of an accessible but stunning salmon-dial watch is the Longines Master Collection Small Seconds. This model offers a choice of either an engraved silver, salmon, or anthracite dial. These watches look stunning and serve as a follow-up release to the Longines Master Collection 190th Anniversary with central seconds. The stainless steel case measures 38.5mm in diameter and 10.2mm thick. In this variant, it is accompanied by a beautiful salmon dial with engraved hour numerals and an engraved 60-minute scale on the rehaut. You will also find the small seconds at 6 o’clock and a classic Longines logo at 12 o’clock. Other than that, the super clean dial stands out with its beautiful color and vertically brushed finish.
Longines equips this model with its ETA A31.501-based caliber L893.5. This automatic movement is visible through the sapphire window on the case back. It operates at 25,200vph and provides a 72-hour power reserve. Longines pairs this model with a very nice 20mm dark gray alligator leather strap with a steel push-button deployant clasp. It finishes off the look of the watch in style. This is one of the best dress watches available for less than €3K. The watch has a price of €2,600, but it looks like a watch 3–4 times that sum. My compliments to Longines for this, and I love that the brand makes a special salmon dial available for a more affordable price.
Patek Philippe Chronograph 5172G
We round out this list with the brilliant Patek Philippe Chronograph 5172G that was introduced last year during Watches and Wonders. The salmon-dial version of the 5172G joined the blue-dial model that has been a part of the Patek Philippe collection since 2019. A fun fact is that the brand does not use the term “salmon” dial; in this case, it’s a gilded opaline rose gold dial. The watch has a white gold case that is 41mm in diameter and 11.45mm thick. This case reminds us of the 5320G, while the pushers hint at the popular Patek Philippe 1463 “Tasti Tondi.” The charcoal-gray elements elegantly contrast the beautiful dial.
The applied Arabic numerals also feature a white luminescent coating, so they stand out against the rose gold background. Above it, the syringe-style hour and minute hands, the central chronograph hand, and the smaller hands for the two registers are all executed in the same charcoal-gray color as the dial’s text and scales. The two registers at 3 and 9 o’clock are placed slightly below the center pinion to ensure that the 60-second scale remains intact. Luminous dots have also replaced the Arabic numerals at 4 and 8 o’clock. Turn the watch around, and you will see the in-house caliber CH 29-535 PS. This manual-winding chronograph movement consists of 270 parts. It operates at 28,800vph and has a 65-hour power reserve with the chronograph disengaged. This Patek Philippe 5172G is a beauty that costs CHF 68,000.
Final thoughts on the best recent watches with salmon dials
There you have it — five watches from 2022 and 2023 with beautiful salmon dials. What are your thoughts on these choices? Would you have picked the same five models? And what is your favorite recent salmon-dial timepiece? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section, and we will see you next week for another Top 5 list.