Not too long ago, Jorg shocked me when he advocated brown-dial watches. He even wrote that the first step to popularize them would be to make brown the dial color of 2024. Now, I’m not saying that Jorg is a man of poor taste. On the contrary, he sure has a keen sense of style, and most of the time, we appreciate similar things, like watches. But when it comes to the color brown, he’s on his own. I might be old-fashioned, but when it comes to this most earthy color, the classic saying “no brown in town” is my motto. When it comes to watches, that is. Also, this motto covers both the city and the countryside. But since I don’t want to be all negative at the start of the year, I have an alternative for 2024 — crisp, fresh, and very versatile white watch dials.

When looking for alternative shades for the dial color brown, I learned that the sort-of-official color of the year for 2024 is Pantone 13-1023 Peach Fuzz. To help you visualize, Peach Fuzz is a sherbet-like orange hue; it’s soft, sweet, and comforting. It’s a color that Jorg didn’t mention when writing the article “Prepare For Brown Dials In 2024.” He picked brown, a hue that I love in a lot of things, just not in watches. And I suspect that I’m not the only one.

White Watch Dials


No brown in town — the sartorial rule that should also apply to watch dials

You’ve probably heard about the old English sartorial rule “no brown in town.” According to Permanent Style, it existed because gentlemen who worked in the city would wear brown when they returned to their homes in the countryside. Brown is a color found in tweeds, felt hats, and boots, of course, making it unsuitable for business attire. Interestingly, in ancient Rome, brown was associated with the poorest people in the eternal city. The word used for the poor people of Rome was pullati, which literally means “those dressed in brown.” But let’s return to 20th-century England.


Hamilton Khaki Field Expedition

During the week, gentlemen dressed either in black or appropriately dark shades of blue or gray. Then again, rules are meant to be broken, right? Well, only by those who know all the ins and outs of sartorial etiquette. One such person was the England’s King Edward VIII (1894–1972), who regularly shocked the Windsor household with his original — some might have even said “outlandish” — style choices, which included wearing brown shoes with a blue suit in the city.

Watch Dials

Longines Master Collection 190th Anniversary

Despite the royal rebel, wearing brown in town is still frowned upon by sartorial purists. Now, I can hardly say that I’m a purist, but in the case of brown-dial watches, I will most happily bring out the old-fashioned but not-quite-outdated sartorial rule to make my point. There’s a place and a time for everything, right? Wear your brown-dial watches when you go for a walk in the forest. But do you know what is right for any place and time? A white dial!

Tudor Black Bay GMT

The ever-fresh alternative — white watch dials

When looking for an alternative hue to brown, I found RAL 9010, also known as Pure White. It’s a popular color in interior design. I can see why, and dials can, of course, be painted white as well. So let’s think of current white-dial watches and speculate on things to come. To start with the latter, you can bet your life that there’s a white-dial Omega Speedmaster Professional on the way. I also have no doubt that the upcoming Watches and Wonders will be the stage for a plethora of timepieces with white dials.

On the wrist of Daniel Craig, a possible new Omega Speedmaster with a white dial — Image: Omega

There’s more to white than meets the eye

White is, of course, never just white. Much like any other color, there must be at least fifty shades of white (sorry about that corny reference). And while white, just like black, isn’t technically a color but a shade, since white light comprises all hues on the visible light spectrum, I think it’s okay to say that a watch has a white-colored dial. As I said, though, white is never just white.

White Dial

The new Seiko Prospex SPB439 Save The Ocean Limited Edition above is a version of the 1968 Diver’s Re-interpretation GMT, and it shows a frosty white dial inspired by polar glaciers. And when you take a look at the IWC Mark XX, the white hue mixes with a silvery shine — or is it the other way around?

Quite possibly, the uncrowned king of white dials is Grand Seiko. The range of whites that the Japanese brand has shown us over the years is a good example of how versatile white can be. It can be functional and instrumental but also soft and atmospheric.

White Dials

Breguet Classique 5157

Haute Horlogerie manufacturer Breguet not only does white guilloché dials very well for a technical and historical look, but the brand also knows how to produce soft-shining enamel dials.

Breguet Classique 7147

A dial that’s white is always right

If it rhymes, it’s real. You didn’t know that? Come on, that’s common knowledge! So not only is “no brown in town” a rule but so is “red and green should never be seen without a color in between.” And so is “a dial that’s white is always right.” And on that bombshell, I invite you to let me know in the comments what your absolute favorite white-dial watch of all time is.

Fortis Stratoliner S-41 White Dust Supernova

PS — When it comes to rhyming with the word “white,” I’m quite aware that readers in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and Scotland could come up with another maxim. I’m thinking something along the lines of  “a dial that’s white is absolute sh*te.” I consider that rhyme the exception to the rule.