SIHH is all about glamour. Thick carpets, free champagne and beautifully dressed people who have not a single problem in the world socializing with each other – that’s what many people think about the watch exhibition hosted by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie in cold Geneva.
While it is undeniable that SIHH has a certain chic compared to Baselworld the scenario I painted above is hardly the case. Perhaps it is for some, but definitely, not for us, watch journalists. Attending SIHH is a great privilege that many mediums only wish to have, so when you do get that ticket you’d like to put in the work. Go to as many presentations as you can, see and feel as many new watches as they show you and get an overall idea of what SIHH 2019 is about. To a certain extent, to me, it was about colorful dials.
From more affordable brands like Baume & Mercier to Maisons (as they call themselves) like Jaeger-LeCoultre and Vacheron Constantin (see below), many companies released at least one watch with a beautiful dial color this year. It has been the trend for watch brands for years now, and it seems that it’s not going to die out anytime soon. As new techniques make their ways into the watch industry it makes much easier for brands to create dials in amazing tones and colors. Luckily not only the haute horlogerie brands have this privilege. I have collected my top 5 picks of colorful dials at SIHH 2019.
Let’s start with a brand that falls into the affordable category in the SIHH 2019 cavalcade; Baume & Mercier. Their Clifton Baumatic line is a sporty but elegant collection with 40mm steel or two-tone cases (until this year) and white or black dials. During SIHH 2019 the brand introduced us their two new features; a gold case and a beautiful graduated blue dial color for the Clifton Baumatic models. The Baume & Mercier Classima collection already had blue dials, but they are brighter in tone and sunburst. The new Clifton Baumatic with the graduated blue dial is very different. The deep blue around the edge of the dial shows the indexes perfectly. While towards the center it gets brighter, which enlarges it optically. The graduated blue is a stylish choice. Hence, it is no question that the Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic make it to my list.
As we would expect from IWC they always have a bunch of novelties. Watches in different sizes and case materials, like ceratanium or bronze. My next colorful dials at SIHH 2019 contestant also comes from the latter category. It’s the IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire. For those of you who have not seen this watch, it has a reduced case diameter of 41mm and thickness of 15.3mm. The caliber (69380) is the same as the Chronograph Top Gun and Mojave Edition models (another SIHH novelty). To match the bronze case, the IWC Chronograph Spitfire got a deep, olive green dial. Needless to say, it is the perfect combination to the bronze case. I have to say in real life it looks much better – and different – than in the photos. Though it is also worth mentioning that the bronze case with the olive dial is not the most versatile look.
While SIHH, like every other fair, was loud of the haute horlogerie pieces with all kinds of tourbillons and minute repeaters, it was another watch that stood out of the crowd. At least among the journalists. It doesn’t have crazy complications or a precious metal case. I’m talking about the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Small Seconds, a steel 45.6 mm x 27.4 mm case with a thickness of just 8.5 mm. What makes this timepiece so special is its beautiful deep burgundy red dial. A color that reminds us of a great bottle of red wine from the perfect vintage. Jaeger-LeCoultre received a lot of heat this year, their watches were marvelous. The Reverso was somewhat overshadowed by them and that’s a shame really. So, we had to make sure that it gets to tour colorful dials selection. An amazingly classy watch.
Montblanc is a brand I really want to love. What they do with their acquired Minerva manufacture is great and I love their novelties too. I just can’t get used to that logo. I know, it’s a resurrected vintage symbol of Montblanc but still. Yet, I could not let my personal preference stand in the way of the Montblanc Heritage Pulsograph Limited Edition. I have covered the watch before, you can read about it here. This time we’ll only talk about the dial. Its mesmerizing pinkish salmon tone is just perfect. As far as design, the dial is rather complex. It’s a domed salmon-colored dial with “grené” hour ring and sunburst finishes. The numerals are applied anthracite Arabic. You also have dots as indexes, anthracite luminescent. A very special piece both in its layout and color. Especially if you consider that you don’t see many colorful dials from Montblanc this year.
Surely there were many other novelties with dials worth a mention from other brands as well as from the ones I’ve listed above. Some of the honorable mentions would include the super funky Bonbon Collection by Richard Mille. While not my cup of tea, I certainly appreciate the craftsmanship that went into making those timepieces. Another favorite was the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Jumbo Extra Thin in a white gold case and pink gold-toned “Petite Tapisserie” dial. Going back to Jaeger-LeCoultre, their blue dials like the one on the Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpétuel are something else. Rich in color and just as elegant as it gets. Of course, H.Moser & Cie never ceases to amaze us with their creations. Let that be blue, green or “plain” black. Lastly, the meteorite dials from Piaget, especially the blue one, are things you really need to see in person.
Balázs joined Fratello Watches in 2014 and he has been a fan of watches as long as he can remember. His passion for watches really took off in 2007 when he purchased his first fine Swiss timepiece. From 2007 up... read more