We are big fans of bold watch designs, but only if they are executed well. Last week’s article on quirky watches perhaps showcases what we felt were some of the pieces that embodies such design nicely.
This week, we have decided to focus on design today. However, instead of a more general approach, we are looking at something more specific: Off-centre dials. There is just something fascinating about watches with such a dial, although it is technically nothing too difficult to execute. Perhaps, the key is to create some form of symmetry, or finding ways to incorporate this element seamlessly onto the face of the watch.
Off-centre dials are relatively uncommon, and for today’s article, we will be selecting a few of our favourite pieces that feature this design element. There might be a few obvious choices here, and a few unexpected ones as well. What have we selected? Let us find out!
Armin Strom Tribute 1 First Edition
We begin the article with a watch that has been freshly baked off the press: The Armin Strom Tribute 1 First Edition.
Touted as the entry-level collection to the brand, the Tribute 1 First Edition is a scaled-down version of the highly acclaimed pieces from the independent brand, with some nice touches to it. We like the slightly unusual concept with the exposed barrel at the front, paired with the brand’s signature off-centre dial. The finishing is pretty decent too, and for the First Edition, the bridges are also made of white gold.
Prices for the 38mm piece is at CHF 13,900 (approximately S$20,250), and the First Edition is limited to a production of 25 pieces. While it is less technically complicated as compared to its brethren, there is certainly beauty amongst the elegance and clean look of this piece. It is still a great piece, and certainly an interesting addition for any collectors who are looking to enter into the world of collecting watches from independent brands.
Chronoswiss Régulateur 30
Chronoswiss is a name that is perhaps forgotten by many, but they are certainly still no slouch in the world of horology.
The Régulateur 30 is an interesting piece from the brand, with an interesting take on the concept of regulators. For the uninitiated, a regulator refers to a watch where there are separate dials (or sub-dials, or combination of both) showing the hour, minute, and seconds individually. The Régulateur 30 takes it a step further, with the typical hour indicator replaced with a jumping hour complication. It looks aesthetically simpler, but the execution and technical finesse with this complication is definitely a notch higher. This also allows the guilloche pattern on the dial to shine as well.
Priced at S$11,700 for the stainless steel version, the Régulateur 30 certainly offers collectors an interesting proposition. In all, we feel that it is a well executed dress piece – classy, yet conversational.
Hermès Arceau L’heure de la Lune
For a brand that is more known for its exclusive Birkin bags, Hermès had certainly done a great job in the horology department as well. Cue the Arceau L’heure de la Lune.
Launched in SIHH 2019, the 43mm timepiece provides a classy yet contemporary touch to the moonphase complication. For this year, Hermès had done a slight facelift to the collection. This time round, the watch is fitted with a main lapis lazuli dial in the background – which adds a nice touch to the timepiece. The main dial notably houses two mother-of-pearl “moons” – each representing the northern and southern hemisphere of the Moon. The rotating off-centre dials – which houses the date and time display – then acts as a moonphase indicator; its orbital follows the different phases of the moon and it displays that accordingly.
Priced at S$48,100, the Arceau L’Heure De La Lune certainly commands a premium for its gorgeous aesthetics. It is limited to 200 pieces, and unfortunately all of them have already been accounted for. This watch is proof that Hermès is not just a fashion label – they are equally prowess in their horological offerings as well.
Breguet Tradition 7067
When one thinks of Breguet, it is certainly the traditional dress watches and tourbillons that will surely come to mind. But the Breguet Tradition 7067 is definitely something that you will not normally associate with the brand.
The Tradition 7067 is what many would consider the amalgamation of modern vs traditional. Breguet had managed successfully – in our opinion – in incorporating the brand’s classic touches into a rather contemporary looking piece. We also like the concept of this watch, whereby the main components of the movement are moved to the front of the watch. It is definitely a nice touch, and it certainly makes the watch look more in line with its contemporary aesthetics.
Priced at S$56,200 for the rose gold version and S$57,400 for the white gold variant, the 40mm dual time zone watch is definitely a refreshing addition to the typically conservative Breguet line-up.
A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1
There are arguably not as many watches – with an off-centre dial – that are as iconic as the A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1. It is not difficult to see why.
Launched in 1994, the Lange 1 had cemented its position as one of the most celebrated pieces with its unusual design and impeccable finishing. The former is certainly very interesting, with a concept that does not sound rather promising on paper. The result, however, is certainly brilliant. We have no exact idea how, but the team at Lange had managed to integrate all the different elements (off-centre dial, power reserve indicator, sub-seconds dial, and big date window) into the timepiece seamlessly. Sublime.
The 38.5mm piece is a classic, and surely a must-have in any collection if you can financially afford it. Our pick is the classic yellow gold variant with champagne dial, and it is priced at US$39,900 (approximately S$53,655).
Ferdinand Berthoud FB1L
Lastly, we have the Ferdinand Berthoud FB1L.
Ferdinand Berthoud is an intriguing project by Karl-Friedrich Scheufele of Chopard. The idea behind the brand is to recreate watches by the late master clockmaker Ferdinand Berthoud – but re-imagined with modernised technology and materials.
The ideologies are manifested in the FB1L. The design dialect is an entirely mind-boggling concept – in which it is unlike any usual regulators (the main central hand indicates the seconds, which is vastly different from the usual), and the dial is predominantly a large negative space in the earlier versions. As more complications are added on to the later editions, the negative spaces are then slowly filled up. This particular variant comes with the usual patented power reserve indicator, as well as the rare “age of the moon” complication.
The surprise does not stop only at the dial. The movement – Calibre FB-T.FC.L. – is certainly a treat, with brilliant finishing and different technical bits incorporated. It also features some of the most sought-after complications, such as a giant tourbillon (measuring 16.5mm) and fusée and chain system. This is a visual treat for watch collectors.
Not surprisingly, the FB1L comes attached with a hefty price tag. Prices for the titanium model with white gold bezel begin at CHF 250,000 (approximately S$364,210), while the full white gold variant retails at CHF 265,000 (approximately S$386,060). This is, however, something that is truly special – and we reckon that there are not many watches out there that are capable of matching what the FB1L has to offer.
Perfection can be found in many ways. In the context of today’s article, we can still find perfection in asymmetry. The watches that we have featured today are a living proof of that.
Actually, it is technically not fair to say that there is no symmetry. In spite of the fact that the dials are off-centre, designers have found other ways to incorporate symmetry as well – although it might not be obvious for some pieces at the first glance. Take the Lange 1 for example. The elements on the face actually conforms to the rule of thirds, which explains how it looks so pleasing on the eye despite the seemingly asymmetrical design cues.
We absolutely love the thought that goes behind such designs. Granted, it is a double-edged sword. While it might look good if it is well executed, the same could not be said otherwise for poorly designed ones as well. Thankfully, we can say that there are not many watches that fall into the latter category.
So, what are your thoughts on watches with an off-centre dial? Do you like them, or would you prefer the more usual configuration instead? Let us know in the comments section below!