The dial is perhaps one of the most important elements in watches. It is a component that arguably gets the most airtime from its owners, and it is perhaps one of the most conspicuous features on any timepiece (maybe, just second to the case – depending on the watch itself.
We have always been drawn to watch dials – both in terms of designs and finishing. It can make or break a timepiece, even before one considers the other important elements such as the movement, finishing, and price point. No matter how attractive a watch sounds on paper, it is still a deal breaker for many if the dial of a timepiece is deemed to look less than desirable.
Six Watches with an Incredible Dial, from Our Archives
In this week’s article, we will be slightly superficial. We will be looking at watches with incredible dials, either in terms of design, or finishing techniques used. What have we selected? Let us find out!
Louis Erard Excellence Guilloché Main
We begin the article with the Louis Erard Excellence Guilloché Main.
Louis Erard had, in the last two years, produced some rather interesting and accessible pieces over the last couple of years. The 42mm Excellence Guilloché Main is one such timepiece, with an irresistible guilloché dial that was inspired by the Cube Wallpaper by M.C. Escher. The dials are produced by Fehr in La-Chaux-de-Fonds, where each of the dials require several hours of work to complete. We like the visual effects of it, and the fact that this is all done manually with a century-old guilloché rose engine lathe.
This particular Louis Erard is limited to a production of 99 pieces, and they are priced at CHF 3,900 (approximately S$5,750) each. We love the Excellence Guilloché Main for what it represents, and we definitely respect the tradition and artistic craftwork behind this timepiece.
Grand Seiko SBGA011/SBGA211 “Snowflake”
Until a few years ago, Grand Seiko was perhaps one of the best kept secrets within the collecting world.
While it has finally got the attention it deserves, it does not stop the Japanese watch manufacturer from producing some sublime timepieces. The SBGA011/SBGA211, more known as the “Snowflake”, is an example. The watch features an amazing textured dial, which resembles that of a snowflake. The result is achieved by a special silver plating process, and we love how Grand Seiko had managed to capture the effect so magnificently.
The 41mm timepiece is made from titanium, and it is priced at US$5,800 (approximately S$7,817). We like the simplicity of it, and how Grand Seiko has managed to let the simplest of designs shine with great craftsmanship (e.g. Zaratsu polishing). We guess Grand Seiko still has the charm, after all.
A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Thin in Copper Blue
It is not an open secret that we have a soft spot for A. Lange & Söhne’s watches, but the Saxonia Thin in Copper Blue certainly reinforces our love for this German watch manufacturer.
The Saxonia Thin 37mm may be the brand’s entry-level piece, but the Glashütte-based manufacturer decided to go a step further with a stunning dial iteration. This particular version features a solid silver dial that is layered with goldstone, which is a man-made glass consisting of tiny crystals of copper dispersed within to create a glittering appearance. The sparkling stardust-like effect works brilliantly with the blue background, and it gives the watch a rather dreamy appearance.
Priced at S$34,800, the 37mm Saxonia Thin in Copper Blue is priced at a large premium as compared to the normal Saxonia Thin. However, the dial is definitely unique, and this surely makes the highly acclaimed dress watch a whole load more desirable than ever.
Moritz Grossmann Tremblage
Moritz Grossmann is a brand that exudes finesse and subtlety, but the new Tremblage is a brilliant piece that pretty much deviates from our usual ideals of the German watch manufacturer.
The 41mm Tremblage is a timepiece that was produced to commemorate the brand’s thirteenth birthday. As its namesake suggests, the Saxon-based brand uses this particular traditional decorative technique that results in this stunning hand-made dial. In addition, the dial contrasts very well with the well-polished raised elements which includes the brand inscription, sub-seconds dial, railway-style tracks, and Breguet numerals. These elements are made from German silver, and we expect nothing less from Moritz Grossmann.
Notably, the watch is available in stainless steel or rose gold, with a retail price of €31,500 (approximately S$48,406) and €42,300 (approximately S$65,003) respectively. The Tremblage is definitely a stunning piece, and frankly, we believe that Moritz Grossmann is a highly underrated brand that deserves much more attention from collectors.
Breguet Classique 7137
When it comes to guilloché dial, Breguet is certainly one of the brands that come to mind. The Classique 7137 is perhaps a timepiece that allows the brand to showcase its mastery in this field.
Based on the historically important Breguet No. 5 pocket watch, the 39mm Classique 7137 is a timepiece that evokes a strong sense of style and substance. It possesses many of the brand’s signature touches, such as Breguet hands, coin-edge case, and complications. However, for us, the dial is the key attraction of this piece. It features a multi-textured dial, with no less than three different engine turned motifs. The moon phase display, which has an aventurescent backdrop and craters on the “moon”, is an unbelievable sight as well.
The watch is available in white gold and rose gold, and it is priced at S$57,400. If one is looking for the quintessential gentleman’s watch, the Breguet is an interesting option if two or three-hand watches are not your kind of thing.
Vacheron Constantin Métiers D’Art Tribute to Great Explorers – Vasco da Gama
Finally, we round up the article with the Vacheron Constantin Métiers D’Art Tribute to Great Explorers – Vasco da Gama.
The Métiers D’Art collection is one where Vacheron Constantin showcases the abilities of their master craftsmen, and this particular watch does just that. This timepiece is part of the Tribute to Great Explorer series, and the 41mm watch uses grand feu enamel as a medium to reproduce the 1519 Miller Atlas map on the dial. The detailing on each of the two dials is amazing, and it is noted that the entire dial requires a full month’s worth of work – sans any misfortune where the enamel cracks during the production process. The latter is rather common, and hence it is extremely tedious to produce enamel dials, let alone one with so many details and separate firings.
Besides the stunning dial, VC also uses the uncommon wandering hours complication to tell time for this watch. Additionally, as per most of the Geneva-based manufacturer’s watches, the Caliber 1120 AT on this watch is nothing short of spectacular as well.
Retail price of this magnificent timepiece is S$188,000, and it is limited to a production of 10 pieces. For purveyors of art, this VC is probably a great option to consider; it is akin to wearing an art piece on the wrist.
In this article, we have seen some rather incredible timepieces that transcends into the realms of art. They are no longer a mere medium that is used to tell time – it is a showcase of incredible technique and dexterity, and frankly, there is nothing more satisfying than to enjoy the visual spectacle from these magnificent dials.
Besides the finishing of movements, we also feel that more attention should be given to the dial. After all, you do not get to see the movement a lot, but the same cannot be said for the dial. The dial is the most conspicuous element of every watch, and it is the one that gets the most air time. Hence, there should be more emphasis placed on it. We would definitely want to see more intricate finishing techniques used on the higher-end watches in this aspect.
So, what are your thoughts on our article today? What are some of the dials that have impressed you, and what are some of the watches that deserve a spot on today’s list? Let us know in the comments section below.