The Best Of Watch Dials
The dial is one of the most critical elements of a watch. Here are a few that will make your eyes pop and your heart soar
Reimagining a classic is never an easy task. Rolex, however, makes it work with the launch of the iconic Oyster Perpetual Datejust 31 in a contemporary and aesthetically pleasing dial detail. The new edition of the Datejust 31 is bursting with fresh energy with the inclusion of floral-motif dials. Inspired by the wild summer meadows, the latest edition’s dial design comprises 24 flowers. Adding more drama to the dial is the diamond set in the centre of the flower that lights it from within. This has been made possible with the help of different finishing techniques like sunray, matt, and grained. The floral-motif dial is available in a splash of Azzurro blue that works beautifully against the white Rolesor case structure fitted with a fluted bezel. The new versions are also available in an 18K yellow gold case with an olive green floral-motif dial and there’s even an Everose Rolesor version with a silver floral-motif dial design.
VACHERON CONSTANTIN ‘LES ROYAUMES AQUATIQUES’ LES CABINOTIERS MINUTE REPEATER TOURBILLON – FLYING DUTCHMAN
Presenting a new themed assortment from the Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers department is the all-new Flying Dutchman. Inspired by the legendary sailor and his ghost ship, this single-piece edition Les Cabinotiers minute repeater and tourbillon watch embodies the Maison’s expertise in artistry. The dial showcases the ship sailing into the heart of the storm on raging waves streaked with lightning. The tale of this cursed captain is interpreted on the watch’s dial, decorated with miniature enamel painting and grisaille enamel. The former technique, which was popular in the 17th century, involves painting on a layer of opaque white enamel with colours made from powdered metallic oxides to which an oil-based binder is added. The colours are then added to the canvas with an extremely fine brush that needs to be fixed at each stage by firing it in a kiln. This technique is represented through the raging waves and the lightning. The grisaille enamel technique is opted to bring the famous ghost ship to life. This technique involves applying successively fired thin layers of white or Limoges white enamel that amplify the motif as they are superimposed. This single-piece edition Les Cabinotiers watch is powered by the 471-component minute repeater and tourbillon Calibre 2755 TMR.
JAEGER-LECOULTRE MASTER HYBRIS ARTISTICA CALIBRE 945
Keeping in tune with the celestial theme of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s new watches for 2022, the Master Hybris Artistica Calibre 945 celebrates the Maison’s artistic creativity and mastery of the decorative crafts. Rightly Called a ‘heavenly display’, the Master Hybris Artistica Calibre 945 is set with a dial that highlights the astronomical aspect of time measurement. The multi-level dial is hand-decorated by the artisans in the Métiers Rares atelier of the Manufacture. The dial’s centre houses a celestial vault that maps the Northern Hemisphere night sky, tracking constellations’ position in real time. The Maison has introduced the grisaille enamel for the first time for the star map. This 16th century painterly technique is unique in creating a chiaroscuro effect with an illusion of three-dimensionality, which is created by half tones and shading. Further improving its celestial display is the Cosmotourbillon, measuring the passing of time. A golden sun-shaped pointer set at the edge of the dial indicates the month of the zodiacal calendar and solar time on a 24-hour scale.
JAQUET DROZ CHINESE NEW YEAR
Jaquet Droz is the master in the art of luxury watch decoration through painting, engraving, sculpting, paillonné enamelling, and Grand Feu enamelling. A true example of this is showcased in the six unique pieces created by the Maison for the Chinese New Year 2022 Year of The Tiger. Each one takes an artistic approach, and represents the Tiger’s iconic attributes. The six timepieces use different symbolism and techniques to perfectly demonstrate Jaquet Droz’s Ateliers d’Art and the brand’s history of being renowned for its duo watches. The first one houses a Tiger dozing on a bed of foliage, while the second captures a standing tiger. The latter is on the lookout for prey or a hunter. These scenes are showcased on a dial made from Australian opal.
VAN CLEEF & ARPELS LADY DUO DE LIONS WATCH
Belonging to the brand’s Extraordinary Dials collection, the Lady Duo de Lions watch features a specially created dial that houses Swiss watchmaking techniques like engraving, lapidary, stone setting, and enamelling. All of these techniques executed by traditional craftsmen enhance the poetry of the watch. For the dial of the Lady Duo de Lions watch, Van Cleef & Arpels has combined traditional crafts to create a timepiece that offers an in-depth landscape. The dial houses in the foreground a couple of lions sculpted in relief from white and yellow gold. The feet of the lions accommodate a surface of precious stones that evoke a savanna. At the same time, turquoise and diamonds suggest shimmering water in the sun.
A. LANGE & SÖHNE CABARET TOURBILLON HANDWERKSKUNST
When showcasing the elaborate finissage of the movement, dial, and case, A. Lange & Söhne has given us many exclusive editions via its HANDWERKSKUNST collection. The Cabaret Tourbillon HANDWERKSKUNST is one such timepiece. Apart from its technical excellence of being a special version of the world’s first mechanical watch with a stop-seconds tourbillon, the Cabaret Tourbillon HANDWERKSKUNST is also heritage in art. Marking the seventh model of the HANDWERKSKUNST series, the watch is characterised by an artisanally elaborate finish of the dial and the movement. The three-part dial is made of solid white gold. The inner area displays Lange’s iconic oversized date that is manually engraved with a rather challenging to engrave lozenge pattern. A thin line, decorated with tremblage, separates parts of the dial from each other. Additionally, a semi-transparent enamel layer gives the dial an extra depth and showcases the metallic shades of grey.
CHOPARD HAPPY SPORT MÉTIERS D’ART
Shining light on the issue of the natural environment, Chopard unveils three diamond-set exceptional timepieces honouring three animal species: hummingbird, sea turtle, and polar bear. Chopard ensures its commitment to the cause by equipping these eight-piece limited edition timepieces with an in-house Chopard Calibre 96.23-L movement, a case structure made of ethical gold, and an exclusive hand-decorated and gem-set mineral dial. Apart from featuring a revolutionary whirl of the dancing diamonds of the Happy Sport collection, the mineral dial is home to multi-dimensional marquetry inlays that make these dials a veritable work of art. One can find a fascinating milieu of miniature ecosystems representing poetic and stylised worlds within it. The dial of the Happy Sport featuring the hummingbird (shown here) recreates the Amazonian Forest with four different levels of gold, orange, and red, set against a malachite background. Different shades of mother-of-pearl offer the shapes of the exquisite hibiscus flower, whose pistil is made of four heart-shaped diamonds. The backdrop is made from two types of opal with green and blue iridescence, which gives the impression of the hummingbird in its ecosystem.
PIAGET LIMELIGHT GALA PRECIOUS
Treating a watch as a piece of jewellery has always been Piaget’s style. Crafted in a 32mm white gold case, the timepiece embodies radiance, intensity, and vibrancy. The dial is made from malachite, and houses a central circle set with a fully paved diamond snow set. It is framed with a beautifully coloured gradient setting of tsavorites and diamonds on an asymmetrical bezel. The art of colour pairing and shading is significant to Piaget. This particular colour gradient has been selected to provide a strong contrast with the malachite dial. The 32mm white gold case Limelight Gala Precious counts 174 diamonds (2.17cts) and 22 tsavorites (3.24 cts), and took 22 hours to craft in terms of the case and the gem setting. It is powered by an automatic movement 501P1 that is in full view through a sapphire caseback.
BULGARI DIVAS’ DREAM PEACOCK DISCHI
Blending prestigious decorative techniques with horological complications, Bulgari’s Diva’s Dream Peacock collection was a revelation when it was released. Revealing a new chapter in Bulgari’s colour treasure, the Diva’s Dream Peacock Dischi from the collection features a natural peacock feather marquetry dial. What makes the dial brilliant is using 24 natural hand-cut feather elements. These are set with the help of an inlay technique, popular in Renaissance Italy before being revived by Bulgari in the 1970s. The central circle on the dial depicts the eye of the peacock feather. Ensuring the highest quality, each feather went through a rigorous selection process, and passed over an antique brass steamer to ensure premium colour, texture, and harmony. These feathers are then trimmed, glued, cut, and pieced together to create a silky and reflective mosaic finish.
ARNOLD & SON YEAR OF THE TIGER PERPETUAL MOON
Embodying the Chinese Year of the Water Tiger New Year, Arnold & Son unveiled a definitive version of its Perpetual Moon collection. The brand has included a golden roaring tiger set with a waterfall backdrop. It symbolises the elements that temper the feline’s ferocious energy for this exceptional timepiece. All of this is represented on the decorative dial resulting from the craftsmanship that Arnold & Son excel in. The beautiful dial features a sculpted golden tiger against a backdrop in specular hematite, a rare and expressive stone. The decoration on the dial features the majestic tiger sitting on the riverbank with a large moon in the background, crafted out of mother-of-pearl. In a wide window, a turning disc reveals the waxing and waning of the celestial body, the appearance of the crescent moon and its light. Additionally, the other aquatic details on the dial are hand-painted with luminous pigments. A decoration depicting bamboo is painted in gold powder on the hematite disc with glittering inclusions.
HERMÈS ARCEAU LES FOLIES DU CIEL
Inspired by the early days of the conquest of the sky, the Hermès Arceau Les folies du ciel is a dedication to the foolish men who believed that man could perhaps fly one day. Combining the art of painting, engraving, and animation, the Arceau Les folies du ciel is a unique watch inspired by Loïc Dubigeon’s “Les folies du ciel” silk scarf motif designed in 1984 to honour aerostatics. The watch comes in a mother-of-pearl dial featuring two neoralite pink and green hot-air balloons billowing in the wind. These miniature hot-air balloons are crafted with utmost precision. It features a curved relief that looks like a volume of hot air fills them up and enables them to take flight. These two balloons are then attached to a hand-painted white gold bird-shaped gondola embodying the original sign of travel and migration. At 12 o’clock, one will find a hand-painted and applied animated balloon designed as a balance.
CARTIER MÉTIERS D’ART CRASH TIGRÉE MÉTAMORPHOSES
Cartier first introduced the iconic Crash timepiece back in 1967, deep in the heart of Swinging London. Since then, this particular watch has revolutionised the aesthetic codes of watchmaking. With the Crash Tigrée Métamorphoses, Cartier explores the dial’s potential and uses it as a source of creative expression. Combining the art of jewellery with the most exemplary level of enamel, Cartier brings to life the Crash Tigrée Métamorphoses. Assigned with the Maison’s signature colour combination of blue and green, the Crash Tigrée Métamorphoses offers an abstract and evocative presence on the wrist. Compiled with many often-unprecedented enamelling techniques, the entirety of the watch features effects of all possibilities. For example, the stripes on the bezel are made of champlevé enamelling. On the dial, the stripes are separated with lines of set diamonds, and the winding crown features an inverted pavilion diamond.