The dial is perhaps one of the most important parts of watches. It’s a component that gets arguably the most airtime from its owners, and it’s perhaps one of the most standout features of any watch (perhaps second only to the case – depending on the watch itself.
We have always been drawn to watch faces, both in terms of design and finish. It can make or break a timepiece, even before considering other important elements such as movement, finish and price. No matter how attractive a watch looks on paper, it is still a deciding factor for many if a watch face is deemed less than desirable.
Six watches with incredible dials from our archives
In this week’s article, we’ll be a little superficial. We are going to look at watches with incredible dials, whether in terms of design or the finishing techniques used. What have we selected? Let us find out!
Louis Erard Excellence Hand Guilloche
We begin the article with the Louis Erard Excellence Guilloché Main.
Louis Erard had, over the past two years, produced some rather interesting and accessible pieces over the past two years. The 42mm Hand Guilloche Excellence is one of those timepieces, with an irresistible guilloche dial inspired by MC Escher’s Cube Wallpaper. The dials are produced by Fehr in La-Chaux-de-Fonds, where each dial requires several hours of work. We love the visual effects of this one, and the fact that it’s all done manually with a centenary guilloche pink motor lathe.
This particular Louis Erard is limited to a production run of 99 pieces, and they are priced at 3,900 CHF (about S$5,750) each. We love the Excellence Guilloché Main for what it represents, and we definitely respect the tradition and artistic craftsmanship behind this timepiece.
Grand Seiko SBGA011/SBGA211 “Snowflake”
Until a few years ago, Grand Seiko was perhaps one of the best kept secrets in the collecting world.
If it has finally received the attention it deserves, that does not prevent the Japanese watchmaker from producing sublime timepieces. The SBGA011/SBGA211, better known as “Snowflake”, is an example. The watch features an amazing textured dial, which resembles that of a snowflake. The result is achieved through a special silver plating process, and we love how Grand Seiko managed to capture the effect so beautifully.
The 41mm watch is made of titanium and is priced at US$5,800 (about S$7,817). We love its simplicity and how Grand Seiko managed to make even the simplest designs shine with great craftsmanship (eg Zaratsu polishing). We guess Grand Seiko still has the charm, after all.
A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Thin in Blue Copper
It’s no open secret that we have a soft spot for A. Lange & Söhne watches, but the Saxonia Thin in Copper Blue certainly reinforces our love for this German watchmaker.
The 37mm Saxonia Thin may be the brand’s entry-level piece, but the Glashütte-based manufacturer has decided to take it a step further with a stunning dial iteration. This particular version features a solid silver dial covered in goldstone, which is a synthetic glass made up of tiny copper crystals scattered inside to create a shimmering appearance. The shimmering stardust-like effect works wonderfully with the blue background and gives the watch a rather dreamy look.
Priced at S$34,800, the 37mm Saxonia Thin in Copper Blue comes at a hefty price tag compared to the regular Saxonia Thin. However, the dial is definitely unique, and that surely makes the highly acclaimed dress watch more desirable than ever.
Moritz Grossmann Shaking
Moritz Grossmann is a brand that exudes finesse and subtlety, but the new Tremblage is a brilliant piece that departs quite a bit from our usual German watchmaker ideals.
The 41mm Tremblage is a timepiece that was produced to commemorate the brand’s thirteenth anniversary. As its namesake suggests, the Saxon brand uses this particular traditional decorative technique which results in this stunning handmade dial. In addition, the dial contrasts very well with the well-polished raised elements which include the brand inscription, sub-seconds dial, railroad style tracks and Breguet numerals. These elements are in German silver, and we expect no less from Moritz Grossmann.
Notably, the watch is available in stainless steel or rose gold, with a retail price of €31,500 (approx S$48,406) and €42,300 (approx S$65,003) respectively. The Tremblage is definitely a stunning piece, and frankly, we think Moritz Grossmann is a very underrated brand that deserves a lot more attention from collectors.
Breguet Classic 7137
When it comes to guilloche dial, Breguet is certainly one of the brands that come to mind. The Classique 7137 is perhaps a timepiece that allows the brand to display its mastery in this area.
Based on the historically significant Breguet No. 5 pocket watch, the 39mm Classique 7137 is a timepiece that evokes a strong sense of style and substance. It has many of the brand’s signature touches, such as Breguet hands, coin-edge case and complications. However, for us, the dial is the main attraction of this piece. It features a multi-textured dial, with no less than three different guilloché patterns. The moon phase display, which has an adventurous backdrop and craters on the “moon”, is also an incredible sight.
The watch is available in white gold and rose gold, and is priced at S$57,400. If one is looking for the quintessential gentleman’s watch, the Breguet is an attractive option if two- or three-hand watches aren’t your thing.
Vacheron Constantin Métiers D’Art Tribute to the Great Explorers – Vasco da Gama
Finally, we end the article with the Vacheron Constantin Métiers D’Art Tribute to the Great Explorers – Vasco da Gama.
The Métiers D’Art collection is 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 the great explorer series, and the 41mm watch uses great fire the enamel as a support to reproduce the Miller Atlas map of 1519 on the dial. The detail on each of the two dials is incredible, and it’s worth noting that the entire dial takes a full month of work to complete – with no mishaps where the enamel cracks during the production process. The latter is quite common and therefore extremely tedious to produce enamel dials, let alone a dial with so many details and separate firings.
Besides the stunning dial, VC also uses the rare wandering hour complication to tell the time of this watch. Plus, as with most watches from the Geneva-based manufacturer, this watch’s caliber 1120 AT is equally spectacular.
The retail price of this magnificent timepiece is S$188,000 and it is limited to a production run of 10 pieces. For art vendors, this VC is probably a great option to consider; it’s like wearing a piece of art on your wrist.
In this article, we have seen some rather incredible timepieces that transcend the realms of art. They’re no longer just a means used to tell the time – it’s a showcase of incredible technique and dexterity, and frankly, there’s nothing more satisfying than enjoying the visual spectacle of these beautiful dials.
Besides the finishing of the movements, we also feel that more attention should be paid to the dial. After all, you don’t see much of the movement, but the same can’t be said for the dial. The dial is the most visible element of every watch, and it’s the one that gets the most airtime. It should therefore be given more emphasis. We would definitely like to see more intricate finishing techniques used on high end watches in this aspect.
So, what do you think of our article today? What are some of the watch faces 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.