From March, I’ll start a 3-part lookbook I’d have a personal affection for, which is my love for a fantastic dial. Many of you readers would share the same sentiments with me regarding appreciating a tremendous dial work. It can be seen as a blank canvas for all watchmakers to paint their “art” techniques so that their philosophy could trespass from that few millimetres of space and into the eye, or, should I say, the heart of the wearer. I’m not talking about those matte sober ones with solid colour surfaces, indexes, and hands that are big enough to inform wearers of their purposes, like tool watches. Don’t get me wrong. These fundamental elements are as essential as those who need time information right at a glance. But in these few lookbooks, we will look at dials that take things up a notch in their lustrous decorations.
In this first instalment, we will look from micro-brands like Evant’s Polestars and their spectacular layered dials to giant manufacturers like Seiko, who tenaciously bring us incredible dial-works on their dressy and sport watches lines. I sincerely hope in our “Dial Deco” editions; we can discover even more attributes to enjoy in timepieces that we can offer without breaking the bank. We are indeed focusing on dial aesthetics here and will not be going through the rest of the watch designs. If that’s all good, let’s get things started.
Table of Contents
Evant Polestar Pardon My Blue – Ltd Production
The third series, launched by the indie brand Evant Watches had broken their usual design paths by diving into steampunk aesthetics. Despite showing off an entire DLC blue polish watch case with charming lustre, the gleaming dateless dial of the Polestar Pardon My Blue features an inner index ring with applied gilt indexes filled with Super-LumiNova. This matching blue curved inner ring sets this watch apart, giving this steampunk dial a porthole aesthetic with 12 round hour markers. You heard that right. An additional sub-layering on top of the smokey sunburst blue dial elevates the whole dial design.
Some elements that break out from the norm-looking one-layer dial would take time to get used to it. But even if one doesn’t dig the way of something over the top like the Polestar diver, we still have to admit a watch like this exists to bring some colours and fresh air into the sober dive-watch market. Besides, when is the last time you see a full blue watch that still functions like a professional one?
Citizen Collection Silver Leaf Lacquer Dial White Ref. NB1060-04A
Citizen is renowned for producing rugged and reliable quartz and mechanical movements. The Japanese brand is so famous for its movements that the average watch collector tends to overlook its watches. However, if you ignore the dial details on some of their fancy ones, you will miss a lot—the textured white dial on the Ref. NB1060-04A here reminds us of the colour of pure silk, signifying purity and elegance. However, the difference lies in the production of the dial. The dial here is a lacquered dial produced by spray-painting a few layers of lacquer on the base dial. After the spraying is evenly applied, the dial goes into the oven at high heat, similar to the production of an enamel dial. The dials are then carefully hand-polished to give them their characteristic high sheen.
In addition, dauphine hands are utilized here, with applied baton indices and a double-baton at 12. These indices are impeccably polished, resulting in a brilliant sheen radiating harmoniously with the dial. A colour-matched date aperture can be found at 3, adding a helpful daily complication while not messing up the dial’s proportions. Now, who says Citizen are boring watches for the general people?
Hitori Habuka 39 Snow White
By now, we know at Gnomon Watches, we carry an impressive stable of watches that are superbly valued for money and include incredible dial-works. Take Hitori’s debuting Habuka 39 Snow White, for instance. What makes this timepiece stand out is its captivating dial texture that mirrors the mesmerizing snowy mountains of the village. The frost-white dial emphasizes the brand’s solid ties to the snow-covered terrain in Japan, where one can visit and absorb the serenity around the cold atmosphere, thus creating a sense of mesmerization.
Similarly, the uneven texture tone is truly restrained and elegant. The incorporation of slight crevices around the dial randomly creates the opportunity for shadows to be cast, distilling a sense of depth while contrasting with the exacting perfection of the case exterior, handset, and marker finishings. The “snowy texture” on the timepiece has a way of catching light that indeed will earn many admirations of watch enthusiasts. For less than $400USD, this fully mechanical timepiece could be an excellent alternative to the $7000USD Grand Seiko SBGA211 Snowflake.
Evant Polestar Concept One – Ltd Production
The Evant Polestar Concept One is another fantastic example of a value-for-money, everything-about-the-dial watch. The Concept One was the second model that came into fruition, along with an entire 316L stainless-steel case in complete mirror polishing. Why would I have another Polestar diver right here? That’s because this particular one would scratch the itch for some of you who don’t want a blued-out watch yet are still intrigued about owning a steampunk dial.
What I like about this model is the additional hour index ring is done in the matching steel tone, setting a contrast with the sunburst smokey blue dial and ceramic bezel. These contrasting elements allow its wearer to appreciate the details effectively and enjoyably. Although ill go crazy with the Pardon My Swag edition, this particular one would be a good balance between a classic finished watch with some fancy dial-works.
Last but not least, I’ve got to have a Seiko Presage to end the first part of this month’s lookbook. The Sharp Edged GMT Ref. SARF005 is the newer addition to the presage line with a juxtaposed effect. The Sharp Edged series, at least in my eyes, are watches that look too sporty to those dressy lineups in the Presage collection, but somehow I knew Seiko does include practical “all-rounder” watches in their elegant lineup. Okay, I digressed a little here and got back on the dial.
Although its case is worth a mention, underneath the flat scratch-resistant sapphire crystal of the Presage Sharp Edged GMT “Sumi-Iro” Ref. SARF005 brings forth a spark of excitement with a stunning black “Sumi-Iro” textured dial inspired by the black ink used in the fine art of Japanese painting and calligraphy. This spectacular dial beautifully incorporates a Japanese Asanoha pattern inspired by the hemp plant grown in Japan since the Heian period over a thousand years ago. Traditionally used as a material for fabrics, this distinctive pattern holds great significance in Japanese culture, symbolizing rapid growth and good health. The geometric pattern aligns seamlessly with the angular nature of the piece while bringing an additional layer of dimension to the dial. This series demonstrated exquisite Japanese craftsmanship and a rich heritage of fine mechanical watchmaking.
Gnomon Watches first opened her doors for business online in early 2002, founded by bona fide horology suitors who share a profound passion for watchmaking and fine craftsmanship.