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 share my sentiments 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. Don’t get me wrong. 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. 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 last instalment, I will look at some of my personal favourites from my company. I included those that have enjoyed me repeatedly throughout their launches. We have cult favourite ones like the “Baby Snowflake” and its spectacular frosty dial and a couple of newer timepieces from Norqain with their signature patterns. No matter who manufactured these timepieces, each of my picks has tenaciously brought incredible dial works. 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
Seiko Presage Automatic White “Baby GS Snowflake” Ref. SARX055
If you have paid enough attention to our blogs, you will come across my nerdy article on this particular Presage. If not, you can read it right here, and I strongly suggest you do. Since three years had passed since its inauguration, the frosty dial has endured over time without signs of deteriorating. Also, Its unique “frosted snow” texture dial brings an all-time Seiko grail piece to mind: the Grand Seiko SBGA211, AKA “Snowflake”.
Just like its elder Grand Seiko brethren, they .both have an enduring look. The snowflake dial behaves rather blissfully, balancing between classiness and practicality. In natural light conditions, the dial appears cream white while carrying the “frost” texture. In this condition, the watch looks more elegant than its spiritual being. However, in a darker environment, it presents a more sober icy blue, metallic face, resulting in a contemporary feel instead. So How was it made? The livery of the dial comes from the multi-stage process- it starts with stamping the pattern onto its dial blank in brass, followed by additional layers of coating to create the subtle frosty, variegated look on its surface. That said, The SARX055 dial work bears the same amount of effort to craft some other Presage models with enamel dials or such.
Le Jour Coral Diver Brown Ref. LJ-CD-005
“Belle, belle!” These words I used to describe the French watchmaker’s Sports diver. The Coral Diver is Le Jour’s take on the current sports watch trend, where the case has an integrated bracelet attached to it, making the timepiece have a fluid flow throughout its design. Le Jour turned up the notch by implementing an emblematic tonneau-shaped case in tandem with a textured dial, unlike most others.
Inspired by the oceans, the dial has been designed with an intriguing grainy whirlpool texture adding charisma to the refined timepiece. It not only provides a nice texture for the wearer to look upon, but it also provides some form of energy with an outdoorsy feel. I picked the brown dial variant as I’m compelled by its toned-down look while reminded of an excellent espresso coffee being stirred and sipped in a cafe on a rainy day.
Aristo Carbonsports 7H95 – Sapphire
Keeping the Sports spirit, I rigged the Ariso Carbonsports watch, which only shouts vintage. Its case design, paired with the old-school mesh bracelet and topping things off with the carbon-fibre textured dial, all lend an excellent mix of sportiness, contemporary and nostalgia. Based on its past offering in the early 80s to 90s, Aristo uses carbon fibre for its dial to give it a unique texture and dimension. Already sporty enough, the dial included a Yellow SuperLuminova index with matching hour and minute hands. The overall pairing resulted in a racy look that I can imagine any race-car fan interested in.
Norqain Adventure Sport 42mm Blue – Blue Rubber Ref. N1000C02A/A101
If any of you have considered Norqain in your Wishlist, you will be familiar with its Adventure Sports offerings. The young emerging brand has continuously shaken the watch industry with its watchmaking pedigree, showing no signs of stopping. The brand’s “dive watch” collection could be regarded as a classic. While at that, almost all of their Adventure Sports diver clads an icon that represents the brand thoroughly.
Zooming in on the Norqain Adventure Sport Blue 42mm dial unveils an alluring blue dial sporting the brand’s distinctive herringbone-like texture that brings a great deal of character and depth to the dial. Although it’s simply a decoration on a generic dial material, the brand has executed them consistently until it became emblematic when we think of Norqain. And that’s an enormous task in tandem with creating a mesmerizing design itself.
Orient Star Avant-Garde Skeleton Blackout Ref. RK-AV0A03B
For the last pick, I went all out on the sports theme and picked the Avant-Garde Skeleton Blackout by Orient Star. Yes, I know many of you are surprised by a Japanese brand that is famed for designing practical tool watches. This timepiece is accurately “Avant-Garde”, displaying the brand’s prowess in creating an over-the-top sports watch.
The impeccable skeleton dial continues the expert watchmaking legacy of Orient that sets this timepiece apart from its contemporaries. As we stick to the focus on dial works, we can admire the stunning skeletonized cut-outs, especially at 9 o’clock, which reveals the balance wheel in this fine timepiece on its sunburst black dial. Hence, the outstanding openwork on this watch demonstrates the watchmaker’s attention to detail in framing this cut-out with sleek metallic trimming and applying a high polish to the balance bridge underneath to bring out the aesthetics of this semi-skeleton dial. Moreover, the seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock fits in seamlessly with the openwork design and balances the watch’s aesthetics. It is truly a marvel.
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