SIHH 2019 Trend Report: Blue dials continue to stage a strong, stylish showing
Blue’s reign shows no sign of stopping, with watchmakers applying this popular hue onto their creations in every conceivable way.
For at least six years now, blue dials have been a popular alternative to black, white or silver versions.
Blue complements virtually all skin tones, and is appropriate no matter what the occasion. It’s no wonder, then, that watchmakers continue to introduce the hue onto dials and straps, bezels and movement parts.
Bovet timepieces are usually so richly detailed and finely constructed that entire essays could be devoted to singing their praises. But for brevity’s sake, we’ll only highlight the salient features of the new Virtuoso IX.
Kicking things off: The intense, lustrous blue dial, which is the result of eight layers of translucent lacquer applied to a surface that’s engraved with a fan motif. The colour is evocative of 19th century enamelwork, for which Bovet is famous.
And speaking of the 19th century, the case back reveals another throwback: Movement bridges engraved with a bris de verre (broken glass in French) motif and coated with a blue CVD (Chemical Vapour Deposition) treatment. The combination of, and contrast between, the blue bridges and silvery-white rhodium plate was said to be a favourite of the Bovet brothers.
Among the watch’s technical achievements is its big date indication on the bottom right. The second time zone function, indicated by the smaller, 24-hour sub-dial, is handy too. For added convenience, there’s also an adjacent cities window. You can adjust the time zone – which takes into account daylight savings time – using two correctors on the case side.
Then there’s the 10-day power reserve, indicated by the window on the bottom left. A single barrel fuels this power supply, aided by a twice-patented spherical differential winding system (you can see this mechanism on the case back at 12 o’clock). By halving the number of turns of the crown required to fully wind the watch, this mechanism saves you precious time – time that could be spent admiring the watch.
The Virtuoso IX comes in red gold, white gold or platinum, with an alligator strap.
Watchmaking meets interstellar travel in Girard-Perregaux’s Cosmos. Or at least, you’ll get the sensation of hurtling through space when glancing at this timepiece, thanks to the optical effect caused by the blue luminescent liquid ceramic glowing through cut-outs on the dial.
Beneath the raised sapphire crystal, the diorama consists of four elements: Hours and minutes sub-dial; tourbillon; and two spheres representing the earth and constellations. The earth sphere also comes with a 24-hour ring around the equator. This functions as both a second time zone and day/night indicator. Meanwhile the cosmic sphere showcases the 12 constellations associated with the Western Zodiac.
If you’ve noticed the lack of a crown, well that’s because all adjustments take place on the case back. There, four keys control the winding, time-setting and adjustment of each sphere. For those with slender wrists, note that the watch wears large: The beadblasted titanium case is 48mm in diameter and is fitted with a blue alligator strap.
ART PIECE EDITION HISTORIQUE
The watchmaking duo of Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey want you think of their latest creation as less a timekeeper and more of a philosophical statement. Hence the hand-engraved musings on part of the dial, which espouse their ideals. But hey, you can make those ideals your own goals, too – “Creativity” and “Perfection” are universal.
Other musings include “Art” and “Architecture”, which perfectly describe this piece. The multi-layered, superbly finished, three-dimensional dial is classic Greubel Forsey. Hours and minutes are read off red arrows poised on superimposed discs, while seconds are indicated by a blue hand on the sub-dial between 10 and 11 o’clock.
Keeping things running smoothly is a double tourbillon inclined at a 30º angle, which cancels out the effect that gravity has on timekeeping accuracy. The device is set against a stunning royal blue background. The watch – the last in a series of Art Pieces that debuted in 2013 – is issued in a 33-piece limited edition, with the initial 11 pieces in platinum. The case material of the remaining 22 will be announced later.
SUBMERSIBLE 42MM (PAM 959)
This is the entry-level diving watch you’ll want to get if you desire a Panerai with a different look, compared to the classical Panerai aesthetic of stainless steel case and black sandwich dial. Here the brushed steel case is fitted with a blue ceramic bezel, while the textured grey dial (Panerai calls it “shark grey”) sports applied hour markers and dots.
The PAM 959 might also be a better fit for your wrist. It’s 42mm in diameter, a size that Panerai has been offering more and more of in recent years, mostly because of Asian demand and the general backlash against oversized watches. Watertight to depths of 300m, the watch is propelled by an automatic, in-house manufactured calibre and comes with a blue rubber strap.
EXCALIBUR AVENTADOR S BUCHERER BLUE EDITION
Swiss watch and jewellery retailer Bucherer introduced its Bucherer Blue Editions in 2016, collaborating with watchmakers to produce pieces with blue elements exclusively for its boutiques. The collection now counts some 16 watchmakers and 32 watches, the latest of which is Roger Dubuis’s Excalibur Aventador S.
Housed in a 45mm C-SMC carbon case, the watch sports an openworked Duotor calibre that’s enlivened by a blue dial and a rubber strap with a blue technical fabric insert. It’s limited to just eight pieces.
While most famous for its Freak series of watches, Ulysse Nardin is also admired for its erotic watches. Typically, these feature automatons in, shall we say, compromising positions. On the Classico Manara, however, the Swiss watchmaker took a different approach, adopting the art of miniature painting to illustrate the erotic themes.
Inspiration came from the Italian comic book illustrator Milo Manara, a classically trained painter with half a century’s experience. To fit Manara’s water colour paintings on the dials – which are around 10 times smaller than the originals – Ulysse Nardin’s artisans had to invest 50 hours of work, round the clock, per dial. The resulting miniature paintings were then protected by a layer of transparent lacquer.
There are 10 paintings in all, with Ulysse Nardin issuing a limited run of 10 pieces each in stainless steel and rose gold, for a total of 200 pieces. In-house automatic movements and dark blue alligator straps complete the collection.
Of all the watchmakers at SIHH, Vacheron Constantin was the most prolific when it came to the blues. It showcased not one but seven models across three collections decked out in this regal tone. But as longtime fans of the sporty yet elegant Overseas line, the one that set our pulses racing fastest was the Overseas Tourbillon.
It’s the first ever tourbillon model in the Overseas collection, and what a debut. The tourbillon is set against a stunning blue dial, made from translucent blue lacquer applied onto a sunburst satin-finished surface. The tourbillon first appeared on two models in the Traditionnelle collection in 2018, but here it really pops thanks to the blue backdrop.
The mechanism’s architecture and finesse is to be admired: The openworked Maltese Cross; the finely polished gears and wheels; and the bar that supports the entire structure, which is hand-bevelled, a process that requires 12 hours of work.
The self-winding watch has 80 hours of power reserve, so you can pick up where you left off even after a long weekend. It’s also supplied with three straps – alligator, rubber and steel – that can easily be changed without the use of tools.