Those who lament luxury watches’ lack of pizazz, buttoned-up as they are in their gold and steel, their face a predictable grey, white or at best blue, should think again. This year’s SIHH was a blaze of colour with bold dials in natural stone, cases cut from innovative materials and cotton-candy straps. Proof that brands aren’t afraid to put classicism and sobriety to one side and let their colour palette run wild.
Dials by Piaget and by Van Cleef & Arpels borrow some of the wonderful shades to be found in the mineral world and drape themselves in the refreshing blue of turquoise, malachite’s palette of green, the deep azure of lapis lazuli or burgundy red. As nature intended or delicately interpreted as hardstone marquetry, which produces a remarkably textured effect, natural stones need little more than the irresistible appeal of colour to win our heart.
A glance at the watches on show at Hermès confirms this chromatic trend. Champlevé lacquered dials in green, red, yellow or blue adorn the Arceau Casaque while a subtle guilloché pattern lends a certain elegance. At Audemars Piguet, the Royal Oak Offshore turns 25 in style with matching dials and rubber straps in high-vis green, orange, purple, turquoise or khaki.
Varnished, impregnated or electroplated
H. Moser & Cie uses a painstaking electroplating technique to produce more original shades for its fumé dials. From Cosmic Green on the Swiss Alp Watch to Blue Lagoon on a Venturer Concept that has the colour of the waters lapping the shores of an island paradise, the independent firm leaves us in no doubt about its expertise with these immediately recognisable dials. Sister company Hautlence jumps in with its own take on colour. The Invictus Neon lavishes bright green, vibrant yellow or fluorescent orange on its varnished bezel. The Vortex Gamma, meanwhile, goes all-out orange. Its case in HLLightColor is not just coated but impregnated with colour – and that really can be any colour you like. Match it with an equally bold and bright strap for full effect.
Colour is also de rigueur among the more classic brands. F.-P. Journe drapes its élégante watch in a rainbow of shades. Ceramic inserts complement the colours of the strap, in a choice of white, pink, chocolate brown, khaki green, turquoise, dark blue and sky blue. Similarly inspired, Cartier puts the accent on colourful straps to dress up its revamped Santos watch. Storied names, iconic designs, independents… SIHH 2018 was a riot of colour. Is this a trend that will go the way of any other and ultimately disappear? Only time will tell. It does, however, raise an interesting question: can a Fine Watch that is made to last not one but several lifetimes also be, as many fans seem to believe, simply an (albeit magnificent) fashion statement?