Bright Young Things: how vibrant dials and vivid accents became the hottest watch trends of 2020

Covid-19 might have cast a shadow over the luxury watch industry, but attention-grabbing colourways are still this year's hottest horological trend – as these summer-ready timepieces go to prove

Within a sea of effervescent timepieces, some chromatic chronometers have pledged their support to charitable causes

9 June 2020

Superocean Heritage ’57 for NHS Charities Together, Breitling

Back in April, via the brand’s first ever web summit, Breitling introduced the rainbow-hued Superocean Heritage ’57 Limited Edition. Only 250 of the playful, made-for-the-’gram timepieces were produced and they sold out almost immediately. A month later, Breitling announced a second edition of the watch in support of NHS Charities Together. The ‘Frontline Heroes’ watch has a blue, rather than black, dial yet sports the same attention-grabbing variegated hour markers. A total of 1,000 pieces are being made, with CHF 500,000 going to charities. Breitling UK will contribute an additional £1,000 for every Frontline Heroes watch it sells directly through its website.

Available on a vintage-inspired leather strap, £3,790, or an integrated Ocean Classic stainless-steel bracelet, £3,990, breitling.com

Ahoi for Doctors Without Borders, NOMOS Glashütte

Independent German fine-watchmaker, NOMOS Glashütte, has been supporting humanitarian medical organisation Doctors Without Borders through limited-edition timepieces since 2012. This year, the brand assists the Nobel Prize-winning organisation with two variations of its slender Ahoi sports watch. Both the Ahoi Date for Doctors Without Borders Germany (40.3mm) and the Ahoi Neomatik for Doctors Without Borders Germany (36.3mm) feature a striking red 12 on an otherwise black-and-white dial, a nod to the charity’s emblematic colours. Both references represent the first time NOMOS has paired this automatic watch with its elegant, stainless-steel sport bracelet. Both, too, incorporate an in-house calibre visible through an exhibition case-back.

Ahoi Date for Doctors Without Borders, £3,780, Ahoi Neomatik for Doctors Without Borders Germany, £3,440, nomos-glashuette.com

Aquis Date for NHS Charities Together, Oris

Oris has developed a one-of-a-kind Aquis Date to be auctioned online by Fellows Auctioneers. All proceeds will be donated to NHS Charities Together. The case-back of the unique timepiece features a detailed blue-and-white Oris bear and the inscription ‘In this Together, Oris Supports the NHS, One of One’. It is sold with a steel bracelet and dark brown leather strap, plus a tri-wing screwdriver and authentication documents. The timepiece typically costs £2,500. The auction is live now and will end on Tuesday 9 June. Currently, bidding stands at £3,400. Fellows will waiver all fees associated with the auction.

fellows.co.uk

Moser x MB&F

This year sees avant-garde, indie watch manufacturers H. Moser and MB&F celebrate their 15th anniversaries – prompting two of the most innovative brands in haute horology to cross pollinate on a two-watch project defined by a series of vivid fumé dials (that’s dials that transition from a darker colour on their outer edge to a lighter colour towards the middle). H. Moser’s take on MB&F’s FlyingT – the H. Moser x MB&F Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon – features an inclined ‘floating’ sapphire dial at six o’clock, visible only to the wearer, and an open tourbillon at 12 o’clock. MB&F’s interpretation on H. Moser’s LM101 –  the MB&F x Moser LM101 – showcases a suspended balance wheel at its centre, a small seconds sub-dial at six o’clock and hour and minute hands at two o’clock. Production will be capped at 75 Endeavours, in five iridescent colourways, and 60 LM101s, split into four equally dazzling hues. Expect the co-signed creations to prove catnip to collectors.

$79,000 for the Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon, $52,000 for the LM101, h-moser.com, mbandf.com

Soonow Instant Rainbow, HYT

Side-stepping the silly name – it’s a mash-up of ‘soon’ and ‘now’, supposedly to represent the present, geddit? – HYT’s newest watch – more accurately described as an objet d'art – is the latest in a long line of bat-sh*t-crazy, liquid-mechanical creations that stretch back to 2012. At that year’s Baselworld (RIP), HYT debuted its first hybrid timepiece, the truly space-age H1, which went on to win the award for Best Innovative Watch at the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève – better known as the Oscars of the watch world. The Soonow Instant Rainbow, ahem, follows the tradition of employing a mechanical movement to propel coloured liquid that’s used to tell the time. In the Soonow’s case, a yellow liquid, representing elapsed time, chases a blue liquid, representing future time, around a skull-shaped hour ring. In the right eye socket, a power reserve indicator progresses through the entire colour spectrum, as does a seconds indicator in the left eye socket. Putting the ‘horror’ in ‘haute horology’, the madcap dial, which, from up close, looks like the world’s smallest pinball machine, comprises 313 gold pins, 668 sapphires, amethysts and tsavorites, and a grinning mouth of 12 gold teeth, supposedly so as to represent the elusive pot of gold at the end of every rainbow. Mad, mental and undoubtedly magnificent.

£97,000, hytwatches.com

Project Z14, Harry Winston

Harry Winston kicked off Project Z in 2004. Every year since then (bar two), the American-Swiss jeweller-watchmaker has introduced a new addition to the high-tech, limited-edition collection. Each timepiece has been characterised by its use of Zalium, a super-strong, corrosion-resistant zirconium-aluminium alloy developed by Harry Winston and reserved exclusively for Project Z. The latest Z watch, Z14, has just been announced and combines a Zalium case with a retrograde 30-second counter at six o’clock – meaning that its red seconds hand will ‘fly back’ to zero once it hits 30 seconds, thanks to a snail-shaped cam and return spring that can be seen behind an electric blue seconds counter. The same blue is also used for the hour and minute hands, as well as the hour indexes and to augment the watch's textile strap.

POA, harrywinston.com

Polo Green, Piaget

Piaget’s contribution to the pantheon of luxury steel sports watches – see Patek Philippe’s Nautilus, Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak, IWC’s Ingenieur and Girard-Perregaux’s Laureato – was the port-hole-like Polo. The watch celebrated its 40th anniversary last year. This year, the brand has announced the arrival of a striking new green-dial edition, featuring a horizontal guilloche pattern which, says a press release, radiates ‘a rich blue hue’ in the flesh. The green dial, the press release goes on to points out, is paired with pink-gold coloured hands and gold indexes. The 42mm Polo Green will be limited to 888 pieces – suggesting that the majority are headed to China –  and is powered by in an-house self-winding movement that’s visible through a sapphire crystal case-back. Though who’s looking at the back, when you’ve got a dial as arresting as this.

£10,900, en.piaget.com

60th Anniversary 'Shizukuishi' Limited Edition, Grand Seiko 

Grand Seiko dials things up on occasion of its 60th anniversary. The Shizukuishi Limited Edition has a dial made from overlaid enamel, inspired by the birch trees of the Japanese town from which it takes its name – home, too, to Grand Seiko HQ. I got hands-on with this watch a few weeks before lockdown at Grand Seiko’s Knightsbridge boutique. In person, she possesses a rainbow-like quality that a picture just can’t hope to do justice. The dial shimmers from dark green to iridescent emerald with the flick of the wrist. An in-house, manual-wind movement and 18k rose gold case goes someway to accounting for the price tag. Only 120 are being made. They are scheduled to arrive in boutiques in July.

£21,500, grand-seiko.com

Defy 21 Ultraviolet, Zenith

You don’t see many purple watches. Orange, yes; green, heaps; blue, tons. Given the colour’s longstanding association with luxury – the Phoenicians were dyeing royal fabrics with plum-coloured piments as far back as 1,500BC – you’d have expected purple to have become something of a go-to-hue among purveyors of fine timepieces. Not so. This new lilac number from Zenith is the only purple accentuated watch – men’s watch, at least – that I can remember. Except, technically, it isn’t purple, but violet. Reason being, of all visible light, violet has the highest frequency, ergo the most energy. Stands to reason, then, that Zenith would turn to lightening-quick violet for its El Primero 21 chronograph – a super-precise stopwatch capable of measuring 1/100ths of a second. As well as violet bridges, the watch sports a violet balance wheel, violet woven textile strap and violet star-shaped oscillating weight.

£11,000, zenith-watches.com

Classic Fusion Cruz Diez Ceramic, Hublot  

Technically a 2019 release – it dropped during Art Basel Miami back in December – Hublot’s kaleidoscopic Classic Fusion Cruz Diez Ceramic proved to be the last major project of Franco-Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez. Known for experimenting with light and movement, Cruz-Diez believed that “colour evolves continuously in time and space.” Thus, Cruz-Diez’s collaboration with Hublot – he was 97 at the time – sees two discs, driven independently, move against each other to create a psychedelic watch face that never stays still. The snake-like, green-blue-and-purple pattern on the dial and strap is an interpretation of one of Cruz-Diez’s most celebrated works, Chronointerference from 1964.

£10,700, hublot.com

C60 Sapphire, Christopher Ward

Independent British watch brand Christopher Ward launched in 2004 with the promise of offering ‘the most affordable luxury watches in the world’. Fast forward 16 years and while other brands are reining in their marketing spend, Christopher Ward launched its first television campaign during lockdown – a savvy move given that the company only sells watches through its website. It’s online-only strategy is one reason it can sell mechanical watches for a snip of its Swiss counterparts. Another is the fact the company sources its movements from third-party Swiss-based suppliers like Sellita, which provides the calibre inside Christopher Ward’s new C60 Sapphire – a calibre you can see ticking away thanks to a lab-grown sapphire dial. Sporty orange hour accents on this 600m-certified dive watch serve a practical purpose – helping you track the time when you’re under water. Pre order from the beginning of August.

From £795, christopherward.co.uk

Freelancer Calibre RW1212 Green, Raymond Weil

‘Galvanic green’ is the term Raymond Weil uses for the colour of the dual-textured dial of its brand new automatic Freelancer. Featuring a hobnail finish in its centre, and framed by a satin chapter ring with silver indices, the vivid green face incorporates a large opening at 6 o’clock through which is visible the balance wheel of Raymond Weil’s Calibre RW1212 – a movement the brand developed with component manufacturer Sellita. The Freelancer’s bright green dial is complemented by a deep green strap made from synthetic textiles.

£1,750, raymond-weil.co.uk