The Color of Time
Watches this season go bold with color
By Josh Sims Watch and Fashion Writer, The Independent
Rather than a big and bulky aesthetic, many brands make a lively impression by going bold with their color use instead. With spring just around the corner – and St. Patrick’s Day on Monday – we share a few highlights from this season’s varied palette.
Patek Philippe 5067 Ladies’ Aquanaut
Common knowledge has it that boys wear blue and girls wear pink. Fact fans will be pleased to know, however, that this is a twentieth century invention. The reverse was actually true in the late 1800s. Perhaps this is where Patek Philippe got the idea to offer its classic Aquanaut in powder blue, with forty-six diamonds and an embossed dial with a metallic sheen. Inside the case is a quartz movement with sweep second hands and screw-down crown, as befits a watch that, despite the gems, is still water-resistant to 120 meters. This eye-catching Aquanaut’s most prominent feature, however, is its color, which suggests the sea, perhaps even a sea in a suitably tropical environment.
The Maverick is one of the best-selling watches from Victorinox, makers of the famed Swiss Army Knife, among other things. For 2013, the watch underwent a design overhaul. It was relaunched in a new and trendy range of colors, with dials and matching lacquered unidirectional bezels in chocolate, blue, red and green. Color is now the model’s calling card: in some versions the case comes in gold PVD-coated steel, on a two-tone metal bracelet, or a matching colored rubber strap. The Swiss-made quartz-driven Mavericks are water-resistant to 100 meters. As for the colors, Victorinox says they are inspired by the Swiss landscape, presumably its forests and lakes. As for the gold, everyone knows it is safely stashed in anonymous vaults.
Giving a feminine edge to a masculine watch is no easy task, but Jeanrichard’s new Terrascope for ladies may have pulled it off. This is due in no small part to its bold and quite unusual choice of color for the dial and the rubber-feel alligator strap: purple, or aubergine, as the company prefers to call it. How the color has been treated deserves special mention. Diamonds might have worked well, but Jeanrichard chose to line the bezel with eighty-eight amethysts, creating an additional tone-in-tone effect. There are twenty-six jewels inside the distinctive, cushion-style, satin-finished stainless steel case, though not violet ones, for the self-winding, proprietary movement, which delivers a 38-hour power reserve.
Zenith El Primero Stratos Flyback
Whether blue was a book color in 1969, few can recall. Zenith, at any rate, claims that its blue-on-blue scheme with a midnight blue dial was big back then. Which is where this contemporary homage to watches of the period comes in, with its blue-toned, sun-ray dial and blue rubber strap. What those in the watch world might better remember the brand for is the El Primero, which has become something of a legend in the industry. It was the first integrated automatic chronograph movement and featured a 36,000 vibrations per hour heartbeat that produced top accuracy. In addition, it displayed a tenth of a second. It was brawny too: to demonstrate this, Zenith had it strapped to the landing gear of a Boeing 707 and let it fly transatlantic. The results were something to write home about: it handled temperatures below minus 60°C, a ceiling altitude of 10,700 meters, and considerable variations in atmospheric pressure.
Moss and Olives
Swatch YVS402 L’Heure du Marais
Some brands like to give their watches macho or highly technical names; others avoid connotations by just giving them a product code; Swatch takes a cryptic path. The new chronograph from its premium Irony line is named “L’Heure du Marais” after the district of Paris that was once the home of the nobility. Today it plays host to the city’s most historic buildings and most prestigious art galleries. The greenish dial may well be a reference to the swamp the area was named after (marais means swamp), which makes the signal orange used for the hands and some numerals on the subdials and bezel like will-o’-the-wisps. The 42.5-millimeter watch comes with an olive textile or a leather strap. Inside the stainless steel case is an ETA movement with a stop function accurate to a tenth of a second. Water resistance to 30 meters means the watch will be safe in the autumnal rains of the City of Lights.
Piece of Chocolate
Fréderique Constant Slimline Joaillerie
Chocolate doesn’t have to be fattening. Indeed, the rose gold-plated case of this new Fréderique Constant model is just 5.18 millimeters thick – just enough to carry those sixty diamonds standing in for the minutes, plus another ten that act as hour markers on a rich brown dial. The overall effect is not flashy as one might expect. In fact, the watch is rather understated. The date is displayed symmetrically at 6 o’clock and is run by the Geneva-based company’s own FC-220 movement. Fréderique Constant celebrated its twenty-fifth birthday this year, and it is watches like this one, together with its reputation for using high-quality materials, that has helped the brand on its way to a rapid success.
Barely out of the gate, the Rolex Day-Date was on its way to classicdom, thanks to its simplicity and to its being the first chronometer wristwatch to indicate the date and day of the week spelled out in full (ideally for the more senior collector or men of leisure perhaps). That was back in 1956. So how does one keep a watch of a certain age looking fresh and vigorous? Color, color and more color. Specifically cognac, cherry, blue, chocolate and, best of all, a vibrant green. Not on the same watch, of course. The 18-karat yellow gold case creates a warm counterpoint to the animated green on the dial, Its size, at 36 millimeters, gives it a nice and neat fit on any wrist. Other than that, this year’s changes have been kept to a minimum: it still has Rolex’s self-winding caliber 3155, a certified chronometer, and the strap has its signature concealed clasp. And it’s still rather presidential. Indeed, the watch’s nickname, “The President,” has stuck ever since Rolex gave one of the first models to Dwight D. Eisenhower.
This article and all accompanying images originally appeared in Tourneau’s The Watch Book: 2013/2014.