Watchmakers tap into growing trend of green dials
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The watch world is rarely unified by a single trend, but one style currently dominates all segments of the market — and fires up investors. Welcome to the era of the green dial.
“Last April, Breitling introduced the Chronomat 36mm with a pistachio dial and, in subsequent months, we’ve seen almost every shade of green imaginable,” says Mark Toulson, head of watch buying at the Watches of Switzerland Group.
Some notable green dials sold through the group’s stores since then have included Rolex’s palm-leaf patterned Datejust 36, Tag Heuer’s pine-green Aquaracer, Speake-Marin’s minty Dual Time and Tudor’s “surprising” olive-green and 18ct yellow gold Black Bay Fifty-Eight.
“As the new options come into store, they are quickly snapped up and I do think that people’s willingness to buy different dial colours other than black may, in part, be a response to the difficult last 18 months we’ve all had,” says Toulson. “Oris presented their Cotton Candy collection of pink, powder blue and, of course, green dials on their Diver Sixty-Fives as a joyful counterpoint to the recent dark times. I think there may be something in that thought.”
Another theory for this sudden boost in popularity is the colour’s connection to nature.
“Perhaps unconsciously, following the lockdown, we need to get closer to nature, which green can evoke,” says Lionel Favre, product design director at Jaeger-LeCoultre, who is responsible for the deep-green lacquer dial on this year’s Reverso Tribute Small Seconds.
“[This watch] is very popular and we are experiencing a big demand for it,” he reports. “Our coloured dials have always been sought after, and particularly in the Reverso collection. They are very trendy pieces. I do think green is now very on trend, but it wasn’t always the case.”
Indeed, when Bremont launched its first green dial in 2007, a dark racing green to reflect the Britishness of the brand, it wasn’t received with much enthusiasm. “Back then, it was one of these colours that looked great in the line-up in Watches of Switzerland, but it wasn’t everybody’s first choice,” says Nick English, the company’s co-founder. Shoppers were drawn in by the unusual colour, he remembers, but ended up buying a model with a white or black dial.
Now, there is less resistance. When Bremont launched a limited run of special-edition chronographs to mark the 60th anniversary of the E-Type Jaguar car this year, it offered two colours — grey and green. “The green sold out the quickest,” says English. “People are more accepting, more willing to experiment [with colour]. What I like about green is that you can put it on a luxury watch and it doesn’t cheapen it.”
Green watches also have investment potential. Ray Palmer, a director at Suros Capital, a luxury-asset lending company, keeps a close eye on watch price trends and says he “will always lend money on interesting models”. Green, he says, is definitely interesting.
“Last year, Rolex discontinued its “Hulk” Submariner, which features a green face and bezel,” he points out. “Since it stopped making the watch, which retailed in late 2019 for £7,000, it is now worth [up to] 50 per cent more on the second-hand market.” Other verdant Rolex models he has seen on the resale market for more than their original price include a gold Daytona 116508 with a green face and the 50th anniversary Submariner model with a green bezel, known as the “Kermit”.
Some in the watch world liken the entry of green into the mainstream to the craze for blue dials a decade ago. This started as a novelty but, now, the colour is a mainstay. Could green go the same way?
At the start of this year, Patek Philippe discontinued its stainless steel sports watch with a black-blue dial. In April, at the Watches and Wonders 2021 show, it unveiled its replacement — a 5711 with an olive-green dial.
Patek Philippe says it has not noticed a strong increase in demand for green dials. Despite this, it has introduced such models to its Aquanaut and Twenty~4 collections. “Most important for Patek Philippe is that the colour shade will remain; we are not proposing models that follow shortlived fashion trends,” says Jasmina Steele, PR director at the Geneva brand.
Not everyone is convinced by this abundance of green, however. While Bulgari has introduced watches across its Serpenti, Lvcea and Diva offerings, Antoine Pin, managing director of the Italian jeweller’s watch division, sees it as a fun diversion only. “Green will not be as mainstream a colour as blue or black,” he says. “Green is not the absolute leader — just a part of a chromatic selection.”
As always, collectors will be the ones to determine when watch novelty becomes watch normality. But, with strong sales and heritage brands backing this voguish hue, the signs are that green dials could be here to stay.