Whether you realise it or not, in every moment you’re drawing meaning from every colour, shade, and hue you see.
From how you feel to the clothes you wear, the food you eat, the car you drive, and the company you buy insurance from — they’re all infused with and influenced by the hidden language of colour.
As such a powerful force, you want to ensure you harness colour when choosing a watch rather than making it work against you. There’s no point in buying a vintage Patek Phillipe watch with a salmon dial, for instance, if it makes you come across as a big softy in the boardroom.
To help make sure you pick the right watch dial colour, let’s take a look at some of the most commonly seen tints and tones across the vintage and preowned market.
Black: Power, formality, practicality
Overall, black is the right watch dial colour for practicality — for the simple fact that watches with black dials often come with white or luminous or hands that make it easier to tell the time in conditions of low light and poor visibility.
Some stick by the rule of only buying a black-faced watch if the band is also black. But the myriads of Rolexes and other leading brands that pair black dials with silver cases and bracelets prove that this is faulty logic and that with black dials, pretty much anything goes.
Blue: Trust, confidence, intelligence
Watches with blue dials have been somewhat of a hot watch trend recently. The theme was certainly out in force at this year’s SIHH and Baselworld, with a scattering of new blue-dialed models from brands like Patek Phillipe, Rolex, and Omega.
As a bold primary colour, blue is incredibly versatile and pairs easily with most of your wardrobe. Typical buying guidelines are to look for a vintage watch with a yellow gold or silver case — whether it be platinum, white gold, or stainless steel. A blue dial also looks great with brown and black straps.
White: Innocence, purity, light
If you’re buying your first vintage watch, you can’t go wrong with a white dial. White has a universal appeal that makes it equally suitable for the office or the bar. And as it’s neutral, you won’t ever get stuck with finding a matching outfit.
One issue with white dials is that they tend to highlight any small scratches and scrapes. But if you don’t mind the worn look, white, which will always be in fashion, is definitely the way to go.
Red, Orange, Green; Energy, enthusiasm, fertility
Of course, what the right watch dial colour really comes down to is personal preference. Other than the brand of watch, the colour of its dial is the best way to say something about your personality and dress in accordance with the occasion.
For instance, a red dial may suggest you’re an action-orientated and eccentric person. Orange may show warmth and a tendency to be outgoing and sociable. Yellow often represents alertness and an inclination to be orderly and regimented. Green dials can have a military connotation or demonstrate class, and as such can add a touch of readiness or regality to your appearance.
Other bright and bold colours — purple, pinks, lime greens, etc. — although difficult to match with an outfit, can add a sense of playfulness to an occasion. But it can take some real confidence and style to successfully pull them off.