Faces of Distinction: Watch Dial Materials
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When watch aficionados talk about watch dials, they often concentrate on the distinctive features that give that dial its character. That’s not surprising. The indices, subdials, chronograph counters, date indicators and other features combine to make a watch both aesthetically pleasing and functional.
To focus on the dial features only, however, is to overlook another attribute that makes a watch dial truly distinctive: the material it’s made of. Here are some of our favorite dial materials.
925 silver—sterling silver—is 92.5% pure silver, and is coveted by fine jewelry and watch manufacturers for its rich, lustrous beauty. It’s challenging to work with, as it is a softer precious metal than pure silver by itself, but in the hands of a master craftsman, it can be fashioned into a watch dial of singular refinement.
There is an English proverb that says, “As every thread of gold is valuable, so is every moment of time.” It follows, then, that this most dazzling material would be sought after for crafting watch dials of timeless, exquisite elegance. Gold sets a standard that’s hard to equal and when it comes to the hand-engraved gold dials from Breguet, there’s nothing more amazing.
Brass, an alloy of copper and zinc, has been valued for millennia for its rare versatility as a metal. It is durable, highly malleable and has a warm, burnished attractiveness. As a material for watch dials, that versatility is especially important, as it can be finished in a myriad of different ways. Oris’ fun, playful colors on 2021’s updated Pro Pilot are the perfect offset to the deadly serious specs found in the Calibre 400 movement and all-titanium case and bracelet.
For a truly out-of-this-world watch dial, it’s hard to beat meteorite as a material. A thin slice of meteorite—pieces of a comet or asteroid that have fallen to earth—is treated by either intense heat or a nitric acid bath, which illuminates the characteristic criss-cross pattern caused by the reaction of crystals to the treatment. Each meteorite watch dial makes a distinctive, one-of-a-kind statement. Few manufacturers have dared worked with this extraterrestrial material, among them brands like Omega and Jaquet Droz.
Enamel watch dials are as rare as they are stunning, and that’s because the process to create them is meticulously exacting, time-consuming and difficult to master. The basic process—fusing soft glass to a metal substrate using extreme heat—is just the beginning. Several techniques, including grand feu, cloisonné and champlevé, add layers of complexity, and the result is an artform that is exquisite beyond words.
Platinum is the rarest precious metal with properties suitable for watchmaking, and has long been treasured by lovers of fine timepieces for the beauty and luster it contributes to watch dials. With a value exceeding even that of gold, platinum has an extraordinary silver-white color that perfectly frames the features found on the finest high-end watches.
Discover these and other luxury watches at Feldmar. Browse our online store or stop into our flagship location.