Le Grand Bleu
Blue is the colour of the year in watchmaking. I know that Pantone decreed that greenery holds this title in 2017, but at the annual watch fairs in Basel and Geneva, almost all the brands have chosen deeper or lighter shades of blue for their dials, meant to symbolize elegance, the sky, and hope. The pictorial in our present issue of Lifetime magazine takes you on a journey among the most beautiful blue dials of the year.
Officine Panerai, the brand that has been fascinating me for almost 15 years, has launched a collection of diving watches, of which perhaps the most beautiful model is Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Bronzo. This is the third Panerai model with a bronze case and the first one featuring a blue dial, in a very dark shade, which creates a powerful contrast with the bronze of the case.
Rolex has launched the steel version of one of the most beautiful classic timepieces – Oyster Perpetual Datejust 41, as well as a version of white Rolesor (a combination of steel and white gold). My favourite is the model made of steel and white gold, which houses a wonderful blue dial in a 41mm case. The contrast is very powerful and elegant at the same time.
In 2017, Piaget celebrates 60 years of Altiplano, so that it launched in Geneva three limited-edition (260 pieces) versions of Altiplano 60th Anniversary 40mm. The most beautiful of them, in my opinion, is the rose gold model with a blue dial, in a brilliant, metal finish.
At last, women’s watches from IWC, a brand most notably known for its men’s models! The new Da Vinci Automatic 36 is also available in a steel version, with a deep blue dial. While trying on this watch, I was thinking there are not so many colour combinations as fascinating as the silver of the steel and the depth of a blue dial, which is why IWC managed to create a lovely timepiece. The Santoni strap is yet another strong point for this model.
After I saw this year’s Royal Oak collection, I left Geneva more eager than ever to start a lifetime relationship with Audemars Piguet. While the Frosted Gold models remain my favourites, I most certainly would not refuse a rose gold Royal Oak Chronograph – the 20th anniversary edition, whose blue dial – “Grade Tapisserie” – is shockingly beautiful. The fact that it is a complex watch with a wonderful movement also helps.
Hermès set off vigorously with a perpetual calendar in a lovely platinum case, with a night-sky, deep, relaxing blue dial. The sky is represented with the help of aventurine, which creates a nice contrast with the mother-of-pearl Moon. The alligator strap is blue as well – a shade that Hermès has called Abyss Blue.
I liked the perpetual calendar combined with a monopusher chronograph launched by Patek Philippe (reference 5372P-001), with a blue dial – obviously – in a platinum case. The dial features indicators for day, month, leap year, day/night, date, Moon phases, small seconds and, of course, chronograph counter, yet managing to remain legible, elegant and airy.
Zenith had a good year on the vintage segment, an area where they have been successful for some time. At Baselworld,
I really enjoyed the Heritage 146 Chronograph, inspired by a model launched in the ’60s, now equipped with an El Primero caliber. The retro look is complemented, in my opinion, by the lively blue dial, beautifully framed by the 38mm steel case.
I also really liked a model launched in Geneva by Jaeger-LeCoultre – Master Ultra Thin Small Second, an elegant model, made of steel. The dawn-blue dial is made of azurite and it is beautifully complemented by the small seconds, which has the same charming shade.
Carl F. Bucherer have launched Manero PowerReserve, with a very nice blue dial, in a darker shade towards the bezel and a lighter one towards the centre of the dial.
2017 certainly is the year of Grand Seiko. From classic, retro models to professional timepieces, Grand Seiko will dominate the market this year. For our blue pictorial I chose the model Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 Professional 600m Diver’s, a watch whose name says everything. Or almost everything, because, besides its extraordinary technical qualities, I’d also like to mention the Grand Seiko deep blue dial – a beautifully structured dial, complemented by the silicon strap in the same shade. It is a limited edition of 500 pieces and it will become available in August.
Longines is launching two Master Collection editions – a grey version and a blue one. In my opinion, the latter is more remarkable – it is classic, subtle, elegant, but also cheerful, lively. The dial displays the hours, the minutes and the seconds. The model can be purchased with a steel bracelet or a blue alligator strap.
Opinion is divided when it comes to Lapo Elkan, but everybody recognizes his creativity and sense of style. The models created by Hublot in collaboration with Elkan, Hublot Big Bang One Click Italia Independent, are among my favourites – black ceramics, diamonds and velvet. Regarding the model we have chosen for our pictorial, the dial and the velvet are of a dark, mysterious, moody shade of blue.