Baselworld 2015: Ten shades of grey
Dial colors are often a good indication of trends. Blue has always been a sure value, but a chic grey serving as an alternative to black, which is often categorized as a "sportive" color, is gradually overtaking anthracite.
Fashions are cyclical and at times difficult to follow. But in major meetings, like Baselworld, one does get a vague sensation of there being some sort of tendency in some segments, in particular in the hues that come to dominate a season. Obviously, there are many spirited colors that catch the eye and are being promoted by the fashionable brands, like yellow, or almost-fluorescent green, or new colors like "prune," which is found even at Rolex. Or there is blue, which has found favor with the collections for about five years now with somewhat tepid success. Let us note, as well, the vernal orientations, particularly since the show coincided with the arrival of the sun. But here's the problem: In the midst of these fantastical colors, there is one that had more or less disappeared and is now returning to the collections with a vengeance. Grey…
Choosing from the place in between
Hardcore watchmakers often feel, correctly, that fantasy as a form of expression, only has a limited lifespan if used too lightly on the product. We all know that. It's as true for cars, where fanciful colors never managed to break through except to mark key periods. In the 1970s, there was orange, electric blue came in the 1980s, metallized colors in the 1990s, and carbon during the aughts. Fifteen years into the third millennium, grey is barging in on the turf of the silvery. It has become a kind of third way, something chosen by brands that seek to seduce the urban crowd who are concerned about following the trends of their day without looking too much like this or that, as it were. So grey is seen as the hue of reason, if one is to believe the decision-makers and the creators of horological products.
Of taste and colors
This year, Chanel is celebrating fifteen years of success in the ceramic world, and it has come up with two timepieces in titanium ceramic that are in a precious grey. Then there is Hublot, which chose a more martial interpretation for the new grey of its case, because it matches the greyish tint used by Ferrari. But there's more. Today, with the Powerlite® alloy, Maurice Lacroix is using a material whose grey is more intense than that of titanium.
It is Rado, obviously, that has clinched the decision, with a new compound that is very attractive for the HyperChrome Si3N4 model. But this year, just about all the brands have models that make use of the grey. It would take too much space to list all of them. Suffice to say: Blancpain uses it for the caliber of the L-Evolution S and Chopard, like many other brands, uses grey for its dials with a special treatment that gives a gossamer look to the surface.