Oris ProPilot X Calibre 400 Laser

A Different Kind of Blue: 5 Watches with Stunning Blue Dials Crafted by Novel Techniques

Blue remains one of the most popular and timeless dial colors in horology. A recent trend involves watchmakers creating blue dials with innovative, non-traditional executions. Here, we present five breathtaking watches with novel blue dial designs launched in 2023.

By Henri Lee

Blue stands out as one of the most enduringly popular dial colors, maintaining its appeal over time. Blue dials pair elegantly with metal cases, evoking a nautical vibe, but the color also matches well with different outfits for both gentlemen and ladies. Furthermore, blue is synonymous with a sense of tranquility and sophistication.

Remarkably, watches featuring a blue dial often command the highest prices in the secondary market, surpassing their counterparts with different dial colors in the same model. So, it’s natural that watch brands would gravitate towards crafting timepieces with blue dials to delight both collectors and enthusiasts.

A recent noteworthy trend involves watchmakers creating dials with non-traditional blue dials, often with innovative executions like laser treatments, novel enameling techniques, and unique stamping methods. Sadly, these captivating blue beauties typically come as part of special, limited-edition releases and quickly sell out.

Here, we present five irresistible watch models that epitomize this trend.

Oris ProPilot X Calibre 400 Laser

Founded in the Swiss town of Hölstein in 1904, Oris is a watch brand with a long history of innovations and achievements. Among the countless wristwatches built over the past century, one product line stands out: the pilot’s watches. As early as 1938, Oris introduced its first pilot watch with a large crown and pointer date. The enlarged crown facilitated easy usage even with gloves on.

The “ProPilot” name first appeared in 2014, signifying the latest generation of pilot watches. Then, the top-of-the-line ProPilot X Calibre 400 was unveiled in 2022 and powered by Oris’ high-performance in-house automatic movement with a 5-day power reserve. Its 39mm case and bracelet made of titanium completed its modern, integrated look.

At Watches & Wonders 2023, the Oris ProPilot Kermit Edition became a fan favorite, featuring a bright green dial and a frog inside the date window.

How could Oris ever top this? Well, the ingenious Oris design team had a resounding answer – the 39mm ProPilot X Calibre 400 Laser Edition.

At first glance, the dial shines with dominant blue hues ranging from deep to light, mixed with some elusive green and violet. As the viewing angle shifts, the colors morph mysteriously, resembling a mother-of-pearl yet distinctly different.

As the name suggests, this mesmerizing dial is made using an innovative lasering technique never before seen in watchmaking. The laser surface treatment on the titanium controls the reflected light waves, creating an entrancing kaleidoscope effect. Oris developed this technique in partnership with Switzerland’s prestigious ETH Zürich University, following the brand’s dedication to innovation. The current list price is $5,200.

Straum Jan Mayen Blue

Established in 2017, Straum aims to create watches inspired by the natural beauty of its homeland, Norway. The Jan Mayen collection took shape after the founders organized an expedition unit to explore Jan Mayen Island and ascend the summit of Beerenberg. The surreal, otherworldly landscape of the island and its volcano served as abundant inspiration for the collection.

The Straum Jan Mayen Blue was designed to capture the ferocious Arctic Ocean surrounding Jan Mayen. The 3-D textural surface, drenched in deep blue with shadows, vividly portrays the colossal waves and glaciers encircling the volcanic island.

The dials undergo multiple stages of stamping, layered with metallic coatings to introduce a subtle sheen, infused with fumé colors, and finally coated with a glossy finish. The result is a truly captivating visual experience. The Straum Jan Mayen Blue is currently priced at €1,600.

Czapek Antarctique Lanikai P.04 for Collective

The modern Czapek & Cie SA was founded in 2012, resurrecting one of the greatest names in watchmaking history. For, you see, the founder of the original brand, Mr. Czapek, was an early partner of Mr. Patek, an intriguing history that is well documented at the Patek Philippe Museum.

The Antarctique is Czapek’s best-selling collection, which, against all odds, launched during the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in a 99-piece limited edition. The refreshing design, in-house movement, and fair price made it a great success, exceeding the team’s expectations!

With strong collector demand, Czapek released various iterations with intriguing dial designs and colors. One of the most recent editions, released in April 2023, sports an incredible dial aptly named Lanikai, bringing gentle ocean waves to life.

This piece was a collaboration between Czapek and Collective Horology, who create collaborative watches for enthusiasts and act as an authorized dealer for independent brands. It was the 4th model in their higher-end P series.

Remarkably, the 3D textured rolling dial is enamel, which is normally a flat surface. However, for this groundbreaking creation, a special process was developed by the artisans at Donzé Cadrans, the top enamel maker worldwide. After many design iterations, the final result is highly satisfying.

The dial color is a shade of turquoise blue, and beneath the calming waves, the seabed sands seem visible as well, thanks to the special enameling technique. The watch was originally priced at $26,500.

Armin Strom Gravity Equal Force Tranquility Topper Edition

Armin Strom, a leading independent watch brand based in Biel, Switzerland, manufactures all of its timepieces in-house and is renowned for haute horlogerie at (relatively) affordable prices. Moreover, it stands among the very few brands capable of producing resonant timepieces.

Another showcase of its watchmaking prowess is the Gravity Equal Force range. While “stop work” is a technique used to ensure constant torque from the main spring, it had never been combined with an automatic movement until this Armin Strom innovation. The result is an accurate rate regardless of the watch’s state, whether just being put on the wrist or worn continuously.

The Gravity Equal Force offers different dial colors, including black, blue, purplegreen, and transparent (achieved via a sapphire dial). However, the most intriguing and rare dial design belongs to the Armin Strom Gravity Equal Force Tranquility Topper Edition. This collaboration with Topper Fine Jewels in Northern California and top watch collector Rick (a.k.a. @watch_diversion) produced only 15 pieces.

The blue color draws inspiration from the crisp blue waters and tranquility of Northern California’s stunning mountain lakes. The fumé dial, darker in the center and progressively lighter towards the edges, mirrors the changing depths of these lakes, whose vibrant blue tones come to life on a sunny day.

Additionally, its exposed backplate uniquely displays a ‘grain d’orge’ guilloché produced by Kari Voutilainen’s dial maker. The exquisite patterns simulate the gentle waves of a lake’s surface in the early morning. What a magical presentation of a blue dial floating on top of a blue guilloché! This special piece was listed at $24,900.

James Lamb Origin Azur

James Lamb, an independent watchmaker from the United Kingdom, distinguishes himself by using the tarnish-proof silver alloy Argentium to craft cases, lugs, and caseback entirely by hand. He adheres to traditional tools and methods, such as soldering, eschewing the use of modern CNC machines. Notably, he also opts for a pressure-fit caseback without screw heads, requiring meticulous machining and finishing tolerances to ensure a secure fit.

His inaugural creation, the Origin Series, featured an initial range named the Elements, comprising Earth, Fire, Air, and Water, and their distinctive dial designs elevate these watches to the status of eye-catching artworks.

A large, off-center sub-dial for hour, minute, and second, crafted with a white ceramic disc made in-house, dominates the dial. The remaining area showcases exquisite enamel produced by a top enameling workshop in the UK.

Building on the success of this series, James Lamb collaborated with Collective Horology in the US and the Limited Edition in the UK to introduce his latest creation. The Origin Series Azur, a 12-piece limited edition, draws inspiration from abstract geometric patterns recurrent in the sea surface as seen from underwater.

Triangular patterns, laser-engraved before the meticulous enameling finishing was applied, create varying shadings that produce vivid 3-D impressions, captivating at first glance. This highly limited model is listed at $8,900.

Final Thoughts

These watches exemplify the enduring popularity of blue dials while also showcasing these watchmakers' creativity in devising novel, artistic ways to interpret this timeless color.

More than that, these special dials make the limited edition models highly coveted by enthusiasts looking for something unique. Clearly, blue continues to have an irresistible allure in horology.

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