Generally, you can tell the popularity of a watch trend by the Instagram hashtags it generates. Ever since that social media platform became the primary online way to enjoy watches, tags such as #SpeedyTuesday (in homage to the Omega Speedmaster) and #Thorisday (in homage to Oris watches) have become extremely popular. One of the most used hashtags, though, is #BlueWatchMonday, a tag that follows lovingly framed images of watches with blue dials.
And now one hears that green is the new blue. This year’s online edition of the Watches & Wonders trade show was notable for inaugurating one bona fide trend: the rise of green dial watches. Brand after brand released a green watch this year, from Rolex to Patek Philippe to Breitling to Jaeger-LeCoultre to Panerai to...well, almost everyone! The shades ranged from minty green to olive green to forest green and all shades in-between. When haute horology Swiss brands pay so much attention to a particular dial colour, you know it’s a trend!
Also Read: How to admire luxury watches in 2021
And yet, it’s not like the green dial has come out of the blue. There have been striking one-off watches in a green colourway from many brands in the past few years. Some other brands have made green a part of their core dial design language for well over a decade now. Off the top of my head, I can think of the iconic Rolex Submariner ref. 116610LV with its rich green dial and green ceramic rotating bezel, nicknamed the “Hulk”. Rolex launched the Hulk in 2010, and though it was slow to catch on, in time it became a proper “Grail Watch” for Rolex aficionados. When Rolex finally discontinued it in September last year, the aftermarket prices of this hard-to-find reference shot through the roof.
Another recent classic with a beautiful green dial is the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150m. A sports watch through and through, with its 150m water resistance and a fixed bezel, the green dial version of the watch was released in 2017. It represented a departure from the design aesthetic of the line since it was first launched in 2002. Instead of the vertical dial lines, the green version features horizontal ones. It also marked a departure from the previous generations of the Aqua Terra in that it was certified a Master Chronometer by the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology.
The brand that has leaned most heavily on green dials has to be Seiko. The Japanese giant, was, in this regard, somewhat ahead of the curve. In 2007, the brand released the Alpinist ref. SARB017. With its deep, metallic sunburst green dial, it’s inner rotating compass bezel, gold applied indices and matching gold cathedral hands, the Alpinist quickly became a collector’s item. Seiko discontinued this reference in 2018, but, since then, has launched newer generations of the Alpinist under its tool watch Prospex line, and each iteration has been led by a green version. It’s become something of a flagship colourway for the Alpinist. My favourite of the new alpinists has to be the ref. SPB155. Released last year, alongside blue and gray dial versions, the SPB155 dispensed with the rotating inner bezel, shrunk the watch diameter to 38mm and featured a gorgeous, textured fumé green dial. In February, Seiko announced the launch of a new line of Alpinists that re-invent the brand’s original 1959 Alpinist. They will be available from August this year, and the flagship colourway is, again, green.
I own a couple of green dial watches, both in the highly affordable tier, and both classics. India’s very own HMT had cornered the market for affordable hand wound mechanical watches since the brand was established in 1961. HMT was, rather unfairly, put out to pasture by the Indian government in 2016. However in the six decades of its existence, the brand had produced some classic designs, including the Janata, the Pilot and the Kohinoor lines. The Kohinoor green dial variant has to be one of the most gorgeous watches that HMT ever produced. I have mine on as I write this.
The other one is the Seiko Presage ref. SRPF41, a limited edition line with an utterly captivating textured dial inspired by the Japanese Matcha green tea. Although a part of Seiko's 'Cocktail Time' line of watches, the dial comes alive in daylight. It has one of the most beautiful dials I've ever seen. I obviously take many photos of both the Seiko and the HMT, but every time I post one of them on my Instagram account, I feel frustrated at the lack of a suitable green dial hashtag. But who knows? Now that it’s a trend...
Handwound is a fortnightly column on watches and watchmaking.