If you know me, you know that I’ve never been one to shy away from bold colors and out-of-the-ordinary watches. I’ve once been (accurately) quoted as ‘Life’s too short for boring watches’, and I will stand by that statement for the rest of my life.
Building A Colorful Collection
When the topic of building a colorful watch collection came up, it wasn’t so much a matter of wanting to dictate that everyone needs to have a bright, bold (maybe obnoxious) assortment of watches in their personal collections, but rather I saw an opportunity to bring to light a number of interesting and bright offerings that some of you might be less familiar with. There’s nothing wrong with owning more conservative and understated watches, but maybe, just maybe, one of these vibrant pieces will make you think ‘huh, maybe I would enjoy wearing more of a statement piece every now and again.’
Glashütte Original Vintage Sixties
The bold and funky dials we’ve seen from Glashütte Original lately are just fantastic, but every year the brand takes if one step further with one color by stamping texture into the dial using old dies found in the brand’s archive. That’s right, this funky dial texture dates back to the state-run GUB watch manufacture from the brand’s history between post-WW2 and pre fall of the Berlin wall.
The end result is unlike anything else in the market, especially with this fire orange variant, which features a very well executed dégradé dial finish that bleeds from bright orange to a rich burgundy. At 39mm across its proportions are subtle, making it easy to sneak under a shirt cuff, and yet once it appears it is anything but under-the-radar.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver
On the more casual end of the spectrum, it’s always a surprise to see how bold and vibrant Audemars Piguet is willing to be when it comes to the design of the Royal Oak Offshore Diver. In recent years especially, we’ve seen neon greens, yellows, pinks, oranges, and other colors, though this last year the brand took a step back to explore camo patterns. This punchy blue variant of the classic 3-hand Offshore Diver is a quintessential casual summer watch. 42mm across and 14mm thick, it’s on the large side without being as overbearing as the chronograph variant, but still plenty wearable so long as you’re not trying to tuck it under a shirt cuff.
With screw down crowns, big bright lumed indices, and 300m of water resistance, the Offshore Diver is effectively a very refined tool watch. It can take a serious beating without issue, and look mighty fine while doing it.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual
For every interesting and out of the ordinary Rolex dial to hit the market, hundreds of more understated reference are present, so the arrival of this Red Grape dialed 39mm Oyster Perpetual from Rolex (reference number 114300, in case you’re wondering) was a welcome sight at Baselworld in 2016. In a world where steel Rolex sports watches are hard to acquire new, and often found to be selling at a premium on the secondary market, these timeless gems are still a fair bargain. They don’t seem to be coming up for sale as often as they used to, mind you, but with a price of entry under six grand in an era where you can’t get a GMT-Master II under $10k unless it’s two-tone? That’s not a bad offering at all as far as I’m concerned.
De Bethune DB28 Grand Sport Bleu
Ok, so we’ve already covered blue, technically, but come on. There simply isn’t anything more epic in the horological color spectrum than a blued titanium De Bethune. An especially complex casing, and an elaborate openworked hand-winding mechanical movement good for a power reserve of 6 days are bound together by a floating lug system and supple rubber strap, making it one of the most comfortable watches you can ever own. De Bethune’s manufacture calibers are beautifully finished works of art that remain distinct and identifiable as creations of the brand, no matter how large the pool of edgy independent watch brands grows.
F.P. Journe Centigraphe
When people think F.P. Journe, they think high level watchmaking in generally traditional and conservatively designed packages, yet the Linesport collection (of which this Centigraphe is part) stands in defiant opposition of that view. Lightweight titanium and aluminum cases are on offer, clad in rubber edging to further protect them from wear. In the case of the Centigraphe, we’re looking at one of a small assortment of brightly colored dials that Journe has brought to market.
Given the significant real estate occupied by its chronograph subdials–in the Centigraphe capable of measuring increments of 1/100th of a second–the yellow dial of the 40mm piece isn’t quite as punchy as that of the yellow 3-hand and date model, but we dare not call this bold bumblebee any sort of understated.
IWC Pilot Tribute To MK 11 Bronze (Rake/Revolution LTD)
As we looked at green offerings it was clear that something more subdued was the way to go, and the combination of a military green dial and a bronze casing is always a winner. This particular piece, a surprise limited edition IWC launched in collaboration with Revolution magazine, was limited to only 150 pieces, and has a number of key details that differentiate it from other bronze Spitfire models that came thereafter. Aside from the selection of hands and leather nato strap, it’s the fact that they chose a conservative (and very vintage) 36mm for its case diameter that makes this especially interesting as a collectible piece, as well as adding a nice touch of color to the equation.