Luxury Watches Spice Things Up With Colours
The most successful watches are generally quite sober and conservative. That makes sense. The acquisition of a fine watch is similar to the purchase of a car. If you select something of high quality, the price will typically be significant, so if you can only afford one, it had better be practical enough for everyday use.
When you see someone cruising in a lime-green Lamborghini, you can be fairly confident that’s not their ‘daily driver’. They will probably have something in the garage like a Mercedes SUV for the children’s school run or a BMW 7-Series for their work commute.
Similarly, when you spot a person wearing a vibrant, gem-encrusted timepiece such as the Rolex Daytona “Rainbow”, it’s a safe bet that the watch isn’t the only item in the owner’s collection. Like that Kermit-coloured Aventador, it’s something a bon vivant might enjoy taking to the streets every now and then.
Colour is generally associated with happiness, fun and positivity. Combining multiple colours is particularly optimistic. Those who’ve managed to secure a Rolex Daytona “Rainbow” have reason to be especially ebullient, as these sought-after watches have proven a savvy investment, selling at auction for more than double their retail purchase price. A 2018 model, for example, which was originally bought for US$93,000, sold at a Sotheby’s auction just one year later for US$296,000.
Since 2012, Rolex has produced white-, yellow- and pink-gold iterations, each featuring bezels bedazzled with 36 baguette-cut sapphires in graduated hues, a further 11 coloured-sapphire hour markers on the dial and 56 diamonds studding the lugs and crown. All this bling comes at a steep cost, of course.
Those seeking a more accessible and rather less audacious way to ‘taste the rainbow’ (as the old Skittles slogan put it) might consider the new Breitling Superocean Heritage ’57 Limited Edition II, which starts at a modest US$4,520. The ‘sequel’ to a similar version with a black dial issued in an edition of 250 pieces in April, this new 1,000-piece release featuring a blue dial and concave design will benefit frontline healthcare workers involved in the fight against Covid-19. In total, Breitling will donate US$500,000 to the cause, split among charities in the UK, US, France, Japan, Italy and Spain. While the design is based on a Breitling from the 1950s, its rainbow-graduated hour markers references the lively tones of Eighties surfwear.
If purple is too pedestrian, Zenith claims to have come as close as possible to visualising the invisible colour frequency of ultraviolet with its new Defy 21 Ultraviolet chronograph. The moniker is an allusion to the fact that this is the highest-frequency chronograph on the market, accurately timing down to one-hundredth of a second. In a gunmetal grey, sandblasted titanium case, the violet motif is woven into the fabric-and-rubber strap and pops in the splashes of purple punctuating the state-of-the-art El Primero 9004 movement.
London-based bespoke atelier Bamford Watch Department first gained renown for diamond-like carbon blacked-out timepieces. Yet this reputation for a gothic bent belies the fact that Bamford embraces bold colour like few others in horology. I’ve described Bamford, heavily influenced by motoring and its often-brash liveries, as a hot-rodder for watches, transforming standard machinery into one-of-a-kind wonders, in much the same way that early street-racers souped up old Model T Fords into fast-and-furious rides.
The Ford reference is particularly apt when talking about one of Bamford’s latest joint efforts. In collaboration with watch and jewellery innovator James Thompson (aka Black Badger) and watchmaker TAG Heuer, Bamford has augmented Heuer’s iconic Carrera watches with unique multicoloured dials, handcrafted by Thompson from an extraordinary substance named Fordite. This material forms from years of runoff paint buildup in Ford’s Michigan automaking plants; when hunks of the waste matter are sanded or cut, remarkable swirling patterns appear. The result: singular timepieces with mesmerising dial designs that subtly hint at a need for speed—and a highly colourful personality.
See also: Omega, Hublot, Blancpain & More: The Best New Watches In August 2020