In a Sea of Blue, High-End Watch Makers Also Bet on Brown
From the cool-as-a-pool tone of Nomos Glashuette’s Ahoi Neomatik Signalblau to the forceful navy of Breguet’s Marine Équation Marchante 5887 to the classic coloration of Rolex’s Oyster Perpetual Datejust 41, horologists’ infatuation with azure seems, this year, to know no limit.
But if you prefer earth to surf, or the warmth of wood to the chill of lapis lazuli, Baselworld offered many cutting-edge watches in brown, too. Not a few of these are the umber brothers of blue models that began their rise to prominence about three years ago and are now ubiquitous. If your acquisition of a timepiece involves hatching a plan to stand out from the pack, then you will want to check them out.
The trend is partly related to the move toward heritage pieces—many of these dials evoke a shade collectors call “tropical brown,” a sun-faded black for which dealers of vintage Omegas, Rolexes, and Heuers often charge a hefty premium. Despite the nomenclature, these homages to those artifacts will prove dashing at all latitudes.
Bulgari Octo Roma Absolute Purity
To revitalize an icon, Bulgari put together a 41mm watch where the chocolate brown of the dial plays against the pink gold of the case. $18,800
Tag Heuer Carrera Heuer-01 43mm
The cognac color of Tag Heuer's ceramic tachymeter bezel proves an elegant counterpoint to the red of the chronograph functions. $5,350
Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante
Breitling says the face of its first in-house split-seconds chronograph is bronze, and we say that it harmonizes very nicely with both the steel of the 45mm case and the silver tones of the counters and the rotating bezel. $10,840
Seiko Presage SRPB46
Seiko, referring to this collection as “Cocktail Time,” suggests this 40.5mm automatic as the horological equivalent of a Manhattan. The elegance of its sunray dial is appropriately intoxicating.
Zenith Heritage 146
The case size (38mm) and the dial layout (two counters on a date-free face) hark back to the 1960s model on which this stainless-steel chronograph is based. But the high-frequency movement (36,000 vibrations per hour) is brand-new.
Rado True Thinline
The monochrome scheme of this lean quartz number—a mere 4.9mm thick—means that its dial is the same matte brown as its ceramic case and bracelet.
Frederique Constant Classic Manufacture Worldtimer
This new colorway makes the globe glow in dark brown and rose gold, while the impressive complication lets you control the worldtimer function simply by using the crown. $4,195
Hermès Slim D’Hermès Grrrrr!
Smarter than your average bear, this showpiece, based on artist Alice Shirley’s design for a silk scarf, ranks as a classic of enamel painting. It comes on a burgundy alligator strap, as if to underline its ravaging panache. Price upon request