5 Reasons Why You Should Consider Owning A Colorful Watch
If you pay attention to the watch collecting world, it’s become clear that the Patek Philippe Nautilus Reference 5711/1A-018 with a Tiffany & Co. co-signed dial in classic Tiffany Blue has been the watch to own. The hubbub surrounding the watch has elicited a lot of opinions ranging from calling this watch the GOAT (“greatest of all time”) to saying it is an ugly piece designed to milk money from wealthy collectors.
I’m not here to comment on the validity of the watch itself, but I do want to use it as a launch pad for another “Here’s Why” commentary focusing on why people are drawn to brightly colored watches. My personal opinion is that everyone should have at least one bright, colorful watch in their collection and here I’ll make the case for why the excitement around the Tiffany Blue Nautilus is perfectly rational (because colorful watches are awesome).
So without further ado and any more gilding of the lily, I present “Here’s Why: You Should Own A Colorful Watch.”
1. Color sets you apart
There are many reasons why people prefer specific details on watches, and since most people lean conservative when it comes to style, it would make sense that the most popular colors for watches are black, grey, dark blue, and white.
If you talk to any retailer, they will likely confirm that colorful watches are in demand by passionate collectors, but that most of the stock they sell to the average consumer consists of toned-down dials. Black, grey, and dark blue are so ubiquitous that if you see someone wearing a watch the odds that its dial will sport one of those three colors is relatively high.
It’s the same with cars, clothing, and even homes (although paint colors for houses tend to lean toward white, off-white, beige, and tan): people often don’t want to choose bright colors in case it is too loud or others think they made an “ugly” choice. As social creatures, our instinct is to blend in, go along with the crowd, and don’t draw too much attention to oneself.
As a result, making any choice outside of the norm can appear as bold, brash, or a sign of confidence (or arrogance). If you have a desire to feel less like a number and more like an individual, choosing a watch with a bright color that you enjoy will set you apart from the majority of watch wearers.
Sure, in the watch collecting community there are lots of colors, but that community is a small portion of the wider public. Rolex, Omega, Cartier, Breitling, and other widely sold brands sell major portions of their stocks in basic dial colors, and often the options for colors are restrained for a broad portion of their collections. The limited editions tend to contain bright colors since only a small number of people will choose those instead.
It’s essentially built into the production decisions of most major brands to make the bright and colorful watches stand out from the crowd that they themselves have produced. That brings us to the next reason: a coloreful watch is just a bit more special.
2. Color adds unique value to your timepiece
I’m not providing investing advice because I don’t inherently believe that the value of your colorful watch will be higher should you decide to sell it. It may make it more in demand if it was a special edition that collectors want to snatch up, but the real value is likely to be more intrinsic to your emotional purchase.
When I was younger, I purchased objects that I thought would mark me as part of the “in group” and always found that I enjoyed those objects less and less over the time I owned them.
I had made a purchase to match something external instead of choosing to go with something that I internally enjoyed irrespective of what was considered popular. This is supported by studies in human psychology: people want to fit in and will be more easily convinced of something the more they see other people enjoying it. The bandwagon effect, or normative social influence, causes people to behave in ways that ensures they won’t be ostracized from the group.
Since we are social creatures, its common to fall back on this tendency without even thinking, and that is what leads to most people buying the same color watches. So, by simply being aware of that cognitive bias you can break yourself free to buy something that goes against the norm, following your true desires. I know when I look at my closet I have a lot of grey t-shirts, but my favorite ones to wear are red, purple, and turquoise. Those pieces of clothing have more value to me because I enjoy wearing them more.
The same can be said about watches that buck the trend and have a bright dial or eye-catching strap that you picked out specifically: you might get more enjoyment wearing those than the iconic black-dialed Speedmaster. It’s a great watch to be sure, but I know that I would rather have a yellow or powder blue-dialed version instead, even if it’s less immediately recognizable. At the end of the day I don’t wear watches for other people to see me; I wear them because I enjoy them.
3. Color can be a conversation starter
That leads us to the third reason to have a colorful watch: it will definitely turn heads. The watches that I have gotten the most compliments on over the years were never the most expensive. They were the ones with bright colors.
My black-dialed TAG Heuer Carrera never came close to getting as much attention as my blue-dialed, Pepsi-bezeled, purple NATO strap-sporting Seiko 7002 diver. A watch I purchased for a couple hundred dollars and tossed a $15 strap on started more conversations than a $5,000 luxury chronograph.
I said that I didn’t wear watches for people to see me, but if people are going to comment on what I’m wearing it feels much better when they say they like the watch that I chose because I like it, not because it is the “it” piece that everyone is buying. I love iconic watches like the Rolex Submariner, Patek Philippe Nautilus, and Omega Speedmaster, and you will definitely get watch fans asking about those watches. But most people know next to nothing about watches, while they do know what catches their eye, and bold colors are a big factor.
Brands like Ochs und Junior and Nomos are fantastic examples of companies that both encourage and offer bright colors for watches. Nomos has a wide range of colors available for the Tetra line, some very bold colors in the Ahoi line, and features limited pieces with bright colors rather often.
Ochs und Junior takes it to an entirely new level and offers the customization of nearly every piece of your watch with a plethora of Pantone color options for the ability to make stunningly eye-catching combinations seen literally nowhere else in the industry (and likely the world).
If I wanted something wild for an Ochs und Junior piece, something like the moon phase with a purple dial, turquoise hands, yellow markers, and a moon disk with blue patina, I could do just that. And should people ask me what I’m wearing, I could proudly know that they were interested in it because it was my unique color choice they noticed.
4. We’re allowed to be peacocks
My color choices go hand in hand with what I would want to wear: interesting and off-the-beaten-path timepieces. Some of my favorite independent brands like De Bethune, Urwerk, MB&F, Christiaan van der Klaauw, Voutilainen, and Sarpaneva (among others) have also embraced colorful watches in some form or another.
Outside of jewel-encrusted timepieces that are entirely about being seen, some of the most fun brands have made pieces that are visually loud, like a peacock’s tail.
The entire purpose of a peacock’s tail is to attract a mate because a vibrant show of color indicates a strong, healthy, and probably genetically sound bird. And I guess some people have attracted a like-minded horology-loving mate because of the watch they are wearing; humans peacock in different ways and for a variety of reasons. The amount of confidence it takes to wear something that goes well outside the norm is a possible indication of a mentally strong and independent person.
I’ve met many people who want a partner that is a smart, independent thinker that goes for what they want. Nothing says that more than a person wearing a brightly colored watch that doesn’t help them fit in and assimilate to the crowd. A bright watch is a way to strut without having to actually strut. It’s totally fine, of course, if you have no desire to strut and don’t want to draw attention to yourself with a brightly colored watch or aren’t especially a big fan of colors outside of black, grey, white, and dark blue.
But there are many who, given the chance to choose freely and without influence, would very well make a choice that is more colorful and aligns with who they are more closely. We are a visual species so it would follow that we are attracted to things that stand out and excite our senses. Bright colors, especially seen in only one small area of the body, are little surprises that can catch us off guard and make us inquisitive. Like the colorful plumage on a bird only seen during the mating ritual display, a colorful watch can signal to others a little about what you are like.
5. Color is fun
Finally, a brightly colored watch can just be so darn fun. There are days when it is raining, I’m under stress at work, perhaps feeling a bit under the weather, and I want to do something to make myself happy. Getting dressed up in my favorite clothes with bright colors peeking out here and there can be a great way to lighten up a mood. Monochromatic environments, especially ones lacking much hue and leaning toward whites, blacks, and greys, can rob us of emotional energy and zest.
But if you were to walk into a beautiful garden with colorful flowers or stroll past some invigorating art, you would be likely to receive a boost in your mood thanks to our ancient relationship with color and light. We evolved in the natural world where colors exist everywhere, often bright colors, so it would come as no surprise that we have psychological and physical reactions to these colors. Even marketers know this principle, designing advertising and product color schemes around our perceptions of color.
Being able to choose a bright color that makes you feel energized, happy, excited, or intrigued seems like an easy way to hack your brain into having better days and being happier overall. It may be different for everyone but the effect is tangible and noticeable for most people. If you also happen to be able to get a good deal on your brightly colored watch then there is also the knowledge that you are getting a lot of value from your happiness, and that would reinforce seeking out these effects.
If you just really don’t like colors on your watches or want to attract attention then a colorful watch may not be for you. But I would also ask if there were no limits and you were simply given a watch that you liked and didn’t have to take anyone or anything else into consideration, would you get a colorful watch?
I think the answer is probably yes, and I would love to see a trend shifting toward more variety with colors throughout the entire industry, not just for women’s pieces, novelty watches, or zany Swatches, but all brands and all offerings.
So I’ll repeat the question: what color watch would you get? Let me know in the comments!
My first would be brilliantly purple, followed by a luscious turquoise, not so dissimilar to the Patek Philippe Tiffany Nautilus, which is truly a stunning color!
* This article was first published 14 March 2022 at 5 Reasons Why You Should Consider Owning A Colorful Watch