Back in Black: 3 Watches with Black Dials from Patek Philippe, Hublot, and Omega
“I see a red door and I want it painted black. No colors anymore, I want them to turn black . . .”
When it comes to dial colors, I am with the Rolling Stones – and so are a lot of other watch enthusiasts. Recent years have proven particularly colorful in the world of watches, with a plethora of new green and blue dials; however, black is also beautiful – and black is definitely back.
Here are three charismatic examples putting black in the spotlight: the dark side has never looked so bright.
Patek Philippe Calatrava Alarm Travel Time Reference 5520P: sunburst black
We regularly hear that everything important in the realm of high horology has already been invented and nothing groundbreakingly new is being invented any more.
Well, Patek Philippe has once again proven these attitudes wrong. At Baselworld 2019, the time-honored Swiss manufacture introduced its highly sophisticated Calatrava Travel Time GMT watch with a complicated 24-hour alarm function directly integrated into the movement.
The Calatrava Travel Time originally made its debut in 2015, marking a first in the collection and a premiere in high-end Swiss watchmaking. No surprise that Patek Philippe places the Calatrava Alarm Travel Time right into its grand complications line, on par with the brand’s most technically sophisticated timepieces – watches like repeaters, perpetual calendars, tourbillons, and split-second chronographs.
For fans of “dark” watches, the stunning ebony-black sunburst dial on this masterpiece makes it a true feast for the eyes.
While the alarm is generally not considered a high-end complication, the ingenious mechanism of the newly designed automatic Caliber AL 30-660 S C FUS, five years in the making and specifically created for this model, takes the function to a whole new level. The Calatrava Travel Time now displays a to-the-minute-accurate mechanical digital indication of the 24-hour alarm time beneath the 12 o’clock mark.
And if this is not enough, you can see whether the alarm is on or off just by looking at a tiny bell above the alarm aperture. Like the date, the alarm is coupled with the local time, a very convenient feature for travelers.
The alarm boasts excellent acoustic quality, ringing powerfully enough to wake its owner in its classy way: its single note rings for up to 40 seconds, striking a gong 2.5 times per second.
The Calatrava Travel Time’s mechanism is not unlike that of a minute repeater: a centrifugal governor beneath a bridge ensures regular and sustained strikes. As such it requires considerable energy to sustain the cadence, so it is equipped with its own separate spring barrel wound by its own crown at 4 o’clock. A built-in clutch prevents inadvertent overwinding.
All hands on deck
First introduced in 1997, the brand’s travel time function employs two central hands to indicate local and home time. While the home-time hour hand is skeletonized, the minute and hour hands showing the local time are filled with Super-LumiNova for maximum legibility in the dark – as are the bold Arabic numerals contrasting against the lustrous black background.
These hour hands are paired with two day/night indicators in small round apertures – at 3:30 for home time and at 8:30 for local time. Thus, this GMT watch offers a clean and almost intuitive layout that is hard to top.
I am particularly fond of the bold numerals in vintage-pilot style and the prominent date subdial at 6 o’clock.
Although the view of the dial is fascinating, turning the Calatrava Travel Time’s platinum case over rewards us with an unimpeded view of Caliber AL 30-660 S C FUS, comprising no less than 574 components despite its height of just 6.6 mm.
Looking through the sapphire crystal, you discover the wealth of Patek Philippe’s painstakingly executed decorations and finishes as well as the silent governor beneath the gilded Calatrava cross.
As an aside, the Calatrava Alarm Travel Time is the manufactory’s first grand complication housed in a water-resistant case, making it suitable for everyday use.
I believe that Patek Philippe has once again raised the bar of high-end horology designed for easy, everyday use with this clever combination of complications wrapped in tasteful vintage-pilot design.
For more information, please visit www.patek.com/en/collection/grand-complications/5520P-001.
Quick Facts Patek Philippe Calatrava Alarm Travel Time Reference 5520P
Case: 42.2 x 11.6 mm, platinum
Movement: automatic Caliber AL 30-660 S C FUS, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, power reserve max. 52 hours, Patek Philippe Seal
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, 24-hour alarm, alarm on/off indication, two time zones, day/night indication for local and home time
Hublot Classic Fusion Orlinski: artistic black
Richard Orlinski and Hublot are two of a kind: the Parisian sculptor famous for his open-air art installations and Swiss luxury brand Hublot share a passion for the exceptional, and both test the limits in their respective fields.
In teaming up, we can only expect an extraordinary marriage of art and horology.
Whereas the previous manufacture chronograph designed by the artist in conjunction with Hublot featured a skeletonized dial revealing parts of its Caliber HUB1155, the Classic Fusion Orlinski highlights the sculptural ideal on its black dial. Its fascinating geometry featuring a mini pyramid in the center offers an intriguing interplay of light and dark.
Orlinski’s signature edges, bevels, and facets are miniaturized and crafted with highest precision for the small-scale proportions of a wristwatch, creating a mirror-like effect reminding me of the reflections of a mountain in a crystal-clear, very still lake.
In contrast to most of Hublot’s other Classic Fusion models, this timepiece features a dodecagonal bezel that continues Orlinski’s signature use of forms and increases the subtle play of light accents on the pure lines even more.
Orlinski’s forms also continue through to the faceted titanium case, which squeaks in at a “dress-watch appropriate” size of 40 by 11.1 mm. The Hublot Classic Fusion Orlinski is powered by the line’s classic HUB 1100 movement, which is based on automatic Sellita Caliber SW 300.
The overall appearance of this timepiece is just stunning. Moving your wrist creates a constant interplay of shadow and light that is hard to take the eyes off; the indication of time seems almost secondary.
For more information, please visit www.hublot.com/en/news/classic-fusion-orlinski.
Quick Facts Hublot Classic Fusion Orlinski
Case: 40 x 11.1 mm, titanium
Movement: automatic Caliber HUB1100 (based on Sellita SW 300), 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, power reserve 42 hours
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds
Limitation: 200 pieces
Omega Constellation Globemaster Annual Calendar: pie-pan black
It was a few years ago that Omega wowed watch lovers with a particularly beautiful and distinctive homage to one of the classics of its rich past, the Constellation Globemaster Annual Calendar.
It seemed a fitting choice for Omega to add an annual calendar to its line, which only needs correction once each year in February. The new Constellation Globemaster Annual Calendar was introduced by Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne, and both the watch and the brand ambassador share a similar sophisticated and elegant style with a touch of mystery and yesteryear’s charm without coming off as too retro.
With its italic-style text for the months on its signature faceted, pie-pan dial, the Constellation Globemaster Annual Calendar was also a polarizing timepiece for some enthusiasts. This ornamental typeface is quite rare in the world of horology and might be not everyone’s cup of tea.
Perhaps the Constellation Globemaster Annual Calendar will not be everyone’s cup of tea either, but it certainly is mine! Especially the new version with its picture-perfect black dial.
The hour, minute, second, and date hands, which are tone in tone with the stainless-steel case, contrast beautifully against the dark backdrop. I like the new execution because the black dial transforms a great old-school watch style into an even better one. At the same time, it underscores the Constellation Globemaster Annual Calendar’s status as a true classic of the modern era.
Not only the black dial is new, Omega also increased the Globemaster case’s size from 39 to 41 mm. I like the larger proportions, but some might feel that it is too large. In my opinion, every good design works perfectly well in all sizes, and the Globemaster boasts good design.
On top of that, the case offers water resistance of 100 meters. This execution of the Globemaster also still features the signature fluted bezel crafted in resilient, scratch-resistant tungsten carbide.
When the Constellation Globemaster Annual Calendar was first introduced back in 2015, it also became Omega’s first Master Chronometer powered by the anti-magnetic, METAS-certified, co-axial Master Chronometer Caliber 8922.
That same movement ticks inside the new-for-2019 model. Thanks to two spring barrels, it offers a power reserve of 60 hours and features some of Omega’s finest technologies, including the co-axial escapement and a free-sprung silicon balance spring.
As you’d expect from this top-notch brand, the movement is handsomely finished.
For more information, please visit www.omegawatches.com/en-us/constellation-globemaster-annual-calendar.
Quick Facts Omega Constellation Globemaster Annual Calendar
Case: 41 x 14.7 mm, stainless steel/tungsten
Movement: automatic co-axial Caliber 8922, free-sprung silicon balance spring, twin serially operating spring barrels, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, power reserve 55 hours, Master Chronometer certified by METAS
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, instantaneous annual calendar
Available: as of November 2019
Remark: 5-year warranty
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