Gradient, graduated, dégradé, fumé or smoked dial (depending on what the brand chooses to call them) are far from something new. In fact, it is said that the idea of a dial with a colour that is bright in the centre and that darkens towards the edges was inaugurated by Zenith in 1969, with the El Primero A385 – the brand claimed recently that it was “the first smoked dial ever to be made in the watch industry” – which could make sense knowing the design trends of the era. However, credit where credit’s due, the comeback of the concept has certainly a lot to do with H. Moser & Cie and their so-called fumé dials, which have somehow led the way to dozens of other watches. This design trend has been around for some years already, but seeing some of the new models introduced in 2021, the gradient dials are certainly here to stay.
H. Moser & Cie. Pioneer Centre Seconds MEGA Cool
As said above, we can’t talk gradient dials without mentioning Moser… This type of dial is what certainly best defines the brand and the brand itself has somehow set the tone for many other manufactures. Latest in line for the brand is a bold, fresh and original take on its sporty-chic watch, the Pioneer Centre Seconds, now fitted with a Blue Lagoon fumé dial and a sunray-brushed pattern. Defined by its attractive greenish-blue shade, it makes this model a perfect summer watch, specifically with the new luminous hands equipped with Globolight inserts. And the name… it couldn’t be more Moser, as the watch is named Mega Cool (to be pronounced with a Swiss-German accent to be even more accurate). Inside, the watch is as serious as it is fresh outside, with a 3-day power reserve movement finished in an attractive way. And the steel case makes the watch both robust and relatively accessible (for a Moser). More details in our introducing article here.
Quick Facts: 42.8mm diameter – stainless steel case – water-resistant to 120 metres – Blue Lagoon fumé gradient dial with sunburst pattern – Calibre HMC 200, in-house, automatic, 3-day power reserve – hours, minutes, seconds – green kevlar strap with steel pin buckle – CHF 13,900
Longines Legend Diver Brown Gradient Dial
The Longines Legend Diver or LLD is a watch that needs no introduction anymore. It is one of the most enduring models in the brand’s Heritage collection, and also one of the nicest vintage-ish dive watches on the market. A modern icon, based on an emblematic late 1950s watch. First presented with a glossy black dial, to be historically relevant, the brand has decided this year to add an even more retro feel, with a patinated, tropical-inspired dial. And not only the Legend Diver is now fitted with an attractive gold-brown colour, but the brand made a gradient dial that turns black on the edges to match with the lacquered bezel. Warm, rich, original and overall cool, it really suits the LLD. And inside, there’s still a proprietary movement with silicon balance-spring and solid power reserve. You’ll get a lot for your money. More details in our hands-on article here (which also includes the gradient blue edition).
Quick Facts: 42mm diameter – stainless steel case – 300m water-resistant – brown lacquered dial with graduated shade – calibre L888.5, automatic, 64h power reserve – hours, minutes, seconds and date – vintage brown leather strap with steel pin buckle – EUR 2,240
TAG Heuer Monaco Green Dial Calibre Heuer 02
Being a child of the late-1960s, early-1970s, the Monaco is one of the best watches to express a cool, funky vibe. Not only its squared case and round minute track make it highly special to wear, but this contrast of shapes also works great with groovy colours. To celebrate the appointment of TAG Heuer as the official timekeeper of the Grand Prix Monaco Historique, TAG Heuer released a limited edition Monaco watch with two of the most desirable trends currently on the market, a green dial with a gradient effect. To be precise, the dial has a nice emerald green tone with a sunray-brushed pattern and a dégradé effect, where the edges of the dial are gradually changing in dark green (almost black). For the rest, the brand has decided to plays soft, with all the markers and track in white. For the rest, this watch is the modern Monaco, with all pushers/crown at 3 o’clock and the in-house Heuer 02 beating at its heart. More details in our hands-on article here.
Quick Facts: 39mm x 39mm – stainless steel case – 100m water-resistant – Green sunray-brushed dial with gradient effect – Calibre Heuer 02, in-house, automatic integrated chronograph, 80h power reserve – hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph and date – Black alligator leather strap, steel folding clasp – EUR 6,300
Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze
You thought Tudor was conservative… Well, the brand’s latest novelties will prove you wrong. If the designs are typical of the brand’s vintage dive watches, it’s more on the materials and colours that Tudor is playing bold. After a very successful 925 Silver edition of its compact diver’s watch, the brand has just presented a full bronze watch, including the bracelet – and only 2 brands have decided to do that. How it will age and how your skin will react…? Time will tell. But for the rest, this watch has an oddly attractive look, which is due to this warm and rich combination between bronze and the colour of the dial. And don’t believe it’s the same as the 43mm bronze model. This new edition comes with a brown-bronze gradient dial and bezel, in a colour that clearly works well with the warm metal of the case and bracelet. The dégradé effect isn’t too obvious at first, but it’s actually well dosed. For the rest, with the exception of a new clasp with micro-adjustment, it’s the exact same watch as all Black Bay Fifty-Eight models. First details in our introducing article here.
Quick Facts: 39mm diameter – solid bronze case, PVD steel back – 200m water-resistant – gradient dial, domed, matte brown-bronze colour – manufacture calibre MT5400, COSC certified, automatic, 70h power reserve – hours, minutes, seconds – solid bronze bracelet with folding clasp and micro-adjustment – EUR 4,250
Zenith Chronomaster Revival A385
Last but not least, the Chronomaster Revival A385… We started this article with the brand that made the gradient dial cool again a few years ago, and we finish with a watch that is a re-edition of what’s possibly the first-ever piece with a gradient/dégradé dial. In 1969, Zenith launched its legendary calibre El Primero, one of the first automatic chronograph movements to hit the market. And that was done with a trilogy of models; the A384, the A385 and A386. While two were already re-issued recently, the brand has decided to give the funkiest of the lot its share of love too, and re-edits the A385 in a highly faithful way, including its bold dial where there’s a strong colour dégradé, ranging from almost white in the centre, through honey brown to end almost black at the periphery. For the rest, there’s still the compact tonneau-shaped case and the historic calibre 400 inside, the closest you can get from the 1969 El Primero movement. All the details in our hands-on article here.
Quick Facts: 37mm diameter – stainless steel case – 50m water-resistant – smoked brown gradient dial with white sub-counters – El Primero calibre 400, in-house, automatic integrated chronograph, 50h power reserve – hours, minutes, smalls seconds, chronograph and date – ladder steel bracelet with stainless steel folding clasp – EUR 8,300