In recent years, the world of high-end watches has become a far more colorful place. We have evolved from decades of conservatism in which a blue dial was daring to a kaleidoscopic era in which anything is possible.
Watch lovers have opened up their hearts, minds, and wallets to tantalizing new color combinations. Standing out is the new credo: a daring dial color no longer diminishes a watch’s desirability but builds it up.
Colors previously considered exotic in watchmaking have now become mainstream. We have already seen this happen with blue and green, and now red is having its day in the sun. Interesting is that red is now quite frequently seen in men’s watches, while in the past the color was mainly confined to ladies’ watches.
One of the great advantages of red is the richness of hues available, from Ferrari Rosso Corsa to deep, purple-infused burgundy.
Check out the recently released Casio G-Shock GMW-B5000RD-4 with its metal case covered with a burgundy red ion plating.
Even if you are not into this type of watch, the richness of the hue is tantalizing, highlighting what is possible with red colors these days and how beautiful they can be. That also goes for the following four watches, which clearly make the case that red has officially come out of its niche.
Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver Red Bronze
How fun is it to see that while Bell & Ross follows pretty much the same design recipe as the Rado Captain Cook Bronze (bekow), the result is very different.
This has a lot to do with the shape of the BR 03-92 Diver, but also because Bell & Ross opted for a different hue of red and different materials. The bezel of the BR 03-92 Diver is crafted in anodized aluminum, which gives the red a slight metallic touch.
The color is not deep burgundy like the Rado but more Rosso Corsa – though perhaps I shouldn’t use this comparison as it is Scuderia Ferrari’s color and Bell & Ross is the official Formula 1 timing sponsor for the Alpine F1 team.
This red hue also works well with the bronze case. Bell & Ross opted for CuSn8 bronze, which will take on a patina, and I am curious to see how this BR 03-92 will look over time when the case develops a rich greenish patina.
Bell & Ross delivers the watch with two different straps. While I understand including the black rubber option, I don’t think it goes all too well with the watch’s rich look. The contrast is simply too strong in my opinion. Fortunately, the brown calfskin strap is the perfect combination.
The combination of red and bronze differentiates the BR 03-92 from the rest of the collection. However, at the same time, it continues a Bell & Ross tradition as the brand launched its first Diver Bronze in 2018, following up with a different color dial each year.
The case back is stainless steel, secured by four screws, and engraved with a wave pattern and an old-fashioned diving helmet, making it quite attractive. There are two points on which Bell & Ross deserves extra credit: firstly, the brand makes an effort to give the date wheel the same color as the dial, and secondly, it goes to the trouble of engraving its limited editions with a unique limited edition number instead of “one of . . . “.
For more information, please visit www.bellross.com/our-collections/Instruments/br-03-92-diver-watch/br-03-92-diver-c/BR-03-92-DIVER-RED-BRONZE.
Quick Facts Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver Red Bronze
Case: 42 mm, bronze, anodized aluminum bezel, sapphire crystal, 300 meters water resistance
Movement: automatic Caliber BR-CAL.302 (base Sellita SW300-1), 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 38-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date
Limitation: 999 pieces
Rado Captain Cook Automatic Bronze
There is another growing trend with red-dialed watches: many are diving watches. This in itself is curious as within five meters under water red is the first color to be filtered out by the water and disappear. Red dials do not show underwater, but then most diver’s watches are rarely underwater so who cares when the red is very visible on land.
The Rado Captain Cook Automatic Bronze is a great example of this. The deep burgundy color gives it a nice vintage vibe, underscored by the small date window with red numerals against a white background.
Being a pioneer in ceramics, Rado is also one of the few brands capable of making a burgundy-colored version of this high-tech material. This is quite challenging as the color pigments tend to burn up while sintering the ceramic. While you wouldn’t know from looking at it, the dial on the Captain Cook is also made in ceramic, highlighting just how good Rado is with this material.
The burgundy dial is also combined here with a bronze case, which seems to be another niche trend, though one that has been around for a while now. This combination provides a very warm contrast that makes the watch pop even more, but I wonder what happens when the bronze takes on its typical greenish patina?
Rado probably worried about that too and opted for a particular alloy, CuAl, in which aluminium oxide minimizes oxidation of the bronze.
The red textile NATO strap with gold stripe suits the watch but in my opinion takes it too far. There’s too much red. And while that may be fun for a while, I feel that it makes it less likely to use for daily wear.
On the wrist is where the Captain Cook belongs as it offers the complete package at a competitive price. At 42 mm in diameter it has a nice size; the vintage-inspired design is executed to perfection; the red pops; and the movement (based on ETA Caliber C07) boasts an 80-hour power reserve.
Combined with 300-meter water resistance, the Rado Captain Cook Automatic Bronze leaves little to be desired. Yes, another strap for me, but that is an easy fix and I wouldn’t even hold it against this watch.
And it seems that others agree: Rado reports being surprised at the high demand.
For more information, please visit www.rado.com/collections/captain-cook/captain-cook.
Quick Facts Rado Captain Cook Automatic Bronze
Case: 42 x 12.5 mm, bronze case and bezel with burgundy ceramic insert, titanium case back, sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, 300 meters water resistance
Movement: automatic Caliber 783 (base ETA C07/2824-2), 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency, 80-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date
Oris x Fratello Big Crown Bronze Pointer Date
While I am usually not a fan of watch brand-blog collaborations, good things can happen when it’s done right.
To me, the Oris x Fratello Big Crown Bronze Pointer Date is a great example of a serendipitous collaboration. The most important thing is that the Big Crown Pointer Date’s nature is strengthened and not stressed. This is quite an achievement, as the Big Crown Pointer Date has already for decades been a very charismatic model with a recipe nearly impossible to improve.
That Fratello and Oris achieved this is mainly thanks to the details of the oxblood-colored dial, particularly the railroad track dividing the Arabic numerals from the date. Yes, one detail can make all the difference: this railroad track allows a visual connection to the bronze case, making the watch pop unlike any other.
It even sets it apart from the stainless steel-encased Big Crown Pointer Date, which has a similar dial, making this version the one to get.
And this model gets the same credit as the Bell & Ross: each watch gets an individual limited edition number. I might be a stickler for this, but when you go to the effort of making a limited edition, and ask a premium for it, the least you can do is give each and every watch a unique number to mark it.
Oris and Fratello also know how potent the oxblood-colored dial is and deliberately allow the strap to play second fiddle. The strap does not lack in quality, but the taupe leather and additional grey NATO straps do lack color – and the watch benefits. It is an eye catcher that doesn’t overload your senses but makes a lasting impression.
For more information, please visit www.shop.fratello.com/collections/limited-editions/products/fratello-oris and www.oris.ch/en/watch/fratello-limited-edition.
Quick Facts Oris x Fratello Big Crown Bronze Pointer Date
Case: 40 x 12 mm, bronze, double-domed sapphire crystal, 50 meters water resistance
Movement: automatic Caliber 754 (based on Sellita SW 200-1), 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 38-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date
Limitation: 300 pieces (sold out)
Omega De Ville Trésor Power Reserve
How different the recently introduced Omega De Ville Trésor Power Reserve is compared to the other three watches featured here.
Omega makes a bold statement with the Trésor Power Reserve by releasing a unisex watch in a 40 mm stainless steel case – with a bezel set with brilliant-cut diamonds. Combined with a red dial and matching alligator skin leather strap, it makes for quite an eyecatcher. While this watch may be a bridge too far for some – most likely some men – others will be delighted by it.
The diamond-set bezel is quite slender so not in your face; Omega leaves that to the dial itself. Its sunburst finish highlights the richness of the warm red color, while the subdials for seconds and power reserve are more subdued.
The result is a very balanced design, combining potent ingredients such as diamonds and a deep red lacquered dial.
While in terms of red the back only reveals writing and the rubies, there is still plenty to enjoy as Omega’s manufacture calibers are mechanically beautiful. However, they don’t have to rely on looks alone to impress as Caliber 8934 of the De Ville Trésor Power Reserve is certified as Master Chronometer by METAS.
The movement achieves this certification thanks to its co-axial escapement and free-sprung balance with silicon balance spring. The latter also plays an important part in making this watch resistant to magnetic fields of up to 15,000 Gauss. Two serially operating mainspring barrels provide a three-day power reserve, making this Omega one very desirable “red head.”
For more information, please visit www.omegawatches.com/watch-omega-de-ville-tresor-co-axial-master-chronometer-power-reserve-40-mm.
Quick Facts Omega De Ville Trésor Power Reserve
Case: 40 mm, stainless steel case, sapphire crystal, 30 meters water resistance, bezel set with 72 brilliant-cut diamonds
Movement: manual winding Caliber 8934 with silicon balance spring, twin serially operating spring barrels, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 72-hour power reserve, Master-Chronometer certified, resistant to magnetic fields up to 15,000 Gauss
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; power reserve
Remark: 5-year warranty
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