5 of the best meteorite dial watchesTom Austin
Meteorite dials are more than just a unique dial finish. To find out why, a brief science history lesson. Around 4.5 billion years ago, a mass consisting of iron and nickel began to slowly form a protoplanet, essentially a planet in its early stages of formation. For whatever reason, this particular protoplanet failed to make it, broke up, and its iron-nickel core began to drift across the cosmos. While drifting, it began to cool, and slowly formed beautiful crystallised structures inside. Millions of years later, one such meteor found itself hurtling towards Earth’s atmosphere, exploding mid-descent, dispersing itself across the Southern African region of Namibia. Discovered in the 1800s, this became known as the Gibeon Meteorite. This is known today as the Widmanstätten pattern, named after Count Alois von Beckh Widmanstätten, the director of the Imperial Porcelain works in Vienna, and was discovered when treating the meteorites surface with acid for cleaning. Ever since, jewellery and watch manufacturers have held this ancient material in high regard, finding its way into some of the most sought after pieces. There’s something very cool in knowing that the piece of meteorite on your wrist, while not only 100% unique, is likely older than the solar system itself. With the history lesson over – let’s look at the best meteorite-dialled watches you can buy.
Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Meteorite
In my opinion one of the best looking Speedmasters on the market, the Dark Side of the Moon Meteorite is for the hardcore cosmo-horologists out there. It’s not exactly a subtle watch, with its 44.25mm grey ceramic case, 18k Sedna gold bezel and hands, and of course the meteorite dial, it stands out in a sea of Speedmaster special editions. Visual aspects aside, the watch is everything we have come to love about the Speedmaster – including a co-axial Calibre 9300, boasting a silicon balance spring, twin barrels and a 60-hour power reserve and visible through the sapphire caseback,. This Speedy also forgoes a sub dial at 6 o’clock in favour of a date function, incorporating the chronograph minutes into the sub-dial at 3. The Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon is a technology-packed watch, leading the way with material and finishing applications, and is a wonderful tribute to the Speedmaster’s astronomical influences. Available from Omega boutiques, it’s priced at A$27,625.
Piaget Altiplano Origin
Meteorite dials can often look over-decorated if a watch has complicated functions, the layout confusing with the different shades and patterns of the meteorite crystals. This isn’t the case with the Piaget Altiplano Origin – a simple, all-dial dress watch made to impress. Crafted from 18k rose gold, the ultra-thin 6.36mm case makes for a remarkably elegant wear on the wrist. At 40mm, it’s just large enough, looking like a circular picture frame, displaying the incredible dial with minimal interruption. Unobscured by thin, delicately sized hands and hour markers, the meteorite dial is available in three different finishes. Flip the watch over, and it’s just as stunning from the back, with the in-house Piaget 1208P ultra-thin movement on display. Once the thinnest automatic movement in the world at 2.35mm thick, it features an off-centre micro-rotor and 44 hours of power reserve. An elegant and beautifully finished wristwatch, the Piaget Altiplano Origin looks incredible with the meteorite dial choices. Available from Piaget boutiques, prices start at A$45,900.
Rolex Day-Date 40
Rolex, arguably the king of stone dials, first debuted the meteorite dial on a Daytona almost two decades ago. It’s since been cut from the Daytona line, with the introduction of the latest reference this year, but there’s one model which stands out as a true king, the Day-Date. Available on white gold or platinum models, the meteorite dial adds that extra touch of awesome to an already awesome watch, especially with the diamond baguette hour markers. The combination of the fluted bezel (now available on platinum), and the Presidential bracelet is iconic. Often imitated, but never beaten. At its heart sits the in-house 3255 movement, featuring rapid setting date and day functions, along with 70 hours of power reserve and exceptional accuracy. While Rolexes are often accused of looking too similar, the meteorite dial offers a bespoke, one-of-one aspect to the Day-Date, making these some of the most highly coveted Rolexes available today. Potentially available at Rolex boutiques, prices start at A$75,300.
De Bethune DB28XP Meteorite
For an out-of-this-world material, we need an out-of-this-world watch, right? Few are more otherworldly than De Bethune’s DB28XP. Firstly, the extreme case design is described as a “perfect fusion of tradition and innovation”. Crafted from anthracite-coated zirconium and sized at 43mm, it makes a pretty loud statement with its unique floating lug design which fold comfortably over the wrist. The caseback is solid zirconium along with blued titanium decoration, with the front of the case finished with a domed sapphire crystal. Powering the watch is the hand-wound calibre DB2115V7, visible through the dial’s movement aperture. Beneath the crystal sits one of the most marvellous dials in modern watchmaking, made from a slice of blue meteorite, and embellished with white gold stars to create a starry sky effect. Blue being a signature colour of De Bethune these days, the blue meteorite is distinctive choice, and a rare one too, with only ten numbered timepieces ever being produced. Originally priced at A$210,500, all the pieces are now allocated.
J.N. Shapiro Infinity Meteorite P.01
Josh Shapiro and his brand are making a lot of noise in the independent watchmaking scene. Attention has been swirling around the intricately high levels of quality of the engine-turned dial components. In 2020, J.N. Shapiro produced a special meteorite-dialled piece in collaboration with California-based watch enthusiast club Collective Horology. Hailing from the brand’s Infinity series, it featured a first-of-its-kind engine-turned meteorite dial. Limited to ten pieces, the 40mm watch is available in stainless steel or white and rose gold. The case and dial are entirely created by J.N. Shapiro, the Uhren-Werke-Dresden UWD 33.1 movement is the only thing to not be made by Shapiro’s workshop, however it does feature some hand-finished touches. Each dial is said to take 150 hours to complete, and it’s easy to see why.