17 of the best stone dials from $369 to $500k+ 17 of the best stone dials from $369 to $500k+

17 of the best stone dials from $369 to $500k+

Fergus Nash

Using precious stone as a material for watch dials is a relatively new concept in watchmaking, dating back to Piaget’s first range in 1963. Presented in lavish, feminine cases with set gemstones and elaborate bracelets, these slabs of lapis lazuli, opal, malachite, tiger’s eye, and more were an absolutely dazzling display. Before long, one ended up on the wrist of Jackie Kennedy. The trend hit full swing in the 1970s with Rolex getting in on the action, but it mostly petered out in the ‘80s, surviving through some editions of Must de Cartier. Lately the trend has been slowly returning thanks to the likes of meteorite and aventurine’s popularity, so let’s take a look at 10 of the best stone dials. To make it extra challenging, mother of pearl doesn’t count.

Signum Cuda Lapis Lazuli

best stone dials

Blue dials and dive watches are a match made in heaven, but even better is a high quality and high value diver with one of the most famous blue stones. Signum have released all kinds of precious dials, but weighing up specifications it’s hard to go past the Cuda as one of their best bang-for-buck options. Powered by a Seiko NH35 or NH38 depending on whether you want a date display, you also have your pick of a 38.5mm or 42.5mm case size. 200m of water resistance, a ceramic bezel insert, a sapphire crystal, and a solid steel bracelet are just icing on the cake. Price: US$369

Zelos Swordfish Field Meteorite

Zelos Swordfish Field Meteorite

Zelos weren’t the first company to turn meteorite into a watch dial, but they certainly were the ones who turned it into a collection must-have. This is a recent version of the Swordfish Field, combining a 200-metre diver with a 38mm bronze case that will patina with use and forge its own connection with you. The silvery-grey crystalline structure of the meteorite gives great contrast to the warm tones of the bronze, and being a Zelos you know that you’re going to get your money’s worth when it comes to lume. Kept affordable with a Seiko NH35 movement and kept comfortable with a 44mm lug width, this is a perfect example of how you can turn stone into sporty and affordable watches. Price: US$499

Mido Baroncelli Wild Stone

best stone dials

Elegance and detail are of the utmost importance to the Mido Baroncelli Wild Stone, using every atom of its 33mm diameter to present a perfect dress watch that doesn’t sacrifice too much utility.  The dial is well balanced between the central oval of striped malachite and a lightly stippled white border, while yellow gold neatly borders both the stone section and the date window at 6 o’clock. The watch is also available with aventurine, tiger’s eye, or tree jasper, but all of them feature Mido’s popular Calibre 80 automatic movement with an 80-hour power reserve. Price: US$1,090

Louis Erard Excellence Petite Seconde Lapis-Lazuli

Released in 2022 among versions of malachite and aventurine, the Louis Erard Excellence Petite Seconde Lapis-Lazuli has one of the most stimulating lapis dials I’ve ever seen for an attainable cost. Louis Erard are all about giving their customers the highest luxury experience they possibly can for the least amount of money, with real art influences that don’t feel gimmicky. This watch, which is a limited edition of 99 pieces, pairs the frosted blast of blue and grey with rhodium-plated hands and a polished 39mm case. Price: CHF 2,500

TAG Heuer Carrera Quartz 36mm

It’s debatable whether or not you count mother of pearl as a kind of stone, but it fits the criteria of being an organic material with unpredictable patterning that’s difficult to work with. Here in a rather sporty 36mm case, the mixed hues of white and grey form a gently undulating background for silver hands and markers, plus a trapezoid date window at 3 o’clock. The diamond-set bezel amplifies the wow-factor as you turn the watch around on your wrist, as the whole thing plays with the light beautifully. Price: US$4,450

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Moonphase Aventurine

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Moonphase Aventurine dial 2

This aventurine isn’t technically a precious stone, but it’s very much utilised in a similar way and equally difficult to work with. Created by suspending copper dust and coloured glass, the dial plates have to be sliced with painstaking caution to make sure it’s an attractive section with even distribution, zero imperfections, and definitely no cracks. The Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Moonphase Aventurine is a particularly gorgeous example of how it transforms a watch dial into the night sky, with a moonphase display completing the astronomical picture and the Roman numerals seemingly floating in space. Paired with the marine chronometer heritage, it’s easy to imagine staring up at the stars from the deck of a ship. Price: US$13,600

Omega Constellation Aventurine 29mm

Omega Constellation Aventurine 29mm

Although most aventurine dials used in watchmaking are glass-based, that process is actually inspired by natural aventurine which is a rare form of quartz. Capturing genuine ‘aventurescence’, the Omega Constellation Aventurine 29mm is one of the few watch collections to use the natural form. The blue version is incredibly dynamic, with dark bands subtly running through the colouring and a mysterious texture that almost looks like TV static. The Constellation styling is perfect for this dial as well, with classical elegance and just the right amount of quirkiness. Price: US$14,800

Piaget Possession Rose Gold Malachite Diamond

Of course, we couldn’t have a list of stone dials without Piaget, and the Possession is the perfect example of an ornamental watch without any distractions. The 29mm 18k gold case is set with 42 diamonds, including on the crown which blends in, and has no need for lugs to draw your eye away from the centrepiece. The malachite dial is hypnotic, and its only added details are the hands, printed logo, and small Swiss Made label. Price: US$20,400

Rolex Day-Date 36 Carnelian

rolex day date 36 carnelian dial 1

Earlier this year, Rolex harkened back to the 1970s by introducing a range of precious stone dials to the Day-Date 36. Carnelian is not one of the most exciting stones on its own, but here it’s been given a chance to shine glamorously. Appearing like a gradient of orange, brown and red, the soft bands almost evoke a sandstorm scene out of Dune. The yellow gold case supports the warmth of the carnelian without making it overbearing, and diamond-set Roman numerals supply it with that carefree luxury swagger we all associate with 1970s Rolex. Price: US$58,700

Omega Speedmaster Calibre 321 Platinum

The Omega Speedmaster Calibre 321 is an awe-inspiring recreation of that most famous watch worn on the moon, yet Omega didn’t stop with just a simple reissue. This reference has a case hewn from platinum, but its most obvious signal of distinctiveness are the sections of lunar meteorite used for the three subdials. As well as the meteorite, the glossy black dial is made from polished onyx with a deep piano-black lustre, perhaps making this watch the ultimate stealth wealth Speedmaster. Price: US$59,400

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Turquoise

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Turquoise

Given the popularity of Tiffany blue in recent years, it should be no surprise that a solid gold Royal Oak with a natural turquoise stone dial is an exciting proposition. Turquoise was one of humanity’s first gems to be mined, and its vivid sky-blue hues lead the Indigenous inhabitants of Iran, Sinai, and North America to give it plenty of mystical significance. Housed in a 37mm case of 18k yellow gold, the turquoise is all the more bright and magnificent, and no detail has been spared attention as shown by the blue date wheel. The contrast between aquamarine’s wash of blue and its dark streaks makes every dial obviously unique too, giving you a more personal attachment to the watch than perhaps with other materials. Price: US$61,500

Bulgari Divas’ Dream Black Opal

Black Opal is one of the most sought-after gemstones in the world because of its rarity and vivid mix of psychedelic colours. The Bulgari Divas’ Dream watch makes it look like some kind of mystical portal, surrounded by a gorgeous rose gold case and scaled bracelet studded with diamonds. Delightfully petite at 33mm wide and suitably slender, this watch is still sure to be noticed and adored. Price: US$71,000

MB&F Legacy Machine Flying T

best stone dials

Representing the haute-horology end of the scale is the MB&F Legacy Machine Flying T, featuring not just one but two dials made of precious stone. Although it’s also available in lapis lazuli and malachite, I personally think the tiger’s eye reference is the most stunning with its diamond-set 18k red gold case radiating warmth and sophistication. Despite being only 38.5mm wide, the extremely domed sapphire crystal reaches to 20mm tall to accommodate its towering movement, flying tourbillon cage, and the angled hours and minutes subdial. Price: US$150,000

Biver Carillon Tourbillon

Biver Carillon Tourbillon

Jean-Claude and Pierre Biver launching a family watch brand would have been big enough news as is without that watch combining tourbillon and minute repeater complications, but what really captivated audiences was the electrifying sodalite dial. Perfectly matching the case’s futuristic energy and chaotic angles, the bright streaks which run through the deep ultramarine sodalite are exhilarating. It’s almost reminiscent of the lightning coming off the DeLorean in Back to the Future. The dial is also domed slightly, giving it an extra sense of depth and showing off their technical prowess that little bit more. Matched with a titanium case, this is definitely one of the best plays on the silver case and blue dial archetypes to date. Price: US$570,000

Piaget Limelight High Jewellery

Piaget Limelight High Jewelry Watch 3

As an Australian, opal is particularly close to my heart. The Piaget Limelight High Jewellery features a marvellous black opal, practically exploding with different colours. Something about black opal makes you feel like you’re peering into the mysteries of the universe, and it’s incredibly rare to see it used on a watch dial. The Limelight High Jewellery case surrounds the dial with a white gold cuff, almost encroaching upon it. Price: POA

Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Tribute to Great Civilisations Lion de Darius

Vacheron Constantin Lion de Darius

When it comes to great collaborations, Vacheron Constantin and the Louvre Museum is about as titanic as they can get. One of Swiss watchmaking’s Holy Trinity teaming up with the most famous gallery in the world yields amazing results, and one of them is the Tribute to Great Civilisations – Lion de Darius from the Métiers d’Art collection. The brickwork lion is a surviving section from the palace of Darius the Great, who ruled Persia between 522 BCE until 486 BCE. Vacheron Constantin have brought it to life with stone marquetry, closer to the colours it would have originally been glazed than the desaturated version which remains today. Above it floats cuneiform text on a sapphire layer, which gives a puzzle to anyone wishing to translate it. The watch can be read with jump-hours, a minutes window, day and date windows in each corner of the dial. Price: POA