The tastiest red dials of 2021 from cherry delight to a bracing Negroni…Thor Svaboe
It’s summer in the Western hemisphere, so it’s time to get out those bright wrist colours and escape the tedium of monochrome. And if you’re languishing in the Aussie winter, well, this year’s tastiest red dials are a mere wrist roll away from perking up your day.
Strangely, half of the watches in this story turn out to be collaborative efforts between watch media and brands, showing how these hook-ups can often result in more imaginative and, in this case, red-faced creations.
Fratello x Oris Big Crown Bronze Pointer Date
With its oxblood red dial and bronze case, there is a different twist to this red dial Oris Big Crown. Instead of bold flash of colour, it imbues the classic Oris with a feeling of opulence like an embroidered cape worn by a knight over his armour. The classicism of the Big Crown Pointer Date, a design that has been a part of the Oris stable since the 1930s is only underlined, and if anything, made more regal by the bordeaux infusion. White numerals pop on the rich silk of the dial, while the golden minute track matches the warmth of the bronze case and detailed coin edge bezel. The traditional design is emphasised through the intricate cathedral hands, while there is a fresh pop of bright red in the end of the typical Oris date pointer. There is just something deeply complimentary in the pairing of the dark, almost maroon colour with bronze, that makes this 40mm watch so desirable. Unfortunately, it’s desirable enough to have sold out rather quickly, but search and you shall find, as this bronze beauty on a suede strap is hard to beat. Price EUR 1,950
Moser & Cie. Pioneer Centre Seconds Swiss Mad Red
This deep cherry-red fume dial had me reaching for words I didn’t even know could be used in a watch story, such was my fevered delight in this delicious lollipop of a Moser (here I go again…). There is simply a delightful contrast between what is Moser’s most down-to-earth steel sports watch and the richness of the lush dial. Suffice to say, Moser could easily start, fund, and instantly book out a two-year college dedicated to the art of fume dials, such is their apparent expertise. The 42.8mm Moser&Cie case is a pure sports classic with a twist, you’ll find a well-shaped dynamism in the sweeping lugs, and bold cut-outs in the case sides that add to their distinctive language of design. Then, when you think you had it all sussed out, have a look through the sapphire case back. The skeletonised 18K gold rotor has a tool-like design, but there’s no hiding the haute horlogerie. Small details like the Moser trait of a Straumann hairspring reflect the sort of quality expected from the sister company Precision Engineering AG, not to mention a solid 72-hour reserve. But come on, that dial alone is well worth its CHF 12,900
Rado Captain Cook Automatic Bronze
The Rado Captain Cook is a great example of vintage skindiver vibes made future-proof for 2021 with the added excitement of an array of flashy colours from deep blues to rich greens. We hadn’t seen this collaboration coming, but it only takes one look and it all makes sense. Like the Oris x Fratello the combination of rich red with bronze is a marriage made if horology heaven. The deep burgundy of the sunburst cherry dial is paired with a calm ceramic insert in the bold, concave style of Captain Cook, and it works a treat. The Rado Captain Cook Bronze Burgundy is 42mm in diameter, 12.5mm thick, and 48.3mm across the wrist lug to lug. As a 42mm diver, the Captain Cook has the sixties look, but is, in fact, a resolutely modern diver, with a 300m depth rating, and 80 hours of power reserve in the ETA-based movement. A movement that, in Zach’s week on the wrist with the Redbar version here, also ran close to COSC levels of accuracy. So yes, the Rado Captain Cook is yet another case of having your cherry pie and eating it (not right before a dive, though…). Price $ 2,600USD
Revolution x Bell & Ross #NEGRONITIME
At a slim 41mm, the Bell & Ross Bellytanker Chronograph is a twin-register, early 60s pilot’s chronograph classic with large counters for the minute and running seconds. The case is an ergonomic tool with elongated no-nonsense angled lugs, and a proper crown guard alongside the screw-in pushers. The large 6 and 12 balances out the bevelled steel-ringed counters, while the blood-orange red of the #NEGRONITIME looks superb as a reverse (sunburned) panda, its black eyes a-popping on the lush dial. While a very legible chronograph, the little details do bring a palpable sense of glamour that matches the new bold colours. The raised, polished indices and numerals inject an elegant air to proceedings, and the colour matching underscores one of my favourite date window designs, a porthole at 4:30. The soft contrast of the roughed up leather rally strap works a charm in lifting your spirits further, with what is surely the cheekiest twist on a twin-register chrono this year. The 42-hour power reserve of the Caliber BR-CAL301 is a sturdy, ETA 2894-2 movement that makes this a perfect everyday piece of wrist-cool. Just one warning, if like me you are partial to the odd Negroni, the colours here are strong enough to encourage you to drink more than one. Watch out. It costs $4500 USD but might be sold out I’m afraid.
SUF Helsinki 180
Stepan Sarpaneva is a strong presence in haute horlogerie, known for his otherworldly case shapes, moon-phase specialities and perforated skeletonised and lume-infused dials. The winters in Finland are long and dark, which probably has something to do with the creative forces that originate in the small Nordic country from architecture to product design. In between running his eponymous brand and collaborating with MB&F and others, Sarpaneva also has an accessible sub brand, S.U.F Helsinki (SarpanevaUhrenFabrik). S.U.F specialises in strong, clean lines and limited editions, designed and assembled by hand in the Finnish capital. If this is Finnishness, I like it a lot. This is embodied in the stark nature of the field watch 180, a pared-back piece bereft of décor, with a super slim case of 8.9mm, a wrist-perfect 38.7mm diameter and 46.4mm lug to lug. The dials are pared-back monochrome and my favourite is this feisty red Karpalo (cranberry). The dial itself has a crisp, silver print in a Bauhaus-esque typeface, with slim sword hands and a lollipop seconds, plus an unobtrusively discreet date at three. This bright spark of Nordic frehsness is housed in a minimalist brushed and polished casework, powered by the Swiss Soprod A10 caliber movement with rhodium plating and perlage. For the pièce de résistance, you strap it to your wrist with a leather strap made from the hides of Nordic elk. Price EUR 2,728
Casio G-Shock GMWB5000RD-4
While not red in the traditional dial-sense, everything about this watch says summer fun, and I should know, buying it perhaps against my own better judgement, leading to my middle-aged soul searching story here. But the watch in question, the GMWB5000RD-4, was love at first click. It’s my first foray into metal G-Shock territory, but I do have a soft spot for the classic square 5000-series being a teenager in the hey-day of the G. For some reason it manages to be an impossible combination of tank-like solidity while also being properly comfortable. Functionality is as supreme as you’d expect from the top tier Bluetooth solar-powered module that’s app-connected and satellite-sharp to the second. It’s always accurate and ready to make you break out into a silly smile if it pops out of your shirt sleeve. Price around $600 USD