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Salmon-coloured dials were a relatively common feature on wristwatches from the 1940s to the 1970s, with major manufacturers like Longines, Omega, Rolex and Tudor producing variants. But as the decades went by, their popularity waned. By the 2000s, salmon dials were almost exclusively the preserve of Patek Philippe, and even then, only its special order pieces. Musician Eric Clapton is known to have several custom pieces from Patek with salmon dials.
Salmon dials witnessed a revival as early as last year, with Montblanc issuing the 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition Bronze and Patek itself unveiling its Reference 5270P Perpetual Calendar Chronograph, both with salmon dials. Later in the year, influential watch publications Hodinkee and Revolution teamed up with watchmakers Gronefeld and Chopard respectively to release limited edition watches – the Gronefeld 1941 Remontoire and Chopard L.U.C 1860 – with salmon dials.
Judging by the five models with salmon dials that were recently launched at the SIHH, we can expect this trend to continue well into 2019 and possibly beyond.
A. LANGE & SOHNE
DATOGRAPH PERPETUAL TOURBILLON
Three years ago, A. Lange & Sohne gave us the first edition of the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon, cased in platinum and featuring a black dial. It came in a limited run of 100 pieces. What we have this year is essentially the same watch with the same tech specs, albeit in a gorgeous new guise: A white gold case that frames and offsets a solid pink gold dial.
The hue was the subject of much attention – both positive and negative – at the SIHH, with detractors scoffing at Lange’s decision to adopt this unusual colour on the dial (it’s a first for the German brand). However, the dial also received a favourable response from those who felt that the hue lent the timepiece a distinct, warm quality.
Either way, the watch’s technical prowess is undeniable. Powered by Lange’s own Calibre L952.2, it boasts three functions in one: Datograph, perpetual calendar and tourbillon. The datograph is a flyback chronograph, which means you can reset the chronograph instantly without needing to stop it first. The ‘dato’ refers to Lange’s signature outsized date display at 12 o’clock.
The perpetual calendar offers readouts of day of the week, month, leap year, day/night indication and moon phases. All these can be advanced with a single push of the button at 10 o’clock. Finally, the tourbillon (visible through the sapphire case back) comes with a patented stop seconds mechanism. This allows you to pull out the crown and set the time precisely and without damaging the sensitive regulating organs.
ROYAL OAK “JUMBO” EXTRA-THIN
Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin is hewn from white gold. Wait. What? An A-list watch manufacturer unveiling a watch crafted from white gold shouldn’t elicit shock, but consider two things: First, how the original Royal Oak disrupted the industry in 1972 with its stainless steel case and bracelet; and second, how Audemars Piguet has only ever used white gold on a Royal Oak once before, in the 1980s. That watch had a blue dial and diamond-set hour markers.
On this 39mm model, there’s the pink gold-toned “Petite Tapisserie” dial, which also appeared only once before, on a Royal Oak 20th anniversary edition. The unusual combination of satin-brushed white gold case and bracelet plus pink gold-toned dial should therefore pique the interest of many a collector.
Montblanc released not one, but three models with rosy dials at the SIHH, possibly spurred by the positive reception towards last year’s 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition Bronze. The three novelties all hail from the new Heritage collection, which is inspired by Minerva wristwatches of the 1940s and 1950s. Montblanc currently owns the Minerva manufacture, which was famous for producing ultra-precise stopwatches.
The first model, the Heritage Automatic, was an entry-level piece powered by an automatic movement. Cased in stainless steel, it sported a pale salmon-toned dial. Adding a nice touch was the contrast between the textured outer dial and sunray brushed centre.
A railway minute track completed the vintage aesthetic, while applied numerals and hour indices imparted a classy, upmarket feel. Montblanc offered a choice of smoky grey alligator straps from its leather workshops in Florence, or a steel mesh Milanese bracelet. We recommend the latter if you want the total vintage look.
Sporting the same case dimensions (40mm) and vintage aesthetic as the Heritage Automatic model above, Montblanc’s Heritage GMT boasts a useful complication: A second time zone. This function is indicated by a blue arrow-tipped hand and 24-hour chapter ring on the dial, also shaded in blue. (We wonder, though, if the watch might have looked better with red indications instead). In any case, the watch’s movement consists of an automatic calibre topped by a GMT module. A smoky grey alligator strap completes the offer.
HERITAGE PULSOGRAPH LIMITED EDITION 100
Completing Montblanc’s trifecta of salmon-dialled variants is the piece de resistance, the Heritage Pulsograph Limited Edition 100. A monopusher chronograph, the watch relies on the single push-button at 2 o’clock to start, stop and reset the chronograph.
Its two-counter dial design is a throwback to old Minerva chronographs. Features like the 30-second graduated indications on the outer dial – once used by doctors to measure patients’ pulse rates – and the international payphone indications of 3, 6 and 9 minutes on the chronograph’s minute counter also add to the watch’s vintage appeal.
Flipping the watch around reveals a sapphire case back, through which the in-house manufactured calibre can be admired. Gaze upon the column-wheel construction (a sign of high-end chronographs); the iconic V-shaped bridge, a Minerva characteristic since 1912; the Minerva arrow, another distinctive feature; and the large balance wheel that beats at a leisurely pace of 2.5Hz (contemporary watches typically operate at 4Hz).
As its name suggests, the watch is limited to 100 pieces.