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Buying Guide

5 Recently Introduced Watches Showing that the Trend for Gradient Dials is Here to Stay

Better love them... because they're not going anywhere.

calendar | ic_dehaze_black_24px By Brice Goulard | ic_query_builder_black_24px 6 min read |

Gradient, graduated, dégradé, fumé, or smoked dials (depending on what the brand chooses to call them) are not new. In fact, it is said that the idea of a dial with a colour that is bright in the centre and that darkens towards the edges was inaugurated by Zenith in 1969, with the El Primero A385. The brand recently claimed that it was “the first smoked dial ever to be made in the watch industry“,  which could make sense knowing the design trends of the era. However, credit where credit’s due; the comeback of the concept has a lot to do with H. Moser & Cie. and its fabulous fumé dials. This design trend has been around for some years already, but seeing some of the new models introduced in 2021, gradient dials are definitely here to stay.

H. Moser & Cie. Pioneer Centre Seconds MEGA Cool

It’s impossible to talk about gradient dials without mentioning Moser… This type of dial is what best defines the brand and has spearheaded the trend among many other manufactures. The latest in line for the brand is a bold, fresh and original take on its sporty-chic watch, the Pioneer Centre Seconds, now fitted with a Blue Lagoon fumé dial and a sunray-brushed pattern. Defined by its attractive greenish-blue shade, it makes this model a perfect summer watch, specifically with the new luminous hands equipped with Globolight inserts. And the name, Mega Cool, couldn’t be more Moser (pronounced with a Swiss-German accent to be even more accurate). Inside, the watch is as serious as it is fresh outside, with a 3-day power reserve movement finished in an attractive way. And the steel case makes the watch both robust and relatively accessible (for a Moser). More details in our introducing article here.

H. Moser & Cie. Pioneer Centre Seconds Mega Cool

Quick Facts: 42.8mm diameter – stainless steel case – water-resistant to 120 metres – Blue Lagoon fumé gradient dial with sunburst pattern – calibre HMC 200, in-house, automatic, 3-day power reserve – hours, minutes, seconds – green kevlar strap with steel pin buckle – CHF 13,900

Longines Legend Diver Brown Gradient Dial

The Longines Legend Diver or LLD is a watch that needs no introduction. It is one of the most enduring models in the brand’s Heritage collection, and one of the nicest vintage-ish dive watches on the market. A modern icon, it is based on an emblematic late 1950s watch and was first presented with a glossy black dial. To be historically relevant, the brand has decided to push the retro feel a step further with a patinated, tropical-inspired dial. And not only is the Legend Diver now fitted with an attractive gold-brown colour dial, but the brand has made a gradient dial that turns black on the edges to match the lacquered bezel. Warm, rich, original and cool, it really suits the LLD. And inside, there’s still a proprietary movement with a silicon balance-spring and a solid power reserve. You get a lot for your money — more details in our hands-on article here (including the gradient blue edition).

Quick Facts: 42mm diameter – stainless steel case – 300m water-resistant – brown lacquered dial with graduated shade – calibre L888.5, automatic, 64h power reserve – hours, minutes, seconds and date – vintage brown leather strap with steel pin buckle – EUR 2,240

TAG Heuer Monaco Green Dial Calibre Heuer 02

Being a child of the late 1960s, early 1970s, the Monaco really captures the cool, funky vibe of the era. Not only does its squared case and round minute track make it original, but this contrast of shapes also works well with groovy colours. To celebrate the appointment of TAG Heuer as the official timekeeper of the Grand Prix Monaco Historique, TAG Heuer released a limited edition Monaco watch with two of the most desirable trends currently on the market, a green dial with a gradient effect. To be precise, the dial has a nice emerald green tone with a sunray-brushed pattern and a dégradé effect, where the edges of the dial gradually change to dark green (almost black). For the rest, the brand has decided to play softly with all the markers and track in white. Vintage on the outside, the heart of the Monaco is the modern in-house Heuer 02 with the crown and pushers on the right side of the case. More details in our hands-on article here.

Quick Facts: 39mm x 39mm – stainless steel case – 100m water-resistant – green sunray-brushed dial with gradient effect – calibre Heuer 02, in-house, automatic integrated chronograph, 80h power reserve – hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph and date – black alligator leather strap, steel folding clasp – EUR 6,300

Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze

If you thought Tudor was conservative, the brand’s latest novelties will prove you wrong. While the designs are typical of the brand’s vintage dive watches, Tudor plays with material and colours to make its watches bolder. After a very successful 925 Silver edition of its compact diver’s watch, the brand has just presented a full bronze watch, including the bracelet – and only two brands have decided to do that. How will it age, and how will your skin react? Only time can tell. But for the rest, this watch has an appealing warmth thanks to the rich combination of bronze and the brown gradient dial. And don’t think it’s the same as the 43mm bronze model. This new edition comes with a brown-bronze gradient dial and bezel in a colour that clearly works well with the warm metal of the case and bracelet. The dégradé effect isn’t too obvious at first, but it’s actually well achieved. For the rest, with the exception of a new clasp with micro-adjustment, it’s the same watch as all Black Bay Fifty-Eight models. First details in our introducing article here.

Quick Facts: 39mm diameter – solid bronze case, PVD steel back – 200m water-resistant – gradient dial, domed, matte brown-bronze colour – manufacture calibre MT5400, COSC chronometer-certified, automatic, 70h power reserve – hours, minutes, seconds – solid bronze bracelet with folding clasp and micro-adjustment – EUR 4,250

Zenith Chronomaster Revival A385

Last but not least, the Chronomaster Revival A385. We started this article with the brand that made the gradient dial cool again, and we finish with a watch that is a re-edition of what was possibly the first-ever piece with a gradient/dégradé dial. In 1969, Zenith launched its legendary calibre El Primero, one of the first automatic chronograph movements to hit the market. The movement was fitted inside a trilogy of models: the A384, the A385 and A386. While two have been reissued recently, the brand has decided to give the funkiest of the lot its share of love too and re-edits the A385 in a highly faithful way, including its bold dial where there’s a strong colour dégradé, ranging from almost white in the centre, through honey brown to almost black at the periphery. For the rest, there’s still the compact tonneau-shaped case and the historic calibre 400 inside, the closest you can get to the 1969 El Primero movement. All the details in our hands-on article here.

Zenith Chronomaster Revival A385 El Primero

Quick Facts: 37mm diameter – stainless steel case – 50m water-resistant – smoked brown gradient dial with white sub-counters – El Primero calibre 400, in-house, automatic integrated chronograph, 50h power reserve – hours, minutes, smalls seconds, chronograph and date – ladder steel bracelet with stainless steel folding clasp – EUR 8,300

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