Meteorite is one of the most fascinating objects/materials you can find on Earth, even though it doesn’t come from Earth… They are pieces of debris from a comet, asteroid, or meteoroid that originate in outer space and survive their passage through the atmosphere to reach Earth’s surface. So yes, these are made from one of the only materials you can find on the surface of Earth, but that isn’t sourced from our own planet… and that is quite cool! And then comes the material itself. When it comes to using this material on dials, brands almost always use iron meteorites or ferrous meteorites that consist overwhelmingly of an iron-nickel alloy known as meteoric iron and originate from cores of planetesimals.
Many brands have sourced the material from Gibeon, something of a ‘star’ in the world of meteorites. It hurtled through the atmosphere and crashed on Earth in prehistoric times in what is today known as Namibia, shattering upon entry and scattering more than 26,000 kilos of debris from outer space. To date, roughly 25 tonnes of fragments have been recovered, and it has been used to create practically all meteorite dials on the market today. During its space travels, the rock cooled down, creating the unique crystallised iron and nickel patterns that are technically known as “Widdmanstätten patterns” or “Thomson structures”.
In 1808, the Austrian scientist Count Alois von Beckh Widdmanstätten discovered that heating iron meteorites revealed a more intense colour and lustre and revealed the fascinating metal crystal patterns created by the iron and nickel. Since Widdmanstätten didn’t publish his findings, the discovery of the metal crystal pattern is generally attributed to English mineralogist William Thomson who in 1804, poured nitric acid on a slice of meteorite to remove the patina caused by oxidation and noticed how strange crisscrossing patterns appeared on the surface.
And because this material remains relatively rare in watchmaking but nonetheless stunning in terms of looks, we’ve decided to list some of our favourite watches equipped with a meteorite dial!
De Bethune DB28XP Meteorite
Looking at a De Bethune watch, specifically the DB28XP with its signature sci-fi design, the idea of a meteorite base for the Starry Sky dial was just a perfect match. Not only does the watch seem to have flown in from outer space, but its poetic dial with gold stars is made from a material that recalls the very inspiration behind this watch. But there’s more, as De Bethune and its founder and creative mind Denis Flageollet don’t like to do things simply. So, in addition to using a rare and already fascinating material, the brand applied its signature colour, blue, but not by painting the surface. With the geometrical lines of its 60° angle cross-hatched pattern, the iron and nickel material has been thermally blued – thanks to De Bethune’s mastery of metal thermal oxidation processes. Inside the case is a pure Haut Horlogerie movement, an ultra-thin hand-wound engine with a visible regulating organ, with 6 days of power reserve. And it is housed in a slender 43mm x 7.2mm matte anthracite zirconium case. More details in our introducing article here.
Quick facts: 43mm diameter x 7.2mm height – matte anthracite zirconium case – blued meteorite Starry Sky dial with white gold stars – calibre DB2115v7, in-house – hand-wound – alligator leather strap – limited edition of 10 pieces – CHF 120,000
Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Off-Centered Meteorite
In addition to its iconic 8-figure display known as the “Grande Seconde” design, Jaquet Droz is also renowned for its use of exotic materials to craft dials. Natural stones, enamel, plique-à-jour enamelling, and more recently, the use of a large slice of grey-coloured meteorite that serves as a base for the ultra-clean, yet slightly original display that is tilted by some 30°. Combining the rich colour of red gold for the case and elements of the dial with the cold and geometric meteorite background results in one of the most attractive editions of the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde. Available in either 39mm or 43mm cases, it is powered by an automatic in-house movement, the calibre JD2663.P, with a 68-hour power reserve and modern features such as silicon parts. More details in our hands-on article here.
Quick facts: 39mm diameter or 43mm diameter x circa. 12mm height – 18k red gold case – grey meteorite dial with red gold display elements – calibre JD2663.P – automatic – alligator leather strap – limited editions of 88 pieces – from CHF 24,550
Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch 321 Platinum
What better match than a timepiece named “Moonwatch” and a dial partially made of lunar meteorite? It makes sense. Launched to celebrate the relaunch of the legendary Calibre 321, the Speedmaster Moonwatch 321 Platinum is the top-of-the-range lunar watch. Not only does it house an absolute masterpiece of mechanical watchmaking, but its case is made of platinum, and its dial combines two special materials – which are rare in the context of the Speedy. The inky black base is made from black onyx, and the sub-dials for the chronograph indications are all made with slices of mottled grey lunar meteorite – explaining the pattern, different from a classic iron-nickel meteorite. For the rest, the look is typical Moonwatch, and the view through the caseback is simply stunning. More details in our hands-on article here.
Quick facts: 42mm diameter – Pt950Au20 platinum case – black onyx dial with white gold applied indexes and hands, three meteorite subdials – recreation of the calibre 321 – hand-wound – black alligator strap – EUR 59,200
Piaget Altiplano Automatic 40mm Meteorite
The Piaget Altiplano has been the paragon of a gent’s dress watch for more than 60 years. Clean, elegant, ultra-thin, it has always been a great choice for a “tuxedo watch”. Over the years, thanks to its dual tradition of watchmaker/jeweller, Piaget has also played on stones, diamonds and colours to create more daring editions of its Altiplano. Housed in the classic 40mm case and powered by the in-house automatic 1200P with micro-rotor, this version plays on contrasts with a polished pink gold case and a dark grey meteorite dial. Cold versus warm, smooth versus textured… Being a simple time-and-date model, with thin applied markers and hands, the focus is clearly on the material used for the dial – and as always, no two watches will be the same due to the crystallization of the stone. It also exists with a gold-coloured meteorite dial. More details in our hands-on article here.
Quick facts: 40mm diameter x approx 6.5mm height – 18k pink gold case – grey meteorite dial with pink gold indexes and hands – Piaget ultra-thin self-winding calibre 1203P – grey alligator leather strap – limited edition of 300 pieces – EUR 28,200
Rolex GMT-Master II 126719BLRO Pepsi Meteorite
Although Rolex has just introduced new meteorite dials for its Cosmograph Daytona, there’s another model in the collection that is even more attractive in our books: the GMT-Master II 126719BLRO Pepsi Meteorite. Housed in a white gold case with an Oyster bracelet, it combines the cool two-tone red and blue bezel – the so-called Pepsi – with a colour that isn’t found elsewhere in the collection for its dial, which is bright silver. The dial, sourced from the Gibeon meteorite, isn’t only attractive because of its texture, rarity, or metallic shine… It also is a light-coloured GMT Pepsi… And if you know your Rolex history, it recalls the elusive white dial “Albino” Reference 6542 (a bit…), and that is quite cool, obviously. More details in our hands-on article here.
Quick facts: 40mm diameter – 18k white gold Oyster case – bi-directional two-tone ceramic bezel – silver-coloured meteorite dial with 18k gold hour markers and hands – calibre 3285 – automatic – 18k white gold Oyster bracelet – EUR 37,700