A Kind of BlueBy Ross Povey
And as if by magic…a ‘Tiffany’ Blue Nautilus appeared. This week, Monday truly was Blue with the announcement that as part of its farewell tour, the 5711 was doing one last jam with Tiffany and, in a Kiss-esque makeover, was painting its face blue. Tiffany Blue.
Then the Internet ‘blue’ up, pardon the pun, and Philipps announced that they have one for sale this weekend in their New York Sale and every influencer and mover and shaker got on the phone to try and bag a blue. It goes without saying that one of the hottest trends in the market is integrated bracelet watches and, arguably, the most iconic is the Patek Philippe Nautilus. Launched in 1976, it is a watch that needs no introduction and never is it more desirable than when in its ‘Jumbo’ 40mm guise. Whether its dial is blue, green or grey — people want them. A lot.
There’s something indisputably appealing about blue. A navy suit is a lot less severe than black and yet more serious than grey; a good, single-breasted navy jacket is one of the most versatile garments a man can own. With chinos, jeans, shorts or even swimming trucks, it just works — of course I mean swimming shorts, not Speedos…they have no place in life. Well, not mine anyway, but I’m a watch writer not a style commentator so I’ll leave those sartorial decisions to those better informed. Elvis’s suede shoes, Frank Sinatra’s eyes, Miles Davis’s entire genre and Marge Simpson’s beehive — all blue and all cool. When it comes to watches, blue is also king.
If you have even the merest passing interest in the current watch scene, you will be aware of one of the youngest and yet staggeringly successful micro brands Furlan Marri. Launched during the Covid Lockdowns of the past 18 months, the brand has been one of the biggest horological news stories of the year, winning awards at both the GPHG and Revolution Awards 2021. This week, they launched the latest offering from their 1940s Patek Philippe 1463-inspired watch with a new blue dial. Predictably, it blew up on social media and will certainly be another smash hit for the brand when pre-orders open in a few weeks. Why? Well, because the watches punch way above their weight in terms of value, but also blue dials are always hot.
Ask a Rolex Daytona fan what the most sought-after current regular production model is and I reckon most will say the white gold with blue dial. Sticking with Daytonas, the early 2000s Beach series have become incredibly collectible in the past two years. Out of the four colors that the dials were made in, which is the most popular? Turquoise blue, of course. Same for the 2020 Rolex Oyster Perpetuals… the so-called ‘Tiffany’ blue is the one everybody wants. Patek is a similar story, with blue dial watches always being a big hit. One of the collectors’ favorites is a steel Aquanaut with blue dial made for the Japanese market. They always sell incredibly well at auction, as do blue dial perpetual calendars.
On dials and bezels alike, a splash of blue can make all the difference and take a perennial classic in a new direction. A case in point being the Speedmaster. One of the most instantly recognizable sports watches of all times, the Speedy has been clothed in its black uniform for decades. However, with the release of the reference 3184.108.40.206.03.001, Omega delivered the watch in a 44mm grade 5 titanium case with brushed blue dial and blue ceramic bezel. The watch was as light as it was cool, and it became a firm favorite with collectors.
Going back to Rolex, one of the most timeless watches from the venerable brand is the Datejust. Since 1945 it has been a permanent resident of the Rolex catalogue and in many people’s eyes, it’s never better than when in its original 36mm guise. Add a blue dial and the watch fuses the dress and sport categories effortlessly. The current Rake selection includes this delightful reference 116234 the ‘4’ signifying the presence of a white gold bezel. The mix of the white gold and steel gives the watch a warmth that is unmissable and with the dial dial…it’s a total classic.
Another recent resurgence in te collecting community has come in the shape of the Vacheron Constantin Overseas. Vacheron Constantin entered the sports integrated bracelet watch fray in 1977 with the reference 222, the “222” signifying the 222nd anniversary of the company. Watch designer called Jörg Hysek was hired by Vacheron to create something new and in line with the mid-1970s horological zeitgeist. The Overseas was launched in 1996 and is hugely inspired by the 222.
In 1978, Cartier launched a steel watch that was a big move away from the precious metals in which brand was more used to working. The original watch was conceived an affordable sports watch that would appeal to a younger crowd and be a great fit for the lifestyles of said younger market. Interestingly, it was this watch that is credited with popularizing the two-tone or steel and gold watch that was not at all popular at the time. Cartier swiftly followed with an all-steel model, and it has been a perennial favorite since, with its integrated bracelet and cool bezel with the effect of screws holding it in place. The steel Santos de Cartier with blue dial is an eye-catching watch indeed with exploding Roman numerals in white and complementary crisp white hands. In my mind, the signature blue cabochon-topped winding crown never works better than when paired with a blue dial.
One of the “bluest” brands on the plant is Tudor. Starting in the 1970s, the little brother in the Wilsdorf stable began using blue in its chronographs and then, by mid-way through the decade, was producing blue dials and bezel inserts for its Submariner watches. It was the blue dials of the 70s and 80s dive watches that inspired both the Pelagos Blue and 2020’s smash hit Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue, which cemented the brand’s presence in the waiting list hall of fame! When it comes to blue Tudors, the key word is versatility for the beholder. The watches work well on the original bracelets alongside the signature fabric straps that Tudor so brilliantly provides. A simple grey Nato-style strap is never a bad choice or any number of interesting leather straps from the likes of Bulang and Sons or our own web shop.
Whether you are singing the blues, feeling the blues or supporting the blues, there is little substance in any argument to say that wearing a blue watch isn’t something worth aiming for. Dress it up or down, with a smile or a frown, there is something elegant yet sporty, timeless yet so utterly modern that makes it the choice for the lover of all horological and sartorial styles.