This dial style is having a renaissance.
Even with ever changing conditions and trends in the world of horology, the 20th century modernist principal “form follows function” is still alive, well and influencing product design today. Recently, we’ve noticed many of the top watch brands opting to restore archived designs in order to bring simplicity into what some consider an overcomplicated industry - and yes, that pun was intended. With that, there has been a major influx of panda dials on the market as they showcase a high contrasting look while providing much needed legibility of the past.
For those of you not familiar with the term, a panda dial is defined by a cream or white colored dial base that features sub-dials in dark or black tones. This design is most often in seen in chronographs as the original panda dial was inspired by racing professionals. We’ve also seen a few companies create reverse panda dials with black bases and white sub-dials. It’s more common to see the panda dial in a horizontal formation but there are a few that house their contrasting colored sub-dials vertically at 6, 9 and 12 o’clock. Many collectors are split on their preference - some love the more rugged and mysterious look of the reverse while others appreciate the tradition and class of the original. Either way you prefer it, every serious watch brand had or has a panda somewhere in their line up.
The original panda dial hit the market in the 1960’s and 70’s and is a rare find today (hence, the increased appeal). In fact, a 1968 Rolex Daytona owned by Paul Newman sold for $17.8 million at auction recently, a record for a wristwatch. Needless to say, the classic panda dial design has undergone many changes to keep up with contemporary times but the placement of the sub-dials against the contrasting themes of the overall watch still gives spectators a cool vibe. For more than 50 years, watch collectors have been enamored by the design - whether its because it reminds of the face of a beloved bear, its tendency to dramatically increase in value or it’s stylish appearance. From the reverse to the vertical variation, panda dials have made a steady evolution to one of 2018’s must-have features.
Check out a few of our favorite iterations for 2018: