Like the pink-hued fish that brave the current to spawn at their place of origin, salmon dial watches, adorned with coppery, golden faces and framed by white metal cases, have returned. In this case, the hottest trend in watch design harks back much further than the one-year breeding cycle of its namesake fish: all the way to the mid-20th century.
The classic Minerva watches of the 1940s and ’50s inspired Montblanc’s Heritage salmon collection. Minerva was a renowned Swiss chronograph specialist that Montblanc acquired in 2006 so it could manufacture its own movements. While the new Heritage Pulsograph Limited Edition 100 (center, $30,000) shows off its intricate Minerva workings through a sapphire crystal case back, the dial is salmon with a pulsometer scale for measuring heart rates. The elegant 40-mm, stainless-steel, mono-pusher chronograph gives another nostalgic nod: the watch’s chronograph minute counter has elongated indexes at 3, 6 and 9 minutes, once used to keep track of the time elapsed during payphone calls.
Meanwhile, Audemars Piguet dressed up its flagship Royal Oak with a pink-gold-toned “Petite Tapisserie” dial. A boutique exclusive that is sure to be elusive, the 39-mm Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin (left, $55,400) contrasts the salmon dial with a satin-brushed, 18-karat white-gold case and bracelet for a sleek, modern evolution of Gerald Genta’s enduring 1972 vision of a luxury steel sport watch. The use of white gold is a rarity for the popular model as the brand has made Royal Oaks in that metal only once before—in the 1980s.
The boutique brand Czapek Cie is going all in on the trend with four new Faubourg Cracovie chronographs named for salmon species—Chinook, Coho, Sockeye and King—each with different colorations. Limited to 18 pieces, the Sockeye (right, $23,500) contrasts navy-blue accents with a dial made of an alloy of 55 percent gold mixed with platinum, palladium and silver with an electroplated salmon finish. The distinctive Résonance pattern used for the hand-guilloché engraving creates concentric circles radiating from the two sub-dials at 3 and 9 o’clock intersecting to form bas-relief squares.
A new version of the highly complicated Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon ($287,800) from Germany’s A. Lange & Söhne has a pink-gold dial. But don’t dare call it salmon. “The Swiss do the salmon thing,” joked Anthony de Haas, director of product development, at its debut. “We don’t like the smell of fish—this is 18-karat solid pink gold.”
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