Watches & Wonders 2024: The Rise of Little Black Dials

This year’s Watches & Wonders showcase in Geneva, Switzerland, was full of innovative designs and stylised finishings, however, a few key trends caught our eye, including little black dials. Elegant, sleek and effortlessly versatile, let’s look at some of the most stand-out designs featuring midnight black hues…

To paraphrase fashion icon Coco Chanel, you cannot go wrong with a little black dress…or dial it seems! Understated and glamorous all at once, black dial watches were one of the most exciting style trends that emerged from Watches & Wonders week in Geneva - an iconic horological event that happens annually for admirers to gather and discuss the latest creations. Whether surrounded by a full diamond pavé or in sleek simple gold frames, the inky depths of classic black came to life in an array of materials and finishings. Below are just a few of the dark dials that caught our eye.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day-Date in pink gold, Everose gold with a black slate ombré, gloss, sunray finish dial

Chanel J12 33mm

The Chanel J12 was first introduced by the French house in 2000 and quickly gained popularity for its fusion of high fashion and horology craftsmanship. Its name is derived from the J-class of racing yachts, symbolising the watch's association with precision and performance. Keeping it simple and chic, this year’s variations included two all-black-ceramic style variations, but with the added sparkle of diamonds. The first is more understated, displaying 12 brilliant-cut diamonds on the sleek black lacquered dial, whilst the second has an extra 46 brilliant-cut diamonds set around the black steel bezel, creating a glittering evening look. Whichever style you choose to wear, this watch channels the simplistic elegance of Gabrielle Chanel and her love of the colour black.

Chopard Happy Sport LBD 30mm

Instantly recognisable for its floating diamonds, the Happy Sport features moving gems encased within the watch to whirl around the dial as the wearer moves their wrist. This year’s novelties launched at Watches & Wonders included what the brand is calling the Maison’s ‘Little Black Dress’ of timepieces. Diamonds dance across a black lacquered brass dial, complete with chunky Roman numerals, to exude a sense of Hollywood glamour. We are especially enamoured with the contrasting bi-metal touches, such as the rounded crown and lugs.

Chopard Happy Sport LBD watch in Lucent Steel, rose gold, a black-lacquered brass dial and 5 dancing bezel-set diamonds

Hublot Classic Fusion 29mm

This year, the clean and minimalist Classic Fusion design by Hublot broke house records by being released in a brand-new size - 29mm - making it the smallest Hublot design to date. This new iteration of the Classic Fusion was presented in a variety of colourways, perhaps the most eye-catching of which was a satin-finished black sunray dial, surrounded by a titanium or ‘King Gold’ case. These two style options were further diversified with the ability to choose either a full or partial diamond snow-set pattern, bringing a welcome dose of sparkle to an easy everyday watch. What’s more, this smaller timepiece is advertised for both men and women, in tune with the rising trend of smaller case sizes in men’s watches.

Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse wristwatch

First introduced in 1968 and the second oldest existing model in the Maison’s history, the Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse wristwatch with its ebony-black sunburst dial is a coveted creation. Its oval-esc dial, which is inspired by the golden section (an ancient Greek mathematical ratio often associated with aesthetic harmony and beauty), is now available on a rose gold chain-style bracelet that closely follows the contour of the wearer’s wrist, offering the perfect blend of style and comfort. Taking over 15 years to develop, this hand-polished piece comprises 363 parts, including more than 300 links, each of which was assembled manually one by one. A true labour of love, this dress watch is perfect for those of us who are equal parts jewellery and watch lovers.

Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse watch in rose gold and an ebony black sunburst dial

Chanel Premier Ruban Couture Watch

Another shimmering black-dial design at the Chanel booth this year was a playful and imaginative piece that evokes the working tools of Coco Chanel’s atelier by imitating the literal shape of a tape measure. The black lacquered dial of the Chanel Premier Ruban Couture watch sits in the middle of a marked tape measure made from supple printed black and golden leather. On the side of the limited-edition dial dances a simple gold, black lacquer and diamond charm showing Gabrielle Chanel’s face blowing a kiss to the wearer. Light-hearted and playful this little black dial is perfect for those looking to add some whimsy to their collection.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 40mm

Saving one of the best for last, Rolex revealed a new dial colour for its Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 40mm. Nicknamed the “President” due to its association with prominent leaders and figures, this watch is one of the most prestigious and iconic timepieces in the Rolex repertoire. The brand is calling the new hue “slated ombré” and features a hint of colour at the centre, progressing to a deep black tone around the edge. As the colour subtly changes from light to dark black, the dial is also marked by deconstructed Roman numerals and faceted index hours in pink gold, as opposed to the usual diamond markers we are used to. Understated yet sure to warrant a flurry of interest, this timepiece brings a whole new range of style options to this historic model.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day-Date in pink gold, Everose gold with a black slate ombré, gloss, sunray finish dial

Bulgari Bvlgari Bvglari Watch

Although not a part of the main Watches & Wonders exhibition, a trip downtown to a five-star lakefront hotel in Geneva was well worth the cab ride to see Bulgari’s springtime watch releases, particularly the Bvlgari Bvlgari black dial models. A reinterpretation of the iconic model first launched in 1977, this watch dial, reminiscent of the brand’s B.zero1 jewellery collection, features a black opaline dial surrounded by a gold frame available in all three alloy tones and engraved with a double logo. Its small size of 26mm makes it the perfect everyday watch for an understated nod to the latest trends.

Bulgari Bvlgari Bvglari watch in gold and an opaline black dial

The timepieces above are some of the brightest stars that emerged from the 2024 Watches & Wonders tradeshow. Jet black dials, some with added texture and diamond sprays, are clearly the wrist trend to know for the season ahead, especially eveningwear. Let us know which one is your favourite!

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