Pandas. Most people, I assume, love them. They are cuddly and cute and, of course, endangered, so they score instant sympathy votes. But allow me to suggest a counter argument: they are a waste of money. Pandas hoover up conservation dollars and resources on unsuccessful breeding programmes that could be better spent on saving whole habitats and other species that are keener on reproducing. You know, animals that see the point of getting busy and not just spending all day eating and sleeping. There, I’ve said it. I’m a panda truther. We’re being taken for a ride by Big Panda. Open your eyes, people!
Now that I’ve successfully alienated a lot of people and, worse, annoyed the panda lobby, it’s time for another tepid segue into watch talk, namely “panda” dials. See what I did there? Yes, this week, it’s literally “panda watch!” as I’ll run through three watches that fit the current trend for said dials. But first, what is a panda dial, you ask. Well, simply put, it’s a white-dial chronograph with black subdials, you know, kind of like the face of a panda. That’s as complex as it gets, folks. There are historically famous panda-dial watches such as the Rolex Daytona Paul Newman from the 1960s, but this year has seen a slew of new ones, which has mixed things up a bit.
We’ll start with the traditional configuration found on the rather lovely Montblanc Timewalker Manufacture Chronograph. This sporty watch is dominated by the white-dial-black-subdial set up as well as the tachymeter scale on the bezel, which lends it a throwback look. And the nostalgia doesn’t end there, with the distinctive red seconds hand a nod to Minerva, the storied Swiss watchmaker Montblanc purchased and integrated a few years back.
Inside is an MB 25.10 movement with 46 hours of power reserve and the 43mm case is steel, the bezel ceramic. Aside from the chronograph, there’s a date window and in addition to the heavy-duty leather wrist band strap there are also normal options, too. The Timewalker Manufacture Chronograph is priced at HK$43,200.
Now for the panda variations, which have become a thing in recent years and the most standard variant is the “reverse-panda” dial. Got to love these names. Of the flurry of reverse-panda watches released this year, my heart belongs to the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph black dial.
This watch is a thing of pure beauty and it’s available in all steel, which makes it marginally more affordable – for a Vacheron Constantin, that is. The look and feel is masculine, of course, and the case is sized at 42.5mm, so it’s not too big on the wrist. Inside is a 5200 calibre in-house movement, with 52 hours of power reserve. Other features include a date indication and 150 metres of water resistance. The Overseas Chronograph black dial is priced at HK$246,000.
Finally, we have the off-white panda dial found on the Bell & Ross BRV2-94 “Bellytanker”. OK, there are going to be purists out there arguing you can’t have “off-white” panda dials, and I take your point and will cheerfully ignore it, as, to me, this watch is sort of piggybacking the trend and adding a twist.
The odd name comes from the Bellytanker racing cars that attempted to break the land speed record in the 1940s and 50s, and the racing spirit lives on in this watch, with its chronograph layout and copper-tinged dial and steel tachymeter bezel that are pleasing retro nods to the era. Inside the 41mm steel case is a functional modified ETA movement and the watch also has a well executed date window. Limited to 500 pieces, the BRV2-94 “Bellytanker” is priced at HK$33,400 for the leather-strap version and HK$35,900 for the steel-bracelet option.