White dials seem to be less and less common in horology lately, which—considering their versatility—is a bit of a shame. Much like a black dial, everyone needs a nice white dialed watch in their collection. Dress watches like a Cartier Tank, IWC Portugieser, or something out of the Jaeger LeCoultre Master series sound like the obvious choice, but there are quite a few more options out there that I can’t help but love. Once you add one into the rotation, white dialed watches are the best when it comes to swapping onto different straps, hence why we decided to not only share our favorite watches, but also our favorite straps that they’ll look great on.
Omega Speedmaster “Silver Snoopy Award” / DASSARI Perforated Strap
Even if you’re not a big Speedmaster fan, there’s SO much to love about this thing. Launched as a tribute to the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission (and to the Silver Snoopy Award presented to Omega by the mission’s astronauts upon their safe return to earth), this white dialed wonder is one of the best looking Speedys to launch in the last decade. Even without the little playful details like a small Snoopy laying in the 9 o’clock subdial, and the quote of “what could you do in 14 seconds”, its stark white dial, ceramic bezel insert and heavy use of luminous paint make it a tasteful casual pick that’s devoid of color and will literally pair with anything. Having said that, we paired it with a black & grey perforated leather strap, which looks particularly great.
Rolex Explorer II “Polar” / Vintage Leather Strap
The second real “icon” to make our list, the Explorer II is the kind of thing that just about every serious collector will end up owning at one point or another in their lifetime. Of the Rolex catalog, it’s arguably the most “tool watch” of the bunch on account of it being devoid of a ceramic bezel, instead of relying on the use of extra-hard 904L stainless steel. As great as Rolex bracelets can be, the Explorer II and its subtle orange accents make it a fine candidate for being swapped onto a variety of leather straps. Whether you opt for our pick or not, going for something with contrasting stitching is your best option to make the watch really pop.
Seiko Presage Chronograph / DASSARI Croc Embossed Leather Strap
Of the few white dialed watches to launch these past few years, this thing is my absolute favorite. It’s beautiful enameled dial and red 12 o’clock marker are a nod to the original Seiko Laurel from the early 1900s, while its 42mm soft and curved case diameter gives it a properly contemporary size and weight on the wrist without it being overbearing in the least. Powered by a column wheel automatic chronograph and coming in at just $2,300 USD, there is literally nothing out there that delivers this kind of value straight out of the boutique. The included soft brown leather strap is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but switching out to a mahogany red croc leather strap provides a nice tie-in with the red 12.
Farer Beagle Automatic / Suede Quick Release Strap
A startup brand playing with vintage-inspired design can often spell a recipe for disaster, but that couldn’t be further from the case here. Farer’s founders (say that three times, fast) are true vintage watch nerds at heart, and from the stubbiness of its lugs, to the dome, to its crystal, to its faint blue minute indices, this new piece of theirs just screams vintage charm in the best possible way. Having handled the Beagle hands-on at Worn & Wound’s annual Windup NYC show, I immediately fell in love with this one. Having owned my share of fussy vintage watches, there’s something to be said about the pitch of a bulletproof new movement in a piece that looks and feels vintage. When it came to a strap selection, we like the idea of pairing it with a green & orange suede strap to match the watch’s colorway.
Bremont MBii White / Seatbelt NATO Strap
I’ve loved the Bremont MBii for ages, but sometimes a new dial can give a watch a whole new life. The MB series of watches (much like all of the Bremont line) take their slogan of “tested beyond endurance” very seriously, as these watches are tested to sustain the G-forces of blasting out of an ejection seat of a jet without failing or suffering any accuracy issues. Crazy, right? Available with either an orange, anthracite, or green barrel, the MBii really lets its prospective owner play with accent color in the best way, which is why we sided with the orange barrel (orange is our color, after all), and pairing it with our matching orange & black seatbelt NATO. It really is a match made in heaven.
As an old guy with baby boomer eyes, I shy away from white faces because watch makers seem to want to hide the hands by not making them contrasting enough. With over 400 watches, I can’t count the number that I bought as a younger man that I can’t use today without my reading glasses. That being said, I still prefer clean white faces, but legibility is a must. Swapping bands is particularly fun on these watches. Needless to say, I own more straps than watches.
I agree with you 100%. White dial watches with silver hands are nearly unreadable in dim lite when you get older. Big deterrent for me also.