Chronographs are a popular style of sports watches, and among them, the Panda dial variants are a fan favorite. The Panda dial has been around since the mid-20th Century, during the golden age of motorsport racing, and remains available today on modern watches.
But what is a Panda dial, you ask? It’s a dial that’s defined by black counters on a white background, which resembles the face of the famed panda bear. If you like the look of these vintage-inspired sporty watches as much as we do, check out our roundup of the top 8 panda dial chronograph watches, ranging from less than $300 to over $14,000.
1. Dan Henry 1964 Gran Turismo Chronograph
Prolific watch collector Dan Henry launched his eponymous watch brand to offer handsome vintage-inspired timepiece designs at reasonable prices. And the Dan Henry 1964 Grand Turismo Chronograph collection is a fantastic example of an affordable panda dial chronograph that delivers as promised.
The watches feature 38mm steel cases, which are paired with beads-of-rice bracelets (along with an additional leather strap.) While the collection offers several models, our pick would be the 1964 Grand Turismo Chronograph White Panda Tricompax with the black bezel. The watches run on meca-quartz movements to supply a smooth motion center chronograph hand but with the accuracy of a quartz caliber.
2. Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Solar Chronograph
Nicknamed the “Seitona” due to its resemblance to the Daytona, the Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Solar Chronograph has all the good-looking details you want on a classic Panda chronograph. The watch’s design takes inspiration from Seiko’s first precision chronographs, which were developed in 1964 specifically for sporting events.
The contemporary version, the Seiko Speedtimer ref. SSC813, has a 39mm steel case topped with a black tachymeter bezel and furnished with three black counters on a white sand-blasted dial. This Speedtimer Panda runs on a quartz movement that is powered by light and boasts a 6-month power reserve when fully charged.
3. Tissot PRX Automatic Chronograph
Revived only a few years ago, the current PRX collection has been a smash hit for Tissot. As a result, the company has expanded the PRX lineup with plenty of new models – including a striking PRX Automatic Chronograph with a panda dial.
Like all Tissot PRX watches, this one features that seventies-inspired sports watch style, complete with an angular 42mm steel case and integrated steel bracelet. In true Panda dial form, the white dial is home to black subsidiary dials, and the use of rose gold-colored hands and indexes adds a dressy touch to the piece.
4. Hamilton Intra-Matic Auto Chrono
Price: Starting at $2,195
When it comes to modestly-priced Swiss-made automatic Panda chronographs, one name that comes up often is the Hamilton Intra-Matic Auto Chrono.
Ultra-stylish in its 60’s retro design, the Hamilton Intra-Matic Auto Chrono sports a 42mm steel case with old-school style pump pushers. Rather than placing the tachymeter scale on the bezel, Hamilton put it on the Panda dial, which not only frames the white dial perfectly but also matches the pair of black counters. The Intra-Matic Auto Chrono is available with either a steel mesh bracelet or a black leather strap, and runs on an automatic movement with 60 hours of power reserve.
5. Tudor Black Bay Chrono
Price: Starting at $5,000
The new-generation Tudor Black Bay Chrono is arguably one of the best Panda chronographs in its price segment. First, this 41mm stainless steel chronograph is fitted with screw-down chronograph pushers and crown — all to ensure the watch’s water resistance of 200 meters.
Then, you get the opaline dial, punctuated with two black counters, a discreet date window at 6 o’clock, a touch of red text, and a red-tipped seconds hand. On top of the case is an old-school-style domed sapphire crystal while inside the case is the Tudor Cal. MT5813 self-winding movement with a 70-hour power reserve. Finally, depending on your style, you can opt to pair the Tudor Black Bay Chrono Panda dial with a black fabric strap, black leather cuff strap, or riveted steel bracelet.
6. Tag Heuer Autavia Automatic Chronometer Flyback
TAG Heuer is no stranger to panda dial chronographs, with plenty of them in the brand’s archives. While the recently released 42mm TAG Heuer Autavia Automatic Chronometer Flyback has a silver dial, we still count it as a Panda since it achieves a very similar look — especially when you take into account the black ceramic bezel.
The use of the Arabic numbers on the dial is a nod to the pilot-style watch that has come to define the modern Autavia line while the combination of two black counters and the third one in silver is a clever way to not clutter up the dial.
7. Zenith Chronomaster El Primero A384 Revival
As its name suggests, the Zenith Chronomaster El Primero A384 Revival is a re-issue of a watch from the brand’s archives — the angular tonneau-shaped A384 from 1969, which was one of the world’s first automatic chronographs. Zenith even kept the compact 37mm size and the same sized pushers and crown. Inside is the high-beat El Primero 400 automatic caliber.
The panda dial includes a white lacquered background, three black counters (whereby the ones at 3 and 9 are larger than the one at 6), a black tachymeter scale on the periphery, and a date window between 4 and 5. A super cool touch on the Zenith Chronomaster El Primero A384 Revival is its distinctive ladder bracelet.
8. Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
The most famous modern Panda dial chronograph of them all is, without a doubt, the Rolex Daytona. Six years after its 2016 release, the Daytona 116500LN with the white Panda dial is still virtually impossible to buy at retail and is valued well over twice its sticker price on the secondary market.
The watch features a 40mm steel case, a black ceramic bezel, and a steel Oyster bracelet. The three counters on the white dial are marked with black rings while the Daytona name arches over the 6 o’clock counter in bright red. Like all modern Daytonas, the 116500LN is equipped with screw-down pushers and crown and runs on the in-house-made Caliber 4130 automatic chronograph movement.
That brings us to the end of our list of the top eight chronographs with Panda dials to suit a range of budgets. What do you think of chronographs with Panda dials in general? Do you have a favorite one or do you have some you’d add to this list? As always, we’d love to hear your feedback so share your comments below.