We love a nice, colorful watch dial, but there’s something to be said about a good black-and-white color scheme — more specifically, the “panda dial.” Relatively common on chronographs of the ’60s and ’70s, a panda dial features black sub-dials as well as a white main dial. Conversely, the “reverse panda” places white sub-dials on a black background. Either way, the contrast is eye-popping, and the mechanical chronograph movements beneath them are every bit as desirable. Here are three great examples you can buy now.
Butex Ref. 903003
What we like: Butex, or BWC, is one of many forgotten Swiss watch companies of the 20th centuries, which means its watches aren’t as sought-after and, thus, happen to be relatively inexpensive to acquire. At $550, this chronograph feels like a steal, especially given that it pairs its movement with a beautiful panda-style dial and a stainless steel case.
From the seller: “It uses the Landeron 248 movement and has a nice patina on the dial. Most watches that use this particular movement have a chromium case, which can sometimes degrade over time if not taken care of properly. But this Butex panda breaks that by using an all stainless steel case. One of my favorite features of this watch is the arrow hands with their tritium lume still intact.”
Breitling Ref. 9121
What we like: A refreshing counter to the massive and complex Breitling chronographs of today, this vintage number is just a mere 36mm wide and features a hand-winding Valjoux 77 movement. The dial features the reverse panda color-scheme and the applied numerals add a sense of depth to the dial.
From the seller: “Case is in very good condition overall with signs of moderate use and wear. Dial is in very good condition with some signs of age, including patina. Unsigned crown.”
What we like: Another great example of a reverse panda chronograph. Vintage Zodiacs tend to be overlooked, as they lack the name cachet of similar brands and were relatively ubiquitous. The Sea-Chron — a 200-meter dive watch rocking a Valjoux 72 movement — was a little bit less known. This version seems to be in mint condition and even rocks an original Zodiac bracelet, according to HQ Milton.
From the seller: “Excellent case that shows light wear from use. The watch comes with a Valjoux movement. Excellent and rare stainless Zodiac bracelet with 17 links and matching end links. The watch is running at COSC spec and has just been serviced.”