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These 7 Chronographs Sport Our Favorite Colorway

The classic black-on-white design of the 1960s called the “Panda Dial” is making a comeback on modern chronograph watches.

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It’s funny — as popular as the panda dial is among vintage watches, it took a while to catch on again in modern watches. The black-and-white, high-contrast design, named after everyone’s favorite bamboo-eating bear, usually refers to a chronograph with a white main dial and two or three black subdials, usually at three, six and nine o’clock. The reverse is called, well, a “reverse panda,” naturally.

It was a staple on chronographs made during the ’60s and ’70s, perhaps worn most famously on the iconic Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman.” Even for a design that by nature lacks any real use of color, it’s an eye-catching look and a favorite amongst enthusiasts. And as watchmakers have realized the love these classic black-and-white chronographs get from watch geeks, they slowly but surely brought them back to the industry. Here are seven you can buy right now.

Dan Henry 1964 Gran Turismo

The panda dial is a look, so there’s no need to spend thousands on a mechanical chronograph watch when you can get it in quartz for a couple hundred bucks. Dan Henry is particularly good at offering classic styles such as this, made with the eye for detail of a vintage collector, at budget prices. Housed in a 38mm case, it comes in a few variations, including versions with two or three subdials and reverse-panda variants as well.

Movement: Seiko VK63 meca-quartz
Size: 38mm
Water resistance: 50m

Buy Now: $260

Yema Speedgraf

Well, ok, the Speedgraf is styled as a reverse-panda and not a “true panda,” but we don’t mind if you don’t. It’s worth including here not least because it looks great, but also because it offers a strong value and uses an interesting Seiko mechanical chronograph movement. Here that movement comes in a captivatingly retro package from French brand Yema with a tantalizing 39mm case and other goodies, like a domed, box-style sapphire crystal.

Movement: Seiko NE86 automatic chronograph
Size: 39mm
Water resistance: 100m

Buy Now: $1,499

Tissot Heritage 1973

Tissot recalls the year it got into sponsoring motorsport teams with its Heritage 1973 chronograph. Many prominent historical chronographs have a racing background, not least of which is the most famous panda dial of all, the Rolex Daytona. With a 43mm wide tonneau-shaped case, the 1973 represents the decade well with sporty orange flourishes, bold dial elements and a tachymeter scale that you’ll never use but that will satisfy your inner car enthusiast.

Movement: ETA 7753 automatic chronograph
Size: 43mm
Water resistance: 100m

Buy Now: $2,100

Hamilton Intra-Matic Auto Chrono

The Hamilton Intra-Matic collection is all about a classic 1960s style, and it’s captured perfectly by the Auto Chrono. It wears well in its 40mm case and feels like the epitome of the midcentury panda-dial look — though other dial variations exist as well. It’s powered by a version of the ETA/Valjoux 7753 automatic chronograph movement that’s been modified to have a longer, 60-hour power reserve. Particularly with a bi-compax layout and round case like this, it does look a little sino-ursine.

Movement: H-31 (ETA 7753 base) automatic chronograph
Size: 40mm
Water resistance: 100m

Buy Now: $2,195

Omega Speedmaster Racing Chronograph

It’s an Omega Speedmaster, but not the one you’re thinking of. An overlooked offshoot of the Speedmaster collection, the Racing line takes the famous chronograph in a decidedly automotive direction. They’re nicely priced and nicely sized at 40mm, with sporty touches like yellow highlights on this panda dial version — but it’s certainly worth checking out the wide range of often colorful dial options available, panda or not.

Movement: Omega 3330 automatic chronograph
Size: 40mm
Water resistance: 100m

Buy Now: $4,700

Zenith El Primero Chronomaster Revival A384

One of the first watches to house the famous El Primero automatic chrongoraph in 1969, the A384 has a unique look. So it was cool to see Zenith bring it back in 2019 for the movement’s 50th anniversary in a historically accurate recreation, even down to its 37mm sizing. Inside its got a modern descendent of the El Primero, of course, beating at its signature 5Hz. The fame and popularity of the original A384 is no doubt helped by its striking black-on-white dial.

Movement: El Primero 400 automatic
Size: 37mm
Water resistance: 50m

Buy Now: $8,200

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph

In 2017, Audemars Piguet gave the chronograph version of the stalwart Royal Oak a mild update. While there were few technical changes made, the biggest upgrade for the watch was a slew of two-tone colorways including, you guessed it, black sub-dials on a white background, which seems to suit the sleek, integrated design of the iconic sports watch perfectly.

Movement: Audemars Piguet 2385 automatic
Size: 41mm
Water resistance: 50m

Buy Now: $26,800

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