A watch proves more or less easy to read according to its degree of complexity, but also according to its compliance with certain aesthetic codes. The latter are what determines whether a watch clearly shows the time or not. This is an important issue given that a large proportion of those who purchase high-end watches have reached the classic age of far-sightedness. And you can’t ask them to pop on their half-moon reading glasses for such an instinctive and ordinary thing as checking the time on their wrist. Watchmakers cannot work on an object measuring 3.5 to 4.5 cm in diameter without realizing how small this space actually is. Especially since the previous typical 45mm size has now dropped to 42mm, which makes a real difference.
The first lesson in enhancing legibility is to write larger. While this might seem glaringly obvious, there are a few potential obstacles. It is difficult to be subtle and refined while using thicker fonts and one soon falls into the sports watch category. This has not prevented Bell&Ross from creating a typical dial clearly geared towards readability. The formula is mainly based on the distinctive font of the four large Arabic numerals that the brand has created. Generally speaking, Arabic numerals are more legible than Roman ones, and less so than hour-markers. Oversizing the latter enhances legibility… up to the tipping point where the trend is reversed. Seiko diving watches often flirt with the limits in this respect and this borderline approach has contributed to their success.
The Bell & Ross BR03-92 and the Seiko Prospex SRPA83 PADI © Bell & Ross/Seiko
The second lesson involves making clear-cut distinctions. The tone-on-tone approach is hard to make out. Dial-free watches lack points of reference, and skeleton watches make things even worse by introducing an abundance of backdrops and varying depths. There is no surer way of losing visual grip, apart perhaps from peripheral scales such as a tachymeter. The most effective means is definitely white against a matt black background, as Tudor has done with its Pelagos models. Polished hands and sunburst dials are also to be avoided, since mirror-type effects disturb reading in both full sunshine and dim light. The advantage of contrasts is that they also work well on elegant models, confirmed by Breguet’s Classique 7147.
It’s made to be a comparatively high-quantity-production automatic chronograph caliber using a 7750-like design but using a column wheel replacement the cam-actuation system being the most notable difference. Running frequency stays 4Hz, and power book is 46 hours so other specs are rather close to the famed workhorse chronograph caliber. Aesthetics-wise what’s new about it than the last year’s limited edition is the fact that it currently has the massive and always striking Iwc Watches Aquatimer Replica winding rotor with big cutouts and beveled edges as opposed to the rather underwhelming stamped piece that has been present on the 2016 models. Based on last year’s similar models anticipate the IWC Ingenieur Chronograph’s cost to begin from approximately $7,200. The IWC Ingenieur Chronograph Sport is a titanium-clad, 44mm-wide alternate to the above triple-register sporting a complex IWC Caliber 89361. It offers a more striking 68 hours of power reserve, a more advanced automatic winding system along with also the more complex screen of chronograph minutes and hours on one sub-dial at 12 o’clock. A neat design detail is that the lightning seconds hand at six o’clock, set as a reminder of the Ingenieur logo (and the fundamental seconds of a Milgauss, perhaps). In this high-contrast, legible, but arguably not-so-sporty white and black, the IWC Ingenieur Chronograph Sport will be a limited run of 500 pieces — but we would not be surprised to see unique models come together sooner rather than later.
Breguet 7147 © Breguet
The risk of multiplying indications is to generate confusion. Small seconds here, chronograph indications there, and what is the purpose of this 3 o’clock counter ? Some brands have proved able to arrange complications in a particular order. Breguet has created a perpetual calendar with indications appearing in a vertical line. And Patek Philippe has superimposed the minutes and hours of its automatic chronograph, as seen with the Nautilus 5980. Conversely, certain separations also work well. Omega has optimized the nocturnal legibility of its Seamaster Planet Ocean watches by using two different Super-LumiNova® colors for the hours and minutes.
Nautilus Ref. 5980 © Patek Philippe
The last option is artificial enlargement. Rolex provides the most clear-cut example, having already patented in 1953 its Cyclops magnifying lens to enlarge the date. But the approach can also be more subtle. Some watches equipped with complication modules end up with a strongly recessed date disk and to avoid this cavernous effect, Iwc Watches John Mayer Replica has filled the date aperture of its Portofino Moon Phase watch with invisible optical fibers that raise the date and make it appear to be on a level with the dial. A highly original bright idea.
Portofino Remontage Manuel Phases de Lune © IWC