Green watches Ten shades of green
The colour trend may be in its second year, but watches with green dials are a tricky sell. It’s not easy being green…
Kermit the frog was right. It’s not easy being green. And that doesn’t just apply to amphibians. Olive, apple or lagoon. French, Irish or pine. Racing green, army green or Hulk. Green is a tricky colour, and it’s not to everyone’s taste. Any yet, as part of a constantly expanding colour palette, green dials now occupy a similar space to that of blue a few years ago. For some people, green is sacred; for others, it’s cursed. It’s the colour of Islam, and the colour actors superstitiously refuse to wear on stage. It’s the colour of the vibrant natural world, but also of lethal radiation and nausea. In English, people are green with jealousy, while the French become green with anger.
Montblanc 1858 collection © Montblanc
So it should come as no surprise that, even though the range of green-dialled watches is exploding, they’re proving difficult to sell. Many watchmakers will admit privately that they have trouble moving them off the shelves. Because, regardless of the fashion and novelty effect, and the need to follow a given trend (or distance oneself from it), you also need to get the public on board. And not all greens are created equal.
Classic Fusion Aerofusion Chronograph Orlinski Mexico © Hublot
Military greens, with their variations of khaki, olive and commando, are the exceptions. They get a relatively easy ride. They’re carried by clothing fashions and the utilitarian tool watch concept, and also by the current popularity of military-style vintage watches, often with bronze cases. This is the profitable seam that Montblanc and IWC, Audemars Piguet, Panerai and Hublot are mining.
Pilot’s Watch Automatic Spitfire © IWC Schaffhausen
For the rest, things are not so simple. They are forced to appeal to clients through highly specific niches, which means multiplying references and backstories, and restricting the volumes they can sell. Racing green will speak mainly to vintage car enthusiasts. The bluish hints of classic bottle green appeal to a narrow cross-section. Jaeger-LeCoultre produced a limited series Reverso London Boutique Edition, but patriotism has its limits. Even the special editions created for the Gulf States may run out of steam.
Grande Reverso Ultra Thin Special London Edition © Jaeger-LeCoultre
In reality, green is destined to flesh out the collections of avid collectors. It’s not a primary colour, it’s secondary. Accessory. It doesn’t have the status of grey, black or blue. It’s masculine. Women will take a pass on green when they already have the option of white, pink, or a rainbow of brighter colours. So, while it may be “trending”, green is probably doomed to remain forever an afterthought.
Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph © Audemars Piguet
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