Spring has sprung. Green watch dials are popping-up everywhere! Big Horo’s color revolution was so sudden and unexpected that even the watch press was stunned, belatedly trying to piece together an explanation. Here are the leading theories behind the green watch phenom and some idle speculation . . .
Green is The Color of Money
This theory holds that a gold watch is an excellent wealth signifier, but a green watch is the more socially acceptable (and cheaper) money move. Green is, after all, is the color of money. The hue the Crane family uses on the linen-and-cotton paper it prints for Uncle Sam.
Proponents suggest that greenbacks – and thus the color green – have become the universal icon for cash, in the same way an obsolete Western Electric rotary is the symbol for a telephone. Does a green watch telegraph its owner’s [presumed] wealth? Never mind if it looks like money, do it look money?
That Master’s green jacket might say yes, sort of. As would the Riddler-esque Matthew “Free Money” Lesko. But I’m not sure how many people are thinking of old accountant visors and banker’s lamps when contemplating a green dial watch. This one’s a stretch.
Green Saves the Planet/Represents Cleanliness
One of the weakest explanations for green-watch-mania: the color’s association with environmentalism. Sorry, corporate greenwashing is not that subtle (e.g., the hype over recycled materials in luxury watches). While few go broke underestimating the credulity, impressionability and conformity of the average watch buyer, this is also a bridge too far.
Green is Clean in the PRC
Note: I didn’t say American consumer. It’s not about you. With over 50 percent of traditional watch sales going down in The People’s Republic, China’s the man now, dog. And in China green means clean. color-meanings.com:
Green stands for wealth, harmony, growth, eco friendliness in the West, whereas it stands for “clean, and contamination free” in China. Green is also used to describe organic things for example, Green Milk means organic or toxin free milk and Green vegetables mean ones without pesticides.
Apparently the Chinese expression “to wear a green hat/cap” means that one has an unfaithful wife. That has nothing to do with a green watch, so let’s move on.
Green Watch Dials = Liberation!
Also on the list of dubious explanations: green dials represent a celebration of being outside. Lest we forget, the bulk of the civilized world has been subject to COVID-19 restrictions on mobility and freedom. (The scourge was originally called coronavirus – until the Mexican beer company got mad and people kept giggling.)
I don’t truck with this theory. It’s not like people, especially luxury consumers, lived in a dungeon devoid of the sight of grass and plants. Were that the case, cabin fever-crazed people would have made shoebox dioramas of outdoor scenes from green colored construction paper and pipe cleaners.
But please, the golf courses were empty for a week, max. And there are lifeless urban areas where no living thing takes root (nothing new). Luxury watch buyers in affluent Asian markets were over the lockdown fad a while ago. Hard no.
Green = Market Manipulation
My pet theory is the Scarlett O’Hara, based on the drapes-into- dress action in Gone with the Wind. I suspect that the selection of green was the luxury watch industry’s attempt to produce something new and exciting on short notice during Coronageddon – when normal resources (men, machines and material) were unavailable. And why not green?
Green is the most acceptable colorful color after the already popular blue. The other primary colors – red and yellow – are loud and a tough sell. Except for Rolex, but those sell regardless. The other remaining secondary color is purple. I think Audemars Piguet has a Code 11.59 in purple. That’s two strikes there. Brown and other earth tones are nonstarters that remind us of dirt and excrement. Pastels are not masculine and it’s a man’s market.
Besides, green has variety. Vastly different colors; olive greens, bluish teals, and pistachio shades are all lumped under the same umbrella along with lime and kelly. I’m not sure what kelly green is, nor emerald or hunter. There are lots of greens, not just collard ones. Bolstering this theory . . .
Green Watch Dials Are Nothing New
Going through the TTAW archives, it’s clear that green watches are nothing new. They just used to come out sporadically throughout the year instead of in a contrived rapid succession of a media blitz.
Just last year we had an article entitled TAG Heuer Aquaracer Dive Watch: Is Green the New Blue? as well as PAM 768 – 3D-Printed With Green Accents!
About a year ago, around Baselworld time, Seiko introduced a green-faced Grand Seiko Elegance SBGW264 LE and Omega launched an olive OMEGA Seamaster Aqua Terra 150m Master Chronometer in the same week.
Green Watch Dials – A Flash in the Pan?
Will green watch dials remain popular? Reactions have ranged from generally favorable to oh hell no, depending on shade. My guess: the jewel tone greens that weren’t unknown beforehand will enjoy an upswing, however modest, for the next few years. The appeal of odder shades will wither and die.
Blue is on top for a reason. People wear blue all the time, especially men. Blue jeans, blue dress shirts, navy suits and blazers. Where are the green jeans, as worn by Captain Kangaroo’s friend? I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for the new kid on the block to cause an upset and become a front runner. So if you see someone wearing a green dial watch, don’t be green with envy. It will pass.