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Accessible Fumé Dial Watches to Get Your Gradient On

Accessible Fume Dial Watches

Gradients are a great way to add dynamic colour to a wristwatch, fading gradually from one colour to another in a seamless transition. Of course, there are a lot of ways to produce a gradient design but the most popular is without a doubt a style known as fumé. Fumé, meaning smoked, is a radial gradient pattern that starts light in the centre of the dial and gets darker towards the periphery. In extreme examples it can pass through almost an entire spectrum from white to black but for the most part they’re more subtle – the key aspect is that it gives the dial a smoky appearance. It’s also a technique that is used at all levels of horology all the way up to £50k+ H. Mosers. However, you most certainly don’t need to spend a fortune because there are plenty of sub £2,500, accessible fumé dial watches out there, here are some of our favourites.

Citizen Tsuyosa

Citizen Tsuyosa

A last-minute addition to the article, the Citizen Tsuyosa with blue fumé dial was released only last week. While its official colour is blue, the dark gradient around the periphery lends it a strong teal tone. Plus, with the complete fade to black at the circumference it has a smoky vibe that’s commonly associated with fumé. This watch has stolen headlines and hearts ever since the original non-gradient models made their international debut this summer.

Case/dial: 40mm diameter x 11.7mm height, stainless steel case, blue sunray dial
Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: Citizen 0954 automatic movement with 40h power reserve
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet with fold-over clasp
Price: £299

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Spinnaker Spence 300

Spinnaker Spence 300

Dive Watches probably have a higher percentage of gradient dial watches compared to any other type of wristwatch. That’s likely for two reasons. First, the transition from blue to black, as presented here on the Spinnaker Spence 300, evokes images the deep sea where light begins to fade beneath the waves. Secondly, the requirement of a dive watch to be hyper legible limits what’s possible and so gradients provide a safe way of adding visual interest while maintaining readability.

Case/dial: 40mm diameter x 10.9mm thickness, stainless steel case, blue dial
Water resistance: 300m (30 bar)
Movement: Miyota 9039 automatic movement with 42h power reserve
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet with fold over buckle and push button with additional dark blue leather strap
Price: £345

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Bulova Jet Star

Bulova Jet Star

The gradient on the Bulova Jet Star fading from a golden yellow to a caramel brown. However, the sunray brushing means that as light plays across the dial there is a great amount of depth to the colours. The watch itself is a 40mm stainless steel piece housing the Bulova Manufacture Precision Quartz movement with an accuracy of +/-5 seconds per month. Setting aside mechanical vs quartz snobbery for a moment, that’s seriously impressive for a sub-£500 watch.

Case/dial: 40mm diameter, stainless steel case with gold toned coating, gold toned dial
Water resistance: Splash resistant
Movement: Quartz movement
Strap: Brown leather strap
Price: £429

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Zodiac Field Olympos

Zodiac Field Olympos

While Zodiac are best known for models like the Sea Wolf, the Field Olympos offers accessible take on fumé dials with its rich green gradient. It’s based on the Olympos Military watch made for the British Royal Navy in the 1960s, with a robust and durable 40mm diameter case and 200m water resistance. Oddly, the most distinctive element is not the gradient dial but the unique lugs, which arc around the edge of the case.

Case/dial: 40mm diameter, stainless steel case, green dial
Water resistance: 200m (20 bar)
Movement: STP1-11 automatic movement with 44h power reserve
Strap: Leather
Price: $895 (approx. £700)

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Duckworth Prestex Rivington 200 GMT

Duckworth Prestex Rivington 200 GMT

The Duckworth Prestex Rivington 200 GMT is a classic example of a fumé dial with its smokey appearance on a rich orange dial combined with a waffle pattern. This is Duckworth Prestex’s first GMT model and they’ve used an oversize 24-hour hanf that corresponds to the black, ceramic bezel with 24-hour scale to emphasise this fact. It’s a 42mm piece equiped with the Miyota 9075 automatic with 42-hour power reserve. It’s available on leather or rubber strap at £795 or bracelet at £895.

Case/dial: 42mm diameter x 14mm thickness, stainless steel case, orange dial
Water resistance: 200m (20 bar)
Movement: Miyota 9075 automatic movement with 42h power reserve
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet or leather strap
Price: £795 (strap) and £895 (bracelet)

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Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Auto

Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Auto

The Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Auto is great value for money regardless of whether your criteria is fumé dials, dive watches, automatic movements or anything else. Only the blue and green dial variants feature the gradient pattern on the dial, and both look great. However, the true value comes from the fact that it houses the H. 10 automatic calibre with 80-hour power reserve, which is pretty stellar for less than £1,000.

Case/dial: 43mm diameter x 12.58mm thickness, stainless steel case, green dial
Water resistance: 300m (30 bar)
Movement: Hamilton H-10 automatic movement with 80h power reserve
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet with folding clasp
Price: £975

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Mido Multifort TV Big Date

Mido Multifort TV Big Date

The Mido Multifort TV Big Date is a relatively new addition to the Mido stable, and its influences are clear. With its broad bezel in the shape of retro TV and a fumé dial with prominent horizontal markings, this is Mido’s nod to Genta-style integrated sports watches. It also has the titular big date complication at 12 o’clock and has an 80-hour power reserve. I still prefer Mido’s diving offerings, but the dial and gradient combo is nice.

Case/dial: 40mm diameter x 11.5mm thickness, stainless steel, green dial
Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: Mido calibre 80 automatic movement with 80h power reserve
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet with folding clasp
Price: £1,010

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Seiko Prospex King Sumo

Seiko Prospex King Sumo

When it comes to unabashedly big watches, the Seiko Prospex King Sumo which launched last year lives up to its name. But the 45mm diameter case just means that the dial has plenty of surface area for the gradient of the Blue Gradation model to gently fade from one colour to the next. Which is does so with a smooth transition from vibrant blue to a darker navy tone around the periphery. Inside is the calibre 6R35.

Case/dial: 45mm diameter x 13.35mm thickness, stainless steel case, blue dial
Water resistance: 200m (20 bar)
Movement: Seiko 6R35 automatic movement with 70h power reserve
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet
Price: £1,120

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Formex Essence Forty Three

Formex Essence Forty Three

The 43mm case of the Formex Essence Forty Three features sharp, sporty angles and Formex’s patented shock-resistant case-suspension system. It is constructed from a combination of stainless steel and titanium making it highly durable and scratch resistant. However, our focus is the dial, which has horizontal lines engraved by a CNC machine. It’s a classy and simple look that is available in a taupe gradient colourway.

Case/dial: 43mm diameter x 10.6mm thickness, stainless steel case, grey dial
Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: Sellita SW20-1 automatic movement with 38h power reserve
Strap: Leather
Price: £1,435

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Christopher Ward The Twelve

Christopher Ward The Twelve (Ti)

Christopher Ward’s The Twelve is a comparatively new addition to this category in that it was only launched a few months ago. The biggest talking point at its release was the integrated bracelet and the design of the case and textured dial. There’s then the fact that two of the models, the titanium editions, feature fumé gradient dials. It adds an extra dimension to the dial with the bold cross pattern slowly fading from a vibrant blue to a darker tone at the edges.

Case/dial: 40mm diameter x 8.95mm thickness, titanium case, astral blue dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Sellita SW300-1 automatic movement with 56h power reserve
Strap: Titanium bracelet
Price: £1,595

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Ollech and Wajs OW 8001

Ollech & Wajs OW 8001

The Ollech & Wajs OW 8001 takes the concept of a fumé dial a step further by being a specific subtype of fumé. It’s called a Havana fumé finish, which means its produced with a double-lacquering technique to produce the radial gradient effect. It looks really, really good and the transition from light taupe in the centre to dark at the edges is incredibly smooth. It’s all packaged together with an integrated bracelet design and a Soprod P092 movement.

Case/dial: 39.56mm diameter x 13mm thickness, stainless steel case, grey dial
Water resistance: 300m (30 bar)
Movement: Bespoke Soprod Newton Precision P092 automatic movement with 44h power reserve
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet
Price: CHF 1,856 (£1,670)

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Oris X Cervo Volante

Oris X Cervo Volante

We’re starting to get into the higher price ranges now, but they’re still well within reach for the average Joe with the wherewithal to save some money for a few months, maybe for a special occasion. The Oris X Cervo Volante Big Crown Pointer Date is an incredibly classy fumé watch with a beautiful turquoise gradient. The name comes from the sustainably sourced deer strap that it’s presented on.

Case/dial: 38mm diameter, stainless steel case, blue dial
Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: Oris 754 automatic movement with 38h power reserve
Strap: Leather
Price: £1,800

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Longines Legend Diver

Longines Legend Diver

Originally launched way back in 2007, the Legend Diver actually takes its design cues from a Longines Super Compressor from 1959, the golden age of underwater exploration, hence the signature two-crown construction. One winds the watch and sets the time as per usual, while the other sets the inner bezel, which takes the requisite diving scale under the crystal rather than on the outside of the watch. And of course, there’s a gorgeous fumé gradient dial.

Case/dial: 42mm diameter x 12.7mm thickness, stainless steel, grey dial
Water resistance: 30m (30 bar)
Movement: Longines L888 automatic movement with 72h power reserve
Strap: Grey synthetic with buckle
Price: £2,350

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anOrdain Model 1 Green Fumé

anOrdain Model 1 Green Fumé

Last up is actually the first watch I had in mind when it came to this article, the anOrdain Model 1 Green Fumé. This is the archetypal fumé dial, full of rich colour, a smooth transition and that signature grainy texture that makes it smoky. Rendered in enamel, it looks even better and is a testament to the skill of the Scottish watch brand. It’s powered by the ETA 2824-2 automatic movement. Technically it sneaks in at just over the £2,500 limit but come on, we couldn’t leave it out.

Case/dial: 38mm diameter x 11mm thickness, stainless steel case, vitreous enamel on silver dial
Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: Sellita SW210 or La Joux-Perret G100 automatic movement
Strap: Leather
Price: £2,595

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About the author

Michael Sonsino

As Digital Editor for Oracle Time, Michael needs an eye for detail, which makes it a good thing that his twin joys in life are miniatures and watches. He's a lifelong fan of fine timepieces, especially those of a more historic nature - if it has a twist of Art Deco, all the better. Recent purchase: Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-Interpretation. Grail watch: Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921.