From NOS calibres to cutting edge escapements, you can talk about movements until you’re blue in the face. And we know; we have done just that many, many times. But when it comes down to it, that’s generally not how you see your watch on an everyday basis. For most of us, the greater part of a watch is how it looks and even then, the greater part of its looks come down to the dial. It’s the part we look at to actually use the thing and the dials of Stella watches are particularly handsome. In part that’s due to the colours of course, but don’t dismiss the finer details like Stella’s stunning linen dials.
Linen dials have been a bit of a rarity in watches. The lightly textured dials are designed to emulate the fine crosshatching of, you guessed it, linen. It’s incredibly fine and if the crystal wasn’t in the way, tactile. Generally associated with vintage pieces, the earliest examples are thought to have been on Rolexes, though there are examples from Seiko, Tudor and Omega too. Unfortunately, there just aren’t many modern versions. Other than Stella watches, of course.
The Felix was Stella’s first model and laid the groundwork for their ongoing collection. A 40mm casual-dress watch, the brand’s inaugural watch has a lot going for it, with alternating Arabic numerals and pipette indexes, and a classic handset, all set on various colours of linen dial. While there are various dial colours, the linen specifically comes in either a dark navy blue, designed to evoke the heavier weave of denim, or a classic dressy champagne version with the Gotham Gold; two very different ends of the spectrum.
Rather than hand-engraving, the texture was achieved with a hydraulic press, putting 200 tons of force down onto the brass dial blank using a negative of the dial, creating an incredibly crisp, perfectly rendered pattern. It’s an intensive process and while the texture’s not created with a chisel, the process is still done by hand. The results speak for themselves, but there’s always room for improvement.
In their sophomore collection, The Breslin, Stella stepped up their linens, not just by embracing a number of different colours – a classic silver, yes, but also a gorgeous medium blue and a raspberry red – but created a softer, more lightly textured look using a much finer printing tool. The final texture is slightly closer to those vintage linen dials, dressier with more elegant lines.
Of course, the same process as went into Stella’s linen dials is one that can be expanded to… well, anything, to be honest. Case in point, the Ellis GMT. Like the Felix and Breslin, the Ellis is defined by its dial texture, though in this case that texture is designed to emulate moving through space and time. Think of it like freezing the frame when they hit lightspeed in a sci-fi. It’s not just a sunburst, but is instead made up of small, interlocking waves. Needless to say, it’s a painstaking process but, given the results, entirely worth it.
It’s worth it not just because the dials are cool in and of themselves, or even that they elevate the already lovely timepieces they’re on. It’s worth it because they have quickly come to define Stella watches in the best way possible.
More details at Stella Watches.