10/17/2023
 4 minutes

Shades of Value: The Impact of Watch Dial Colors on Prices

By Thomas Hendricks
Shades of Value: The Impact of Watch Dial Colors on Prices

Shades of Value: The Impact of Watch Dial Colors on Prices

In the intricate world of horology, even the smallest details can wield significant influence over a watch’s market worth. Enter the often-overlooked factor: watch dial color. While it might appear trivial, the shade of a watch’s dial has a surprising impact on its perceived value. Today we’re delving into the enchanting interplay between colors and economics, revealing intriguing insights and unexpected correlations.

Need a little background info? Take a look at my colleague Sebastian’s article about watch dials.

Taste and trends?

Dial color is an intentional choice for both buyers and brands in the watch world. You may remember 2021 when every watch was green (for some reason). Or you may recall that a certain shade of light blue caused quite a stir at auctions, as well as on the secondary and gray markets. People naturally play favorites with colors, and that favoritism has clear economic ripple effects. Think of it like this: If you grew up wanting a red Ferrari, you’d be willing to pay a little more when the time came for that signature Rosso Corsa.

Turning to watches specifically, we’re looking at a few key models to help explain this color correlation. We’ve got the Rolex Datejust, the Rolex Daytona, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, and the Patek Philippe Nautilus.

To evaluate the impact of dial colors on our products, we set black dials and steel cases as our standard, and are now looking at how the various dial colors positively or negatively affect their price.

Elevated Pricing With Diamond Accents

Let’s start with the current generation 36-mm Rolex Datejust in steel (ref. 126234). The average price for the black dial version is currently hovering around $13,000. Grayscale dials typically cost less, with silver down by 3%, gray down 5.8%, and white down 7.7%. Cool tones have a slightly positive effect, with blue dials costing 0.5% more and green dials (including palm dials) 3.1% more. The biggest margins are for more feminine tones, with purple dials up by 19.7%, pink dials up 24.1%, and mother-of-pearl dials up 33.1% over the baseline black. It’s crucial to note that these variations typically feature diamonds, which can increase material costs significantly.

Diamonds and Mother of Pearl Dial have a significant impact on the pricing of the Rolex Datejust 36
Diamonds and mother-of-pearl dials have a significant impact on the pricing of the Rolex Datejust 36.

Now let’s shift our focus to the Rolex Daytona, where we’ll analyze the captivating contrast between white and black in the ref. 116500LN model manufactured between 2016 and early 2023. Average values for the black dial steel case version currently sit around $21,600. But if you choose the white dial version, that average jumps 11.8% to $24,100.

We have more dial colors to choose from for the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. And you know that since the Royal Oak makes up a vast majority of AP sales, they pay close attention to these kinds of figures. We’re analyzing the current 41-mm generation 15510ST in steel. Buyers have a handful of colors to choose from, and interestingly enough, the trends are quite similar to what we saw with the Rolex Datejust. Grayscale options tend to take a hit here, with silver dials down 6.2% compared to black and white dials that are down 2.6%. Gray itself has a positive effect, but only slightly at 3.6% over black. It’s the blue and green dials where we see the big jumps. Blue increases this reference’s price by 26.9%, while green boosts it by 30.9%.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak "50th Anniversary" with a Green Dial
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “50th Anniversary” with a green dial

These are big jumps, and they’re even more when you consider that these are pretty “plain Jane” models, meaning no diamonds or gemstones like we saw with the Datejusts. If you work at AP, and you’re reading this (you’re probably not), but if you were, it would make total sense to simply crank out a new dial color to increase demand.

Watch Dial Colors – Mere Aesthetics?

We’re concluding our journey with the hypest of hype watches, the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711. Now, a lot of you are tired of hearing (or in this case, reading) about this watch, and some of us are tired of talking (or writing) about it. There’s a lot that’s been said here and elsewhere about its market fluctuations, but let’s look specifically at dial colors today.

There’s no baseline black dial version of this timepiece, so we’ve got a head-to-head match between white and blue. Although there are of course the green dial and Tiffany blue versions, we don’t have enough of those on Chrono24 to make a statistically solid statement, which is why we’ll stick to the classics for now. The white dial version, sometimes called the “garage door,” sits at $123,000 on average. The dark blue dial is the OG version, and what people think of when we mention the 5711. That dark blue dial is valued at $140,000 on average, a 13.9% increase over the white.

With that, we conclude our in-depth exploration of watch dial colors and market value. It’s a testament to the subtle yet profound influence that aesthetics can have on market dynamics. Just as a fresh coat of paint can rejuvenate a surface, the power of color on horology is a reminder that sometimes even the smallest adjustments can yield a significant impact.


What do you think about this article?


About the Author

Thomas Hendricks

I didn’t grow up a watch guy, but a few years after graduating from university, I landed a job at the online publication Watchonista as a writer and marketer. “Welcome to the watch world,” my colleagues told me half-jokingly, “no one ever leaves!” Now at Chrono24, I work as a private client advisor, helping people find the perfect watch for major life moments.

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