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About Time

Eight Deep-Blue Men’s Watches That You Can Wear With Anything

Like a navy suit, a blue-dialled timepiece always flatters and always complements

It’s the all-pervading horological trend that refuses to budge. After six, maybe even seven years of carbon-fibre this, Nato straps that, plus the unabating ebb and flow of oversize vs midsize, there’s one thing we can still guarantee when walking through the turnstiles of March’s epic Baselworld fair: there will be as many blue watch dials gleaming through vitrines as silver or black.

Sure, there’ll be other colours. We know this from early intel gathered at Switzerland’s other, rather more refined trade show in January. From salmon pink to acid green via fire-engine red, there was a veritable rainbow arcing over the 2019 edition of SIHH. But whether it’s midnight, cobalt, petrol or even diesel in one case, blue still is the warmest colour for watchmakers.

As Mr Yves Saint Laurent’s suiting mantra went, it flatters every complexion, it’s vivid yet sophisticated and invariably works with whatever else you’ve thrown on. Importantly, too, blue is the only coloured-dial option that complements every way you might strap it on. Steel bracelet? Cool as a cucumber. Brown calfskin? Sports casual! Patent black leather with white contrast stitching? You’ll own the room.

Smart alecs will try to convince you it’s all about green in the watch world right now. But we’re not so sure. Don’t go blue in the face – if you’ve invested in one of these MR PORTER favourites, just nudge your cuff and let a distinguished, cerulean dial do the talking.

The watches

It may be a Parisian company, but Cartier has serious clout when it comes to bona fide and particularly fine Swiss-made timepieces. It has its own ateliers in “Watch Valley” in the Jura Mountains. What always distinguishes a Cartier Swiss watch from most other brands, however, is the jeweller’s eye for a whimsical case design. In this instance, the dial. Here, the “balloon” crown floats within a dimple on the steel case, mirroring the date window and the central guilloché engraving. What also sets it apart is Cartier’s signature blue-spinel gem-set crown in matching azure.

This handsome devil of a watch happens to be Mr Ryan Reynolds’ daily timepiece. The rounded-square-within-a-circle design is a reinterpretion of Piaget’s dapper Polo and has survived the vagaries of the watch industry and firmly planted itself as a future-proof fixture in the watchmaker’s portfolio. Much like the Cartier Ballon Bleu, this blue chronograph model uses clever contrast in dial texture to distinguish its indications and lend structure. In blue, those horizontal stripes are as sharp as a tuxedo’s satin hem.

Much like Piaget, Vacheron Constantin has recently started producing watches targeting a younger market. Last year was all about the brand-new Fiftysix range, which reinterpreted the 264-year-old brand’s 1950s design with contemporary élan. This year, focus shifts back to Vacheron Constantin’s sportsman, the Overseas, whose crenellated facets were first created in the 1970s, inspired by the brand’s Maltese cross motif. And yet again, it’s the blue dial that makes it. That price tag might seem high for a steel sports watch, but take a glance through the display caseback and you’ll understand. Every single part of the Calibre 5100 ticking inside is a 172-step lesson in haute-de-gamme craftsmanship.

You had us at “storm blue”, the broody name Baume & Mercier has given the tone of its latest watch. It’s an affordable package of self-winding mechanics with a power reserve indicator and, at 12 o’clock, every globetrotter’s essential dual functionality: a GMT readout, which keeps a 24-hour track of the time in different time zones. And, like anything needed by a pilot, it’s ruggedly built and utterly reliable.

If the dappled, gleaming finishes to this azure dial have you dreaming of Riviera waters, then Jaeger-LeCoultre has done its job well. The new Polaris sports collection is inspired by (and named after) a diver’s iteration of the Memovox alarm watch from 50 years ago. There isn’t a brand in Switzerland that offers as many things beneath one case as this. Everything bar the straps (alligator farms being rare in Switzerland) is crafted from the raw metal, in-house.

When Maurice de Mauriac founder Mr Daniel Dreifuss began to think about his brand’s L2 diving watch, there was one simple, yet crucial function he wanted. When you’re deep underwater, you should be able to tell when 15 minutes have passed with the briefest glance. With that in mind, he turned to an unlikely ally, one of Switzerland’s premier furniture designers. Mr Fabian Schwaerzler had already drafted the clean unfussy lines of the L1, which lent themselves perfectly to a diver’s iteration, complete with easily discernible rotating bezel, calibrated clearly with 15-minute notches. Having trained as a metalworker before industrial design, Mr Schwaerzler started playing with the case, too, hence this navy-blue beauty’s warm glow of marine-grade bronze alloy.

Bremont has opted for a similarly stormy-blue dial to Baume & Mercier’s Clifton for its limited-edition ALT1-Z, which is exclusive to MR PORTER. This model is a firm favourite among pilots and airmen throughout the world, so must, first and foremost, operate with absolute legibility at altitude and under stress. Hence the contrasting silver subdials of the chronograph and urgent-red accents on the hands. And that tiny word beneath the logo: “chronometer”. Simply put, this means Switzerland’s rigorous COSC testing facility has certified this watch will never lose or gain more than a respective four or six seconds a day.

TAG Heuer has blossomed in recent years, reconnecting with a younger market and recruiting a constellation of stars, from Formula 1 drivers to superstar DJs. Take this 43mm steel high-performance sports watch, for example. It has been assessed under extreme conditions on real racetracks, is equipped with an “Easy Grip” screw-in crown, has a precision Swiss-made quartz movement that varies by only a few seconds per month and a military-grade webbing strap that keeps things firmly, but comfortably, welded to your wrist. Those orange accents on royal blue are an ice-cool retro detail that rounds out the whole package.

Or try these

  • Junghans Meister Chronoscope 40mm Stainless Steel and Leather Watch

  • Montblanc Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum LATIN UNICEF 41mm Stainless Steel and Alligator Watch

  • Ressence Type 1 MRP Mechanical 42mm Titanium and Leather Watch

  • Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph 43mm Burnished Bronze and Leather Watch

  • NOMOS Glashütte Orion Neomatik Datum Automatic 41mm Stainless Steel and Cordovan Leather Watch

  • Zenith Defy El Primero 21 Chronograph 44mm Brushed-Titanium, Alligator and Rubber Watch