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The different types of watch dial by Extropian

Shinichi Watch
Advisor Watches
Batavi Watches
Galvin Watch Company
The different types of watch dial by Extropian

When you think about it, the dial of a watch is basically its face – it’s what gives any timepiece its individual personality and what attracts us to it in the first place. We don’t want to be shallow here (well OK, maybe just a little bit), but we all know looks are important, right? We’re going to play matchmaker and introduce you to some of the most gorgeous dial types out there! 

Crosshair dial

The Crosshair dial is a subtle design that can reveal hidden depths. Intriguing, huh? It features little more than a pair of thin, often scarcely visible, vertical and horizontal lines that cross in the center of the dial and was a popular choice for classic, sophisticated, mid-century dress watches. These days it’s often used in a more innovative and colorful fashion by contemporary brands, such as Doxa’s Sub1500T.



Guilloché dial

If you’re drawn to something more complex and elegant, then let us introduce you to the Guilloché dial. These beauties have intricate patterns engraved on their surfaces in grids of straight, curved, or broken lines. The end result gives a silky appearance and beautiful texture to the dial. Kinda like a perfect complexion! Originally, the patterns were created by hand-cranked rose, or straight-line engines, and although machines are increasingly used today they’re no less gorgeous. Just check out the Galvin Watch Company’s Loimu for confirmation! 

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Tapisserie dial

Tapisserie dials feature a pattern of small, raised squares created by a complex and delicate engraving process. They’re sometimes compared to a waffle, and who’s not gonna love a dial that reminds them of waffles?! A machine called a pantograph traces the design from a mock-up and then engraves it onto the dial, giving it its unique appearance and texture. Variations on the Tapisserie style can be found on contemporary models such as the Marloe Atlantic. Just don’t go adding cream to it…


Sandwich dial

Another foody dial type! As the name suggests, a sandwich dial is created using two or more layers of metal stacked on top of each other to create a subtle but very impressive three-dimensional effect. The hour markers are cut out of the top layer, and lume is applied to the lower layer so it shines through the cut-outs to highlight the numerals. As seen on something like the Batavi Kosmopoliet, the end result is simple but super effective!


California dial

Fancy something a little quirky? Then may we present the California dial. It features half Roman and half Arabic numerals (the former at 10-12 o’clock and the latter at 4 to 8), with dashes used for hours 3, 6, and 9 and an inverted triangle for the 12. Although it might seem like an eccentric design it was actually created during WWII to aid legibility in low light combat conditions and was known as the “high visibility” or “error proof” dial. It faded from popularity after the war, but has undergone something of a revival in recent years. Check out  the Advisor Astrohelm V1.


The California is sometimes created in a Sandwich format, making for a seriously unique watch face!

Skeleton dial

The spooky sounding Skeleton dial is designed to reveal the intricate workings of a timepiece’s inner movement. It may sound complex, but it’s actually fairly straightforward as it simply requires a transparent material! In the past this would have been glass, but today it’s more likely to be sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating. For a great modern example why not have a look at the Zelos Skyraider 2 Ti..



Variations include the “semi-skeleton” which features a partial cutaway of the watch face to reveal the workings underneath, and the “open heart”, which has a circular window to view the oscillation of the balance wheel, or the ‘beating heart’ of the watch.

Phoibos - Leviathan Bronze



Sector Dial

If you’re after a retro vibe, then you should meet the Sector dial. It features two concentric circles, one for the minutes, one for the hours, and some versions will have a cute seconds dial at the base of the larger dial. First appearing in the 20s, it was popular in the 60s and is currently undergoing something of a revival amongst vintage style fans. Great-looking contemporary models include Shinichi’s Sector Dial Issen..

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As you can see, there are dial types out there for every taste. We hope we’ve helped you find your perfect match!

Created the 2023-01-30

Modified the 2024-01-24

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