What is the significance of the color red for mechanical watch dials? What effect do red dials have? Are red dials more for women or for men? Which watches does NOMOS Glashütte have in shades of red and pink?

How is the color red produced?

Red paint was already known in prehistoric times. Findings show that pigments containing iron oxide were used for cave paintings and to preserve animal skins. In addition to the rather brownish iron oxide red, there is a second red mineral, cinnabar, which gives off a strong red hue. However, cinnabar deposits were quite rare and cinnabar red is not lightfast. Therefore, it was used more in interiors in ancient times and in book illumination in the Middle Ages. Tyrian purple harvested from sea snails was another dye that was popular in antiquity. However, to dye wool for a single tunic, the fibers had to be soaked in the secretion of 10,000 snails and exposed to sunlight—so wearing purple was an honor of the highest exclusivity.

More accessible, and therefore cheaper, were plant-based alternatives (such as alizarin from common madder) or the dye kermes. The latter was obtained from European scale insects, known as false carmine. True carmine comes from the cochineal scale insect, which is native to Central and South America and has an even higher dye content. The Aztecs demanded tribute payments in the form of dried cochineal, among other things. From the middle of the 16th century, carmine was imported to Europe and is still used today as a natural colorant, for example in lipsticks and foodstuffs. Synthetic red was created in the 19th century and today supplies a wide range of needs.

What significance does the color red have in luxury and fashion?

In Europe, wearing red clothing was long reserved for high-ranking and wealthy people: Roman patricians, nobles, and wealthy citizens. The nobility's privilege of wearing red heels during the time of Louis XIV in France in the 17th century is legendary. Until the 19th century, the representative color of the male offspring of European aristocratic houses was also red. Girls tended to wear blue. In the 20th century, red found its way into wider social circles as a dress color.

In the 1960s, fashion designer Valentino Garavani created evening gowns in a bright red, which was henceforth known as Valentino red. In China, meanwhile, red is also worn at weddings as the color of happiness. In general, the strong signal effect of the color red has become permanently established in fashion. Sometimes just as an accent color, sometimes as a big statement. In short, if you want to be seen, wear red.

Does the color red have a certain meaning in a mechanical watch?

It is clear that a mechanical watch with a bright red dial would be a rather bold choice for very formal occasions. However, a light rose or a dark burgundy shade could certainly be options for a dress watch. The color red does not have a specific meaning when it comes to mechanical watches. Nevertheless, this choice of color shows that the watch is worn to make a statement. Anyone who wears a pink, red, or wine red watch knows that it will be eye catching and stand out. It is a deliberate choice that either matches the outfit perfectly or deliberately creates a counterpoint. With darker shades of red, this effect is somewhat reduced, but even the deepest shade of eggplant is a confident choice. The decision to choose a red watch for both men and women is always a very intentional one.

What effect does a red dial have?

The color red plays a special role in our perception for evolutionary reasons alone. Red is the color of blood, fire, and many fruits. Red is a strong stimulus for the brain and is associated with warmth, food, and well-being—as well as danger. Red is a trigger with a clear effect on the nervous system. A stimulant that demands attention. Red stands for life, for love, energy, attractiveness, passion and sexuality; for power, wealth and status. Red is an activating, invigorating color. Anyone who sees red knows that something important is at stake.

How do red dials affect the legibility of a watch?

In general, the greater the contrast between the dial color and the time-displaying elements, the easier it is to read the watch. A black and white contrast is, of course, the strongest. Accordingly, colorful dials, including red ones, are never as easy to read as black or white ones—whether they have silver, gold, black, or white indexes, numerals and hands.

Of course, a light pink dial with black hands is significantly more legible than a burgundy dial with black hands would be. Clear typography, slightly wider hands, and a clear dial design can also enhance legibility. Since you wear a mechanical watch with a red dial to be eye catching, it is also worth taking a moment longer to look at it while checking the time.

Are red dials more for women or for men?

Mechanical watches with red dials—be they more delicate, bright or darker shades—are a popular choice for all individuals. In terms of design, there may be a tendency to reserve pink tones for smaller, finer watches and to keep tool watches with larger diameters in stronger, more wine red shades. For the smaller models, watch brands tend to think of women, and for the larger ones, men.

However, customers all over the world have been disregarding such rules for some time now and this trend is becoming increasingly pronounced. For men in particular, a watch in a matching color goes particularly well with statement outfits, such as a red velvet tuxedo. The rose-colored dials from Tetra, for example, are also particularly popular with male NOMOS customers for suits with pastel-colored shirts. A red dial is a statement on the wrist in any case—regardless of gender.

What types of mechanical watches often have red dials?

Mechanical watches with red dials are available in every watch segment: from tool to dress. A red watch can have any character, from a bright red lacquered dial to rose tones and elegant wine red with a decorative finish. In all versions, however, it is sure to attract special attention, as the color red always does. At NOMOS Glashütte, there are more delicate and elegant, as well as sporty, robust models with red dials.

Do red dials go with everything?

Red dials go with anything you like. If you choose a mechanical watch with a red dial, you are unlikely to worry about overly strict dress codes anyway. But there is also no conceivable break in style in terms of dial color that needs to be warned against. Shades of red can be combined very elegantly with gold jewelry—or a little more dynamically with silver. A matching nail polish, belt, bag, or shoes may provide an additional accent, but a watch with a red dial doesn't need any such accompaniment. It is as versatile and dynamic as the person wearing it.

Another question is whether a watch with a bright red dial might seem dated in the years to come. Trends come in cycles, and should a particular color not currently be "in", it will be at some point again soon. As a primary color, however, red is perennially popular—and unlikely to become unfashionable. Perhaps a watch with a bright red dial is not suitable as the wearer's only watch. Or it may be a young person's first watch; that is of course a different case.

Do eye-catching dial colors such as red influence the repurchase value of a mechanical watch?

The number of potential buyers of red watches may be smaller than for watches with black or white dials. But as mechanical watches with red dials are also rarer, more specific searches are made for them. Limited edition models with this dial color can be real investments. And in the rare event that you want to sell the watch because you would like to wear something else after a few years in red, there is still the option—at least at NOMOS Glashütte—of having the dial changed instead: a Club Campus in deep pink can then become one with a white dial. Or vice versa, of course.

How are red dials made?

The method preferred by NOMOS for the production of colored dials is electroplating. This achieves a particularly uniform color result and improves the corrosion resistance of the dial. Of the spectrum of red tones, however, only rose or copper colors can be produced on dials by electroplating (that is, by depositing metal particles in an electrolytic bath).

For stronger reds, lacquering or enameling is required. The brass or nickel silver blank is specially treated for this purpose. Sometimes it is necessary to polish the blank, as some color nuances require a blasted surface to affix correctly. For a special luster, the blank can be plated with silver, gold, or rhodium before the color is applied. The precious metal will then add a subtle sheen that appears to radiate from the dial and through the color on top.

Red dials at NOMOS Glashütte

Mechanical watches with red dials are available from NOMOS Glashütte in various shades. Learn more about the range of red watches here:

  • Nonstop Red
    As a dial color, this red is bold, loud, and carefree. In other words: youthful. A confident red for people who know what they want and are prepared to go and get it. People who wear Club Campus, in other words.
  • Muted Red
    A warm, muted red. Brick red, chimney-colored—yet also urban. A stylish homey red, warm and soul-warming. Suitable for dress watches of all sizes, such as Metro 33.
  • Deep pink
    Emotional, but with energy! This statement shade of pink provides that extra dose of fun that is all too easily lost in the seriousness of everyday life. A color that will brighten up your wrist for the years to come—and is exclusive to our Club Campus watches.
  • Cream coral
    Still red or already orange? This color combines the best of both worlds. It flatters every skin tone and suits every occasion—except perhaps black tie.
  • Rosé
    Delicate, but not shy. Strongly emotional. Combined with silver jewelry it has a more straightforward effect, while when combined with gold jewelry it is somewhat more playful. This color is reserved for more extravagant timepieces—such as square watches like Tetra.
  • Nude
    A very light pink that could just be considered a shade of red. The boldness is missing from this very natural tone. Perhaps the most restrained red, understated and elegant for every day.