I have to admit, one of my favorite dial treatments is the gradient or 'fumé' style. A wash of color change that can emanate from the center of the the dial outward, from the outer fringes of the dial chapter ring toward the center, or day / night fading configuration, are some of the earmarks of a gradient dial. The dial application, also known as smoked, vignette, or degrade, has had a resurgence within the watch industry of late, and we're all better for it.
For me personally, I love colorful dials, as I find them a refreshing change-up from the standard, and somewhat universally safe (boring), solid colors that are the staple of most any watch collection.
Gradient dials, by most accounts have been around since the 1960's, so while this dial trend isn't new, it's nice to see the look embraced by both affordable and luxury brands alike. As you can see in my picture collage above, my 1970's Seiko Lord Matic showcases this dial treatment, and it looks fabulous! The gradient look isn't relegated to simply one genre or style of watch. So, whether you preference is sport or dress timepieces, there's sure to be a gradient dial that meets your fancy!
The gradient effect is accomplished in a number of ways. Some brands utilize paint layering techniques, while other brands create the smoke effect by using chemical treatment processes or lighting applications to create natural or forced patina within the dial. No matter the technique used, the end result is a vibrant dial, with flow, depth, and character.