There are a variety of finishes and styles available for dials these days, and you can pretty easily find something that is to your liking. If you want something that is unique to the piece, but do not actually want to go the route of a custom watch, natural materials are your friend. This often takes the form of colorful stones (think marble) or even semi-precious stones. For something a bit more “out of this world”, you might opt for something like the Thomas Earnshaw Meteorite.
Yes, you read that right – they are using meteorite for the dial. I have seen images of meteorite dials on higher-end watches in the past, so it was a surprise to hear about the material being used; we have previously shown it in a watch using fragments. Just to be sure, I did press the brand on this a bit, just to ensure it was not a stamped dial made to look like a meteorite pattern. This is what they had to say:
We use the really thing, Muonionalusta, a meteorite which impacted in northern Scandinavia, west of the border between Sweden and Finland, about one million years BC.
While the dial does have a very interesting pattern, there is quite a process to get from the rock dug from the ground to what we see in the watch. I cannot speak as to how other brands do it, but this is how Thomas Earnshaw works up their dials:
- They start by caring the raw meteorite. This requires heavy machinery and skill to not endanger or compromise the stone
- Next, they slicing the stone into smaller parts, carving even smaller round cylinders
- Once that is done, they slice off dial blanks using water jets
- The blanks then have holes cut for the date wheel and pinion
- Finally, the dials are washed in an acid bath to reveal the pattern
- Once that is done, some dials are plated (yellow or rose gold), and the dials are printed
With all of those steps complete, the dial is mated to a Ronda 515 (Swiss made) movement and assembled by hand as a complete watch in Switzerland. At that point, the watch is ready for you – or in our case, ready to be sent on over for a review. For our sample, we were sent a rose gold example, with the 18k gold plating occurring on both the case and the dial.
Really, the dial is the star of the show. Accordingly, the Roman numerals around the perimeter are subtle and color matched, as is the slender handset. This helps them to blend in a bit more, keeping the focus on the dial. This does, of course, affect readability, as with having everything all one color, it can be hard to differentiate. I found that moving the wrist a bit helps, as the hands and numerals are polished, and catch the light much differently than the dial does.
While this play of the light is certainly an advantage, it does have the effect of playing with the colors of the gold as well. While it was obvious in our sample that both the dial and the case were rose gold, there was a slight difference in the hue that showed up, with the dial feeling a bit pinker in tone. Not quite to the point it would be if one had been yellow gold, but I was picking up a slight discrepancy. Not a deal breaker, likely, but something to be aware of should you be looking at this particular example.
These are the sorts of things you notice when you have some time throughout the day with a watch. In the case of the Earnshaw Meteorite, it was a comfortable watch to wear. Longer lugs are paired to the 44mm case, making for a watch that does a nice job of filling your wrist. Even for its larger appearance, it is a relatively thin case, and the watch itself weighs in at 82g.
In terms of keeping things in place, the watch has a longer 22/20 strap (as we’ve seen with other Earnshaw and AVI-8) models, which means it can fit on to a variety of wrists. The case back also helps to keep the watch in place. As you can see in the photos, there is actually an engraving in the caseback. Rather than leaving this exposed, they have instead filled the caseback, which makes for a smooth surface that is slightly grippy, helping the watch (inadvertently, perhaps) to stay put.
This was certainly an interesting watch to spend some time with. It is the second “space material” watch I have reviewed (you can see the other one here), and it certainly does make for something unique to be carrying around with you throughout the day. That said, uniqueness does have a price – in this case, the Earnshaw Meteorite carries a price tag of $2400 in gold ($2275 in steel). Yeah, it is spendy for a quartz, but what a dial on it! Not to mention, most watches with these dials start at prices about 10x higher… thomas-earnshaw.com
- Brand & Model: Earnshaw Meteorite
- Price: $2400 for the yellow or rose gold, $2275 for steel
- Who’s it for?: This is for the guy who’s crazy about all things outer-space, or perhaps is just a fan of crystalline patterns
- Would I wear it?: This particular example, yes, but infrequently. Swap it out for the silver dial (with black indices/hands) then I could see more wrist time occurring
- What I’d change: At this price, I’d of course love to see some sort of mechanical movement in use. Also? Drop the date wheel.
- The best thing about it: The slice of meteorite that makes up the dial, of course.
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