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Round-UpA Gentleman’s Guide To 10 Of The Best ‘Panda’ Dial Watches

Apart from being one of the coolest colourways you could sport on your wrist, a panda-dial watch also serves as an ode to the glorious motorsport era of the 1960s and 70s. Here are 10 of the finest 'pandas' you could own

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Pandas—they’re all cute and fluffy, and came close to being completely wiped out from the face of the earth—mainly due to excessive poaching and deforestation, but also partly due to their absurd laziness when it comes to procreating. However, apart from enjoying worldwide adoration, along with the pride and joy of China as the country’s national treasure, the giant panda has also played a significant role in watchmaking, albeit not directly…obviously. (Although, I’d pay good money to see a panda rock Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona.) The word ‘panda’ is widely used in the horological world to describe a watch face that has a white dial, along with three black sub-dials at the three, six and nine o’clock positions, resembling the face of the oriental gentle giant. That’s all there is to the ‘panda’ nickname. However, it’s not where the story ends. The world got a taste of its pure panda watch—white dial and black sub-dials—in 1963, when Rolex launched the Cosmograph Daytona Ref 6239. This contrasting dial was created to visually separate the watch’s time-telling abilities with its time-measuring one. Found predominantly on timepieces with a chronograph complication, the panda dial was all the rage in the 1960s and 70s. Watches sporting these dials were closely connected with the high-adrenaline world of motorsports. And to understand how big a deal they were, let me remind you that Newman’s Daytona sold for $17.8mn just a couple of years ago—in part because of the iconic ‘panda’ design. As is with all trends, a number of manufacturers released their own designs and variations, such as a vertical panda dial, or using different colours instead of just plain black, while some maintained congruity. Here, we’ve mixed it up and chosen 10 of the best panda and ‘semi-panda’ dial watches available today. 

Breitling Superocean Heritage B01

Although Rolex’s Cosmograph is hailed as the first true panda dial watch, Breitling kicked off the contrasting dial trend with the launch of the Breitling Superocean Chronograph ref 807 in 1957. Powered by the manufacturer’s famed in-house B01 chronograph movement, is the more recently launched Superocean, enclosed in a 44mm steel, and boasting a 70-hour power reserve. Coming to the important bit—silver dial, check; black sub-dials for the chronograph counters and small-seconds at three, six and nine, check. The company that pioneered a trend carries its legacy forward with a solid offering that is bound to rope in buyers with its clean and classic aesthetic. 

Breitling
With a clean, silver dial boasting contrasting black sub-dials at three, six and nine o’clock, the Brietling Superocean Heritage is a true panda dial watch that enjoys great fame

Bulgari Bulgari Aluminium Watch

When it comes to innovative design and superb engineering, Bulgari is certainly a force to reckon with. Their Bulgari Aluminium Chronograph, which was launched in 2020, proves the fact. What makes this timepiece unique is the use of aluminium and rubber—materials not usually associated with luxury watches. Add to that a colour palette comprising black and grey, and the watch looks incredibly elegant yet sporty. A black rubber bezel, bearing the brands name—a signature element of the Bulgari Bulgari collection—mounted on a 40mm aluminium case, makes for a prominent feature. Its quintessential panda dial features a grey base with three black sub-dials. There are 30-minute and 12-hour chronograph counters positioned at nine and six o’clock, respectively. The running seconds counter is positioned at three o’clock with a date window between four and five o’clock. The red-tipped central chronograph hand stands legible against the combination of grey and black. Running this watch is the Bulgari calibre B130, an automatic movement that runs at a frequency of 28,800vph and provides a power reserve of 42 hours. This watch is presented on a black rubber strap and it is water-resistant to 100m.

  • The Watch Guide

    When it comes to innovative design and superb engineering, Bulgari is certainly a force to reckon with. Their Bulgari Aluminium Chronograph, which was launched in 2020, proves this

  • The Watch Guide

    What makes this timepiece unique is the use of aluminium and rubber—materials not usually associated with luxury watches

  • The Watch Guide

    Add to that a colour palette comprising black and grey, and the watch looks incredibly elegant yet sporty

  • The Watch Guide

    A black rubber bezel, bearing the brands name—a signature element of the Bulgari Bulgari collection—mounted on a 40mm aluminium case, makes for a prominent feature

  • The Watch Guide

    Its quintessential panda dial features a light grey base with three black sub-dials. There are 30-minute and 12-hour chronograph counters positioned at nine and six o’clock, respectively

Bvlgari Bvlgari
BVLGARI BVLGARI BVLGARI

Carl F. Bucherer Heritage BiCompax Annual

Moving on to our first semi-panda watch of the lot, the Heritage BiCompax, despite missing a ‘mouth’, is a handsome timepiece that has a delightful retro vibe. A semi-panda dial refers to only two sub-dials, as in this example. The Heritage BiCompax is inspired by a chronograph produced by the brand in 1956, and it shows. The layout is unmistakably retro, exemplified by the design of the case, curved lines, the domed sapphire crystal and elongated push buttons for the chronograph. But this modest-looking timepiece packs quite a punch, with a date and annual calendar complication included too. This 41mm watch is powered by the CFB 1972 calibre that gives it a power reserve of 42 hours. Enclosed in a brushed and polished steel case, this timepiece is water resistant to 30m. 

The Watch Guide

With a chronograph, date function and an annual calendar complication, this watch packs quite a punch

The Watch Guide

The retro styling works in favour of this watch with the design of the case, curved lines, the domed sapphire crystal and elongated push buttons for the chronograph

Carl F. Bucherer Heritage Bicompax
Carl F. Bucherer Heritage

Girard-Perregaux Laureato

Let’s address the elephant in the room first. The Gérald Genta-inspired force is strong with this one. But if you’re able to overlook that, as a true aficionado would, you’ll come to realise that the Girard-Perregaux Laureato is an excellent purchase in its own right. Apart from its pure panda watch face, the first thing you notice is the dial itself, decorated with a stamped Clous de Paris pattern. The sub-dials are placed in a way that balances the layout beautifully. But if balanced is what the company was going for, one begins to question the placement of the date aperture on the dial between four and five. However, little quirks aside, this tough 42mm chronograph is constructed out of 904L steel, and is powered by the GP03300-0137 calibre that gives this watch a power reserve of minimum 46 hours. All of this makes for a very usable and versatile watch that looks great even in a boardroom setting. 

The Watch Guide
The Girard-Perregaux Laureato is constructed from 904L steel, and is powered by the GP03300-0137 calibre that gives this watch a minimum power reserve of 46 hours

Maurice Lacroix Aikon Chronograph

The Aikon Chronograph has a vertical panda dial, which means that the sub-dials are placed on the six, nine and 12 positions. This 44mm chronograph has masculine look all over, and it retains the integrated case from its predecessor, the Calypso, a lug-less design that has the case blending into the bracelet. The Aikon is powered by the ML112 automatic movement that gives this watch a power reserve of 48 hours. Its stainless steel construction makes this a robust watch for everyday wear, and adding to its practicality is the water resistance of 200m.

Maurice Lacroix
This vertical panda dial watch is a signature Maurice Lacroix, with its ‘clawed’ bezel design and has a masculine look all over

Parmigiani Tondagraph GT

If luxury sports watches entice you, then Parmigiani Fleurier’s stellar repertoire can be your trusted point of reference. The Parmigiani Tondagraph GT impresses at a number of levels. Its clean and functional design, coupled with impressive engineering, make it a desirable watch. Its 42mm case, made of stainless steel, houses its silver-hued dial, adorned with a ‘clou triangulaire’ guilloche pattern. With the date window positioned right beneath the Parmigiani Fleurier logo at 12 o’clock, the dial also features Super-LumiNova-coated, delta-shaped hands. Three black sub-dials give this timepiece a distinctive appeal. At three o’clock you can see the small seconds sub-dial, with a month indication within it. Sub-dials at six o’clock for the 12-hour counter and at nine o’clock for the 30-minute counter, can also be distinctly seen. Running this watch is the in-house PF043 automatic movement, which beats at 28,800vph and packs a power reserve of 45 hours. Presented on a black vulcanised rubber strap or an integrated steel bracelet, this watch is water-resistant to 100m.

The Watch Guide

The Parmigiani Tondagraph GT's clean and functional design, coupled with impressive engineering, make it a desirable watch. It comes in a 42mm case, made of stainless steel

The Watch Guide

Its silver-hued dial is adorned with a ‘clou triangulaire’ guilloche pattern, with the date window positioned right beneath the Parmigiani Fleurier logo at 12 o’clock

The Watch Guide

Three black sub-dials give this timepiece a distinctive appeal. The sub-dials at six o’clock is for the 12-hour chronograph counter and at nine o’clock, for the 30-minute counter

The Watch Guide

At three o’clock you can see the small seconds sub-dial, with a month indication within it

Raymond Weil Freelancer Men’s Automatic Chronograph

If you’re looking for a versatile timepiece that balances form with function, your answer lies in the Raymond Weil Freelancer Automatic Chronograph. Its silver, satin-brushed dial provides a perfect backdrop to its three black sub-dials. There are 12-hour and 30-minute counters at six o’clock and 12 o’clock, respectively. You can see the 60-second counter at nine o’clock. The dial also features the day and date windows positioned at three o’clock, Super-LumiNova-coated hands and indices along with a tachymeter scale on the periphery. Sized at 42mm, its stainless steel case lends this watch a wholesome look. This timepiece runs on the automatic calibre RW5200, which runs at a frequency of 28,800vph and provides a power reserve of 48 hours. It comes with a brown leather strap and is water-resistant to 100m.

The Watch Guide

The Raymond Weil Freelancer Automatic Chronograph is more of a sideways-panda dial, with the sub-dials at 12, nine and six, instead of three, six and nine o'clock

The Watch Guide

Sized at 42mm, its stainless steel case houses the automatic calibre RW5200, which runs at a frequency of 28,800vph and provides a power reserve of 48 hours

Raymond Weil Freelancer
Raymond Weil Freelancer

Tissot PRC 200 IIHF 2020 Special Edition

In case you are hunting for a watch that’s casual and sporty, Tissot’s PRC 200 IIHF 2020 Special Edition might fit your bill. Its 42mm case, crafted in 316L stainless steel, makes a striking statement. Its panda-style dial comprises a silver-coloured base, with three black sub-dials. The 10th-of-a-second counter is placed at two o’clock, while the 30-minute counter is at 10 o’clock, and the small second sub-dial is at six. Between four and five o’clock, you can see a neatly positioned date window. There is also tachymeter scale on the periphery of the dial. On the reverse, the caseback features the logo of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). This watch marks Tissot’s long association with IIHF. The brand has been their official timekeeper for 20 years. Additionally, Tissot also sponsors the Swiss Ice Hockey Federation. Powering this timepiece is the ETA G10.212 quartz calibre. Presented on a blue rubber strap, it is water-resistant to 200m.

  • The Watch Guide

    Tissot’s PRC 200 IIHF 2020 Special Edition, in 316L stainless steel, makes a striking statement, with is panda-style dial and blue strap

  • The Watch Guide

    Water-resistant to 200m, the case houses the ETA G10.212 quartz calibre

  • The Watch Guide

    The 10th-of-a-second counter is at two o’clock, while the 30-minute counter is at 10, and the small seconds at six o'clock. Between four and five o’clock is the date window

  • The Watch Guide

    On the reverse, the caseback features the logo of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). Tissot has been their official timekeeper for 20 years

  • The Watch Guide

    The Tissot 'T' emblem is seen on the crown, which is flanked by the two chrongoraph push-pieces

Tissot Prc 200 IIHF 2020 Special Edition
Tissot Special Collections

Zenith Chronomaster Revival El Primero A384

Think of iconic watch movements and the first name that comes to mind is Zenith’s El Primero. Launched in 1969, the original El Primero was the first high-frequency integrated automatic chronograph calibre—vibrating at 36,000vph and capable of measuring 1/10th of a second. This movement was housed in the original Zenith A384, which was revived in 2019, as the brand unveiled the Chronomaster Revival El Primero A384—a watch that drew significant inspiration from the original edition. This dexterously crafted timepiece is defined by its 37mm tonneau-shaped case crafted in steel. Its white, lacquered dial with three black sub-dials features a panda-style layout, along with a tachymeter scale on the periphery. The 12-hour and 30-minute chronograph counters are placed at six o’clock and three o’clock, respectively. There is a small seconds counter at nine o’clock, along with a date window placed between four and five o’clock. At the core of this timepiece sits the El Primero 400 automatic calibre, which beats at 36,000vph and packs a power reserve of 50 hours. This watch comes with either a black alligator strap or a bracelet made of stainless steel. Additionally, it is water-resistant to 50m.

The Watch Guide

Launched in 1969, the original El Primero was the first high-frequency integrated automatic chronograph calibre—capable of measuring 1/10th of a second

The Watch Guide

This movement was housed in the original Zenith A384, which was revived in 2019, as the brand unveiled the Chronomaster Revival El Primero A384

The Watch Guide

At the core of this timepiece sits the El Primero 400 automatic calibre, which beats at 36,000vph and packs a power reserve of 50 hours

The Watch Guide

The hour markers and hands have sufficient Super-LumiNova, which makes for better readability in the dark

 Zenith Chronomaster El Primero

This variant of the Chronomaster is quite interesting because it makes use of four different hues on a single watch. When it comes to watches, execution is key, or even a two-tone watch could end up in chintzy territory. Here, there were four colours to balance, and the way Zenith has executed it is absolutely incredible. The sub-dials overlap, and yet remain distinctly separated. The use of different hues obviously helps this cause, but it’s effortless even in the pure panda dial variant.  The Chronomaster has a 42mm rose gold and stainless steel case, within which beats the famed automatic El Primero movement offering a minimum 50-hour power reserve.

This Zenith Chronomaster doesn’t follow norm when it comes to panda-dials, but looks exquisite nevertheless

Click here to see our handpicked selection of watches with inverse panda dials

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2 comments
  • Christian BOMMER September 10, 2021 at 3:00 am

    Pls. send me you special offer for a parmigiani tondagraph GT, 42 mm, Panda Dial

    Best regards

    Christian

    • Ranvijaysinh Jhala September 10, 2021 at 2:45 pm

      Hello Christian,

      Thank you for your interest in the Parmigiani Tondagraph GT. For any help related to availability, prices and special offers, you can call the Ethos luxury watch helpline and speak to one of the consultants. The numbers are +91 8725028882 or 8725016301, and the helpline is open between 11:00am and 6:00pm, Monday to Saturday.

      Thank you for reading!
      The Watch Guide

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