In the western world, green is thought to bring bad luck. In the Arab-Muslim world, it is the colour of the Prophet and as such is both sacred and highly prized. And in Asia, it is the colour of jade, a collector’s stone believed to be capable of driving people mad and which was featured in the Jaquet Droz one-off creation: the Petite Heure Minute Serpent Relief. In watchmaking, green is just as tricky to use. It does however have its followers. In particular, it happens to be the colour selected by Rolex for its entire graphic universe – and is of course found in the brand’s watches. But beyond this, green is still a colour that tends to be somewhat marginalised and requires particularly delicate handling.
Having emerged as part of the broadened palette of shades used for watches, where blue, red and grey are already firmly established, green mostly appears as fluorescent or military touches. And on any exceptions to this rule, it tends to be discreet. In this respect, the green used on the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat GMT is so dark that it actually looks black in dim light.
Fluorescent green is an ingredient that has become greatly valued among watchmakers over the past four years. It breaks the monotony of black on PVD cases, lights up steel and gives watches a slightly tangy flavour – to the point that it has become a short cut for signalling strong technical content. Like the graphic universe of cinema, this green is active – and sometimes even radio-active – as evidenced in models by de Grisogono and its Meccanico DG, or Richard Mille’s RM61-01, dedicated to Yohann Blake.
In spite of everything, the military side of things is the most popular. To blend with the surroundings, or imitate army or air force codes, a khaki shade of green is a firm current favourite. It has been used for the entire bulk-dyed ceramic of the BR03-92 Military Ceramic model. And one step further in the desire to merge with the background takes us into the world of camouflage motifs, such as the one used by RSW for the dial of the Diving Tool Camo.
But in Europe, green is first and foremost the colour of fairies. And it is most likely for this reason that Van Cleef & Arpels chose it for the background of its Poetic Astronomy watch dedicated to the Zodiac sign of Virgo, on which the character with a diamond head featured on the dial looks exactly like a magical and elusive little creature flitting around magical meadows...