Their white dial and black subdials earned them this nickname. Taking inspiration from the chronographs of the 60s and 70s, panda watches are the perfect example of a neo-vintage trend taking the watchmaking world by storm. They boast different counters according to the maison which produces them. Here is our selection of models for every budget, every bit as endearing as this adorable Chinese animal.
Paul Newman’s Rolex Cosmograph Daytona brought them to fame. So-called “panda” chronographs are coming back into style and often feature on collections of luxury watchmakers (Rolex, Tissot, Tudor, IWC, Zenith, etc). Here is a selection made by Frank Sans C in his latest video.
IWC Portugieser Chronograph and Automatic
IWC plays around with the aesthetics of the iconic Portugieser model with these two panda editions. In the chronograph version, the navy blue subdials are displayed vertically.
This unique watch was nominated for the MONTRE DE L’ANNÉE 2022 awards, in the €5,001 to €10,000 category. This event, organised by Frank Sans C, took place on November 7.
With its retro look, this 41mm steel instrument boasts a perlage movement and a remarkably accurate scale on the quarter-second subdial. The chronometer stops and starts with an IWC-manufactured calibre and its column wheel. The watch’s power reserve lasts up to 46 hours. It comes on a flexible sporty strap, with a fine lattice pattern that provides optimal ventilation and comfort. Perfect for playing sports.
On the automatic version, the counters are displayed horizontally. The watch is powered by a calibre (visible through a sapphire caseback). The Pellaton winding system works with the movement of the wrist – and never stops. The 7-day power reserve often works overtime. Nothing to complain about these remarkable calibres which skillfully combine depth and decoration.
See our technical specifications for the IWC Portugieser Chronograph – Price: €8,950
See our technical specifications for the IWC Portugieser Automatic – Price: €13,300
Tissot PRX Automatic Chronograph
We wrote about this one at length in our article Tissot PRX, the latest most wanted watch and in our video with Tony Parker and the CEO of Tissot, Sylvain Dolla. The PRX is one of the biggest watchmaking successes of 2022. This is reflected by its selection in the MONTRE DE L’ANNÉE awards, in its automatic chronograph version in 42mm diameter 316L steel version. Frank Sans C presented this model in his video on the topic of panda watches. This one stands out from the crowd because of a small detail. It perfectly illustrates the difference between a “classic” panda and a reverse panda: the latter displays a dark dial with light counters. Here, the dark blue of the vertically brushed dial stands in contrast with the silver of the counters.
This aesthetically distinctive duo is powered by a reliable and precise Valjoux calibre, which can be seen through a transparent caseback. The subtly adorned mechanism delivers approximately 60 hours of power reserve. These PRXs are paired with a steel strap that can be switched out at will to suit any outfit. And to top it all off, this all-terrain watch boasts excellent value for money.
See our technical specifications for the Tissot PRX Automatic Chronograph in the white dial and black counters version, and the blue dial and white counters version.
HAMILTON Intra-Matic Auto Chrono
The Intra-Matic collection from Hamilton, launched in 2017, now includes a chronograph model, mounted on a Milanese steel mesh bracelet for a comfortable fit. This model, inspired by a 1968 timepiece, is a perfect expression of the retro trend still very much alive in watchmaking today.
With its off-white dial and black counters (also available in a blue dial and off-white counters), the Intra-Matic Auto Chrono will appeal to lovers of vintage watches and collectors alike. It features hands coated in a luminescent material, which Vagram (cameraman on the Frank Sans C team) demonstrates in the video with “luminovesque” talent. The whole is encased in a 40mm steel case, equipped with two pushers and an oversized crown that takes nothing away from the look of the watch – but rather adds to it. The whole thing beats to the rhythm of an automatic H-31 calibre with a date function (located at 6 o’clock) and has a 60-hour power reserve. A small drawback: this is quite a thick watch. Although for some, that might not be a drawback at all, as the smooth caseback offers a beautiful fit.
See our technical specifications for the Hamilton Intra-Matic Auto Chrono.
TUDOR Black Bay Chrono
The cherry on top of this selection – and our house YouTuber’s favourite – the Black Bay Chrono in 41mm steel ticks all the boxes for an impeccably chic sports watch.
This watch sports the classic panda style with its opaline dial and two black counters. It holds a manufacture calibre with COSC (Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres) certification, and a quite comfortable 70-hour power reserve. For a stronger vintage look, the instrument boasts a fixed bezel in 316L matte black steel, a tachymetric scale, and the signature snowflake hands. This watch is water-resistant up to 200 metres and will make the ideal companion for diving and extreme sports (see our article on water resistance in watches). The Black Bay Chrono is available on a steel bracelet, as well as black leather or black fabric.
See our technical specifications for the Tudor Black Bay in steel, opaline dial and black counters.