Mother-of-pearl is a common material for watch dials, and for good reason. It has a gentle glow, and its natural texture adds more visual interest compared with a plain white dial. While white might be the most popular mother-of-pearl dial color, it also comes in gray, blue, purple, and pink hues. This delicate material comes from inside mollusk shells, and it is difficult to work with, but skilled artisans at top brands showcase their artistic and technical prowess by creating unique dials with different métiers d’art, including marquetry, guilloché, and miniature painting.
The Best Luxury Mother-of-Pearl Watches
Harry Winston Premier Sweet Stars Automatic 36mm
Mother-of-pearl is very thin, so it breaks easily. For this reason, most watchmakers use a single piece of mother-of-pearl for the dial. In fact, Harry Winston showcases its artisans’ expertise in the stunning Premier Sweet Stars Automatic 36mm. It features a mother-of-pearl marquetry dial set with diamonds and rubies, an exceedingly difficult task when working with such a fragile material. The dial depicts a celestial scene from an ancient Chinese legend, the Cowherd and the Weaver Girl, in honor of China’s Qixi Festival. Curves of blue and white mother-of-pearl represent the Milky Way, each studded with diamond stars, and fluffy pink mother-of-pearl clouds peek out from the edges of the dial.
There’s a small pink subdial at 12 o’clock to tell the time. Every element of the watch dial is poetic, down to the seconds. At 6 o’clock, a white mother-of-pearl star rotates once every minute. In addition, the bezel and lugs are fully set with diamonds to finish the glamorous look. The watch also features an automatic movement with a 72-hour power reserve. It comes on a pink alligator strap that nicely complements the pink mother-of-pearl within the dial. Moreover, this watch is limited to just seven pieces.
Breguet Reine de Naples 8908
The shimmering, ethereal look of mother-of-pearl nicely complements a moon phase, and Breguet’s Reine de Naples 8908 is a perfect example of the poetic combination. This statement piece features a white mother-of-pearl dial with a moon-phase indicator at 12 o’clock, as well as a power-reserve indicator. The lower half of the watch displays the time on a guillochéd dial. Hours and minutes are indicated on the main dial, and there’s an offset small seconds subdial at 7 o’clock.
The 28.5mm watch is available in 18K white or yellow gold and comes on a bracelet, too. Both the bezel and the dial flange (the exterior of the dial) are set with diamonds for even more sparkle. The watch has an automatic movement with a 40-hour power reserve and a platinum rotor. The Reine de Naples is one of the oldest watches in the world; founder Abraham-Louis Breguet presented it to Caroline Murat, the Queen of Naples, in 1812.
Bulgari adds an architectural feel to the Lvcea watch by using intarsia marquetry. Instead of using a solid piece of mother-of-pearl, artisans use mother-of-pearl triangles to create a sunray motif. The three-dimensional dial catches the light from multiple angles, showcasing the different mother-of-pearl colors in a unique way. It has 11 diamond hour markers and a date window at 3 o’clock. The 33mm watch has a stainless steel case set with diamonds on the bezel and a pop of color on the crown, which is made from a synthetic cabochon-cut rubellite inset with a diamond. Inside, it features an automatic movement with 42 hours of power reserve that is water-resistant to 50m, making it a great luxury watch for everyday wear.
Patek Philippe Ref. 4948R
This gorgeous watch from Patek Philippe has a white Balinese mother-of-pearl dial that positively glows with the brand’s patented annual calendar and a moon phase. Most calendar watches need to be adjusted at the end of each month that has fewer than 31 days. This annual calendar watch only needs to be corrected once a year, as it keeps track of short and long months. This classic timepiece has three subdials — one for the day of the week, the month, and the moon phase — and the date is in an aperture at 6 o’clock. The watch has an 18K rose gold case, applied gold numerals, and gold hands, which brings out the warmth in the mother-of-pearl. The bezel and lugs are set with diamonds for extra sparkle.
Glashütte Original Lady Serenade
Glashütte Original uses an unusual blue mother-of-pearl dial in this Lady Serenade watch. The watch has a matching blue Alligator leather strap that accents the dial’s sky-blue color and a polished steel case. The blue mother-of-pearl dial is embellished with a geometric motif, applied Roman numerals, and round diamond hour markers. A date aperture is at 6 o’clock. The 36mm watch features an automatic movement with a 40-hour power reserve. The watch exudes an air of femininity while still having impressive craftsmanship.
Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Moon Phase
Vacheron Constantin’s Traditionnelle Moon Phase has an elegant mother-of-pearl dial and an impressive moon phase. The watch has central hour and minute hands, a small seconds subdial at 6 o’clock, a slim moon-phase indicator at 9 o’clock, and a power-reserve indicator at 11 o’clock. This moon phase isn’t just pretty — it’s very accurate and will only need to be corrected once every 122 years if it’s kept wound. The watch has an open caseback that shows the movement’s equally beautiful finishings.
Chopard L.U.C Flying T Twin Ladies
The L.U.C Flying T Twin Ladies features an automatic flying tourbillon. The watch measures 35mm in diameter and has an ultra-thin case that measures 7.47mm — an impressive accomplishment. It’s one of the smallest flying tourbillons that exists. The watch has an 18K gold case set with diamonds and diamond-set indices, too. The watch is also a certified chronometer, so it’s ultra-precise, and it has a stop-seconds function. This means you can stop the seconds when you set the time, maintaining accuracy. It also has a small seconds hand on top of the tourbillon cage. The watch is beautifully finished — it earned the Poinçon de Genève — and has a 65-hour power reserve.