What is A Sandwich Dial – A Deep Dive Into An Iconic Dial

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Even though sandwich dials may not be the most elegant labels when talking about luxury watches, but guess what, for fans of Panerai watches, sandwich dials are a pretty big deal.

While watches with this type of dial used to be popular many years ago, they have fallen below the pecking order with the launch of more modern and sophisticated dials.

Nevertheless, watch collectors still fancy this fantastic dial. Read on to learn more about Panerai sandwich dial and why it was such a big deal back in the days.

Sandwich dial: The unveiling

Just as the name suggests, Panerai sandwich dials use a brilliant layering technique that makes the watch dial comes alive even in the dark. Though this dial was hugely popular among Panerai watches, it wasn’t exclusive to the brand, as other popular watch manufacturers like the Florentine brand opted for sandwich dials as they were bent on creating watches with highly luminescent faces.

While the first Panerai watches to feature the sandwich dial used three layers, the company tweaked things later as they eventually settled for watch dials with two-layer constructions.

With this move, most Panerai sandwich dials featured two separate disks. The bottom layer is designed so that it holds the luminescent material in an index position. With the top layer marked with index cutouts, Panerai sandwich dials are able to shine brighter than other dials on the market.

If you have ever come across a Panerai Sandwich dial, one thing you’ll notice right from the get-go is the brilliant cutout stencil effect.

When Panerai watches first launched, they came fitted with radium materials for their loom. And to keep a solid grip on this breakthrough, Panerai patented it as “Radiomir.” But as the brand evolved, it opted for a tritium-based substance called Luminor to improve its dial’s luminosity further.

Thanks to advancements in watchmaking, Panerai has switched things up slightly as they now use contemporary Super-LumiNova materials for their dials.

Unfortunately, the brand has disappointed many Panerai enthusiasts as the company is shifting away from sandwich dials. Instead, the brand has saved this feature for special releases like the recent Luminor Due modes.

Panerai sandwich dials and their functional design

Even though the Panerai sandwich dial is more of a design statement these days, this incredible watch breakthrough was lauded for its functionality as it pushed watch luminosity to the next level back then.

By making a superb dial using two layers/disks on top of each other, Panerai watch dials were engineered to store more luminous material than ever before. While the brightness of their watches improved significantly, the watch’s legible typography alludes to the brand’s functional design.

If you have ever come across a Panerai sandwich dial, you’ll notice that the watch has Arabic numerals at its four cardinal points. While this wasn’t unusual among watches of that era, this feature was included following a request from the Italian navy.

Another popular thing about sandwich dials is that they featured a not fully closed 6 or 9 numeral. While this was purely functional, it was designed to prevent breaking the stenciled numerals on top of the dial.

Sandwich dial construction

Compared to other dials, sandwich dials have a unique construction that makes them stand out from other dials. For a start, the bottom dial or disk of a sandwich dial features recessed numerals and indices, popularly called the lume-gutter.

Closely following this construction is the top dial which sits perfectly on top of the bottom disk. Even though it also has perforated indices and numerals, its perforations are slightly smaller. This is intentionally designed to allow users to see the filled bottom dial.

Thanks to its brilliant design, only a very few dials are as luminous as the sandwich dial.

Is sandwich dial still used in modern watches?

While most modern watches do not need many luminous materials these days, sandwich dials have evolved superbly. They have proven to be iconic design elements included in some high-end watches nowadays.

As brands strive to outperform each other in a highly competitive watch market, many watch brands have included sandwich dials in their watches to make a statement not very common in the watch industry.

While Panerai still remains the grandfather of the sandwich construction, many watch brands are jumping on the sandwich dial trend, with big names like Oak and Oscar releasing the Burnham model, which featured a sandwich dial. We particularly love the execution of the “7.”

While their design is breathtaking, they experimented with an extra hyphen which gave their sandwich dial a more characteristic look. More so, the inner stenciled circle on their sandwich dial is one of a kind.

Another famous watch brand that is experimenting with sandwich dials nowadays is the Seiko brand. With their recent Map Meter model, Seiko gave sandwich enthusiasts a watch they can be proud of. Called the special tool model, Seiko’s Meter-model features special geographic functions that further highlight the functionality of the sandwich complication.

Frequently asked questions: Learn more about Panerai sandwich dials.

Are Panerai watches collectible?

Thanks to the partnership with the Rolex group and other famous watch brands, Panerai launched some of the finest timepieces ever to grace the watch industry. Even though their timepieces are extremely rare, they are also very collectible especially considering that they infuse the combined expertise of Rolex and Panerai in their watches.

Is Panerai better than Rolex?

If you ever have to choose between Panerai and Rolex, you’ll find things pretty tricky, and that’s because each brand has its unique design and aesthetics. While Rolex is famous for designing watches with more traditional appeal, Panerai is renowned for its contemporary designs and oversized cases. So depending on what you want, you’ll fancy any of these brands.

Do Panerai watches hold value?

Without mincing words, Panerai watches are an excellent investment. Given their breathtaking craftsmanship, brilliant dials, and contemporary design, Panerai watches have been able to retain their value over time. So yes, Panerai watches can hold value and will make a good investment if you ever come across them.

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