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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been wondering for a long time what is the best hand/dial contrast.

Most dive watches are white hands and markers on black dial. However, books are printed black on white.

Green is the color the human eye is most sensitive to, I read. Also read Orange is the color that can best be seen at great depths under water and many divers have orange hands on black dial with green lume.

However, if you have a white dial and black hands, at least in normal use, the white dial would reflect so much light that the black hands would be easy to see. Add lume for night visibility. It is possible that the white dial would be too bright in the sun, though, and be over-shining the hands.

Then there are fully lumed dials. True beacons. In theory a fully lumed dial with black/orange hands should win, no?

I have white and black dial watches and tried it out. But frankly, I can't quite decide.

Are there any articles or commonly known facts on that?

Till
 

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I've been wondering for a long time what is the best hand/dial contrast.

Most dive watches are white hands and markers on black dial. However, books are printed black on white.

Green is the color the human eye is most sensitive to, I read. Also read Orange is the color that can best be seen at great depths under water and many divers have orange hands on black dial with green lume.

However, if you have a white dial and black hands, at least in normal use, the white dial would reflect so much light that the black hands would be easy to see. Add lume for night visibility. It is possible that the white dial would be too bright in the sun, though, and be over-shining the hands.

Then there are fully lumed dials. True beacons. In theory a fully lumed dial with black/orange hands should win, no?

I have white and black dial watches and tried it out. But frankly, I can't quite decide.

Are there any articles or commonly known facts on that?

Till
I don't have the science to make any kind of informed statement regarding the various colors... I heard that yellow objects can be identified the quickest in normal conditions, so that might be useful in terms of glancing down at your watch, but yellow also washes out underwater compared to other colors, so that seems to be a wash... Orange is great underwater, but I don't know how good it is on land...

As for the black/white or white/black debate, it's worth pointing out that books are printed in black on white because historically, it would have been nearly impossible to print them the other way around, and once the tech became available, it would have been economically prohibitive. I suppose today some sort of commercial laser printing technology could make white on black pages in books feasible... I don't know if the lack of white on black books is because the tech still doesn't exist to make it economically viable, if tester pages met with negative reactions from focus groups, or if perhaps scientists proved black on white is in fact the best contrast for reading, so white on black was simply never pursued...

One interesting area to look at regarding the white/black question is eReader technology... It would be simple to display white text on a black background (or, technically speaking, light gray on dark gray), and eReaders are constantly trying to provide the best contrast... Yet as far as I know, there are no white on black eBooks... It may be they exist though...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Good points. Thanks a lot. In printing the most plausible reason is cost. It's less expensive to do black on white because you need less ink. For ebooks when you try inverting your screen on the computer to read it is really hard to read I find.

I think orange is great on land, too. It is probably the number one signal and emergency color. Look at safety vests, street cones and life rafts. Actually a dial coated with the micro beads of glass used in reflective surfaces might be very efficient. I think no one has done that yet. It would also look pretty cool to have that kind of grey/silver dial with orange hands that carry green lume.

Till
 

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Black and white are the highest contrast you can get. White numerals on a black face are picked because the yellowish (or otherwise light colored) luminous material is a very good constrast against the black dial. White hands similarly show the best constrast against the black dial.
 

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I personally really like dark-blue hands on a white dial. But if you think a little that`s close to black hands on a white dial. For clothes I like the red/black contrast but never seen it on a watch :think: (I`m still a noob) it may or may not be good.
 

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i'd say the best hand/dial contrast i've seen myself would be the setup on the original BaliHa'i Project
 

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Black hands on a white dial have the dual benefit of both high contrast and the white dial reflecting rather than absorbing light. Reflected light can help to outline hands in subdued lighting situations.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Black and white are the highest contrast you can get. White numerals on a black face are picked because the yellowish (or otherwise light colored) luminous material is a very good constrast against the black dial. White hands similarly show the best constrast against the black dial.
Black hands on a white dial have the dual benefit of both high contrast and the white dial reflecting rather than absorbing light. Reflected light can help to outline hands in subdued lighting situations.
These are exactly the two main ideas I was trying to balance against one another. From a theoretical perspective white on black or black on white probably has the same contrast as long as the proportions are the same. But from a perception standpoint I still wonder. Unfortunately, I have no watch with exactly the same layout and size one in black and one in white dial.





But if we look at the Explorer II model in white and black, it looks from the picture as if the black dial model does have the easier to read face. The trick is probably that the white hands and similarly colored lume give a bigger surface that appears of one color against the black background. On the white dial model the hands only have a black outline and a light color filling. So the surface is not one contiguous color. This is an effect I've seen with lume dialed watches. It is almost better if the hands aren't lumed or only sparingly so the black hands can stand out against the lume background.

What do you think?

Till
 

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One interesting area to look at regarding the white/black question is eReader technology... It would be simple to display white text on a black background (or, technically speaking, light gray on dark gray), and eReaders are constantly trying to provide the best contrast... Yet as far as I know, there are no white on black eBooks... It may be they exist though...
While everyone is used to black text on a white background with today's computers, remember that it was the original Macintosh that made that popular back in 1984. Prior to that, most displays were bright characters on a dark background...

As for watches, the light colored hands on a black or very dark background is easy to read. It also makes it possible to use luminous materials on the hands and markers as most lume tends to be whitish or some other very light color.

If lume isn't a consideration, I find that the cream colored dials with no-lume black hands and markers used by Glycine to be the easiest to read. That cream color doesn't reflect as much light as a white dial would, and there's a huge contrast between the dial and hands. However, it doesn't work nearly as well if the hands have lume on them.
 

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Of the watches I have, I think the white on black is the easiest to read, though I can't say I've ever paid much attention to it. The watch I'm wearing now is silver hands with white lume on a silver dial with a white inner ring, and I can read it just fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Damasko does hand/dial contrast really well! :-!

Thanks for posting this picture. In comparison with the Rolex picture we can see that here the hands are one black surface. And the contrast is much better. I think the contrast on the white dial model is better between these two.

It also makes me think that there is grey/dark lume material. It is not as bright as the light colored lume but it will still shine. So that could be used on the hands and markers while still keeping them all dark.

Till
 

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These are exactly the two main ideas I was trying to balance against one another. From a theoretical perspective white on black or black on white probably has the same contrast as long as the proportions are the same. But from a perception standpoint I still wonder. Unfortunately, I have no watch with exactly the same layout and size one in black and one in white dial.





But if we look at the Explorer II model in white and black, it looks from the picture as if the black dial model does have the easier to read face. The trick is probably that the white hands and similarly colored lume give a bigger surface that appears of one color against the black background. On the white dial model the hands only have a black outline and a light color filling. So the surface is not one contiguous color. This is an effect I've seen with lume dialed watches. It is almost better if the hands aren't lumed or only sparingly so the black hands can stand out against the lume background.

What do you think?

Till
In that photo, I agree the black is easier to read. In practice, though, the white-gold hands rarely look so bright (or at least consistently so), and often blend in with the black dial--leaving you to read more or less by the lume portion of the hand. For this reason, I've always considered the white ExpII, which has the same readability regardless of how light reflects on the hands, to have the edge over its black counterpart.
 
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