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Black watches from Baselworld - Black is black

Black watches from Baselworld Black is black

... sometimes even blacker than black. Watchmakers are increasingly turning to the dark side to create “total black” models. This is the first part of our mini-series on black watches.

As we saw at Baselworld, black watches are in. And we’re not just talking about watches with a black dial and a black strap: no, watches are increasingly sporting ultra-black cases and even black movements, particularly in skeleton watches. So, following on from the automotive industry’s flirtation with black vehicles of every size and shape, watchmaking is going full black, and every style of watch is affected: sports watches, classic watches, haute horlogerie and the avant-garde, as well as women’s watches and jewellery watches.

The cases of these “total black” watches are generally made of stainless steel, titanium or ceramic. While ceramic is relatively easy to colour, this is not the case with steel. Two coating techniques are used to produce a jet-black finish: PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition) and DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon). The majority of the timepieces presented here make use of these technologies.

Ultranero. The new Octo by Bulgari is defined by its colour. Produced in Finissimo Tourbillon, Solotempo and Velocissimo (chronograph) versions, it comes in a titanium (for the tourbillon) or DLC-treated steel case, and its dark looks are enhanced by a lacquered or polished dial and bezel, with matching alligator or rubber strap. The pink gold hands, indexes and crown – capped with a black ceramic insert – lift and lighten the total black look. Here, black provides a particularly elegant costume, particularly in the tourbillon version, driven by the BVL 268 calibre, the world’s thinnest tourbillon movement.


Raymond Weil also goes for the darkly sophisticated look in its new Freelander Squelette Black, whose black PVD-treated steel case, black crown, dial and leather strap are offset by the gilded indices and hands. The self-winding skeletonised mechanical movement, calibre RW4215, with its ruthenium finish, adds to the mystery of the piece.


Carl F. Bucherer puts a contemporary face on its famous GMT model, with a deep matt DLC-treated steel case and bracelet, driven by manufacture calibre CFB 1901.1, COSC-certified and capable of displaying three time zones simultaneously. The Patravi TravelTec Black provides optimum readability against its dark dial thanks to light-coloured hands, chronograph registers and indexes.


At Baselworld 2016 Chronoswiss unveiled two new models in its classic Sirius collection that are likely to appeal to the Lucerne-based watchmaker’s younger and more daring clients. The Sirius Flying Regulator and the Sirius Flying Regulator Jumping Hour, equipped with automatic manufacture calibres C.122 and C.283 respectively, feature a DLC-treated stainless steel case and galvanised black dial, giving the traditional regulator display and slim round case a very contemporary chic, amplified by a sporty red regulator hand and carmine stitching.


The stunning Epic SF24 by Jacob & Co., with its vertical digital GMT movement, comes this year in a Racing version, available in several colours. The all black model has a DLC-treated grade 5 titanium case which is particularly good match for this powerful-looking timepiece. Dial, hands, indexes and, of course, strap – everything is black, except for the name of the time zone city, in the iconic split-flap display, and the charming jumping hour cam located between 1 and 2 o’clock.


The new Academy Tourbillon Georges Favre-Jacot by Zenith has a 45 mm black ceramic case. The dial-less design features black faceted luminescent hands and indices, which stand out against the splendid movement: the new manually-wound El Primero 4805 with a tourbillon at 6 o’clock and a fusée-and-chain at 10.30 and 1.30. These are the lightest elements of the watch, standing out visually against the anthracite mainplate and bridges. The dark theme continues with a perforated rubber strap with PVD-treated titanium folding clasp.


TAG Heuer has also chosen ceramic for its new Carrera-Heuer-01 model, which is also available in titanium and steel. The caseband, lugs, bezel and pushers on the 45 mm case are made of ceramic, while the black cutout dial and its registers open onto the Heuer 01 manufacture chronograph movement, whose black upper bridge is skeletonised.


Total black is not a new idea for Hublot: this year, it celebrates the tenth anniversary of its “All Black” concept, and it does so with a rather contradictory piece. The case of the Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black, as its name suggests, is made of black smoked sapphire. Every other element of the watch is black: the dial is black translucent composite resin, and the screws, crown, pushers and clasp are manufactured from PVD-treated titanium, as are the components of the HUB 1242 UNICO movement. As a final touch of sophistication, even the luminous coating on the hands and indexes is black! The result is a transparent all-black watch.


And there’s more...
In addition to the models presented above, the photo gallery continues our exploration of black with timepieces by Hamilton, Czapek, Romain Gauthier, Seiko, Ulysse Nardin, Armin Strom, Girard-Perregaux and HYT. Click on the big image at the top of the page.

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