Watches: The irresistible appeal of black
By Thierry Ané on July 30, 2014
Trends come and go in the watch industry as they do in fashion. Nothing seems permanent and the “it” colour of this year’s Geneva and Basel fairs may very well be completely out-of-fashion next year. However, when they invest in something as pricey as a timepiece, style is not the only concern for many watch aficionados: they also expect a certain degree of timelessness.
When it comes to finding a shade for your wrist that balances these apparently incompatible requirements, nothing beats the good all black! For this reason, the black-on-black trend is not going away anytime soon. Since it flooded the market, nearly every watch brand, from mass-market and inexpensive to high-end and pricey, offers an “all-black” model in its collections.
There is nothing smarter and more masculine than the colour of the night. But what makes it so successful is its incredible versatility: any “all-black” watch can be worn with everything from sweatpants to a tuxedo. They are not the prerogative of young and trendy watch lovers: whatever your age and lifestyle, they will blend in smoothly.
It goes without saying, though, that in order to achieve this level of flexibility, it has to be uncompromisingly black! The case, the dial and even the strap must be ebony-coloured. A little touch of white to make the dial legible is the only slip from the monochromatic black look we will tolerate to include a watch in this category.
It would be a mistake, however, to think that all the watches meeting this very strict bill of specifications are the same. “All-black” watches come in every imaginable shape, material, style and price range. Bulky or thin, sporty or dressy, moderately-priced or extravagantly expensive: there are indeed models to cater for all tastes. And the list of the most beautiful “all-black” models introduced since the beginning of the year you will find below is purposely extremely eclectic so that every watch aficionado can find his dream black-on-black watch.
De Bethune DB28 Dark Shadows
The first model of this selection comes from a true Haute Horology manufacture and proves that traditional watchmaking and contemporary design get along very well. The tambour case of the DB28 Dark Shadows is crafted in sandblasted anthracite zirconium and features the brand’s iconic floating lugs. The openwork dial presents a matt black ruthenium finish centre with Côtes de Genève decorations and a sandblasted anthracite zirconium hours ring. The De Bethune spherical moon-phase indication in palladium and polished anthracite zirconium is the highlight of this dial at 6 o’clock. The DB28 Dark Shadows houses the in-house DB 2115 calibre. The manually-wound movement with 6 days of power reserve boasts a superlative finish and can be admired through the sapphire exhibition case back.
Girard-Perregaux Traveller ww.tc Chronograph
To achieve the all-black look, Girard-Perregaux opted for a black ceramic case with a brushed finish paired with a beautiful black rubberized alligator strap on the new Traveller ww.tc Chronograph that I discussed in details in a previous articleFlash News: Girard-Perregaux Traveller ww.tc Chronograph Black DLC Titanium (+live pics) containing live pictures. The case of the ww.tc has been completely revamped and the black dial of the watch is engraved with meridians and parallels to subtly evoke the globe. Without breaking the tone-on-tone look, subtle touches of white are still used for the dial indications and to represent the "day" on the bi-colour 24-hour disc. The sapphire crystal on the back reveals the arrow-shaped oscillating weight of the GP03300 calibre equipped with a chronograph in addition to the world time function.
Hublot Big Bang Unico All Black
Hublot is the inventor of the all-black look and, in all honesty, no brand pulls it out better than the Nyon-based manufacture. Every year Hublot offers so many stunning black-on-black models that it is always difficult to select only one. The Big Bang Unico All Black that I have retained for this article belongs to the version 2.0 of the Big Bang collection introduced in 2013. I refer you to my previous articleWatches: Hublot Big Bang Unico All Black and Carbon (+live pics) to discover more about this Big Bang Unico All Black and its partner the Big Bang Unico Carbon that both joined this Big Bang Unico line this year. Crafted in black ceramic and fitted with a black structured, ribbed natural rubber, the Big Bang Unico All Black houses the famous HUB 1242 Unico movement, the brand’s in-house flyback chronograph movement with the column-wheel visible from the dial side. As usual, Hublot makes no concession to the all-black look: the Arabic numerals and hands of the sapphire dial are filled with black SuperLuminova for a perfectly stealth look.
IWC Aquatimer Chronograph Edition Galapagos Islands
2014 was the year of the Aquatimer for the Schaffhausen manufacture and among the new diver’s watches was an all-back limited edition in support of the Charles Darwin Foundation. The Aquatimer Chronograph Edition Galapagos Islands presents a stainless steel 44 mm case covered with black vulcanized rubber and mounted on a black rubber strap with texturized pattern secured by a black PVD steel pin buckle. The dial is all-black with only the hands and hour markers in white. The diving scale on the inner rotating bezel is also white but do not really disturb the gloomy look of the watch. Water resistant to 300 meters, the Aquatimer Chronograph Edition Galapagos Islands is powered by the self-winding 89365 with a flyback chronograph function.
JeanRichard 1681 Coussin Central Second Nocturnal Adventurers
The 1681 Coussin Central Second Nocturnal Adventurers is the living proof that the stealthy “all-black” look is equally fitting for a refined timepiece as it is on a sporty one like the IWC model discussed above. The black PVD coating works beautifully on the refined 46 mm modular stainless steel cushion-shaped case of the 1681 collection. It is paired here with a black calfskin Barenia leather strap secured by a black PVD steel folding buckle and a magnificent black lacquered dial with black Arabic numerals and hour markers and elegant leaf-shaped black hands filled with sand-coloured SuperLuminova. The date disc is also black in order not to spoil the beautiful harmony and the date numbers are painted in the same sand colour as the luminescent material in the hands. This elegant timepiece that I already discussed in my overview of the Nocturnal Adventurers collectionWatches: JeanRichard Nocturnal Adventurers Collection hides the in-house JR1000 calibre. This self-winding movement can be observed through the sapphire case back.
Tag Heuer Monaco V4 Tourbillon
Another prowess of Haute Horology with the Monaco V4 Tourbillon and a world’s first for Tag Heuer: a tourbillon cage driven by belts! From the front or back, the show is breathtaking and confirms the incredible know-how of the brand. Here again, those interested will find live pictures of this model in my previous articleWatches: Tag Heuer Monaco V4 Tourbillon (+live pics). For the purpose of this article, let me just mention the 41 x 41 mm square titanium case with a black DLC coating, the black alligator strap with a folding buckle matching the case and of course the all-black finish of the movement.
Urwerk UR-105M Dark Knight
Known for their innovative mechanics and innovative designs, Urwerk also jumped on the “all-black” bandwagon this year with the stunning UR-105M Dark Knight. The futuristic spaceship-like case of this surprising watch is in black DLC titanium adorned with an AlTiN-coated steel bezel. The strap is in black alligator and the folding buckle is crafted in black DLC titanium. Here again white indications are used to mark the hours on the satellites and for the sectorial minutes track. Inside this watch beats the manually-wound UR 5.01 calibre: in addition to the satellite hours and retrograde minutes this complex movement offers lateral seconds on the case band as well as power reserve and oil change indicators on the case back.
For more information please visit the following web sites:
For a technical description of the timepieces and additional pictures:
De Bethune DB28 Dark Shadows Sandblasted Anthracite Zirconium
Girard-Perregaux Traveller ww.tc Chronograph Black DLC Titanium
Hublot Big Bang Unico All Black Black Ceramic
IWC Aquatimer Chronograph Edition Galapagos Islands Black Vulcanized Rubber Steel
JeanRichard 1681 Coussin Central Second Nocturnal Adventurers Black DLC Steel
Tag Heuer Monaco V4 Tourbillon Black DLC Titanium
Urwerk UR-105M Dark Knight Black DLC Titanium and AlTiN-Coated Steel