Watches By Material: 5 ceramic watches to put on your radarZach Blass
Ceramic watches can add a lot of value and fun to your collection. They have a more modern (and sometimes more colourful) aesthetic that looks playful, but is also incredibly robust. Ceramic is highly scratch-resistant and will maintain a more pristine look over time. It requires a lot force to crack the material, and short of Super Smash Bros Falcon Punching a doorknob the watch should be safe on your wrist. With summer approaching, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, we thought now would be a good time to once again explore how ceramic can potentially brighten up your collection. Here are five more ceramic watches that may be worthy of your consideration, or at least admiration.
Rado Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic
Rado has a longstanding history with ceramics, and the latest entry is one of the most compelling yet: the Rado Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic Collection. When we discuss value divers, typically the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight comes to the forefront. The Rado Captiain Cook High-Tech Ceramic watches are equally competitive to the aforementioned BB58, with both advantages and disadvantages – in life there are always trade-offs. The Rado Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic is a larger watch, 43mm in diameter and 14.6mm thick. But the Rado is cased in high-tech and highly scratch resistant ceramic, and is even available with a ceramic bracelet.
The movement inside the Rado, the caliber 734, packs in 80 hours of power reserve – 10 hours more than what the BB58 delivers. The Rado, while thicker and larger, has the advantage of 300 metres of water-resistance compared to the 200 metre depth rating of the Tudor BB58. It also has a sapphire dial that allows you to see the front of the movement, an aesthetic unavailable in the Tudor BB58 collection. Price: starting at $3,300 USD depending on the configuration.
Audemars Piguet Code 11:59 Flyback Chronographs
The watch may not be full ceramic, but I made an exception for this two-tone watch that incorporates a black ceramic middle case. This creates interesting contrast and, in my opinion, a more modern and pleasant take on the two-tone format. The Audemars Piguet Code 11:59 Flyback Chronographs incorporate the best of traditional and modern methods. As an example, the lugs are fabricated through a cutting-edge heated conveyor belt and later finished by hand with the root of a specific tree. The dials also feature subtle gradients that seemingly shine a spotlight on its centre, further revealing the hand-applied vertical satin-brushed texture. Like the Royal Oak upon its introduction in 1972, the Code 11:59 was not immediately well-received by the community. But like a fine wine it is getting better with age and refinement. Price: CHF38,650.
IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Shock Absorber XPL
The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Shock Absorber XPL is not necessarily an example of a watch you will likely see a lot of in the wild. But what I love about the watch is how it reaffirms IWC as the leading manufacturer of pilot’s designs. The 44mm x 12mm Ceratanium® case is able to withstand accelerations in excess of 30,000 g. That is at least 10,000 times more than what an astronaut experiences in a rocket launch. IWC, in partnership with with the Fracture & Shock Physics group at the Cavendish Laboratory of Cambridge University in England, fully tested the watch to get that g-force rating – if the watch was hit on a hard surface within the cockpit it was found to still withstand 300-1000g of force. Among many innovations, the incredible shock resistance is primarily the result of the new patented SPRIN-g PROTECT system.
According to IWC, “At the heart of this system is a cantilever spring that protects the movement against the g-forces generated by impacts. It cushions the movement, allowing it to keep moving independently of the case before bringing it to a stop more gently.”
The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Shock Absorber XPL is the result of eight years of development, the first product to come out of IWC’s new Enginering Division “IWC Experimental” with only ten pieces made each year. Price: Upon Request.
The Chanel J12 received some significant upgrades in recent years, part of which can be attributed to the brand’s long history with ceramic and acquired stake in the Kenissi movement manufacturer alongside Tudor and Breitling. In fact, the caliber inside the Chanel J12 is from the same ebauche family as the Tudor MT5600 movements – which means it is also a COSC-certified 28,800 vph movement with a full balance bridge and 70 hours of power reserve. The ceramic case, whether in black or white, is 38mm in diameter, 12.6mm thick, and now 200 metres water resistant with a screw-down crown – a much improved upgrade from the 50 metre depth rating of earlier models.
While Chanel is not primarily known for watchmaking, they have really stepped up their game of late and the J12 is a competitive diver that will appeal to a wide range of buyers. While almost twice the price of a Tudor BB58, The Chanel J12 has the advantage of being offered in a highly scratch resistant case with a ceramic bezel and bracelet. So with the higher price tag you get to wear the brand power of Chanel and some serious tech upgrades to the externals. Price: $6,200 USD.
Hublot Big Bang Unico Yellow Magic
As a native son of NYC, I really appreciated Shane’s description of this colour as having the vibrancy of “a summer sun lighting up a New York taxi cab”. The Hublot Big Bang Unico Yellow Magic shows the manufacture’s excellence in the art of fusion and material science, introducing a vibrant yellow ceramic case with black accents. In my opinion, this watch reminds me of the Transformer Bumblebee. The watch, 42mm in diameter and 14.5mm thick is a much more tameable diameter than some of their larger creations, and it’s yellow palette has definitely arrived in time for the summer season (for the Northern Hemisphere at least). Price CHF 24,900, limited edition of 250 pieces.