5 of the best ceramic watches of 2023Borna Bošnjak
The history of ceramic in watches stretches more than six decades, used in some form since 1962 with the introduction of the tungsten carbide-cased Rado DiaStar. Though tungsten carbide isn’t quite ceramic as we know it today, it marked the beginning of “scratch-proof” case materials. Omega presented their square, quartz Seamaster Black Tulip cased in cermet, a metal and carbon composite case in the `80s, but the plaudits for producing the first “true” ceramic watch, with a case made of zirconium oxide, goes to IWC and their Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar. Famous for its lightness and incredible scratch-resistance (and brittleness), the material is becoming increasingly more common, especially lately with many brands making huge improvements in terms of coloured ceramics. Let’s get into five of our favourites.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Blue Ceramic
Some watches are ceramic. Some watches are blue. Some are blue and ceramic, and the Royal Oak QP in blue ceramic is the bluest and ceramiciest of them all. Subtle is likely the last word you’d use to describe this watch, as it outdoes the white and black ceramic variants with its faceted azure surfaces. It’s definitely a bit of a love-hate affair, but the fact that it’s a perpetual calendar totally justifies its ridiculousness in my book, though it’s all business in the back, powered by AP’s ultra-thin 5134 calibre.
IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition Lake Tahoe
As pioneers in bringing ceramic to the mass market with the aforementioned Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar, the IWC Pilot’s Watch wasn’t far behind in following suit. That was, of course, the now highly sought-after 1994 Fliegerchronograph 3705 with its black zirconium oxide case. IWC didn’t stop innovating, and one of their most well-received releases of late was the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph in snowy white ceramic inspired by the Lake Tahoe area that the watch gets its name from. The colour is yet another product of their Pantone collaboration, which also includes the Woodland Green, Mojave Desert and Oceana ceramic colourways, and has recently also been used in the Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar.
Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8
There are a lot of modern Speedy references – in fact, there are currently 99 watches under the Speedmaster moniker in Omega’s online catalogue. There are, however, gems among the crowd that clearly stand out, and one of those is the Dark Side of the Moon, with the Apollo 8 variant being a notable one in the collection. Its yellow highlights sit against the matte black zirconium oxide case, while the reverse side displays movement bridges with laser treatment depicting the lunar surface.
Bulgari Octo Finissimo in black ceramic
If there was one watch I had to pick that embraced ceramic wholeheartedly, it would have to be the Bulgari Octo Finissimo. Not hailing from a traditional watchmaking house, its roots are still grounded in horological history, as its design originates from Gérald Genta’s Octagonal, becoming the Octo Finissimo through sales of naming rights. Its monochromatic design and understated dial are somewhat of a signature of the model, and the mix of textured surfaces that matte black ceramic can provide gives it the contemporary look it was always meant to have.
Girard-Perregaux Laureato Green Ceramic Aston Martin Edition
Girard-Perregaux’s Laureato has long been on the fringes of discussions of popular integrated-bracelet sport models. With their involvement with Aston Martin’s Formula 1 effort, we were treated to a duo of green ceramic-cased Laureato special editions that Zach had the pleasure of reviewing, and once again, the model strengthened its positioning as a compromise-free value proposition alternative to holy trinity models. Girard-Perregaux’s choice of ceramic colour for the case and bracelet, as well as the fact they’re incredibly affordable in comparison to similarly specced counterparts is impressive to say the least.