The 5 best stealth watches of 2023D.C. Hannay
For some people, the blingier the better when it comes to their wristwear. If you’re a fan of flash, a bit of bright work in the finishing of a stainless-steel or gold timepiece is easy to find, from the brilliant fluted bezel of a Rolex Day-Date, to the polished bezel chamfers of an AP Royal Oak. But some occasions call for a tad more stealth. So if you’re looking for a bit of undercover discretion, here are five great choices in a range of styles, case materials, and price points.
Here at an almost impulse-buy price is the unstoppable juggernaut that is the Casio G-Shock “CasiOak”. Now available in an ever-widening range of colours (and even multiple case sizes), the original was released in just two variants, a bold all-red version, and the killer blackout GA2100-1A1. And no matter how many new editions Casio continues to pump out, there’s just something about the monochromatic menace of the inaugural all-black version. It’s a touch of highbrow culture on an everyman timepiece, with its striking resemblance to a postmodern AP Royal Oak, but at less than 1/250th the price. It’s superlight, thanks to the Carbon Core construction, but remains as bulletproof as any G-Shock. Unlike many Gs, it clocks in at a mere 11.8mm thin, yet still has the requisite 200 metres of water resistance. For a casual-yet-elegant pick that goes almost anywhere, always bet on black.
Brew Metric PVD Black
Jonathan Ferrer’s Brew watches are some of the most unique timepieces in the microbrand space, bringing truly unique designs to enthusiasts at very attractive price points. It’s clear he loves what he does, with his cheerful model range that, among other things, can be used as tools for brewing the perfect cup of his other passion, coffee, but this one is different. He’s brought a stealthy look to his ‘70s-tastic Metric chronograph, and I’m a huge fan. The Metric PVD Black recalls the iconic look of those racy pieces from Porsche Design and Heuer, with their black stainless cases popping with bright white and red dial accents that evoke the speedy look of those halcyon days of motoring. The Metric features the tried and tested Seiko VK68 mecha-quartz chrono movement, a sleek 36mm x 41.5mm case, a well-finished bracelet, and a sapphire crystal. It’s a great design that belies its US$475 retail.
Tudor Black Bay Ceramic
Tudor’s Black Bay series continues to expand their successful vintage diver proposition, but the black ceramic rendition brings a contemporary look to the retro-leaning line. The Black Bay Ceramic has a fantastic murdered-out look, save for the brightly lumed handset and dial markers, making the whole affair supremely legible, while maintaining a dangerously covert profile. The Calibre MT5602-1U manufacture movement (created with their partners at Kenissi) is both COSC and METAS-certified as a Master Chronometer, and features a 70-hour power reserve. It comes equipped with both a leather/rubber hybrid strap with a PVD black folding closure, and a bonus strap in Tudor’s famed fabric.
Zenith Chronomaster Revival Shadow
Zenith has a rich history full of intrigue, especially when it comes to their chronographs, and I never tire of those stellar re-editions from their back catalogue. The Chronomaster Revival was one such watch, and with its unique case shape and vintage-correct dimensions, I found it irresistible. So when they dropped the Shadow variant, a postmodern rendition in titanium, you could have knocked me over with a feather. The matte titanium wasn’t coated to change the colour to its dark appearance, but was actually a byproduct of the finish technique itself. Its deep charcoal look was matched by the chrono registers, lending a futuristic reverse panda vibe against the black dial. And, being a Zenith, its beating heart is the El Primero 4061, a lovely thing with a rate of 5Hz and a 50 hour power reserve. The sum total is a proper piece of spy kit, if you ask me.
Panerai Submersible Carbotech PAM02231
If your missions are of the seafaring variety, you can’t do much better than this high-tech Panerai for legit badassery. Now, you need some real action-hero wrists to pull off the full sized 47mm Submersible, but this version is a much more manageable 42mm. The wicked black carbon composite case and bezel are the main attractions here, with a wavelike look that shows off the layered construction. Everything is a snap to read, with white hands and indices, along with the bright blue dial detailing, lending the whole package an instrument-like look. As it’s a proper diver, blue and green lume jumps off the dial when you go deep, and unlike you, it’ll keep going all the way to 300 metres.