Watches By Material: six great ceramic watches that are super-tough and super-coolZach Blass
Ceramic was once a fairly rare material for watch cases with many manufacturers yet to tame the robust case medium. Now there are a plethora of options to choose from, all in varying colours, sizes, styles, and price points to choose from. Brands like Rolex and Omega use ceramic bezels on their divers (among other watches as well) in order to provide better resistance to the scratching and deterioration than is found on their metallic counterparts: aluminum or steel. So if this is the way to increase the longevity of a bezel, why not increase the durability of an entire case by rendering it entirely in ceramic? Now manufacturers are doing just that. Sure, under extraordinary circumstances, it is possible to chip ceramic, but odds are you will never be moving fast enough or in a sufficiently dangerous manner to make that happen. Without further ado, here are six great ceramic watches to consider.
Longines HydroConquest Black Ceramic
How about this beautiful diver from Longines – the HydroConquest Black Ceramic. At 43mm in diameter it is not necessarily for the small of wrist. But for those complaining a 40mm Submariner is too tiny (how?) you can save almost a third of the money and source this HydroConquest with a great black stealth aesthetic and a top-notch rubber strap.
The all black ceramic not only gives it a stellar appearance, but some serious hardware that will resist wear and tear overtime. A robust modified ETA movement that provides 64 hours of power reserve, 300 metres water-resistance with a screw-down crown, plus a dial, bezel, and case entirely fashioned in ceramic. That’s some serious value for the dollar. Price: $3725 USD
Bell & Ross BR 03-92
Bell & Ross gained notoriety for their cockpit-inspired designs with aviation instruments like the BR 03-92 once fashioned in PVD-treated steel. But gradually the brand switched the cases over to a more durable and lightweight ceramic – which was aided by the resources of Chanel when they invested and took a stake in the B&R brand. The ceramic switch up was a great idea for the line. Not only were the cases less prone to scratching and discolouration, considering the block-like design on the wrist, they were also less hefty to wear.
I know first-hand, as I used to own the PVD Steel version of the BR 03-92 Phantom. While seemingly large, the BR 03-92, in favour of the BR-01 that is 46mm, is a much more wearable 42mm that has small lugs that will not extend far across the wrist. With 100 metres of water resistance, this beautiful block of ceramic will make for a great daily wearer. Price: $3500 USD
Zenith Defy Classic Black Ceramic
Looking for something sporty that will also pair nicely with smart-casual wardrobes? The Zenith Defy Classic in black ceramic may be the watch for you. Like the first two watches on this list it leverages a monochromatic stealth aesthetic across its 41mm ceramic case and rubber strap. But where it stands out is with its Zenith star inspired openwork skeleton dial.
The openwork plates of the dial are not left untreated, and actually feature nice chamfers and bevels. Its design, in a way, is the best of both worlds – pairing the upscale appearance of an integrated sports watch with a rockstar heavy metal dial all gear heads will be able to appreciate. Water-resistant to 100 metres and powered with a movement that leverages some of the best silicon technology in the business – the Defy Classic in black ceramic is a true winner on the wrist. Price: $7700 USD
Omega Blue Side of the Moon Aventurine Dial
OK, enough black. Let’s dig into the rich navy blue ceramic case of the Omega Blue Side of the Moon Moonphase. This is a watch that ticks so many boxes. Sporty? Duh, it’s a Speedmaster. Dry and boring? Absolutely not, thanks to its intriguing blue ceramic case and astounding aventurine dial that makes you think you’re staring into space. Complicated? Definitely And well laid out across the dial – neatly packing in a moon phase, chronograph, calendar and running seconds complications.
Omega makes the most of the two registers with the sub-dial at three displaying both the elapsed minutes (larger hand) and hours (smaller hand) and at nine the sundial displays both the running seconds (small hand) and date (red crescent tipped hand). The moon phase disc is made of a patent pending blue enamel aventurine glass, with the moons made of Sedna Gold. Whether or not it’s your cup of tea, you have to respect the level of horology at play here – especially when you look at its co-axial column wheel chronograph movement via the caseback. Price: $13,700 USD
Hublot Big Bang Unico Sky Blue
For Hublot, the sky is the limit when it comes to ceramic. Any manufacturer will tell you how hard it is to make a red ceramic component, but Hublot actually made a watch entirely in red ceramic. But back to the sky, because Hublot earlier this year released a beautiful Sky Blue Big Banco Unico, that really shows off the technical capabilities Hublot has achieved with the robust and artistic material.
The watch boasts a city of gears on its openwork dial, but also (as expected) an incredibly well-detailed sky blue ceramic case. You can see a perfect contrast of satin and high polished surfaces, all executed on a less familiar shade of blue. That really means something considering every watch manufacturer under the sun made a blue watch last year. So when you can say a company made a distinct blue watch, it’s kind of a big deal. Props to you, Hublot. Price: $21,500 USD
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar White Ceramic
Now I love the possible irony of this watch. Its material is very reminiscent of an Apple aesthetic – think AirPods, or even the Apple Watch Edition made in white ceramic. But this watch is anything but a digital product, in fact it is one of the most mechanically complicated watches available today both inside and out. There are extraordinarily high expectations of any Audemars Piguet creation, but Royal Oaks are well known for their incredible satin-brushed and high-polished externals that the brand’s artisans undertake by hand. The process is extensive, taking many hours to fully embellish the case and bracelet of one piece.
As you can imagine, ceramic is a whole other beast to finish, so it’s even harder to achieve AP’s high standards on this less forgiving material. But being one of the holy trinity, AP has really worked out how to uphold the standard of their ceramic pieces on par with their metallic versions. A great blend of a youthful aesthetic with a beloved traditional complication, this Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar is an absolute stunner on the wrist – if you can even find one of the boutique editions for sale in store. Price: 96,200 CHF