Buying Guide: All-Black Watches

There is a reason why society refers to the latest trend as ‘the new black’.

Black is enduring – equal parts mysterious and masculine; and black never looks out of place.

It isn’t surprising then that watchmakers have continually introduce pieces decked out in the dark. Black watches exude power like no other colour, coupled with the convenient fact that it pairs with everything else, there is little not to like about them.

Here are some pieces for your consideration over a range of price brackets.

Steinhart Ocean Black DLC

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A handsome looking dive watch treated with black diamond like coating (DLC) – a process whereby fortified carbon reinforces a material’s hardness; this watch is one tough nut.

Yes, it is a homage to the legendary Rolex Submariner and if this association does not immediately cloud your eyes with hatred or disgust (or both), you’ll quickly appreciate the off-white hour markers (a design cue mimicking the natural colour fading of vintage submariners), its matte black ceramic bezel, and the beautiful contrast it plays against the subtle grainy texture of its dial.

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Unlike the Submariner, the case and bracelet received the same DLC treatment resulting in a homage with just enough personality to edge out and set itself apart.

Packed with an ever-reliant ETA 2824-2 automatic movement coupled with the fact that this is the cheapest watch on the list, you might want to give it some thought. It was also featured in more detail in my earlier article: Buying Guide: Best modern dive watches under SGD 1,000

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Image via Gnomon Watches

The Steinhart Ocean One DLC retails for approximately SGD 680.00 and can be found exclusively at Gnomon Watches located in Millenia Walk (www.gnomonwatches.com)

Damasko DA36 Black

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Yet another German company, they’ve been giving the Swiss a run for their money in the mid-market segment with classically designed and good quality watches powered by Swiss movements.

Founded in 1994, Damasko – famous primarily for their pilot watches – has a knack for over-engineering their products which should come as no surprise as its founder, Konrad Damasko, was an aeronautical engineer.

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The DA36 Black is utilitarian through and through, with a straightforward presentation that masks the work done behind the scenes.

With the exception of Rolex and some other big boys, the watch industry uses standard 316L stainless steel for case construction, which makes Damasko’s patented nickel-free steel alloy (super corrosion resistance) extremely interesting for the prices they’re charging.

Add that to the fact that they’re also using a patented crown system which self lubricates each time you wind and the wonder escalates.

Oh, the entire case plus crown are ice-hardened to more than 4 times the industry standard too.

Did I mention overengineering?

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Yes, movement might be generic but it’s still a Swiss-made ETA. Moreover, with an asking price of SGD 1,650, I’d say you could do a lot worse with that kind of money.

Damasko watches, like Steinhart, can also be found at Gnomon Watches.

TUDOR Black Shield

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First introduced in 2011, the ‘Black Shield’ chronograph collection has seen numerous additions/re-imaginations in myriad colours but this one here is the best looking of them all.

The entire case is created out of injected monobloc ceramic, which means that it was made from a single piece of ceramic block as opposed to assembling individual components together into one; a remarkable achievement borne of cutting edge technology.

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Looks wise, the Black Shield is one formidable beast – a 42 mm all black case accented by brown hour markers and hands with chronograph pushers fashioned to look like pistons on a Ducati bike (a brand collaboration).

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As said, variants exist but the one featured  paired with a suede leather Alcantara strap of the same colour is the clear winner.

The Black Shield is powered by TUDOR’s Calibre 7753, modified from a base Valjoux 7750 movement. It has a power reserve of 46 hours, quick set date function and a 12 hour chronograph.

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The TUDOR Black Shield can be found at major authorized dealers and all Rolex/TUDOR boutiques. It retails for SGD 6,500 but preowned pieces (how I got mine) can be bought in the mid SGD 4,000 range.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms ‘Dark Knight’

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Before the Rolex Submariner, there was the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. Well, thought you might want to know that, it certainly adds to the bragging rights doesn’t it? And no, most people are clueless about this. For more about this, read: The history of dive watches: Who created the first?

The all black version, also aptly known as ‘Dark Knight’, is a modern interpretation of the Fifty Fathoms collection first introduced in 1953. Its body has been outfitted with components only made possible by today’s technology.

Notice the shine radiating from the bezel? It is made of sapphire crystal (which makes it very difficult to produce due to a bezel’s curvy nature) and finished with PVD.

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Combined with the dual layered dial sporting a satin-like finish, it is safe to say that you’ll not find another watch with similar aesthetic qualities.

All workings on the dial are designed to ooze masculinity – the broad sword hour and minute hands, the red tipped seconds hand with an arrow on its other end and fangs like hour markers all fitted onto a huge 45 mm black stainless steel case.

While case diameter is large, its thickness is relatively reserved and sits nicely on the wrist due to its short lugs; the engraving on the side is a favourite feature of mine.

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The Dark Knight has a clear caseback (uncommon for a dive watch) and one can see the in-house calibre 1315, an innovative improvement over the older calibre 13R0 with a free sprung balance wheel (superb shock resistant) and 3 mainspring barrels (120 hour power reserve).

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The rotor resembles a giant nautical shell – a nod towards the creatures one might expect to find fifty fathoms down into the sea.

Though it is a lot less recognizable than a Submariner (is that a bad thing?), the Fifty Fathoms was indeed the first modern dive watch; this heritage alone makes it a lot more interesting and of course, it looks fantastic in all black.

45 mm might put off quite a few but it sits just right on my 16.5 inch wrist.

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The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms ‘Dark Knight’ can be found at selected authorized dealers and the Blancpain boutique at Wisma Atria. It retails for approximately SGD 19,000.

IWC Ingenieur Automatic AMG ‘Black Series’ Ceramic

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Collaborations between watchmakers and automobiles have seen a steady increase in recent years.

Why? My guess would be the similarities both products share in terms of being mechanical coupled with the fact that there’s a huge close-knitted community for vintage and modern cars/watches; if one can appreciate the intricacies of a magnificent movement, it’s safe to say that reading about the inner workings of a well-made automobile wouldn’t bore them.

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The Ingenieur (pronounced as On-jer-near) series was launched in 1955 and was designed by Gerald Genta – a creative legend who also created the OMEGA ‘pie pan’ Constellation, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and Patek Phillipe Nautilus. Its tool watch origins – created for engineers working in magnetic environments in mind – continue to this day with its tough casing and anti-magnetic properties.

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Inspired by AMG – the high performance collection of Mercedes Benz, the IWC Ingenieur AMG’s case, bezel, crown and surrounding protectors are made from black zirconium oxide, which is used on the ceramic disc brakes of these premium vehicles.

Shades of black are intermixed across the dial punctuated by ice white coated markers and hands providing superb legibility. The 5 screws on the bezel secure it to the sapphire crystal and the case right through to the caseback; this is one tough watch.

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Staying true to its tool watch heritage, IWC has selected the in-house automatic calibre 80110 which comes with an integrated shock absorption system powered by an all black rotor.

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Case diameter is huge at 46 mm but as far as tool watches go, it’s not much of a shocker. Think a Panerai is too common? The IWC Ingenieur Automatic AMG ‘Black Series’ will no doubt draw much attention to your wrists.

Retail price is approximately SGD 15,000 and IWC can be found at major authorized dealers islandwide. 

 

 

 

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