Off late, vintage timepieces have been highly sought after and prices for genuine watches from the 20th century have skyrocketed. It’s almost like every company is digging into its archives for a potential reissue. However, it is important to remember that despite the current vintage craze, there are still many excellent watches being made today with a varied range of materials. Today we’re here to talk about a rather contemporary style that may not be as glamorous as gold but certainly has its own unique appeal – the ceramics
What is ceramic?
The word “ceramic” was first used in the 1850s, and it was derived from the Greek word keramos, which means “fired pottery.” Due to its evolution, ceramic in watchmaking is now predominantly a “high-tech material, generally produced from aluminum and zirconium oxides (polycrystals),” as defined by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie. During production, a mass of the material, larger than but nearly the same shape as the final product, is sintered at very high temperatures, hardening and compressing the material.
In the past, ceramic was rarely used for watch casings since very few Manufactures had mastered the challenging medium. These days, consumers may pick from an abundance of options, which come in a wide range of colors, sizes, designs, and prices. Ceramic bezels are used by Rolex and Omega on its divers (and other watches) because they are more scratch- and rust-resistant than aluminum or steel.
But, you may wonder, why should I buy a ceramic watch? Allow me to highlight the pros and cons before we get to our top picks for the season.
- Withstands chemical erosion
- Is anti-magnetic
- Quite a lightweight
- Unaffected by ultraviolet light, and hence the color of the material will not change or fade over time
- Highly scratch resistant
- Hypoallergenic (not likely to cause an allergic reaction
But beware, it is:
- Hard to scratch but can easily shatter if dropped
- Durable but brittle
- Due to the complexities in the manufacturing stages of ceramics, the price of these watches is considerably higher in comparison to other metals. This means that ceramic watches are often more expensive than their stainless steel alternatives.
So if you enjoy the reputation of being a klutz, maybe an all-ceramic watch isn’t the best choice.
However, Here are our top 5 ceramic watches of the season!
1. Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar In Blue Ceramic
Swiss Haute Horlogerie manufacturer Audemars Piguet is happy to unveil a new version of its Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar, for the first time entirely crafted in blue ceramic. Its Grande Tapisserie dial and subdials also present electric blue hues, bestowing this timepiece with a harmonious monochromatic aesthetic.
Uniquely, the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar’s 41 mm case and bracelet are both crafted from blue ceramic. This 9.5 mm thin clock is made of ceramic, which is both lightweight, scratch and wear-resistant.
Each ceramic part has been given the same painstaking hand finishes as if it were crafted from precious metals by the Le Brassus artisans; the Manufacture’s signature alternation of satin-brushing and polished chamfers has been applied by hand with extreme care, resulting in a rich play of light that complements the ceramic and the complex design of the Royal Oak.
2. Hublot Big Bang Unico Integrated Green Ceramic
Hublot has pushed the limits of ceramic by boosting its hardness and scratch resistance while maintaining its lightweight, making it a joy to wear thanks to its low thermal conductivity and hypoallergenic properties.
The Big Bang Integral is in its element with this Hublot ceramic, which adds four new monochrome colors to the collection. There are four colorways to choose from, each limited to 250 pieces representing the elements of WATER, EARTH, and WOOD.
All of this is contained in a 42-mm case, ready to transport you on a non-stop 72-hour voyage, which will be tracked by the UNICO V2 manufacture movement. The HUB1280 caliber is used in this piece, which has a smaller design, new architecture, easier assembly, and improved legibility and functionality. It also has an integrated bracelet with three polished and satin-finished beveled and chamfered links. These colors and finishes complement the Big Bang Integral Ceramic’s unique design to a breathtaking effect.
3. RADO Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic Hrithik Roshan Special Edition
A new take on the classic Captain Cook design, this time in Rado’s trademark high-tech ceramic. It has a box-shaped sapphire crystal with a unique ‘bubble’ aspect, and it was made for guys who wish to make a fashion statement while paying homage to the classic Captain Cook aesthetic.
A cutaway dial revealing Rado’s high-end caliber 734 automatic movement and its 80-hour power reserve is shielded by a crystal with a dark blue tint. The antimagnetic NivachronTM hairspring shields the movement from magnetic fields, increasing the watch’s durability; whereas conventional testing only involves three positions, Rado checks each watch in five.
4. IWC Schaffhausen Top Gun Pilot’s Watch Woodland
The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “Woodland” takes its distinctive color scheme from the flight uniforms worn by navy aviators (Ref. IW389106). New “IWC Woodland” green paint is used on the ceramic case and dial, with lighter green printing used for the hour markers and numerals. The matte black pushers and case back are made of Ceratanium®. IWC’s exclusive material blends the strength and durability of ceramic with the lightweight and ductility of titanium. A green rubber strap adorned with a fabric inlay completes the design.
Both timepieces are driven by the IWC 69380 caliber, a reliable and long-lasting column-wheel chronograph. Their inside cases are made of soft iron, protecting their mechanisms from magnetism. The front lenses are securely fastened in order to withstand sudden drops in atmospheric pressure. Both timepieces have a 6-bar water resistance rating and are marked with the iconic TOP GUN logo on the rear of the case.
5. Omega Speedmaster Dark Side Of The Moon Apollo 8
This Speedmaster has a distinctive look that honors Apollo 8’s avant-garde flair, including a black leather strap with a yellow rubber strip running across the center. The dial has been carefully skeletonized to reveal a blackened movement, and the entire watch is made of sleek black ceramic. What’s even more astounding is how the laser ablation has created such lifelike pictures of the moon’s surface.
In this day and age, when metallic tones aren’t always the instant go-to for the look of a watch, many watchmakers opt for ceramic as a material of choice due to technological advancements that allow for the execution of ceramic production in diverse colors. Which is your favorite ceramic watch?