A tough year for the industry has seen brands adapting to new surroundings and thinking outside the box in order to connect with a new era of consumers. Prices have been lowered, entry levels have been extended, materials are becoming more subdued and useful complications are taking precedent. In general, many watches are becoming more ‘utilitarian’ in their being whilst we are still seeing the industry strive for the innovation that it is so famous for. Tool watches have always been an icon for explorers and as Kristian Haagen said in a recent interview with us “the watches were a vital part of the uniforms worn by these pioneers.”
With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that brands are coming back to these practical complications and creating timepieces that are longer-lasting, harder-wearing and with classic forms. So why a black dial? Well, black is the ultimate utility colour. It goes with everything, it’s long-lasting and it looks amazing on a watch. People are now more than ever looking for a ‘something for everything’ solution – hence the birth of the full customisable, Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45 – so it only makes sense that black is trending among the Fine Watchmaking world.
About: An old face with some new features. This reincarnation of the Sea-Dweller has a 43mm case and the new calibre 3235, at the forefront of watchmaking technology and the first time it has been deployed in a Rolex Professional category watch. The watch also now has a cyclops lens to help read the date and is waterproof up to 1,220 metres.
Why: This year the classic divers’ watch celebrates its 50th anniversary. The Sea-Dweller name on the face is even written in red – a nod to the first model ever created. The fact Rolex have taken a watch for the classicists and kept the vintage look of the watch whilst adding in an innovative new calibre makes it the perfect piece for both new consumers and veteran fans.
About: A major talking point at Baselworld, Omega shocked fans worldwide when they released re-editions of three of the most iconic watches of all time. In 1957, Omega released three profession timepieces that would go on to shape the history of the brand. The 60th anniversary editions of the Seamaster 300, Railmaster and Speedmaster are limited to 3,557 pieces and their look and feel is almost identical to their predecessors 60 years ago.
Why: These three watches helped to consolidate Omega’s brand identity and image. They are as classic as classic watches come and the originals are some of the most sought after in the Fine Watchmaking world (and also the most photographed on Instagram). They are again created with practical complications and will surely last as long as their forefathers have done in the watch world. Steel bracelets, black dials, perfected vintage design and all with cutting-edge technology within their movements.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in Ceramic
About: Traditional complications mixed with modern aesthetics, this watch almost flips the last two on the list on their head. Neither made of a precious metal or steel, the matte black brushed ceramic case of this watch took 600 hours of research to develop and it takes 30 hours to machine polish and assemble each bracelet. The watch face includes blacked out day, date, month, astronomical moon and week of the year complications. The leap year indication – pioneered by Audemars Piguet in 1955 – is also featured on the dial.
Why: Already THE most talked about watches online during SIHH, this member of the Audemars Piguet family is one of their most special yet. Okay, so it hasn’t actually got a black dial, but it’s black case meant we included it. The ceramic case makes it virtually unscratchable and with AP’s famous “Grande Tapisserie” in slate grey on the face, it really is a watch to show off. It can be worn for any occasion and will look as good with a three-piece suit as it would with hiking gear.
Montblanc Timewalker Rally Timer 100
About: Inspired by the Minerva stopwatches of the early 1900’s, this Montblanc timepiece is truly innovative. A stopwatch, a table clock, a dashboard-mountable rally timer and a wrist chronograph, this Montblanc timepiece really is all singing and dancing. It also features one of the best manually wound chronograph calibres in production.
Why: Montblanc’s Timewalker collection was a star at SIHH this year – it was one of the most talked about watches at the event which saw them giving a timepiece away in a social media competition. Since then it was seen on the wrist of a fistful of stars at the Oscars. It’s again a watch that follows the vintage trend but with a truly impressive movement, showing quality and ingenuity intertwine to create an innovative piece that looks back to its ancestors.
Richard Mille RM 50-03 Tourbillon Split Seconds Chronograph Ultralight McLaren F1
About: A collaboration with McLaren, this new Richard Mille timepiece describes itself as a ‘technical masterpiece’ and it’s difficult to disagree with. Weighing in at just 40 grams, it is the lightest mechanical chronograph ever made, and its movement weighs a mere 7 grams. Created using a mix of TPT and Graphene (a material never used before in watchmaking), the watch combines a tourbillon escapement with a split section function within a single mechanism.
Why: True innovation from Richard Mille in the form of an arguably perfect collaboration. Okay okay, it hasn’t actually got a black dial – that would be far too heavy – but the black skeleton effect means we’ve included in this list. Ultra-resistant, revolutionary materials and beautiful aesthetics all inside a watch that weighs less than a golf ball. Ultra-wearable, ultra-resistant and ultra-innovative, bravo Richard Mille and McLaren.