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Black is back!
AFTER taking a long break, black is back in the limelight in the world of watches. Its return as the in-colour for timepieces rolled out in 2019 cuts across all categories - price and brand.
For watch makers and brands which have missed the boat earlier, they are now seizing the opportunity to jump on the "black colour" bandwagon. And there are quite a number of them, including IWC Schaffhausen and its pilot watch collection.
The Swiss watch manufacturer's new Double Chronograph Ceratanium in its Top Gun pilot's line is not only made of Ceratanium, a new material that's light, unbreakable and scratch resistant - "the advantages of titanium and ceramic" - it's also IWC's "first ever completely jet black pilot's watch".
Apart from making the timepiece, which boasts an integrated split-seconds hand mechanism, and looks great, the matte black colour on the case also serves to ensure sunlight is not bounced off the watch during flight to distract the pilot.
IWC, which is part of the Swiss luxury group Richemont, says it's the use of the brand's patented Ceratanium that has made it possible to produce the completely black design pilot's watch - and "without coating, including all watch components such as push-buttons or pin buckles".
All-black ceramic is also a first for Longines' new HydroConquest. Black, of course, is fitting for a diving watch, which is what the HydroConquest is. A black case, along with a matching black rubber strap, gives it a dynamic profile, completing a collection recently "augmented with variations featuring a bezel enhanced by a coloured ceramic insert", says Longines which is owned by Swatch, the Swiss group that also has brands like Omega, Tissot and Breguet in its portfolio.
The black ceramic HydroConquest, water-resistant to 300 metres deep, has its chemical composition - ZrO2 - proudly displayed on its dial. The bezel is unidirectional, the crown is screwed in and the folding clasp has a double security.
Matt black ceramic remains popular with Panerai's timepieces - and it continues to define its new Luminor Yachts Challenge. Apart from the matt black version, this new flyback chronograph also comes in titanium and gold.
The watch, which bears the Italian brand's iconic case design that features a protective device for the winding crown, is dedicated to the long association Panerai - another Richemont brand - has with the world of the sea.
Specifically, the Luminor Yachts Challenge symbolises Panerai's commitment to preserve the culture of classic yachts through the races of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenges. This is made explicit in the "PCYC" inscription on the dial and the outline of a sailing yacht on the back of the case.
TAG Heuer, a Swiss watch manufacturer owned by French fashion house LVMH, picks black to highlight a new innovation in its latest chronograph tourbillon - the Carrera Calibre Heuer 02T Tourbillon Nanograph. Fitted with a state-of-the-art carbon composite hairspring, the new complication represents quite a breakthrough in the overall performance of the wrist-watch.
The hairspring, the hardest part to produce and the heart of the mechanical timepiece, regulates the watch's movement and is key to its accuracy in keeping time. Traditionally, hairsprings are made of metal, which bends easily. The more recent silicon hairsprings improve precision, but they often break.
Carbon composite is lightweight, low-density and virtually unaffected by gravity and shock. A hairspring made of this material doesn't bend or break - and it keeps the watch ticking more accurately.
A FOIL TO OTHER COLOURS
Indeed, the tourbillon mechanism of the Carrera Calibre Heuer 02T Tourbillon Nanograph, the first watch to be equipped with a carbon-composite hairspring, meets all the requirements of a chronometer - a watch which measures time precisely despite motion or variation in temperature, humidity and air pressure.
Black is also used as a foil to other colours in the design of the timepieces rolled out in recent months. An example is the Executive Skeleton Tourbillon Hyperspace, a new gravity-defying watch produced by Ulysse Nardin, a Swiss watch manufacturer which belongs to Paris-based luxury group Kering.
The key feature of the flying tourbillon timepiece, which is inspired by a Star Wars craft, is the explosion of colour on an "Executive Rectangle" that has been painted by hand using a brush the width of a single eyelash. Set against a black ultra-light titanium case and matching black carbon effect leather strap, Ulysse Nardin says the colours create "the illusion of streamlined speed, the individual colours visible only under a microscope".
"The colour combinations are infinite, the possibilities limited only by your imagination," says the brand, adding that this takes "aesthetics to new heights".
Interestingly, black is also contrasted with blue - the "new black" that filled the colour void during black's absence - in Girard-Perregaux's Laureato Skeleton "Earth to Sky" and Casio's new GST-B100BNR.
The Laureato Skeleton "Earth to Sky" is a skeletonised black ceramic timepiece which has an elegant blue filigree in place of a dial, through which the blue PVD treated self-winding skeleton movement - the watch's inner beauty - is visible. And the vessel for this creation is "a sober black ceramic case", which is coordinated with "a bracelet whose black ceramic links have an alternating matte and satin surface finish".
A blue interior and a black exterior, "dark outside, bright inside" - this is what characterises the watch. Girard Perregaux, another Swiss watch brand in Kering's stable, describes it as "an alliance of the inscrutable blackness of the cosmos and the blueness of Earth".
The new GST-B100BNR is a smart watch that is to be connected to a smartphone using bluetooth to keep accurate time and easily change settings such as world time and alarms from the app. It is a collaboration model which brings together the Japanese consumer electronics producer - specifically its G-Shock brand of shock-resistant watches - and Blue Note Records, a US jazz label.
The tie-up is marked by the black and blue colours. The black case, dial and strap reflect the G-Shock brand's hue, while the blue hands and indices highlight the blue brand colour of Blue Note Records. "The design evokes the world views of both G-Shock and Blue Note Records, which have continually sought out challenges in their respective domains: watches and jazz," Casio says.