The Enduring Appeal Of A Sports Watch
Let’s take two of the most popular things in sport watches and put them together. First is the masculine appeal of a black-coloured case and second is the enduringly sporty look of a watch with a chronograph complication. Together they are a match made in sports watch heaven.
What is it about a deep black watch that makes chronograph watches so cool? In the 1970’s Porsche design experimented with early PVD coating applications to make some of the first black sport watches (of course it was a chronograph) and since then people have been drawn to the look. Compared to polished steel watches black cases are possibly more serious and functional in their style. It is true that the colour black goes with everything, but what I think is more important is that black-cased watches rarely appear as though they are trying to look flashy.
Chronograph watches on the other hand are all about visibility. The irony of chronographs is that most people don’t even use them. A chronograph is simply a watch with a stopwatch complication and people love them because timepieces with subdials and extra pushers on the case look great. Their design and promise of functionality is often more important than their actual use.
So, together you have two features that are emotionally gratifying for the person who wants a serious yet highly mature looking timepiece that conveys a sense of strong utility. A classic that comes to mind is the IWC Pilot’s Chronograph Top Gun watch. In a 46mm wide black ceramic case, the matte colour of the case is matched to the no-nonsense look of an aviator’s instrument. Hints of red break up the mostly functional monochromatic dial and has made for one of the most successful aviation timepieces of the last decade. [The Big Pilot’s Perpetual Calendar watch is pictured top.]
Another black aviation chronograph is the 47mm wide Breitling Chronomat GMT. Using an in-house movement and black-coated case, this timepiece has an uncommon look for Breitling given the more sober finishing. Typically Breitling watches are highly polished steel or gold, so the matte black of this particular Chronomat model ads a calm sense of cool to an otherwise showy timepiece.
The Swiss watchmaker Hublot popularised the look of ‘black on black’ watches, which are sometimes called ‘phantoms’. The brand once referred to black on black luxury watches as being “visibly invisible.” However, not all Hublot Big Bang watches in black… are all black. The Big Bang Black Magic combines a black ceramic case with a black carbon fibre dial. It celebrates the popularity of Big Bang watches at their height and is still a great looking timepiece today.
Racing chronographs represent most of the first sports chronograph watches around and the famed Heuer Carrera is one of them. Today’s TAG Heuer still produces a number of Carrera models and a few them are in black – very few. In fact most (if not all) black Carrera watches are limited editions. That is the case with this Carrera Calibre 1887 watch that comes in a black-coated titanium case.
One cannot discuss high-end sporty chronograph watches without a mention of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore. As one of the most iconic sport watches of all time, the Royal Oak Offshore is available in several black versions in materials such as ceramic, as well as their proprietary forged carbon material.