Black Beauties

Black Beauties

Black is anything but basic, when it comes to watches. Not only does a dark cloak bring a slick and sporty persona to even the most classic models, but it can confer state-of-the-art toughness. For instance, the same vacuum process used to adhere low-friction coatings to Formula 1 engine parts—Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD)—is often used to blacken watch components. However, with timepieces, the goal is often hardness and scratch resistance, and for that DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon) is the coating of choice. Herein are three watches endowed with the durability of DLC.

Perhaps no watch design exhibits the aforementioned personality change more than Cartier's 42-mm Ballon Bleu de Cartier Carbon ($6,600, pictured at left) in stainless steel with Diamondblack ADLC, an amorphous DLC coating used by Cartier. The über-elegant Ballon Bleu gets a hip makeover in matte black with a black dial that makes the red secondshand pop. A calfskin strap embossed to resemble fabric furthers the sporty appeal. Cartier also applied ADLC to the bold, square Santos 100 Carbon ($7,600), in a similarly monochromatic version with a red secondshand. Cartier's 1847 MC movement, an entry-level in-house caliber that debuted in 2015's Clé de Cartier, powers both pieces.

Bulgari's Octo Solotempo Ultranero ($7,400, center) displays the Italian house's flagship design with a glossy black-lacquer dial appointed with eye-catching pink-gold accents for a look that is at once elegant and sporty, thanks to an integrated rubber strap. The coating is not only Ultranero ("very black"), it plays up the many facets of the very slim (10.4-mm thick) octagonal case that suggests its name. The Ultranero treatment has also been applied to a chronograph and to the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon, which claims the record of world's thinnest tourbillon at a mere 5 mm.

Carl F. Bucherer reinforced not only the brawny (46.6-mm) stainless-steel case of its Patravi TravelTec Black ($15,700, right) with a scratch-resistant matte black DLC coating, but the robust metal bracelet as well. The chronometer-certified chronograph displays three time zones, with two time zones shown on the dial and the third indicated by a red GMT-hand pointing to a rotating 24-hour scale on the flange. It can easily be adjusted forward or backward using the patented monopusher.

In the watch realm, black may be technologically trendy, but it carries with it a valuable fashion maxim: black never goes out of style.