Hi-tech ceramics have come a long way since the early 1960s when Rado first decided to explore alternatives to metals and present its tungsten-carbide DiaStar. Today most luxury brands confidently feature futuristic robust ceramics in their watch cases and bezels, which benefit from its scratch proof, anti-wear, and anti-magnetic properties. With everyday practicality in mind, there are even more ceramic watches in the line-up in 2021.
While the new Tudor Black Bay Ceramic may take its lead from the Tudor Black Bay Ceramic One ref M7921, which fetched the equivalent of about R5.3m at the 2019 Only Watch charity auction in Geneva, Tudor is no stranger to the hi-tech material. Tudor broke with tradition in 2013 to show off its technical abilities through a rather fashionable, matte-black ceramic Fastrider Black Shield. This contemporary chronograph was inspired by the world of motorcycle racing but has sadly disappeared from the catalogue.
The same goes for the 70s-inspired, Explorer-esque North Flag with its ceramic outer bezel and featuring the first in-house movement, the calibre MT-5621 when launched in 2015. Big brother Rolex was the first to bring a ceramic bezel to market in 2005 on the gold version of the updated GMT-Master II.
The stealth Black Bay Ceramic features a 41mm matte-black ceramic case with micro-blasted finish, and black PVD-treated steel bezel with a 60-minute graduated insert in black ceramic. The applied hour markers and snowflake hands with off-white Swiss Super-LumiNova are bold against the domed matte black dial. Through the sapphire crystal of its open case back is revealed the Manufacture Calibre MT5602-1U, finished entirely in black. Its rotor is a black tungsten monobloc, which is openwork and satin-brushed with sandblasted details. The bridges and main-plate have alternate sandblasted, polished surfaces and laser decorations.
Its movement has Federal Institute of Metrology (Metas) Master Chronometer certification, in addition to Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) Master Chronometer-certification. Omega first introduced the Metas-approved testing in 2015, with its Globemaster being the first watch to be certified. Metas has an even higher standard than COSC, requiring a watch to pass eight stringent tests to earn the title Master Chronometer. But, watches will only be accepted for testing if their movements are already COSC-certified.
Metas guarantees the power reserve — 70 hours for the Calibre MT5602-1U — timekeeping accuracy of a watch subjected to magnetic fields of 15,000 gauss, and that the waterproof capability claimed by the manufacturer conforms with the International Organization for Standardisation (ISO) standard 22810:2010.
The Black Bay Ceramic is waterproof to 200m and is presented on a hybrid leather and rubber strap with a folding clasp and safety catch in black PVD-treated 316L steel. A black jacquard-weave fabric strap with cream band and black PVD-treated 316L steel buckle, is also included in the box.
Tudor Black Bay Ceramic, R80,250, tudorwatches.com or Rolex Watch Co SA 011-784-9230.