Baselworld 2016: Reinventing the All-Black Watch

Seven distinct timepieces that reimagine the use of the classic color

With hundreds of brands present, Baselworld—the globe’s largest and arguably most prestigious watch and jewelry fair—doesn’t intentionally play host to themes or trends, but it does offer an opportunity to notice through-lines across multiple watchmakers. Each year tends to deliver an interesting color story, whether it was last year’s powerful use of green or brilliant blue dials the year before. Both of these color choices have continued into the 2016 edition, however, this year’s use of black makes for a classy development. Black has long been associated with elegant watches—truly embodied by the classic Rolex Explorer (though our friends at Bamford Watch Department have pioneered all-black pieces). The following seven watches, however, place primarily black dials within black bezels allowing for an almost all-black watch. It’s the design flourishes, from case shape to indicators and hands, that make them all so unique.

Tudor Black Bay Dark

A perennial favorite, Tudor‘s latest Black Bay Dark—a new addition to their heritage collection—features a black PVD coating atop the stainless steel case and bezel. Whether it falls upon a black steel bracelet or an aged black leather strap, the timepiece itself references military divers of old. It also sports a satin-polished matte finish. The distinct winding crown and snowflake hands solidify the Tudor design DNA, altogether making it a beautiful piece and worthy introduction to their line.

Bulgari Octo Ultranero

Bulgari’s Ultranero, the latest in their Octo range, keeps to the signature octagonal shape—but the almost all-black colorway, touched with gold hands, hour markers and a flying tourbillon that first debuted in their Finissimo, represent a new take on elegance. The ultra-thin piece (just 5mm thick) has a titanium case with a DLC (diamond-like carbon) coating. On a black alligator leather strap, it’s a cohesive, classy watch with a rather special mechanical hand-wound movement inside that signature octagonal design.

Mido Multifort Adventure

A new addition to the Mido Multifort line, this year’s Chronograph Adventure—with a self-winding Caliber 60 automatic movement—offers a black dial within a black bezel, enhanced by the tan-colored indicators and hour markers. It feels sportier than some of the previous Multifort offerings, especially on the perforated calfskin leather strap, but it definitely holds true to Mido’s traditional design inspirations: architecture. With a 100-meter water-resistance, it’s also begging to be used.

Zenith Academy Georges Favre-Jacot Tourbillon

Limited to only 150 pieces, Zenith’s extraordinary Academy Georges Favre-Jacot Tourbillon rocks their El Primero 4805 manual movement. The black ceramic case holds a black dial, but it’s the visible tourbillon and jewels that punch up the personality. Both the hour-markers and the indicators are ruthenium-plated, faceted and coated with SuperLuminova. It’s an ideal balance of refined haute horlogerie and industrial, almost science fiction, structure.

Girard-Perregaux Competizione Circuito

In light of their 225th anniversary, Girard-Perregaux has removed all the stops with their brand new Circuito Chronograph. The black honeycomb dial is only one of the watch’s many wonders. The case is a titanium and carbon composite and the strap is a carbon-effect calfskin—both of which are material advancements for the brand. Again, there’s a proprietary automatic winding movement within that grants the timepiece hours, minutes, small seconds, date and the chronograph function. It’s a truly unusual piece from the brand known for horological awards for their high-complication pieces, that combines automotive influences with a sportier delivery. And remarkably, it’s very light.

Bulova CURV

Marking an industry first, Curv from Bulova features exactly what its name implies: a thin, curved 262k frequency (aka highly accurate) quartz chronograph movement. Naturally, the titanium and steel case itself has been curved to match the insides—lending a smooth, rounded feel that understandably feels great on the wrist. Metallic finishes define the piece but nuances like the skeleton hands with applied Lume differentiate it further. The watch comes upon a black rubber strap, making clear this is a sporty piece designed to be used (though it’s sure to initiate quite a few conversations).

RJ + Super Mario Bros Watch

In honor of Super Mario Bros’ 30th anniversary, the ever-clever Romain Jerome has released a new variation on their popular Moon Invader case (now composed of grade-5 titanium and black PVD coating). Within, four appropriately pixelated Super Mario graphics rest atop a black pixelated, three-level 3D dial, altogether lending the piece some playfulness. Yet, this watch is powered by a proprietary self-winding movement and reflects some of the best craftsmanship in the business.

Lead image courtesy of Zenith, all other images by David Graver