If you’ve kept a watchful eye on the wrists of stylish guys everywhere, from Instagram to your favorite coffee shop, perhaps you’ve noticed in recent years that many a man is rocking an all-black watch. What exactly is it about the tactical, rugged yet sleek appeal of all-black watches that’s captured the hearts of watch aficionados, enthusiasts and newfound collectors everywhere?
It’s not all that easy to pin down, but there’s no question that black watches are here to stay and in a big way. Whether you’re searching for one of the best watches under $200, or one of the world’s most expensive watches, chances are, you’ll find an all-black watch to suit your every style need.
To make your search for the best all-black watch a little easier, we’ve separated this shopping guide into three sections:
- The Best All-Black Watches for Most People ($20-$700): Featuring brands such as Fossil, Casio, MVMT, Shinola and Timex
- The Best Luxury All-Black Watches: $1,000-$8,000: Featuring luxury timepieces from Tag Heuer, Porsche Design and others
- The History of the All-Black Watch Trend: Breaking down how this counterintuitive design became so popular among watch collectors
A Brief History of the All-Black Watch Trend
Although it’s a recent trend in terms of timepieces both more affordable and more expensive (and intricate), the all-black watch has been a reliable design and style move since the 1970s, watch expert Blake Buettner, managing editor of watch enthusiast news site Worn and Wound, recently told SPY.
Buettner said that a premium model like the Porsche Design Chronograph 1 first helped establish the all-black watch as a timepiece to be reckoned with, and the black ceramic case of the IWC 3705 is described as a “pillar” of the style. Buettner also points to two heritage brands in recent years that have made the all-black watch a sharp choice for timepiece fans everywhere.
“It’s a trend that’s always been there from my point of view, but certain cultural moments have brought them broad recognition,” Buettner said.
Read More: The Top Watch Trends To Know in 2022
Recognizable brands producing famed all-black watches have certainly helped sway popular opinion, but there’s a deeper influence at play, Buettner says.
Buettner points to style luminary and icon, the late Virgil Abloh and his customized all-black Patek Philippe Nautilus, as a moment that “goes a long way” in turning a style choice from a trend into a certified mainstay. Once a particular style starts to catch on, enthusiasts and consumers begin to notice, especially in the watch world.
“I think cultural moments, like the Virgil connection, create a lot of visibility and can set a trend in motion,” Buettner said. “Additionally, new materials and methods have been democratized a bit, and more brands are taking advantage, creating more options for consumers.”
He adds that it goes beyond just a watch worn by a cultural icon or made by a heritage-worthy brand. The right watch, no matter the price, must deliver functionality.
“To me, for an all-black watch to work, it needs to retain a level of practicality,” Buettner told SPY. “I need to be able to read the time at a glance.”
Buettner pointed to Porsche Design’s reintroduction of a revamped version of its 1972 all-black watch (more on this one in a moment), plus much-loved brands like Tudor and its ongoing Black Bay series, as examples of standout takes on the all-black watch. For our money’s worth, we’ll throw our hat in the ring and offer up some of our favorite all-black timepieces to shop now.
1. MVMT Element Collection
MVMT has made a name for itself in the extremely competitive watch market by making sleek and minimalist watches that meet modern design standards. The brand’s excellent Element Collection is available with both black metal and black leather bands, and at $100, it’s an accessible timepiece that’s sure to earn you compliments despite the entry-level price tag. This all-black watch features a black watch face and silver and red accents, which provide enough contrast to make it easy to read the time at a glance.
2. Seiko 5 Sports Black Watch
To call Seiko’s 5 Sports line underrated would be a little disingenuous, because it’s one of the worst-kept secrets when it comes to affordable automatic watches. But if you’re still not aware, Seiko’s 5 Sports line consists of rugged and stylish, high-quality automatic watches. This watch has a comfortable black nylon NATO strap for a look inspired by dive watches. It also provides 100-meter water resistance and a day-date window, all in a package that costs less than $400.
3. G-Shock GA2100-1A1
G-Shock has a wide array of supremely tough models that align with the tactical, field-ready nature of the all-black watch — to be sure, the style is sleek and not ostentatious and can be put through just about anything if you find the right model. There’s a reason the Special Forces prize G-Shock watches: tons of bells and whistles, standout utility, easy-to-read design and a hard-wearing nature (not to mention the shock-resistant design) you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. The octagon case design calls to mind original G-Shock models, while the sub-$100 price is admirable, too.
4. Fossil Men’s Machine Stainless Steel Case Quartz Chronograph Watch
Fossil has been a go-to brand for budget-friendly watches for several decades, and the brand has innovated by developing hybrid smartwatch technology that allows you to stay connected, without compromising on style. This chronograph is quartz powered and has a date window, in addition to the chronograph subdials. The knurled texture on the outside of the case adds an extra rugged touch. The 45mm case is sure to take up substantial wrist real estate.
5. Shinola Duck Rubber Strap Watch
Shinola’s watches are known for their dedication to craft and high-end parts, resulting in extremely high-quality pieces. That’s certainly the case with this watch, assembled in the USA (with imported materials). The watch has a modern, dive-inspired look and is powered by a quartz movement. The LumiNova markers make for a watch that’s easy to read in the dark.
6. Casio Men’s DW5600BB-1 Black Resin Quartz Watch with Digital Dial
A lot of watches are better in black, but an all-black G-Shock just makes sense. It has a unique negative display with a dark background and light digits. It has an automatic month day-date calendar that’s accurate to 2099, so you don’t have to worry about changing the date at the start of the month. Handy features include a timer, stopwatch and alarm. The display isn’t the easiest to read, but it does have a backlight.
Read More: The Best Digital Watches for Men
7. Timex Navi XL Black Watch
Inspired by dive watches and complete with a Rolex-style date bubble, the Timex Navi XL black watch is an extremely traditional-looking watch. That’s not a bad thing, far from it; in fact, there’s a reason these styles have persisted for so long. The resulting timepiece is a sophisticated watch that will instantly elevate any look. Plus, thanks to its jewel automatic movement, your walking keeps the watch powered and even banks up to 40 extra hours of battery life.
8. MVMT Blacktop Analog Black Watch
Much like a Transformer, this MVMT Blacktop Watch has more than meets the eye. The interior face includes a second, minute, and hour hand in addition to a 60-minute timer and running seconds subdial. That gives this all-black number some extra functionality in a sleek package. Additionally, the all-black watch is durable and waterproof, ensuring you can wear it consistently without worrying about scrapes or water damage.
9. Lacoste TR90 Black Watch
For those who want a timepiece that’s good to wear during more active moments, this Lacoste TR90 black watch is a great option, thanks to its rubber strap. Easy to clean the sweat off when you’re done and comfortable enough to not chafe you when you’re in the groove, it’s an excellent option for tennis or golf if you’d rather not wear a smartwatch. However, it’s also elegant enough to wear to work too.
10. Citizen Eco-Drive Axiom Black Watch
If you’re unfamiliar with the Citizen Eco-Drive line of watches, you’re about to have your mind blown. The watch is entirely solar-powered, capable of ticking based on light alone. In that regard, it’s the most sustainable all-black watch around. Additionally, the super minimalist face provides only what you need in the form of a number-less dial and date functionality. Oh, and the black chain strap polishes off an extremely elegant-looking piece.
11. Skagen Signatur Black Watch
BEST UNDER $100
With a price just under $100, the Skagen Signatur black watch is an excellent option for those willing to spend a little more dough on their all-black watch. With a touch of contrasting white color to the face, the result is a timepiece that pops for a cost that won’t cause your wallet to burst. Plus, we love the look and feel of the steel mesh strap and how it all comes together to create a sharp watch.
12. Marathon Watch Company x J.Crew Navigator Black Watch
The first steps of J.Crew’s come back start not with clothes but a watch. Initially developed for pilots and parachuters in the late 1980s, the Marathon Watch Company developed the Navigator watch with clarity and function. Now, it’s coming to your local mall in a decidedly handsome, all-black package. The incredibly sharp design will stand out on your wrist to make a bold statement that’s just as good at the office as it is with a suit.
13. Nixon Sentry Leather Strap Watch
In search of a watch that won’t break the bank and will still look great for a variety of situations from sun-up to sundown? Nixon is your best bet with a range of sub-$200 options suitable for everyday wear (like at the office with a navy blazer and a white Oxford shirt) yet primed for more laidback, minimal style.
The Sentry, for instance, would stand out nicely with a simple pocket tee and blue jeans, but it’s the sleek look we like the best for business casual situations. The 42mm case diameter sits nicely on most wrists, while everything from the black leather strap to the watch’s three hands to the hourly indices is, true to form, nothing but black. Get the most bang for your buck with Nixon.
The Best All-Black Luxury Watches
We’re all about affordable but reliable timepieces, but we couldn’t leave out the best luxury watches from brands like Tudor, Tag Heuer and Zenith. These are our top picks that clock in above a grand, ranked from least to most expensive.
14. Unimatic Modello Uno U1S-MN
Beyond the big players in Switzerland and Japan, there are a lot of microbrands worth knowing about. Unimatic is high on the list. The Italian brand makes minimalist versions of sports watches, bucking the more-is-more ethos that many watchmakers follow. All of their timepieces are minimal, but the Modello Uno U1S-MN takes it to an extreme, with a face devoid of hour or minute markers.
15. Tudor Black Bay Dark
If you want to splurge on one of the best all-black watches for men, it’s hard to go wrong with Tudor’s decisive, rugged take on the all-black watch. Think of it as the perfect watch for the sporting gentlemen, the kind who loves to go on a day hike or explore a seaside cave before retiring back inland to sip on a cool cocktail while wearing this worldly watch. It’s the type of timepiece built to last a lifetime, with 200 meters of water resistance and versatile style in spades. Note the hard-wearing all-black case, the rotating bezel with a touch of red, and the go-anywhere fabric strap.
16. Tag Heuer Autavia Chronometer
Tag watches are practically synonymous with racing, so you can rely on a Tag Heuer when every second counts. The Calibre Heuer 02 COSC Flyback movement means you can reset the chronograph by pushing one button. It has a black leather strap, a black ceramic bezel and a black face, but the white lume hands make for a watch that’s easier to read in low-light conditions. The automatic watch has an 80-hour power reserve, meaning this watch will stay wound through all of your adventures.
17. Porsche Design Chronograph 1
There’s no time like the present to pay homage to a classic timepiece with a new reissue, right? Porsche Design went back into the archives to revamp its OG 1972 chronograph in a big way to pay tribute to 50 years of a sharp, stylish classic. It’s every bit as speedy as the lifestyle brand’s famed automobiles, with a visually striking design that’s still easy to read on the open road.
Keep in mind that it’s up for pre-order right now — and don’t worry, we have loads more options in terms of affordable all-black watches if you feel like saving a few of your hard-earned dollars. The brand’s signature movement makes this watch tick, while the triple chronograph design is effective and perhaps even calls to mind being behind the wheel of a Porsche Roadster.
18. ZENITH Defy Watch
BEST SKELETON WATCH
Zenith may be an old-school Swiss watchmaker with a history that dates back to the 1800s, but this watch is anything but stuffy. It has a black ceramic case with a rubber strap, giving it a sporty look. The standout is, of course, the face, which has a skeleton design resembling a spider. The design allows you to appreciate the Elite 670 SK automatic movement from the front, while the exhibition case back means you can see the movement from the back. There are a lot of tough-looking watches on this list, but this may be the most intimidating.