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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 in search of 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.
A Brief History of the All-Black Watch
Although it’s definitely 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, told SPY recently.
A premium model like the Porsche Design Chronograph 1 first helped establish the all-black watch as a timepiece to be reckoned with, Buettner said, and the black ceramic case of the IWC 3705 is also described as a “pillar” of the style, he noted. Buettner also points to two heritage brands in recent years that have made the all-black watch a sharp choice for timepiece fans everywhere.
TUDOR’s 2016 release of the Black Bay Dark and Omega’s mid-2010s Dark Side of the Moon Speedmaster release cemented the design as an absolute must-have for modern watch lovers, he told SPY.
“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.
Recognizable brands producing famed all-black watches has certainly helped sway popular opinion, but there’s a deeper influence at play, Buettner says.
Buettner also points to style luminary and icon, the recently deceased 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 certain style starts to catch on, enthusiasts and consumers begin to take 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.”
It goes beyond just a watch being worn by a cultural icon or being made by a heritage-worthy brand though, he adds. The right watch, no matter the price, needs to deliver in terms of 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 recent 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 own favorite all-black timepieces to shop now.
1. 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 out 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 own signature movement makes this watch tick, while the triple chronograph design is effective and even calls to mind being behind the wheel of a Porsche Roadster, perhaps.
2. G-SHOCK GA2100-1A1
G-SHOCK has a wide array of supremely tough models that fall right in line 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 G-SHOCK watches are prized by the Special Forces: 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.
3. TUDOR Black Bay Dark
If you want to really 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, all the 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.
4. 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 that are suitable enough for everyday wear (like at the office with a navy blazer and a white Oxford shirt), yet primed for more laidback, minimal style, too.
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.
5. Salvatore Ferragamo Sapphire Chrono Watch
BEST DRESS WATCH
All-black watches tend to go one of two ways: either supremely rugged, or sharp and dressy. The luxury purveyors at Salvatore Ferragamo have nailed the “sharp and dressy” approach, to say the least, with this elegant sapphire chrono watch, made to compliment evening wear and tailoring with ease.
Powered by the Ronda Z50 Quartz Chronograph movement and featuring sleek hour indices and a refined all-black finish, Ferragamo describes this watch on their site as being “endowed with unmistakable personality and style,” and we tend to agree. It’s also not as pricey as the TUDOR and Porsche Design options shared above, although it still falls well within the umbrella of a must-have luxury watch.
6. 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 of when you’re done and comfortable enough to not chafe you when you’re in the groove, it’s a great option for tennis or golf if you’d rather not wear a smartwatch. However, it’s also elegant enough to wear to work too.
7. 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.
8. Skagen Signatur Black Watch
BEST UNDER $100
With a price just under $100, the Skagen Signatur black watch is a great option for those who are willing to spend a little more dough on their all-black watch. With just a touch of contrasting white color to the face, the result is a timepiece that really 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 really sharp watch.
9. 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. Originally developed for pilots and parachuters in the late 1980s, the Marathon Watch Company developed the Navigator watch with clarity and function in mind. 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.
10. MVMT Blacktop Analog Black Watch
Much like a Transformer, there’s more than meets the eye to this MVMT Blacktop Watch. 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 to ensure you can wear it pretty consistently without worry or concern about scrapes or water damage.
11. Timex Navi XL Black Watch
Inspired by dive watches and complete with 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, as 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.
12. Shinola Detrola Silicone Strap Black 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 Detrola watch, which is assembled in the USA (with imported materials). The combination of the flashy face and the silicone strap results in an all-black watch that’s like a souped-up muscle car — sleek and strong in equal measure. Plus, the date functionality adds a nice touch to an already elegant watch.