The New Black
As watchmakers advance their art, it’s not just the movements that benefit. Sean Li examines the technical developments and materials that keep cases at the cutting edge
o into any watch boutique today and you’re likely to see watches in steel, titanium or precious metals. There’s also a good chance you’ll see timepieces with cases formed from esoteric materials. The most likely alternative to a traditional steel or gold case is a black one, and there are many ways of achieving such a case. It’s difficult to say when the trend started, but it has certainly caught on, as if it was a right of passage for most modern watchmakers, even ones with a very classical heritage.
The most straightforward way to achieve the effect is with a coating—physical vapour deposition (PVD) or diamond-like carbon (DLC). I won’t get into the technicalities; suffice it to say, PVD preceded DLC, and both are used to coat a metal, generally steel,