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The Best All-Black Watches

With dark cases and black dials, these stealthy tool watches fly under the radar.

best black watches
Gear Patrol

In 1972, Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche and designer of the legendary 911, split from the carmaker to start his own design firm, Porsche Design. His first product was the Chronograph 1, a chronograph watch with a stainless steel case powder-coated in black. It is generally accepted as the first all-black watch design, with watchmakers like IWC and Heuer following up soon after with their own takes.

The problem with these early black watches was that the powder-coated paint scratched very easily. The solution: using physical vapor deposition (PVD) to add a thin, hard coating of black material on the watch case that is nigh impossible to scratch, protecting both the finish and the stainless steel underneath. PVD (physical vapor deposition) and DLC (diamond-like carbon) have since become the de facto methods for creating all-black watches, though in recent years the use of other naturally black materials like carbon composites and black ceramic has offered more interesting possibilities.

In either case, modern all-black watches lend themselves to a stealthy, tough-guy aesthetic and, as such, the all-black look is at its best when it’s paired with a purpose-built tool watch. And since all-black watches are far less blingy than polished steel or precious metal counterparts, they work exceptionally well with a pared-down wardrobe, perhaps why they’ve seen a surge in popularity in recent years. They can be found at pretty much any price, ranging from a couple hundred bucks to tens of thousands.

Blacked-Out Watches

Watches with black-on-black designs sometimes referred to as "blacked-out" or "phantom" watches, have been popular in recent years. We're talking about the kind of watches with black hands and indices against black dials that completely lack in the contrast necessary for reasonable legibility. That kind of watch isn't included here because we can't recommend a product that doesn't serve its most basic function (i.e., telling the time clearly). Rather, we've included good examples of watches with that badass look of black cases and dials — but with the level of contrast and legibility, we can stand behind.

The Best All-Black Watches

Casio G-Shock "CasiOak" GA2100-1A2

Casio G-Shock

amazon.com
$123.74

G-Shock's massively popular "CasiOak" (2100 series) comes in myriad flavors, many of which feature sleek black colorways. Even more variants offer the likes of solar charging and metal cases, but for a simple and affordable watch with an all-black facade but retaining legibility with pops of contrast you've got multiple options from this compelling collection.

  • Movement: Quartz
  • Case Diameter: 48.5mm
  • Case Material: Resin (polyethylene)
  • Water Resistance: 200m

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    Braun BN0172

    Braun BN0172

    amazon.com
    $450.00

    Ceramic cases are usually reserved for the luxury level of the watch hierarchy, but that didn’t stop Braun from offering one in a sub-$500 package. The black case and bracelet are mated with a black dial with subtle gray hour markers, with the white and yellow hands providing the only contrast against a stunningly dark void.

    • Movement: Quartz
    • Case Diameter: 38mm
    • Case Material: Ceramic
    • Water Resistance: 30m

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      Q Timex Reissue

      Q Timex Reissue

      timex.com
      $179.00

      With "Quartz" emblazoned on the dials, Timex's Q series resurrects watch styles from the days when brands proudly advertised quartz movements. They feel honest and charming, but they've also just got that unbeatable retro style. The colorways, however, give the underlying design a modern twist, and in this version it makes for the best all-black watch you can get for the money.

      • Movement: Quartz
      • Case Diameter: 38mm
      • Case Material: Steel with PVD coating
      • Water Resistance: 50m

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        Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical

        Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical

        hamiltonwatch.com
        $625.00

        We at Gear Patrol can't help but return regularly to the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical as one of the best-value Swiss mechanical watches you can buy. Well, guess what: a black treatment only makes it cooler and fits right in with the military theme. The upgraded hand-wound movement now has 80 hours of power reserve and it comes in a slim, 38mm case with a PVD coating.

        • Movement: ETA 2801-2 Manual
        • Case Diameter: 38mm
        • Case Material: Steel PVD
        • Water Resistance: 50m

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          Seiko Prospex Solar Analog-Digital Diver's Watch SNJ037

          Seiko Prospex Solar Prospex Solar Analog-Digital Diver's Watch SNJ037

          seikousa.com
          $725.00

          Seiko’s edgy divers are certainly deserving of a serious-looking colorway. Here, the brand has evolved upon the familiar "Arnie" design, and the hulking case gets black ion-plating, the ana-digi dial is done up in black, and it’s mounted to a black steel bracelet. The lume and general contrast keep it nice and legible.

          • Movement: Seiko H851 Solar Quartz
          • Case Diameter: 47.8mm
          • Case Material: Stainless steel with ion-plating
          • Water Resistance: 200m

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            Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 53 Compression

            Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 53 Compression

            zodiacwatches.com
            $1,395.00

            Zodiac's Super Sea Wolf is one of our favorite dive watch collections, offering history, a retro appeal, solid specs and a good value. The 53 Compression has a nicely sized 40mm case, a sapphire crystal and a Swiss automatic movement. While many Super Sea Wolf watches are on the colorful side, this version with a jet-black case and dial has a particularly stealthy look.

            • Movement: STP 3-13 Automatic
            • Case Diameter: 40mm
            • Case Material: Steel PVD
            • Water Resistance: 200m

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              Longines Legend Diver Black

              Longines Legend Diver Black

              hodinkee.com
              $2,700.00

              Since its launch way back in 2007, the vintage-inspired Legend Diver has been an overwhelming fan-favorite in Longines’ lineup. Its gotten numerous tweaks over the years, but the all-black treatment (not to mention a revised movement with a 68-hour power reserve) makes it possibly the best version yet. All this lends the decidedly old-school diver a more modern look, and we can’t help but love the way the mint and tan indices intertwine with the black backdrop of its dial, bezel and case.

              • Movement: ETA A31.L01 automatic
              • Case Diameter: 42mm
              • Case Material: Stainless steel with PVD coating
              • Water Resistance: 300m

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                Doxa Sub 300 Carbon Sharkhunter

                Doxa Sub 300 Carbon Sharkhunter

                doxawatches.com
                $3,890.00

                A perfect canvas for a sleek, tactical makeover, this version of the Doxa Sub 300 gets its blackness from a forged carbon case. Only the essential elements necessary for time-telling escaped the black treatment, and they contrast well in white lume and orange for strong legibility. It’s thoroughly badass, with a 44mm case, 300m of water resistance, and a Swiss automatic movement inside.

                • Movement: ETA 2824-2
                • Case Diameter: 44mm
                • Case Material: Forged carbon
                • Water Resistance: 300m

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                  Tudor Black Bay Ceramic

                  Tudor Black Bay Ceramic

                  tudorwatch.com
                  $4,825.00

                  Tudor seemingly has an endless supply of variants for its heritage-inspired Black Bay collection, but the Black Bay Ceramic feels like the dark horse in the lineup. Its tough-guy looks are crafted not from a coated steel case (like the Black Bay Dark) but from solid black ceramic. A typically striking value proposition, the exotic case material doesn't even bump the price up from that of the steel version exorbitantly.

                  • Movement: Tudor MT5602 automatic
                  • Case Diameter: 41mm
                  • Case Material: Black ceramic
                  • Water Resistance: 200m

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                    Porsche Design Chronograph 1

                    Porsche Design Chronograph 1

                    porsche-design.com
                    $9,650.00

                    We'd be remiss not to include the granddaddy of black watches: the Porsche Design Chronograph 1 — or at least the brand's modern reissue of it. A near one-to-one remake of the original, you get the chance to own one of the most legendary watch designs ever (yeah, also the same one Tom Cruise wore in Top Gun), but with the benefit of modern tech and materials. That means the titanium case's black coating will be much longer-lasting than those original watches.

                    • Movement: Porsche Design WERK 01.140
                    • Case Diameter: 42mm
                    • Case Material: Stainless steel with PVD coating
                    • Water Resistance: 300m

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                      Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon

                      Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon

                      watchesofswitzerland.com
                      $12,000.00

                      The classic Omega Speedmaster looks strikingly modern with a black 44mm ceramic case, and it was an instant hit when it debuted in 2013. The Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon is one of the most iconic all-black watches on the market and one of the best representatives of this niche among luxury watches. With a number of compelling variants, the full collection is worth checking out.

                      • Movement: Omega 9300 automatic
                      • Case Diameter: 44.25mm
                      • Case Material: Ceramic
                      • Water Resistance: 50m

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                        Panerai Submersible Marina Militare Carbotech

                        Panerai Submersible Marina Militare Carbotech

                        panerai.com
                        $19,900.00

                        This watch is made of Panerai's proprietary carbon composite material called Carbotech, but you might just consider it 47mm of pure testosterone. You not only get a military dive watch in a technical, lightweight material but inside it's powered by one of Panerai's excellent in-house automatic movements. It might be monstrously sized, but its color will make it visually smaller and its material will make it light on the wrist — you just might be surprised at how easy-wearing it is.

                        • Movement: Panerai P.9010 automatic
                        • Case Diameter: 47mm
                        • Case Material: Panerai Carbotech
                        • Water Resistance: 300m

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