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The 10 Best All-Black Watches You Can Buy in 2020

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

tudor black bay dark

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. Soon after, he launched 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 blacked-out watches.

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 has since become the de facto method for creating all-black watches, though in recent years, the use of other materials like carbon composites and black ceramic have become much more common practice when designing cases.

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. These ten examples wear the look best.

Braun BN0171

the 10 best blacked out watches you can buy gear patrol braun bn0171

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 just 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

Buy Now: $450

Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical

hamilton khaki

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 reservem 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

Buy Now: $545

Seiko Prospex SNJ028 “Arnie”

seiko arnie

Seiko’s edgy "Arnie" diver is certainly a watch deserving of a serious-looking colorway. Here, the hulking case gets black ion-plating, the ana-digi dial is done up in black, and it’s mounted to a black rubber strap. The lume and gold accents add enough contrast to keep it the dial legible.

Movement: Seiko H851 Solar Quartz
Case diameter: 47.8mm
Case material: Stainless steel with ion-plating
Water resistance: 200m

Buy Now: $550

Squale 50 Atmos

the 10 best blacked out watches you can buy gear patrol squale 50 atmos

Squale was once a watch-case producer (associated with Heuer and Blancpain, among others) that relaunched in the 21st century as a maker of retro-inspired dive watches. This 50 Atmos is, as the name suggests, water-resistant to 500 meters (50 atmospheres) and powered by a Swiss-made ETA automatic. The black PVD coating suits its sleek case shape well, and the orange minute hand is a nice, contrasting touch.
Movement: ETA 2824-2 automatic
Case diameter: 42mm
Case material: Stainless steel with PVD coating
Water resistance: 500m

Buy Now: $899

Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 53 Compression

zodiac sea wolf compression

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 — all while retaining plenty of contrast and strong legibility.
Movement: STP 3-13 Automatic
Case diameter: 40mm
Case material: Steel PVD
Water resistance: 200m

Buy Now: $1,395

Sinn 856 UTC Black

the 10 best blacked out watches you can buy gear patrol sinn 856 utc black

Even at the lower end of the brand’s price spectrum, Sinn’s penchant for over-engineering shines through. The 656 UTC here features a stainless steel case, hardened through Sinn’s “Tegiment” process, then given a black PVD coating. The case also protects the GMT movement inside from magnetic fields up to 80,000 A/m. Even though the 856 is not a dive watch, it’s still water resistant to a very respectable 200 meters.
Movement: ETA 2893-2 automatic
Case diameter: 40mm
Case material: Stainless steel with PVD coating
Water resistance: 200m

Buy Now: $2,060

Mühle-Glashütte Sea-Timer BlackMotion

muhle glashutte sea timer blackmotion gear patrol

One of the best recent examples of an all-black watch, Mühle-Glashütte’s serious diver was the perfect canvas for a sleek, tactical makeover. Only the essential elements necessary for time-telling escaped the black PVD treatment, and contrast well for strong legibility. It’s thoroughly badass, with a 44mm case, 300m of water-resistance, and the brand’s own modified version of the Swiss Sellita SW 200-1 automatic movement inside.
Movement: Sellita SW 200-1 automatic
Case diameter: 44mm
Case material: Stainless steel with PVD coating
Water resistance: 300m

Buy Now: $2,495

Longines Legend Diver Black

the 10 best blacked out watches you can buy gear patrol longines legend diver black

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 at Baselworld 2018, the watchmaker gave it the all-black treatment (not to mention a revised movement with a 68-hour power reserve). 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

Buy Now: $2,700

Tudor Black Bay Dark

the 10 best blacked out watches you can buy gear patrol tudor black bay dark

Tudor seemingly has an endless supply of variants for its heritage-inspired Black Bay collection, but the Black Bay Dark feels like the dark horse in the lineup. Its tough guy-looks are complemented by the addition of PVD black coating, and the red accents on the bezel at 12 o’clock and the dial at six are the only added color this diver needs.
Movement: Tudor MT5602 automatic
Case diameter: 41mm
Case material: Stainless steel with PVD coating
Water resistance: 200m

Buy Now: $4,625

Zenith Chronomaster Revival Shadow

zenith chronomaster revival shadow gear patrol lead full

You may think the famous, in-house automatic chronograph movement is the highlight of the Zenith Chronomaster Revival Shadow, but, really, it's only half the watch's attraction. The Shadow has a captivating look with a titanium case measuring a very retro 37mm wide, but combined with the sleek all-black treatment, it's contemporary at the same time. Zenith says it took inspiration from an early prototype of a black-coated watch that was never produced, adding to the modern watch's unique story and appeal.
Movement: Zenith El Primero 400
Case diameter: 37mm
Case material: Titanium
Water resistance: 50m

Buy Now: $8,200

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