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Cartier Tudor

Blacked out watches: Cool, too trendy or somewhere in between?

Yesterday fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld died. Hodinkee (naturally) reported on his watch, a blacked-out Audemars Piguet Royal Oak made in 1972.

Courtesy: Hodinkee

The watch was well-worn by Lagerfeld and seemed like a perfect extension of his personal style, which was sharp, bold and menacing. The photo of his watch shows what most watch collectors fear about ownership of an all-black watch, the coating has worn and the metallic colors of the bracelet and case are showing through.

After seeing this photo of Lagerfeld’s AP, I realized that a well-worn PVD/DLC’d watch looks pretty good, and the wear marks give it character and tell a story of where the watch has been.

Now would I commission a blacked out Rolex from a customizer like Bamford? While I do like the creativity that’s behind Bamford’s designs, I prefer, like many, my Rolexes natural, especially with the understated brilliance of 904L grade steel.

There are plenty of options for an all-black watch. Mine is Casio G-Shock GW-5000 with it’s DLC caseback. I get a lot out of mine and I’m not afraid to wear it during active pursuits.

The Tudor Black Bay Dark, with its red lume pip on bezel insert marker and red line of text (indicating the depth rating) on the dial, is an outstanding execution of the all-black watch. The Cartier Santos 100 ADLC (with in-house movement) is one of my favorite watches because the all-black look gives a very traditional esthetic a tasteful edge.

Photo by Monochrome Watches

The Santos’ coating is reported to be ultra-resistant to scratches, but after seeing Lagerfeld’s AP, the idea of metal showing through a blacked-out watch doesn’t bother me at all.

Cartier Nomos

Considering a square/rectangular watch? Take a look at these options

There is a certain upscale elegance when it comes to square or rectangular case watches. By the way, we find in conversation that most people call them square watches even though most are rectangular.

The Cartier Tank is watch enters the mind of most people when they think of the dressy square watches. Jackie O, Princess Diana, Andy Warhol, Clark Gable and Sofia Coppola are just some of the well-known people who have chosen the Tank to become their signature timepiece.

The look is discrete and understated, always appropriate for a more formal setting. Then again GQ featured Ryan Reynolds wearing one with chinos and white T-shirt as well as more casual work outfit. So this look can be very versatile too. Sometimes the right juxtaposition of styles really works.

Photo by GQ

Photo by GQ












Note that the case dimensions on paper quite often won’t translate to how these watches wear on the wrist, so be sure to try them on. The Cartier Tank may not be everyone’s style, so we’ve gathered a selection of alternatives (at a range of price points) for your consideration.


Hermès Carré H:

The Carré H is designed by well-regarded furniture designer Marc Berthier and has very distinct and fun esthetic. But coming from Hermès, it still maintains an overall refined look even though the current size is 38mm x 38mm. which is on the large side for this case shape. The guilloche dial elements add texture and the red seconds hand offers just the right amount of color. This is the watch for men who are devotees to the Parisan luxury house. $7,125 at


Baume & Mercier Hampton: The automatic version of the Hampton uses an ETA-2892 movement (with a see-through sapphire caseback) and offers a classic rectangle case design, with gold markers and hands. At 31mm x 47mm, this overall look on the wrist is sleek. The well-placed date window is unobtrusive and still highly legible. $2,650.00 at

Nomos Tetra: Like many watch fanatics, Nomos has a special place in our hearts. Its designs are rooted in the Bauhaus school of design, but there are always unexpected details from this German watch manufacturer that make their watches stand out. The Tetra family has a range of styles and sizes in square cases. We think the Tetra Neomatik 39 is the best style for men. It’s a bit sportier and thus more versatile. The in-house, ultra-thin automatic caliber DUW 3001 keeps a very low profile, so it’s very dress shirt friendly. The red seconds hand and light blue numerals marking seconds give this conservative style a refreshing jolt of energy.$3,860 at

Seiko SUP880: So here’s a solar, quartz Tank-homage for less than two bills. This one is a solid choice for anyone who wants to dabble in the rectangular watch arena, but isn’t ready to commit. Heck, buy one for your friend while your hitting that one-click checkout on Prime. $88.98 on 



The Cartier Drive Extra Flat: A Contemporary Dress Watch with Classic Roots

The Cartier Drive Extra Flat in steel, which is set to be released this fall, features the Cartier 430 MC (based on a Piaget movement) that allows for an extra-thin case (6.6 mm thick) and wears well at 38 mm wide by 39 mm tall in case dimensions. Priced at $5,600 you get classic Cartier styling, a minimalist no-date dial and a versatile blue crocodile strap with a standard tang buckle. The fact that it’s a manual wind movement makes this Cartier Drive a strong contender for your dress watch slot if you haven’t filled it yet.

For those concerned with matching your leathers, the blue strap works well because it can go with brown or black shoes, and it makes the blue hands on the Drive Extra Flat. What we also like about this version over the standard Drive is a slightly smaller overall case size and simpler dial. There’s no small seconds hand and no date complication, making it easy to fit this watch into your dressier day at the office job. The solid caseback also simplifies this watch, adding to its overall non-fussy nature.

This is the Cartier watch that is quite suitable for a younger man or a man who feels young at heart. Although Cartier watches, from the Tank to Santos series, are considered one of the most traditional brands to own for watch collectors, many look too old-fashioned in our opinion. The case proportions and all-steel take make this a Cartier that looks completely at home in jeans and T-shirt or even sweatpants (!) dare we say.