Ceramic watches are nothing new. In fact, the industry has been producing watches commercially from the tough yet lightweight material for decades. However, with the recent boom in new ceramic releases from some of the industry’s top brands, such as Rolex, Omega, and Panerai, ceramic watches are taking the market by storm. Brands are becoming increasingly creative with how they incorporate the material into their catalogs, whether it be a case machined from a single block of ceramic or an irresistibly lustrous bezel. For this article, I'll turn my attention to what I consider to be a few of the best ceramic bezels on the market.
What Are Ceramic Bezels?
Ceramic is an inorganic and nonmetal material typically made from zirconium oxide, which is then sintered at very high temperatures to create the durable solid material used in watchmaking. It’s particularly useful in horology because ceramic is virtually impervious to scratches – an essential trait for something that will potentially live on your wrist every day. Ceramic also doesn’t fade as quickly as other bezel materials, such as aluminum, and remains in like-new condition for years, if not decades. Ceramic is also very resistant to corrosion and exposure to the elements, such as salt water and UV rays.
Because it’s so durable, ceramic is ideal for purpose-driven watches, such as dive watches and pilot’s watches. Additionally, ceramic bezels, like any other bezel material, come in various types and colors.
Rolex GMT Master II REF. 116710BLNR
Photo Credit: @watchesofle
Rolex was the first brand to perfect and release a watch with a two-tone bezel crafted from a single piece of ceramic – aka “Cerachrom” in Rolex lingo. That watch was none other than the iconic Rolex Batman GMT Master II ref. 116710BLNR with a black and blue insert. The brand employs a revolutionary process to create the two-tone insert by first making the insert one color and then adding the second color before the ceramic material sets. You can also read more about the process here. Of course, this feat has since been followed up by the famous Pepsi bezel in red and blue ceramic, an edition of the Root Beer bezel with a black and brown insert, and more recently, the Sprite – Rolex’s first black and green bezel.
Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean ref. 126.96.36.199.01.001
Photo Credit: Omega
The Planet Ocean is a relatively new addition to the Seamaster family, coming to market in 2005. It often features a slightly more polarizing feature set that plays with vibrant colors, robust case sizes, and unique design elements. An excellent example of the famous deep saturation dive watch is the ceramic ref. 188.8.131.52.01.001 in black and orange. The case is made from a single block of ceramic, and the matching ceramic bezel has a vibrant orange rubber insert covering the first 15 minutes of the 60-minute diver’s scale. The colorful insert is easy to read while adventuring in the dark ocean and looks striking.
Grand Seiko Spring Drive GMT ref. SBGE257
Photo Credit: @GrandSeikoThailand
Grand Seiko is notorious for blending references to nature with flawless and precise watchmaking. Ref. SBGE257 is an excellent example of that design ethos because it presents the dial and bezel in a stunning shade of green inspired by the moss that grows in Japan near the company’s watchmaking studios. The decision to make the dial and bezel the same color was deliberate to allow the 24-hour graduations to pop. Between its legibility, rich green hue, and crisp white numerals, this Grand Seiko GMT bezel is truly exceptional.
Tudor Black Bay Ceramic ref. M79210CNU-0001
Photo Credit: @antiegrande_tokyo_japan
Tudor’s ceramic bezel Black Bay embraces the material’s inherently contemporary aesthetic with a sleek, monochrome design. It pairs a black ceramic case with a black dial and a black ceramic bezel on a uni-directional PVD-coated 316L stainless steel setting. The bezel insert features a remarkable sunray textured finish and an engraved 60-minute diver’s bezel.
Rolex Yacht-Master ref. 126655
Photo Credit: @phillipsperpetual
Rounding out the list, we have another all-black ceramic bezel, this time on the Everose Rolex Yacht-Master. The famous regatta timer displays 60-minute graduations with a race countdown on the Cerachrom bezel in raised and polished numerals, while the rest of the bezel is perfectly smooth and matte. The contrast of the different tonal ceramic finishes and flawless execution demonstrates a true mastery of ceramic bezel production.
Did your favorite ceramic bezel make the list?