The 20 Best Ceramic Watches For All Budgets
Watch brands have historically used stainless steel, precious metals, and chrome (although a long time ago) as the main materials for watch cases. However, there has been a rise in the use of alternative case materials in the past several years. One of the more notable case materials is ceramic, and this is the focus of our discussion.
In this article, we will review a variety of great ceramic watches, from affordable budget options to the upper limits of luxury price points. If you are ready to learn more about ceramic watches, let’s move forward.
History of Ceramic Watches
The first time ceramic was used to produce an entire watch case was by Rado in 1962 with the Rado Diastar 1. It was not until the 1970s that Seiko produced their first ceramic watch, the Tuna 6159-7010 diver watch, the grandfather of the Seiko Tuna watches with the shrouded case. Like Marmite, you either love it or hate it.
Later, IWC used ceramic in their Da Vinci ref. 3755 from 1986-1995. The trend of ceramic watches gained popularity in 1999 with the release of the J12 from Chanel, featuring a black ceramic watch case and bracelet.
This was significant for Chanel, as they transitioned from a luxury fashion brand making fashion watches to producing serious luxury watches. The J12 collection of watches has since expanded, with Chanel incorporating white and mixed ceramic colors, making it their flagship watch.
Next, let’s delve into the 20 best ceramic watches for all budgets.
1. Omega X Swatch MoonSwatch
The MoonSwatch has had a meteoric rise since its release in March 2022. It has piqued society’s interest by introducing 12 colorful bioceramic watches inspired by the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch and celestial objects within the solar system.
The watch is a 1:1 of the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch, borrowing the case shape from Omega but with different dial layouts and dial colors in bioceramic form. In terms of dimensions, the MoonSwatch measures 42mm in diameter and 13.25mm in thickness and has a round case shape.
The movement inside is an ETA quartz movement with 4 jewels. The watch’s crystal is made of plastic. If you turn the watch over to the case back, each MoonSwatch has a sticker referencing a celestial object such as the Sun, Moon, Mercury, etc.
The watch is water-resistant up to 3 bars, so it’s best to remove it if you plan on getting wet. The watch comes with a velcro strap with a 20mm lug width. The MoonSwatch has regular spring bars, so you can easily swap out straps.
Some negatives are the plastic feel of the velcro strap and the build quality of the watch case. People have mentioned the chronograph pushers breaking off. Also, this is the only watch on this list that does not have a sapphire crystal.
It has a plastic crystal that tends to scratch easily, and it cannot be easily buffed out like acrylic. The MoonSwatch has become an affordable Omega Speedmaster watch for the masses. I even own two (Jupiter and Mars), and I love the direction Swatch is going with it.
This watch will undoubtedly lead people to learn about the Omega Speedmaster, with the possibility of acquiring it in the future. Lastly, the watch is priced at $260 but can only be purchased in Swatch stores, and inventory remains limited even in 2023.
2. Junghans Force Mega Solar (ref. 18/1938.44)
Junghans is well-known for its Bauhaus-designed watches and clocks, particularly the Max Bill collection. But did you know they also produce ceramic watches with radio-controlled quartz solar movement? If you didn’t, let’s find out more about it below.
Regarding Mega Solar’s specifications, the case and bracelet are made of black ceramic with a matte finish. The case diameter is 40.4mm and round in shape, while the bracelet features a titanium-folding clasp.
Although the watch is not considered an integrated bracelet watch, the narrow width of the lugs and the flow of the case to the bracelet prevents the use of other straps. The watch is 8.2mm thick, making it slim and lightweight. It is also water-resistant to 5ATM, making it more than just splash-proof.
Other interesting features of this solar-powered quartz watch include multi-frequency radio, which allows the timepiece to be conveniently controlled via the Junghans MEGA App. The watch also has a power reserve of up to 21 months, a sleep mode after 72 hours, and a big date for better readability. All of these features are useful and can make our lives easier.
Lastly, the watch is priced at approximately $1,550.
3. Longines Hydroconquest Ceramic (ref. L3.7220.127.116.11)
The Longines Hydroconquest is the flagship dive watch of the brand. It is regarded as a more affordable alternative to the Rolex Submariner. However, one version of Longines’ dive watch they have created that Rolex has yet to produce is an all-ceramic dive watch. This is an interesting timepiece, and we will dive into it below.
The Hydroconquest Ceramic comes in a matte black ceramic case in 43mm size and round case shape. The Hydroconquest is 13mm thick with a lug width of 21mm and a weight of 126.7g.
Despite the larger size of the watch, it is comfortable on the wrist due to the lightweight case material of ceramic construction. The Hydroconquest comes with a black rubber strap that hugs the wrist pleasantly.
Powering the Hydroconquest is Longines’ caliber L888, an impressive entry-level Swiss movement with a large 72-hour power reserve. So if you stop wearing the watch on Friday evening, it will still be running by Monday morning. There is also a date at the 3 o’clock position.
Being a dive watch, it has a water resistance rating of 300m, making it an ideal timepiece for underwater exploration. In terms of Swiss luxury, this is arguably the best value-for-money ceramic watch on this list and is priced at $4,150.
Bell & Ross were founded in 1992 and have gained a following due to their unique pilot and military-styled timepieces. The Bell & Ross Phantom is a looker of a watch, especially if you have larger wrists.
The Phantom comes in a matte black ceramic square case with a black rubber strap, measuring 42mm in width and 9.8mm in thickness. Due to its flat and square shape, the Phantom wears quite large, which is perfect if you have bigger wrists.
The dial of the watch features 3, 6, 9, and 12 Arabic numerals, along with a date window at the 4:30 position. The movement powering the Phantom is Bell & Ross’ Calibre BR-CAL.302, which is based on the Sellita SW300, a clone of the ETA 2892.
Although not a dive watch, the Phantom can handle water resistance up to 100m, making it an ideal companion for aerial and aquatic adventures. As an owner of a BR03-92 in stainless steel, I can attest that the design and style are iconic. The square shape of the BR03 is unmistakably Bell & Ross.
The BR03-92 Phantom is priced at $3,990.
5. Rado Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic (ref. R32128202)
Rado is a pioneer in using ceramic in watchmaking, and if you’re considering purchasing a ceramic watch, the brand should be on your list. In 2017, Rado re-launched the Captain Cook Dive Watch, paying homage to the original Captain Cook watches from 1962.
The particular watch we will inspect is the Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic. Captain Cook’s case is constructed of a monobloc case, meaning that to access the movement, you go from the front rather than removing the case back to access the movement.
This actually helps with water resistance as there are fewer access points in the watch case. The case size is 43mm and 14.6mm thick. This Captain Cook has a symmetrical and clean dial with no date. It also contains a translucent dial showing the movement.
The movement within is a variant of the Powermatic 80 movement that contains 80 hours of power reserve. In my opinion, the Captain Cook has been one of the most significant watch releases for Rado in the last few decades. Rado was typically associated with being an old-fashioned watch brand with their DiaStar and Ceramica collections.
But the Captain Cook collection is cool, with pedigree and history to back it up. This variant of the Captain Cook in ceramic is priced at $3,900.
6. Tudor Black Bay Ceramic (ref. M79210CNU-0001)
Tudor has been making waves in the watch industry ever since its resurgence in 2012. They are the playful and cooler cousin of Rolex. In fact, Tudor has been using ceramic watch cases since 2013, when they produced the Black Shield version of the Fast Rider Chronograph Watch. However, we are highlighting the ceramic version of the Black Bay here.
The Black Bay Ceramic comes in a case size of 41mm in matte black ceramic with a micro-bead blasted finish. The case is 14.4mm thick and has a lug-to-lug length of 50mm. The numbers may seem large; however, due to the lightness of the watch case and hybrid rubber and leather strap, it wears comfortably.
A great aspect of this Black Bay Ceramic is the automatic Calibre MT5602-1U. The Black Bay Ceramic costs $5,025, and this is good value for money, all things being considered.
7. TAG Heuer Carrera Automatic Chronograph (ref. CBG2090.BH0661)
The TAG in TAG Heuer is an abbreviation for Techniques d’Avant Garde. When it comes to avant-garde materials, ceramic is an appropriate choice. Jean-Claude Biver, the former President of LVMH’s watch division (including TAG Heuer and Zenith), significantly influenced the design of the modern Carrera Automatic Chronograph watches.
The case, lugs, tachymeter bezel, and bracelet of this ceramic Carrera are made of black ceramic. The watch case has a diameter of 43mm and is water-resistant to 100m. The watch features an exhibition case back, but the front is more impressive with the skeleton dial displaying the Calibre HEUER02 Automatic in-house movement.
The movement has a lengthy 80-hour power reserve. These specifications for this Carrera are quite impressive. A negative critique of this timepiece is that it shares key design elements with Hublot. It is essentially an affordable version of the Hublot Big Bang Unico.
TAG Heuer prices this watch at $7,400.
8. IWC Pilot Chronograph Top Gun (ref. IW389101)
“Top Gun: Maverick” was released in 2022, and in honor of the movie, IWC specially released the Pilot Chronograph Top Gun. The Pilot Chronograph is an icon of IWC, alongside the Big Pilot collection. The Top Gun watch boasts a design geared towards the elite among US Navy jet pilots, thus possessing genuine military pedigree along with a great stealthy appearance.
IWC states the watch is made of black ceramic with a diameter of 44.5mm. The watch is 15.7mm thick, with a lug width of 21mm. It is suitably paired with a textile strap, given the military styling of this timepiece. The Top Gun contains a screw-in crown but is only water-resistant to 60m, so its usefulness in water may be limited.
The hands of the chronograph are white, except for the running seconds hand at the 6 o’clock position, which has a touch of red. It’s subtle yet adds a nice touch of color.
What’s also interesting is that the Top Gun features a soft-iron inner case around the automatic movement for protection against magnetic fields, which is handy since we are constantly surrounded by magnetic fields in modern times.
The Top Gun commands a premium pricing from IWC at $8,950.
9. Zenith Defy Classic White Ceramic (ref. 49.9002.670/01.R792)
In 2019, Zenith released their Defy Classic collection of timepieces in black, white, and blue ceramic cases with matching color rubber straps. Zenith ventured out of their usual comfort zone of watch styling here, likely due to Jean-Claude Biver’s influence. Let’s delve into the Classic White Ceramic model.
The Zenith Defy white ceramic has a case size of 41mm and is 10.75mm thick. The Zenith has a water resistance of 100m, which makes it great for daily wear. Although the watch appears round, once it is on the wrist, you can feel the tonneau case of the Defy.
The dial of the watch is unique, as it is a skeleton design, meaning that components of the automatic movement can be seen from the front. The dial reminds me of Keith Haring’s Pop Art. This is definitely a fun timepiece to wear.
The Defy Classic White Ceramic has a retail price of $7,900.
Panerai is the quintessential watch of the Italian Navy Frogmen. They are historically military dive watches. Having owned a Panerai Luminor Marina, I can attest that Panerai timepieces are built to a high standard, robust, and interesting in design.
There is nothing quite like a Panerai, and the Tuttonero Luminor GMT is even more stylish with its black ceramic casing and stealthy appearance. The Tuttonero GMT is large at 44mm, 53mm lug-to-lug length, and cushion case design.
But then again, Panerai watches are meant to be large and bold on the wrist. The bracelet is also made out of ceramic, thus contributing to a cool overall experience. The dial of the Panerai contains faux patina on the hour markers, which contrasts well with the black matte dial.
The Tuttonero has a sandwich dial, meaning that there is a layer of lume below the dial with cutouts on the hour markers. This gives the dial added depth. The Tuttonero is also 100m water-resistant, ensuring you can safely swim with it.
The Tuttonero Luminor GMT comes with a steep price tag of $15,200.
11. Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor Chronograph Ceramic (ref. Q204C470)
Jaeger-LeCoultre, or JLC, is often known as the “watchmaker’s watch brand” as they have historically provided movements to the best Swiss watchmakers, including Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, and Audemars Piguet. Thus, if they were to follow modern trends and create a black ceramic watch, they have every right to do so.
The Master Compressor Chronograph Ceramic measures 44mm. This chronograph contains a three-sub-dial layout at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions. There’s a date window at the 4:30 position. This timepiece contains 100m water resistance, ensuring it can withstand harsh environments.
This watch is limited to 500 in production. Thus, due to its rarity, it is highly coveted by collectors. Although JLC is well-renowned for its movements and dress-style watches, they also make handsome sports-casual watches, as shown here.
The Master Compressor Chronograph Ceramic was $13,900 when released. This model is now discontinued, so it can only be purchased on the secondary market.
12. Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe (ref. 5000 0240 O52A)
Blancpain is credited with making the first dive watch in 1953, alongside Zodiac. However, the modern Blancpain we know today is actually a modern reincarnation. Jean-Claude Biver purchased the brand in 1983 (defunct since 1961) and successfully revived it.
Now Blancpain is under the Swatch Group umbrella. Let’s dive in and learn more about the ceramic Bathyscaphe. This Bathyscaphe is crafted in gray ceramic. The case is 43.6mm in diameter and 13.8mm thick, with a 23mm lug width.
Those numbers appear large, particularly the 23mm lug width, and it can be difficult to obtain straps in this size. However, the sailcloth strap on the watch is one of the best in the business from Blancpain. The Bathyscaphe, true to its dive watch heritage, has 300m of water resistance.
The Bathyscaphe has a blue sunburst dial, and the color matches the blue ceramic bezel insert. Also, the hands are unique; they are blocky and remind me of Lego pieces but with a straight point at the tip of each hand.
A negative is the size of the lume plots on the hour markers; they are small for this watch dial, given there is enough empty space on the dial to make them larger.
The Bathyscaphe in ceramic is expensively priced at $13,500.
13. Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon (ref. 318.104.22.168.01.003)
Omega has been releasing variant after variant of their ever-popular Speedmaster watches, which has diluted the Speedmaster collection. However, the Dark Side of the Moon in black ceramic caught the attention of many enthusiasts. Even as I think about this timepiece, I lust for it along with the regular Speedmaster Moonwatch.
The Dark Side of the Moon comes in a 44mm case sizing, larger than the standard Moonwatch. The thickness is 16.1mm, the lug width is 21mm, and the lug-to-lug length is 49.8mm. Due to the ergonomic curves of the case and downward turn lugs, this watch is very wearable on a range of wrist sizes.
The Dark Side of the Moon is light at 93g on the nylon strap. Also, there are two subdials at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock rather than the standard three on the Moonwatch.
The Dark Side of the Moon is a stunning timepiece, and the cherry on top is the exhibition case back, showing off the beautifully decorated Co-Axial Calibre 9300 movement. Considering the chronometer movement and the Speedmaster collection, the price tag of $12,000 seems reasonable.
14. Hublot Big Bang Integrated Sky Blue Ceramic (ref. 451.EX.5120.EX)
Hublot is an expert when it comes to utilizing exotic materials in watches, ranging from sapphire to carbon, Magic Gold, and more. The material discussed here is sky blue ceramic, which is a unique take on ceramic, as brands typically use black or white ceramic.
But then again, Hublot is not your typical Swiss watch brand. They do things differently and are controversial within the watch community. The Integrated Sky Blue Ceramic is limited to 250 pieces. The sky blue ceramic case is satin-finished and polished; the case size is 42mm in diameter.
The bracelet comes with matching colors and finishes as the watch case. There is a skeleton dial showing off the inner gears and finish of the HUB1280 UNICO automatic movement. This movement also contains a flyback complication that allows the wearer to reset the chronograph timer to zero without stopping it.
The power reserve is an impressive 72 hours, and the timepiece has 100m water resistance, so it doesn’t need to be babied. If you have ever tried on a Big Bang watch, you will know they are large and thick, but this is the loud style of Hublot. I am not the biggest fan of Hublot, but they can make nice watches (Classic Fusion).
The Big Bang in Sky Blue Ceramic has a premium pricing of $24,100.
15. Grand Seiko SBGC221
The Grand Seiko SBG221 is the only brand on this list that hails from Asia, as the others are German or Swiss-made. This takes nothing away from Grand Seiko and does not mean the watch is of inferior quality. In fact, Grand Seiko is renowned for the quality and Zaratsu finishing of its watch cases.
Grand Seiko typically sizes their sports watches on the larger end of the spectrum. Here, it is no different, as the SBGC221 has a case diameter of 46.4mm, a case thickness of 16.2mm, a lug width of 23mm, and a lug-to-lug length of 52.5mm.
The heartbeat of the SBGC221 is through the Spring Drive movement, a hybrid quartz and automatic movement. The smoothness of the sweeping seconds hands of Grand Seiko Spring Drive movements is mesmerizing.
This SBGC221 is complicated; it is a chronograph watch with a unique asymmetrical three sub-dial arrangement. There is also a power reserve and date indicator. Additionally, there is a fourth main center hand, the GMT hand. This watch is full of functions, and it could be your only watch if it were smaller in size.
The SBGC221 is priced expensively at $14,800, but this is justified by the quality and high-end finishing of Grand Seiko.
If I do not have the opportunity to own an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak in the future, then I feel the Bulgari Octo Finissimo is a suitable substitute for my collection. The version we are highlighting is the Finissimo in black ceramic, ref. 103077. Gerald Genta actually inspired the Bulgari Octo timepiece; thus, it possesses elegance and charm.
The Finissimo Ceramic uses black ceramic with a sandblasted finish. The case size comes in at 40mm with a 5.55mm thickness, but it wears larger due to the squarish size and flatness of the watch case. This watch has substance to back up its ultra-sleek look, and it contains an extra-thin automatic manufacture movement.
The movement includes a micro-rotor made of platinum. This is also the thinnest full ceramic watch currently available. The specifications of this Finissimo Ceramic are truly impressive. Bulgari is a brand that keeps innovating. So keep your eyes on them in the future.
This Finissimo Ceramic has a price tag of $17,700, a bargain compared to Genta-designed sports watches.
17. Girard-Perregaux Laureato Ceramic (ref. 81010-32-631-32A)
During my recent travels, I had a layover in Copenhagen, Denmark, where I visited several watch boutiques. Several Girard-Perregaux Laureato watches caught my eye, including the regular stainless steel model, the Infinity Edition, and the Laureato Ceramic.
The latter was my pick of the bunch, although I sadly did not have much time to try it on. If looks could kill, this watch would be deadly. The GP Laureato Ceramic has a 42mm case size with a thickness of 11.13mm. The dial captures your attention with its Clous de Paris pattern, which features small square knobs.
The watch also features an exhibition case back, allowing you to view the beautifully decorated GP01800 automatic movement. People often compare the Laureato with the Royal Oak, but to me, it is another iconic watch from that period. There is a certain edge about this Laureato Ceramic that words simply cannot describe.
The color, edges, and textures all fuse together to make this a marvelous timepiece. Also, as the watch case is entirely black ceramic, the color makes the watch wear and feel smaller too. The GP Laureato Ceramic carries a premium price tag of $20,300.
18. Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronoworks (ref. SB0161E4/BE91-256S)
Breitling has a rich history in aviation, and the watch most people associate with Breitling is the Navitimer chronograph. However, in recent years, their Superocean Heritage Dive Watch collection has gained more exposure. The particular model we will be inspecting is the Superocean Heritage Chronoworks.
Firstly, the Chronoworks is a limited edition timepiece, with only 100 made. The Chronoworks is large, at 46mm and 15.44mm thick, with a lug width of 24mm. So, you will need a larger wrist to wear this watch; otherwise, it may end up looking like a dinner plate on your wrist.
Additional features of the Chronoworks include 100m water resistance and 100 hours of power reserve. It is undeniable that Breitling makes great watches. However, for the price of this watch, I would have expected a more luxurious strap than rubber. Also, the size of the watch is an issue, in my opinion.
This rare Chronoworks from Breitling had a retail price of $40,000. But is now discontinued and can only be found on the secondary market.
19. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar (ref. 26579CS.OO.1225CS.01)
Audemars Piguet is considered one of the three brands in the “Holy Trinity” of Swiss watchmakers, alongside Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin. Out of the three brands, AP has made greater efforts to follow modern trends.
The AP Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in blue ceramic is an example of this, and it shows AP flexing its metaphorical muscles by fusing avant-garde with traditional watchmaking. This Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar is 41mm in diameter and 9.5mm thin.
For a perpetual calendar, these measurements are slim, and the watch feels svelte on the wrist as the bracelet drapes around it. The dial and subdials of this Royal Oak contain a blue Grande Tapisserie texture. There are four subdials at each quarter of the dial.
In my opinion, the 6 o’clock subdial is the star of the show as the moon phase subdial is contained there. The background of the moon phase dial contains a starlit sky, making it a truly magical timepiece.
AP notes this timepiece is “Price on Request”. Nonetheless, sources indicate a retail price in the region of CHF 129,000, which is astronomical. Also, as this is a Royal Oak collection, it is undoubtedly limited in production.
20. Richard Mille RM055 Bubba Watson
When it comes to avant-garde watchmaking, Richard Mille is a brand that comes to mind. They have carved out a niche in the upper echelons of luxury watches. Whether you agree with the pricing or not, it is undeniable that Richard Mille is a force to be reckoned with in horology.
The watch we are focusing on is the RM055 “Bubba Watson”. The tonneau-shaped case is made of white ceramic, iconic of the RM brand. The Bubba Watson is 42.7mm in size, with a lug-to-lug length of 49.9mm and a thickness of 13.05mm.
The Bubba Watson sits ergonomically on the wrist, and the rubber strap follows the curvature of the case, making it very comfortable and lightweight to wear. Next, let’s talk about the movement. This is where RM really innovates. The movement is the Calibre RMUL2 hand-winding movement.
The gears and cogs seem to float above the skeleton dial, creating an impressive visual effect. The Bubba Watson is simply a supercar on your wrist. Sources indicate that the Bubba Watson has a retail price of $120,000. But RM watches are extremely difficult to obtain at retail prices. So you will be paying way above retail price if you’re interested in buying it from the secondary market.
Overall, ceramic watches are not a fad anymore as brands have placed significant resources into using the material. Ceramic watch cases have been here to stay since their inception in 1962. The list above covers a wide range of prices for people looking to buy a ceramic watch.
Despite not being mentioned in the list of ceramic watches, having experienced the full white ceramic Chanel J12 watch, I can say that it is absolutely gorgeous to behold and feels light on the wrist.
In my opinion, Chanel, along with Rado, are two juggernauts in the use of ceramic in wristwatches. So, if you are looking to buy a ceramic watch, remember to hunt around, do your research, and ask questions.
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