Newfangled space-age watch case materials come and go, but the popularity of carbon fiber, which exploded onto the watch scene about 10 years ago, has never waned. In my view this is not just because of its properties – it has a high strength-to-weight ratio, which makes it ideal for sports watches – but because, with its distinctive matrix, it remains the coolest looking case and dial material out there. It is unmistakably sporty, with a race-car vibe and a solid reputation in aerospace engineering. Technically a carbon fiber reinforced polymer, some composites are mixed with aluminum, kevlar or carbon nanotubes for an even lighter feel.
Richard Mille RM 011 Felipe Massa Flyback Chronograph Carbon, a tribute to the Formula One driver, with a skeletonized automatic movement, and a black carbon tripartite case. A 30-piece limited edition.
IWC Ingenieur Automatic Carbon Performance (Ref. 3224), made of epoxy resin soaked carbon fiber matting, and manufactured using the same principle as the monocoque safety shell of a Formula One racing car. The dial is also carbon fiber.
Hublot Big Bang Ferrari Carbon Red Magic, with carbon fiber case and carbon fiber and black PVD titanium lower bezel, on a black leather strap with red stitching. Part of the Big Bang Ferrari collection.
Zenith El Primero Lightweight, which teams a carbon case with a titanium and silicon movement (the double chronograph wheel and escape wheel are silicon), an openworked movement and a Nomex synthetic fiber strap.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver, with a forged carbon case, black Mega Tapisserie dial and black rubber strap. With AP self-winding caliber 3120.