Ceramic Bezels: The New In-house Movements?

  1. Calibre11

    Calibre11 Editor of Calibre11.com Staff Member Nov 19, 2017

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    A few years back, the collective wisdom turned against third-party movements. Despite the fact that movements had always been supplied by specialist third parties (Valjoux, Lemania, ETA), the marketing push from the brands that did have in-house movements began to work: simplistically, In-house was good and third-party was cheap. You often heard the refrain that "at that price I expect an in-house movement".

    I sense that the feeling has died down on this one. When Rolex (Tudor) released the Black Bay Chronograph with a Breitling movement..not a sound. All the noise around the Heuer-01 has gone...surely that can't just be because TAG Heuer changed the name?

    So, now there is a new "in-house movement"..the humble bezel. Since we saw the first ceramic bezels a few years ago, there seems to now be a view that aluminium is cheap. I'm not so sure. I like ceramic bezels, but they do give a very different "glassy" looks compared to aluminium. You can get ceramic bezels on lower priced Aquaracers, yet the JLC Deep Sea range all have aluminium bezels at +$10k.

    I think the choice is more than cost- aluminium is more vintage and in some cases I prefer the look...although no question that ceramic is harder and will wear better.

    So, is it as simple as aluminium = cheap; ceramic = premium?
     
    Zeke and Jim Dollares like this.
  2. imagwai

    imagwai Nov 19, 2017

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    Ceramic can be a bit too shiny for me. Depends on the look you want really. I certainly don't consider either type to be more premium than the other.
     
  3. dtf

    dtf Nov 19, 2017

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    My dislike of aluminium bezels is purely around durability. It's a very soft metal, watches get knocks.
     
  4. elbeik

    elbeik Nov 19, 2017

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    I believe it depends on the aesthetics and theme of the watch.
    Would I have loved a ceramic bezel on my Carrera Calibre 16 Monaco GP? Heck yes.
    On the Bell&Ross vintage flyback? Not so much.

    Remember when I got into the Seiko divers mods craze?
    Ceramic bezel inserts really embellished the said watches.
    But then again they were simple, hard working divers.

    I believe the Ceramic propaganda started when Rolex issued the Daytona with the new bezels, using a pipette dropper ensuring tongues were out for a long time, and for the word Ceramic to do its brainwashing.

    Quite a fuss.
     
  5. imagwai

    imagwai Nov 19, 2017

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    Aluminium can get scratched. But can't ceramic break? Admittedly it's probably not that easy to do, but if it happens then ceramic would be more expensive to replace.
     
  6. dtf

    dtf Nov 19, 2017

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    I know I would take chunks out of the aluminium. I've caught my steel aquaracer on door jambs and the odd wall and it's got some nicks, my titanium one has fared better, but ally is just too soft for something attached to my wrist. I don't know how well ceramic would get on, I'll update once I've lived with a ceramic bezel for a while :)
     
  7. Lugduno

    Lugduno Nov 20, 2017

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    Agree that some people seems almost a bit addicted to the idea of ceramic over a specific pre-set price and that this is a bit ridiculous. I've never owned a watch with ceramic bezel yet, but I think it would have looked great on the Autavia Heritage. At the same time, I believe it would have highered the feeling of buying "premium" one more step and I'd definitely be slightly less worried if I knew that my bezel would be able to take a bit more of a beating.

    I've owned a Certina DS Action Diver for some years now, that also with an aluminium bezel and must say that I kind of like the washed vintage look of it after a while. Think that would look really good on the Autavia Heritage too, so it will be interesting to keep the watch and see what happens with the overall looks!
     
  8. Gambba

    Gambba Nov 20, 2017

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    In-house movements I do think show the expertise within a brands portfolio....and the movement is the core of any watch, so if you don’t have the ability to make your own are you a watchmaker or just a watch assembler? How much of a premium or not you put on to a watch for this fact is personal, and as an example I think the Heuer02 with its vertical clutch is great at its price point......at the same time a watch that isn’t a Zenith that has the El Primero is still a great watch, as is a vintage Daytona with an ETA. The bezel though is just an element of the case, and so if I like the design then I obviously like the finish/material of the bezel. It’s only aesthetics for me and has no premium for a Ceramic bezel.

    I think there is really no right or wrong, just preference. Did the Ceramic bezel on the Submariner make any difference to sales, nope....but I still know a great many prefer the aluminium bezel, and it was a massive change to the look.

    For me the aluminium bezel provides a more toned down look compared to Ceramic, and as a daily wearer think the Ceramic makes sense, but as an occasional wear watch I’d take the aluminium all day long every day.

    I also would not care so much about an aluminium bezel getting a beating on a modern watch as I know I could get replacements unlike many vintage watches.
     
    Edited Nov 20, 2017
  9. abrod520

    abrod520 Nov 20, 2017

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    I think the (not-quite) backlash against in-house movements has more to do with the realization that servicing will be much more difficult and expensive if one buys a watch with an in-house movement. So for a higher-end chronograph, it's all right since service would be expensive anyway, but for a three-hander in the $3000 or under range, a $750 service at an official service center just doesn't make as much sense.

    As for ceramic bezels - I think it's a tech thing, akin to the switch from plexi to sapphire crystals - it won't scratch as easily, and won't wear down over time, but definitely lends the watch a more contemporary rather than classic look.
     
  10. Lugduno

    Lugduno Nov 20, 2017

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    I think you have a very valid point here. I guess it's just my interest in technology that comes back also in my preference of watches. I want the most modern stuff, preferably yesterday, and keep it as "high-end" I can afford with my current wallet.
     
  11. Pitfitter446

    Pitfitter446 Nov 22, 2017

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    I have a Rado with ceramic coated case? and ceramic bracelet, it may be a different make up to the ceramic discussed here, but in ten+ years it is not marked in that time.
     
  12. Aquagraph

    Aquagraph Nov 22, 2017

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    The ceramic seems better in theory, but my experience with ceramics (limited as it is) is that you are constantly rubbing fingermarks off them. They might keep their looks for longer, but actually seeing that look for more than five seconds seems a constant battle!
     
  13. OttoWilliam

    OttoWilliam Nov 22, 2017

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    I love ceramic bezel. But maybe just my personal preferance, i don't like ceramic bezel that the number is just printed (for lack of better words) like omega seamaster (picture attached)

    That is why by the looks alone i prefer the aquaracer with "etched" or embossed deep (again i am lack of better word, what is the official name for it?) ceramic bezel to the seamaster (picture also attached for comparison)

    Hope you guys understand my broken English.
     
    Screenshot_20171123-074108.png Screenshot_20171123-074525.png