Remember when ladies watches were dainty and pink and gent’s models consisted of big steel sports timers or plain flat gold timepieces? Well, that approach of commercial stereotyping is now safely in the past. The once-defined parameters of what is acceptable in ladies versus gents watch design are no longer defined. The new rules are – there are no rules. And now the cross-over enters a new phase – gent’s watches with white cases.
I am not referring to designer watches for fashionistas, but serious high-end mechanical models, clad in white. Yes, it poses a new “dare I wear?” conundrum, and yes, this is a niche which won’t be to everyone’s taste – but, summer’s on its way, the beach is calling and it is time to put that black PVD edition back in the winder – nothing showcases tanned skin quite like the purity of white. Today we look at two recent models, both exclusive editions of acclaimed models, both of which have been given an immaculate cosmetic update.
Audemars Piguet announced the arrival of the Royal Oak Offshore Diver White Ceramic edition back in January – not the time of year to appreciate the merits of such aesthetics, but with the nights getting longer and shirt sleeves getting shorter let us give this model the attention it deserves.
First the case and bezel, which are whiter than white and made from 1850 Vickers “Super” ceramic – 9 times harder than steel, and tricky to work with, presenting challenges for the Audemars Piguet technical team. Harder also means more resistance to wear and tear, so that pristine finish will last for longer. The Offshore Diver measures 42mm across, has a chunky, distinctive case shape, with a little bit of caseside sculpting offering protection for the crown.
Surprisingly, it carries its whitened appearance rather well, the Tapisserie pattern on the dial contrasts superbly with the blue black accents and even the exposed screws appear somewhat tame. This is a functional divers watch, so legibility is a priority, but in standout white, it really is a stunner too. If you fancy adding the Royal Oak Offshore Diver White Ceramic to your collection, be aware that it is an exclusive boutique-only edition.
There is nothing innocent about a Richard Mille, even if it has a pure façade, everything they produce is intensely complicated and technically challenging. Their latest model, the appropriately named Richard Mille RM-011 White Demon has some devilish scarlet accents which contradict its immaculate ATZ sand-blasted white ceramic front and back bezels.
A rose gold caseband, crown and pushers add a majestic touch of richness. Dial-side all is reassuringly complex, with stunning skeletonisation and a wealth of indications. In addition to hours, minutes and seconds there is a month display tucked in between 4 and 5 o’clock, an outsize date below the 12, a 60-minute counter, 12-hour totalizer and a flyback chronograph function, the piece also includes the company’s adjustable rotor geometry which enables adjustment of the winding capability, according to the active/inactive nature of its wearer.
With a case which measures 50mm x 40mm x 16.15mm topped with a brilliant white bezel the RM-011 White Demon will without doubt be a hard piece to ignore, but it will be an elusive edition – just 30 pieces will be made, available for purchase only in Richard Mille boutiques in North and South America.