One of the U-Boat watch concepts in which carbon fiber plays a big role is the Flightdeck-bezel series. These variations of Flightdeck chronographs are adorned with bezels made of various materials. Titanium and gold were amongst the first materials to be used. At this year’s Baselworld fair, I was introduced to the latest variant – the Flightdeck Ceramic bezel, who’s dial is completely clad in carbon fiber.
The reason why carbon fiber works so well on the U-Boat Flightdeck Ceramic Bezel is that its case is all black. The stainless steel case is PVD coated and the bezel, as the name suggests, is made of black ceramic. While it may sound like a remnant of old-fashion pottery-making techniques, this substance has made its way into modern times and has spanned such high-tech industries as aviation and ballistic protection. Aside from its many uses ceramic has been fully adapted and popularized in recent years for use on watches. There are many advantages to its use. It is light and scratch resistant – its hardness surpasses that of stainless steel and often even surpass that of sapphire – and it is colored all the way through, which means that any damage will not reveal a different color underneath. All these characteristics are especially useful for a bezel, which receives the brunt of the abuse. Its hardness also accounts for the materials affinity for fine finishes.
Under the thick, sapphire crystal protected by the ceramic bezel, dwells our carbon fiber dial. The white, photo-luminescent paint of the thick hands creates a stark contrast against the sleek, carbon fiber background. The hour markers are created with a more subtle, grey paint, which seemingly floats on the polymer over the carbon fiber. The embossed subsidiary dials indicate chronograph measurements and the seconds of the time. As with the glossy finished ceramic bezel, the carbon fiber adds a high-tech elegance to this impressive timepiece.
The rest of the case is straight out of the Flightdeck playbook. It is 50mm in diameter and is equipped with a cap that screws into the left side – as always with U-Boat watches – of the case and protects an already very sturdy crown. As if the sheer size of the case was not enough, this inconspicuous crown cover adds to the undeniable heft of the watch case, but its position on the left makes the Flighdeck chrono surprisingly comfortable. The size of these watches is undeniable; often intimidating those who are not accustomed to large watches. In my experience, however, the models that are most often responsible for converting those skeptical of large timepieces U-Boats.
U-boat watches, aside from their Swiss mechanical movements, are made in Italy. Being an Italian company, it is not surprising to find that a lot of emphasis is put in designing and manufacturing their leather straps. Like Italian shoes, belts, and jackets, U-boat bands are luscious, luxurious, and often expensive. Fine alligator lined with supple calfskin leather and rubber protective borders are all assembled by hand in the region around Florence where the company is located.
The U-Boat Ceramic Bezel Flighdeck Chronograph is rugged, strong, and bold – all aspects that point to the brand’s inclination towards an instrument-like style. On the other hand, the sleek, black ceramic of the bezel and the carbon fiber dial endow the piece with a high-tech elegance that is suited to all classy outings and dress codes.
Retail price: (roughly) US$6K.