With wristwatch manufacturers constantly searching for newer & better elements to implement in their most advanced models, the watch industry has seen a meteoric rise in the use performance materials in all kinds of watches.
Carbon fiber is one of the most popular of recent years. Although its use is more familiar to race cars than horological devices, this is not the first time that the watch industry takes from another field and brings into its own.
Ceramic is another such example of this taking place. As was the case then, the novel material allowed for innovative applications and revolutionary aesthetics.
In this guide, we discuss the reasons for which someone would want a carbon fiber watch. We’ve also highlighted the best carbon fiber models available today:
- Benefits Of Carbon Fiber In Watches
- Best Carbon Fiber Watches For Men
- A More Affordable Carbon Fiber Option
We’ve also included a reasonably priced CF timepiece. You can skip to any specific section using the links above.
Best Carbon Fiber Watches
- Richard Mille RM 67-02 Automatic Extra Flat Sebastien Ogier
- Roger Dubuis Excalibur Aventador S Ref. DBEX0686
- Hublot Techframe Ferrari Chronograph Carbon Yellow Ref. 408.QU.0129.RX
- Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph Ref. 26400AU.OO.A002CA.01
- Zenith Defy El Primero Full Carbon Ref. 10.9000.9004/96.R921
Though a premium material like carbon fiber usually commands a premium price, there’s still some hope for those without unlimited budgets. There’s some brands offering their own CF watches without forcing potential buyers to sacrifice quality nor retirement; below is our favorite one:
See Bespoke Unit’s Watch Reviews
Advantages Of Carbon Fiber Watches
The various advantages of such a sophisticated material as is carbon fiber may not be perceived at first glance. In fact, one of its greatest virtues needs to be felt to be truly understood.
This leads us to the first and most noticeable point, the weight. In the hand, CF watch are curiously light. In fact, they make for the lightest automatic watches one could ever experience. On the wrist, the experience is even more distinct.
This effect can also become more pronounced when the internals are likewise constructed of lightweight materials, as we’ll see later.
Another exclusive aspect of carbon fiber watches are the looks. One may easily see that the material looks are extremely intricate. No two examples, even when they’re the same exact model, will have the same exact carbon fiber pattern.
Individual watch brands employ different and often proprietary carbon fiber resins making for extreme variety across brands’ CF watches. These can often be easily identified simply by noticing the pattern of the carbon fiber on the watch case.
Also beneficial are the scratch-resistant aspects. Carbon fiber tends to be rather durable against scratches, certainly more so than precious metal options. The material will also not dent, though this makes it more likely to crack or shatter upon extreme impacts.
All of the above mentioned characteristics add up to some pretty cool watches, which brings us to the last point: The Cool Factor.
Carbon fiber makes for some very cool watches. Unfortunately, this intangible attribute can also translate into some crazy retail prices. Next, we’ll jump into our top carbon fiber watches and show you what we mean.
Best Men’s Carbon Fiber Watches
1. Richard Mille RM 67-02 Automatic Extra Flat Sebastien Ogier
- Brand – Richard Mille
- Model – RM 67-02 Automatic Extra Flat Sebastien Ogier (See on RM’s site.)
- Price – $120,500
In the present-day, Richard Mille produces some of the most technologically advanced watches ever seen. This has led their inimitable style to become extremely coveted by most in the watch industry.
It’s not all due to hype or marketing, though. The brand actively works with professional athletes of all areas to produce mechanical timepieces that can keep up with them.
The continuous stream of evermore enhanced timepieces is evidently the result of millions of dollars in R&D. The RM 67-02 Automatic Extra Flat happens to be one of the more recent outcomes of this practice.
Where other RMs may be bulky and bright, the Sebastien Ogier limited edition is slim, light, and subdued. Most if not all of the color comes from the elastic, clasp-less strap, the crown, and a few components on the dial.
The movement, crafted from DLC-treated titanium for rigidity, is completely skeletonized in the interest of weight reduction. The hour indices and center hands are similarly minimalized.
The RM 67-02 Sebastien Ogier does an exceptional job of highlighting RM’s Carbon TPT material while also establishing what any professional carbon fiber timepiece should measure up to.
It’s also living proof (as if more was needed) of Richard Mille’s ability to conceive dominant performance timepieces, analogous to performance cars, unlike any other watch manufacturer before.
2. Roger Dubuis Excalibur Aventador S Ref. DBEX0686
- Brand – Roger Dubuis
- Model – Excalibur Aventador S (See on Roger Dubuis’ site.)
- Price – $210,000
The Excalibur Aventador S by Roger Dubuis represents another partnership between veterans of both the horological and automotive spheres.
Historically, these types of crossovers haven’t been particularly successful. This is categorically not the case with the Excalibur Aventador S.
The watch touts an aggressive profile: its dial is highly skeletonized, there’s selective red accents, and much of the case boasts sharp edges and slanted surfaces (much like a Lamborghini). Its glossy carbon fiber case is very distinctive, and is particularly marked by the stripe pattern encountered on the lugs.
Closer inspection of the face reveals how the dual-balance movement has been designed to resemble the Lamborghini Aventador’s engine block. It is here where Roger Dubuis demonstrates how they’ve successfully translated their classical Swiss watchmaking know-how into modern applications.
The Excalibur Aventador S represents an association between two exclusive manufacturers of two luxurious products. Though hardly guaranteed, the mix of philosophies has worked out surprisingly well, and delivered a truly futuristic timepiece sure to keep the partner brands in the minds of every adrenaline junkies lucky enough to own it.
3. Hublot Techframe Ferrari Chronograph Carbon Yellow Ref. 408.QU.0129.RX
- Brand – Hublot
- Model – Techframe Ferrari Chronograph Carbon Yellow (See on Hublot’s site.)
- Price – $137,000
Hublot has previously tried their hand at Ferrari-inspired watches, though never had they handed over the reigns of design as with the Techframe. Suffice it to say that the Italian car manufacturer did not lead them astray.
The Hublot Ferrari Techframe is most notably marked by…well… its frame. It’s sort of like an exoskeleton case, not unlike the roll cage of a performance car, and in this version is marked by the striped Peek carbon fiber construction.
The dial is much like a Ferrari dashboard, except there’s a tourbillon in presented front and center. Other components of the movement are also on display, like the vertical clutch of the monopusher chronograph mechanism at 1 o’clock. And while hand-wound, the watch is equipped with a lengthy 115-hour power reserve.
The automotive influence in the Techframe Ferrari Chronograph, especially in this carbon fiber limited edition, is evident and engaging. The combination of avant-garde design and horological expertise has resulted in a knockout carbon fiber timepiece worthy of its price tag, as well as its praise.
4. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph Ref. 26400AU.OO.A002CA.01
- Brand – Audemars Piguet
- Model – Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph (See on AP’s site.)
- Price – $36,900 (Discontinued)
Audemars Piguet caused quite a stir in 2007 when they released their Royal Oak Offshore Alinghi Limited Edition (see on Google) in full forged carbon fiber, marking the first time a wristwatch was completely constructed of the material. Not ones for one-and-done, AP has continued employing the notoriously shimmery material ever since.
Our favorite sample from the Le Brassus watchmaker is the Royal Oak Offshore 26400AU, as the watch mixes the attractive forged carbon fiber case with an equally premium black ceramic bezel.
There’s also titanium crown guards and chrono pushers, as well as the hallmark Mega Tapisserie dial in black. What may seem at a distance as a “blacked out” watch evolves up close, where one is able to appreciate the dynamic look of the carbon case.
As the watch shifts positions, the light interacts differently with the actual carbon fibers in its case, offering a unique look from almost every angle. It also offers an individual pattern for each watch, ensuring no two are exactly alike.
In its most modern 44mm form, the AP Offshore Chrono has been called bulky by some. With the forged carbon, ceramic, and titanium case elements, the watch’s feel is completely changed. It becomes a whole new experience on the wrist, as well as visually, certain to satisfy even the most demanding watch performance collectors.
5. Zenith Defy El Primero Full Carbon Ref. 10.9000.9004/96.R921
- Brand – Zenith
- Model – Defy El Primero Full Carbon (See on Zenith’s site.)
- Price – ~$19,100
In an effort to continuously evolve, Zenith has pushed their own boundaries not only in movement manufacture, but also in materials, producing revolutionary models such as the Defy El Primero 21 Full Carbon we highlight here.
We’ve previously reviewed the Defy EP 21 in Full Ceramic, and found this futuristic grade of Zenith chronograph to be absolutely awesome. This full carbon fiber model is yet another successful foray for the brand.
The watch has a very high-tech look imparted both by the skeletonized dial and the “marbled” carbon fiber case. The internals are equally advanced, boasting two separate balances independent to the time and 1/100th-second chronograph functions.
If this kind of out-of-the-box timepiece is what’s to be expected here on out from traditional watchmakers of Zenith’s pedigree, then the future looks quite bright for brands and for the loyal aficionados who collect them.
Affordable Carbon Fiber Watch
Though any kind of carbon fiber component in a watch generally translates into an elevated retail price, some brands have been able to produce performance carbon timepieces and at accessible price points, at least compared to its similarly-constructed peers. The Monaco Bamfor Limited Edition is one such example.
TAG Heuer Monaco Bamford Calibre 11 Ref. CAW2190.FC6437
TAG Heuer in the present-day touts very bold design propositions throughout its watch lines. They’ve dared to revamp their most traditional lines, the Carrera and the Monaco as seen here, to much success and acclaim.
The iconic square case of the Monaco here remains unchanged in shape, though its material is new-age. The color scheme is also unlike any previous Monaco; a neon turquoise color has been used for all dial printings and subregisters, as well as in the center hands.
Not merely a “cheaper version” of the previously listed CF watches, this brainchild of the notorious customizing company Bamford has given the historical look a complete facelift. This daring proposition has worked, so much so that this limited edition is no longer available. You’ll have to do some digging if you hope to get one in your watchbox.
Looking For More?
If you enjoyed our recap of carbon fiber timepieces, make sure to check out some of our other watch guides below:
- Which Are The Best Bronze Watches Made Today?
- More Performance Materials: The Top Titanium Watches For Men
- When Bezel Inserts Are Not Enough – Full Ceramic Timepiece
- What Makes An Authentic Men’s Dress Watch?
- Bespoke Unit’s Watch Review
"Very informative take on carbon fiber watches. I love the RM 67-02 presented here, though the green version is my favorite. Either way, I'll have to admire from a distance as I'll likely never get one on my wrist! "Rating: 5.0★★★★★