Ceramic Showdown - Zenith VS Girard-Perregaux VS Hublot VS Blancpain

Feb 13, 2024,16:52 PM

For about a year now I’ve been looking for a ceramic watch that I can wear on vacations, to random countries I have to go to for work, etc. and not worry too much about. I love the idea of something basically scratchproof.

In March of 2023, I walked into a Hublot boutique and was totally surprised…

I thought they were all chunky 44mm+ watches in tacky colors.

But the boutique handed me a 42mm watch with an amazing integrated black ceramic bracelet and I immediately fell in love.

I ended up buying one used, but…

It turned out that was one in titanium not black!

I had accidentally bought the wrong one because I was browsing at like 2 am on my phone with lowlight settings engaged. Derp.

I liked the watch a lot but in black ceramic it was objectively much cooler and completely scratch resistant due to the ceramic.

Anyways, rebooted the hunt this month for a black ceramic watch…

I considered the following:

Zenith Defy Skyline.
Both openworked and closed dial variants. Felt like a less sleek version of some APs I’ve had. Didn’t really love that part of it. The weird pointless 10 second complication annoys me as well, feels like adds thickness without function to the watch. These are still weirdly pricey second hand. It just felt...jarring? With that said, I almost bought this somewhat impulsively from an AD I like. The openworked version has architecture that doesn’t help the watch and makes the open working look cheap, IMO. I ultimately couldn’t get over how it just felt like a worse version of the APs I’ve owned. I think with a few tweaks to make these more visually differentiated and sleek, they could be more interesting.

GP Laureato.
I considered the regular closed dial and much pricier openworked variant. I wanted this to win but the bracelet isn’t nearly as cool as the zenith or the Hublot. It’s too bulbous/round. I could not find the openworked in person to try, which may have made me ok with the bracelet…so passed on this. Couldn’t help but feel this was the inbred cousin of a nautilus. If I had been able to see the openworked in person first, maybe I’d change my mind. Finishing was a little underwhelming on the closed dial variants that I messed with.

Blancpain Bathyscaphe
This was the watch I was most surprised by. Wow. The finishing here is mind blowing for what these go for used. Very thick anglage and well done. Dial was kinda boring though and there is no bracelet for the ceramic case version. Other issue is that these are a little big. I think one of these is in my future anyways…hard to resist at the price point. I’m shocked these aren’t more popular in the 6k used price range. Side note, chronograph variant was great too but a little thick for me.

Bvlgari Octo Finissimo.
I had one of these before in grey and considered the matte black ceramic version. However, my other one had a rotor issue and apparently it’s quite common for the previous generation of the finissimo…so that killed my want for it. Additionally wasn’t huge on how wide/large that watch wears. It’s kind of awkward for every day wear.

So that led me to the Hublot…

Here is why I picked it:

Awesome integrated ceramic bracelet. It looks very aggressive and the light play is amazing. Being able to desk dive all I want without scratching my watch is great. Extremely comfortable as well and no crazy sharp ends. Relatively thin and very very comfy. Super important to me because this is my new daily. Maybe one of the most comfortable watches I’ve owned? The watch isn’t crazy thin or anything but the case shape and sharply downturned lugs make a huge difference, especially when you compare it to something like the Zenith Defy. That being said would still have preferred 40mm to 42mm.

The finishing on this watch isn’t anything crazy or special on the movement/dial. The movement architecture does a much better job of making it look good versus the openworked defy - which looks cheap. The industrial finishing is ok for a very industrial looking piece like this imo. Suits it well when you look at the watch more holistically. There is some nice black polishing visible and a few other touches I enjoyed like the brushing etc. It’s easy to see a lot of effort went into the bracelet and case, both of which are very very exceptional, especially the bracelet. Lots of polished parts that pop in light and are difficult to photograph. Given the bracelet makes or breaks an integrated watch like this, I don’t mind that they clearly allocated some $ into that over movement finishing. You are clearly paying a premium for ceramic here, but that’s the same thing with just about every other ceramic variant of a watch.

All that said, it’s a little annoying my grand seikos are better finished in a lot of ways. I know this has a chronograph and is ceramic, but still...lol. For example, Grand Seiko hands are definitely better made, as are the indices on my GS SBGE275. To be fair though, GS is a weird amount of horological punch for the dollar and nothing Swiss in general stacks up to them when comparing similarly priced watches.

Chronograph! The other watches don’t have one. This does, and it’s 10x more fun because you can see the column wheel on the dial side. LVMH owns both Zenith and Hublot, so it’s no surprise the chrono here is great. Smooth to operate, not overly jumpy, etc.

Overall, I’m very happy with this as a daily. Hublot did a good job of something that beats competitors in the same range (used) and higher because the watch works so well as a package. Differentiated design, architecture that plays to strengths of the watch, a great movement, and a gorgeous ceramic bracelet to top things off.

I also considered the smaller 40mm version without the chronograph but I like chronographs a lot and the time only version is, imo, has an ugly movement because there’s a giant chunk of plain metal in the middle.

Finally, I buy all of my watches used. I paid way, way, way less than MSRP for this watch and it’s basically brand new. I would not feel like I got nearly as much bang for buck if I bought new lol smile Although, I feel that way about most watches.

Side note - the warranty thing is SUPER cool. You download the app and scan your watch, then you’re done. It worked well with this one and the titanium variant I had. IMO every brand should do this since it basically makes the watches impossible to fake (?). Shocked Hublot hasn’t licensed out the tech. Seems like it would do a lot of net good for an industry plagued with fakes???

More posts: Bigger BangChronographGrand SeikonautilusOcto FinissimoOpenworkedRoyal Oak

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A wonderul material

 By: SayNo2Babies : February 13th, 2024-16:57
I'm eager to see the new IWC Pilot Performance Chronograph on full ceramic bracelet when it arrives in my local AD

Congrats, you made a great choice!

 By: RayStantzPhD : February 13th, 2024-17:48
That Hublot from that material with that movement in that size is really as good as it gets / as they do IMHO. I can say that I am also convinced concerning ceramic... so I am a bit biased Cheers, Alex ...  

Nice piece -

 By: mjcruiser42 : February 13th, 2024-19:03

Meca10? Looks wicked

 By: m2 : February 21st, 2024-01:59

Great watch, great story, great review❣️ Thanks a lot! 👍🏻🤩

 By: MCG (Markus) : February 13th, 2024-20:35
I am a fan of Hublot, to be fair, JCB had a big impact on this and I bought my Classic Fusion also because of him. But of course also for the design. I wanted to buy a Big Bang for a long time, butthe 42mm is still a bit too big and the „Time Only“ - desp... 

I love JCB too

 By: m2 : February 13th, 2024-20:50
One of my favorite all time entrepreneurs!!!


 By: fmc000 : February 14th, 2024-09:55
I absolutely LOVE this watch, possibily at the moment this is my favorite watch all considered. Congrats!!!

Definitely go "used" if you get one

 By: m2 : February 14th, 2024-16:09
Mine is dead mint, still has factory warranty, came with the box, etc and was less than 50% of MSRP.

It's way out of my possibilities :-)

 By: fmc000 : February 15th, 2024-10:11
At least of a couple of orders of magnitude. I love it nonetheless.

Looking great!

 By: Watches&Men : February 14th, 2024-23:27
While Rado is the first brand to experiment ceramic, IMO Hublot is the best in the industry in harnessing the versatility and creativity of the material! Agree 40mm would be perfect. Here’s mine on my tiny wrist: ...  

I don’t really track and rotate my watches

 By: Watches&Men : February 14th, 2024-23:42
Based on observations, it’s on the +++ side! Might be magnetised but doesn’t bother me for now


 By: sschew : February 16th, 2024-02:34
That is a truly lovely watch