W(100-x)%Cx% coatings were deposited on SKH51 high-speed steel substrates by unbalanced magnetron sputtering. The microstructures, adhesion strength and mechanical properties of the coatings were characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray diffraction (XRD), scratch testing and nanoindentation testing, respectively. Moreover, the tribological performance of the coatings was investigated using a pin-on-disc tribometer under dry conditions. The experimental results showed that the coating microstructure, adhesion strength, mechanical properties and wear resistance were all dependent on the tungsten (W) and carbon (C) contents of the coating. Of the various coatings, the W72%C28% coating had the highest hardness / elastic modulus (H/E) ratio and yielded the best sliding wear resistance.