COBALT MICROMELT

Cobalt Micro Melt is a proprietary alloyThis high-performance alloy was used on the Roger Dubuis Excalibur Quatuor Blue Cobalt MicroMelt. An alloy that was developed in partnership with Carpenter Technology Corporation, Cobalt MicroMelt is widely associated with aeronautics and medical sciences. It is produced through a complex process that involves atomizing the molten alloy and turning it into a fine powder. This is done by introducing the molten metal to a high-pressure stream of gas using a dedicated vacuum induction melting gas atomization unit. The powder is then filtered to keep only the finest particles, then subjected to high temperatures and pressure, creating a dense and hard metal.

BENEFIT: The result is a metal that 100 per cent biocompatible, extremely corrosion-resistant and with a look that’s similar to steel. It’s an extremely expensive metal to work with and because it looks just like steel, Roger Dubuis will need to explain to potential customers why this alloy results in the creation of a much superior and durable case than steel that won’t scratch or dent easily.

GRAPHENE

Richard Mille 50-03

How important was the discovery of graphene to mankind? Well, researchers at The University of Manchester who first isolated graphene won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 for their efforts. Graphene is one-atom-thick film of carbon whose strength and flexibility is legendary. It is said to be stronger and stiffer than diamond, yet can be stretched by a quarter of its length, like rubber.

The engineers and R&D team at Richard Mille, The National Graphene Institute of The University of Manchester, and North Thin Ply Technology collaborated to create a new case material called GraphTPT. To make it, a supercharged resin containing graphene is mixed carbon fiber filaments, and the material is then compiled by a CNC machine, which shifts the orientation of the fibers by 45° between layers.

BENEFIT: GraphTPT is six times lighter than steel and 200 times more resistant. Richard Mille used this case to create the RM 50-03, the lightest split-seconds chronograph ever made. Read our SIHH newsmakers feature here for more information.

BULK METALLIC GLASS (BMG-TECH)

Bulk Metallic Glass (BMG-Tech) is seen on the PAM692Panerai debuts this new case material on the new Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-TECH 3 Days Automatic. As far as appearances go, this alloy has the same cold grayish tones of titanium. Thanks to a unique atomic structure, this alloy is ideal for use in the construction of diver’s watch cases.

Bulk Metallic Glass is a made from a special glass-like alloy in a way that prevents crystallisation, so that the atoms do not arrange themselves in regular geometric structures. The alloy (consisting of zirconium, copper, aluminium, titanium and nickel) is subjected to a high-pressure injection process at a high temperature and then cooled for a few seconds. Panerai says the alloy is so strong that it will preserve its appearance over time. It has been used to make the case, bezel, winding crown and crown guard of the Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-TECH 3 Days Automatic.

BENEFIT: Extreme corrosion resistance, resistance to external shocks and its resistance to magnetic fields, ideal for submersible watches.

CARBON COMPOSITE

Carbon mainplate, bridges and a tourbillon upper bridge made from carbon The Excalibur Spider Carbon is the first mechanical wristwatch to have not only its case, but also its movement plate, bridges, and tourbillon upper cage made entirely of carbon. Roger Dubuis uses multi-layered carbon with a pattern of horizontal lines that leave a pin-stripe like effect on the case, lugs and movement. To achieve this look, the carbon parts had to be cut at an angle of 10 degrees. “The stripes you see are because the carbon fiber is a composite laminate and uses only 20 percent epoxy resin. This is better in terms of performance – the only drawback being that it is a lot more expensive to produce. According to Gregory Bruttin, product strategy director at Roger Dubuis, this is one of the reasons that most brands don’t use this particular form of carbon fiber.  Incidentally, the material used on this case is 10 times lighter than gold and two times lighter than titanium.

BENEFIT: The use of carbon on the tourbillon upper cage has resulted in a 50 percent increase in the power reserve of the watch. Read more about this watch here.

TANTALUM-BASED CERAMIC

The P.3001/C movement uses only four jewelsThe semi-skeletonized caliber P.3001/C on the Panerai LAB-ID LUMINOR 1950 Carbotech only uses four jewels and no additional lubrication. The mainplates and bridges are made from a low-friction composite that uses a Tantalum-based ceramic, which contains a high percentage of carbon that minimizes pivot friction. The main components of the escapement are made from silicon that has a special DLC coating that requires no lubrication. Two years of testing was needed to identify the best type of carbon-based coating with which to treat the components of the movement’s two spring barrels, which require no conventional lubrication. The solution was a series of layers and sub-layers of coating, with the surface coating treated with DLC. Another surface coating of DLC was applied to the four jewels, eliminating the need to further lubricate the Incabloc anti-shock device.

BENEFIT: These solutions ensure that there is no need for regular maintenance and servicing of the movement, enabling Panerai to guarantee it for no less than 50 years. More here.