In the name of innovation, watch companies constantly introduces new alloys and carbon composites in the creation of cases. While traditional materials like stainless steel, yellow and rose gold still abide, new case materials debut at watch fairs regularly. This year was no different and at SIHH 2019, we saw a trio of new case materials. But sustainability was another theme that watch companies have picked up on in recent times. The result is recycled metals and straps made from recycled polymers. Here's a quick look.
Girard Perregaux debuted new model line-up with the Laureato Absolute. The chronograph model in this range features a new case material, called Carbon Glass, which is supposedly lightweight, extremely water-resistant, 100 times harder than steel and eight times less denser that it. With a density of 1, it practically floats in water (the density of steel is approximately 8 and that of titanium 4.5).
From an aesthetic point of view, Carbon Glass is interesting since an additive can drastically change the appearance of the final case. In this instance, blue glass fibers were added to the mix to give the case these blue swirls that are also unique to each watch. Girard Perregaux says even gold can be used in the future. The Laureato Absolute chronograph in Carbon Glass has a 44 mm case and is water resistant up to 300 meters. The watch is powered by the manufacture self-winding chronograph caliber GP03300-1058. Price TBD
The aeronautics industry has often supplied case material inspiration to the watch world and this year we were introduced to Carbonium, a lightweight and sustainable material used in the production of airplane fuselage and wings. This is still a carbon composite, but the production of process has 40 percent less environmental impact than other materials as it uses offcuts from aeronautical pieces. The manufacturing is done at high pressures and temperature and results in a unique marbling effect that never repeats. The result is each watch case has incredible resistance-to-lightness ration and is absolutely unique. Carbonium is being used in the 43 mm case of the new Ulysse Nardin Freak X that was unveiled at SIHH 2019. $24,000
As mentioned before, the watch industry often turns to the aviation sector when it needs new case material ideas. Titanium, which is used a lot in the manufacture of airplane parts, has widely been used in the watch industry. Now EcoTitanium is a basically recycled titanium that is got from alloy scrap (turnings and massive scrap) collected from major aircraft manufacturers and their subcontractors. This material makes it horological debut fittingly in a watch associated with a nature conservationist, Mike Horn. The Panerai Submersible Mike Horn edition 47 mm is a professional diver’s watch whose case, crown, the bridge protecting the crown, the bezel and the caseback are made from EcoTitanium. Fittingly, the watch is paired with a black strap made from recycled plastic (PET) bottles. $22,650
On the Oris Divers Sixty-Five watch, the brand debuted a new recycled polymer strap. It is made from r-Radyarn, a low environmental impact product made from 100 per cent post-consumer recycled PET bottles. It is an eco-sustainable yarn ideal for applications in the technical sportswear and medical sectors. This new strap material is the result of a multi-stage process – from post-consumer bottle collection to reprocessing and yarn production – all taking place in Europe.