Trav­el­ling light

Watches have been shed­ding some se­ri­ous weight of late. Char­lene Co weighs up some of the light­est and most durable

Hong Kong Tatler - - | Style Watches -

Roger Dubuis Ex­cal­ibur 42 Au­to­matic Skele­ton he tech­ni­cal leaps for­ward in the mak­ing of me­chan­i­cal watches ceased to be truly ground­break­ing more than half a cen­tury ago. Apart from im­prove­ments to the es­cape­ment to im­prove ac­cu­racy, there’s not much left to dis­cover in such move­ments. And that’s all right; as the say­ing goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

These days, much of the bat­tle is in im­prov­ing the pack­ag­ing of the watch, es­pe­cially its case. Watch­mak­ers now work with en­gi­neers, chemists and sci­en­tists to de­velop ma­te­ri­als to make cases more durable, scratch-re­sis­tant and er­gonomic, all while en­sur­ing they’re light. As a re­sult, we’ve seen high-tech ma­te­ri­als once lim­ited to the worlds of avi­a­tion, car rac­ing and space travel adopted by watch­mak­ers.

For ex­am­ple, Bul­gari’s Di­agono Mag­ne­sium watch uses mag­ne­sium, ceramic, Mo­tor­lac and Polyether­ke­tone (PEEK) to make its case sturdy yet in­cred­i­bly light. Favoured for its light­ness and dura­bil­ity, mag­ne­sium is of­ten used in avi­a­tion and For­mula 1 cars, while PEEK is a poly­mer com­monly found in air­craft and space shut­tles. Ceramic, a ma­te­rial like­wise known for its light­ness and strength, is used to make the bezel, and Mo­tor­lac, a pro­tec­tive lac­quer used in motorsports, coats the case.

Not to be out­done, Mont­blanc’s en­gi­neers use ti­ta­nium, car­bon, a spe­cial resin called ITR2 and the syn­thetic fi­bre Kevlar to pro­duce the case, bezel and crown of the Time­walker Pythagore Ul­tra-light Con­cept watch. At less than 20 grams, it’s one of the light­est me­chan­i­cal time­pieces in the world.

Gra­ham’s Chronofighter Su­perlight Car­bon Skele­ton, mea­sur­ing a size­able 47mm, weighs only 100 grams—thanks to its skele­tonised dial and car­bon com­pos­ite case. Roger Dubuis’ an­swer to this chal­lenge is the car­bon ver­sion of the Ex­cal­ibur 42 Au­to­matic Skele­ton watch. Pan­erai’s Lo Scien­zi­ato Lu­mi­nor 1950 Tour­bil­lon GMT Ti­tanio, mean­while, fea­tures a ti­ta­nium case that’s been hol­lowed out by di­rect metal laser sin­ter­ing. Mont­blanc Time­walker Pythagore Ul­tra-light Con­cept Pan­erai Lo Scien­zi­ato Lu­mi­nor 1950 Tour­bil­lon GMT Ti­tanio

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