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