SHOCK PROOF

World of Watches (Singapore) - - Features -

Shock pro­tec­tion such as Kif or In­ca­bloc is ubiq­ui­tous in mod­ern cal­i­bres, and serves to pro­tect the del­i­cate bal­ance staff, which must be thin to re­duce fric­tion, yet sup­port the weight of the en­tire bal­ance wheel. Why stop there, though? The en­tire move­ment can be pro­tected, and there are var­i­ous ways to do this.

Sus­pended an­i­ma­tion

A move­ment can only re­ceive shocks through its case, so iso­lat­ing the two from each other is a very vi­able method. Richard Mille does this in the RM 27-01 Tour­bil­lon Rafael Nadal by sus­pend­ing the move­ment with four braided steel ca­bles, each just 0.35mm thick, and us­ing a sys­tem of pul­leys and ten­sion­ers to ad­just their taut­ness. The brand claims that the watch has a shock re­sis­tance of 5,000G – enough to sur­vive a ten­nis match on Nadal’s wrist.

In­stead of min­imis­ing the con­tact be­tween the move­ment and its case, Franck Muller took things to the other ex­treme with the Van­guard Back­swing, its golf-themed time­piece. The watch has a rel­a­tively small move­ment just 26.2mm across, which is fit­ted into a case mea­sur­ing 44mm by 53.7mm; a wide spacer ring con­tain­ing sil­i­cone in­serts takes up the rest of the in­ner case and cush­ions the move­ment from shocks and vi­bra­tions.

Gelled up

When Ca­sio started de­vel­op­ing G-shocks with metal cases, it had to re-ex­am­ine the is­sue of shock re­sis­tance, since the pro­tec­tion af­forded by the orig­i­nal shock ab­sorb­ing resin case was no longer avail­able. The so­lu­tion to cir­cum­vent this has evolved over the years, and the lat­est in­volves the ju­di­cious ap­pli­ca­tion of a high-tech ma­te­rial called Al­pha Gel. This sil­i­cone-based sub­stance is sourced from Taica Cor­po­ra­tion, a Ja­panese R&D firm, and con­tains ex­tra­or­di­nary shock ab­sorp­tion prop­er­ties – a layer of Al­pha Gel barely an inch thick can cush­ion a one-me­tre fall of an egg and keep it from break­ing. By de­sign­ing the move­ment and case to be in con­tact only at spe­cific points, and “re­in­forc­ing” these points with Al­pha Gel, the move­ment is ef­fec­tively pro­tected against shocks and vi­bra­tions.

|| THE VER­DICT ||

Sus­pend­ing a move­ment with ten­sioned ca­bles or float­ing it within a wide spacer ring are both ef­fec­tive so­lu­tions to creat­ing a shock re­sis­tant watch. The main draw­back, how­ever, is the vol­ume of space needed within the case to im­ple­ment them. Al­pha Gel thus emerges as a pre­ferred op­tion as it re­quires less in­ter­nal space, which al­lows a larger move­ment to be used.

The MRG-G1000HT uses Al­pha Gel for shock pro­tec­tion, like other metal-clad G-shocks

Steel ca­bles sus­pend the move­ment in­side the Richard Mille RM 27-01

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