A post-Panama Pa­pers era, trans­parency is the name of the game. So too it is with watchmaking, as see-through, state­ment sap­phire cases surge in pop­u­lar­ity.

The Peak Selections: Timepieces - - A Worth Paus - TEXT AARON DE SILVA

Not too long ago, me­tals reigned supreme when it came to watch cases. Then came an era of ex­otic, high-tech ma­te­ri­als. But one sub­stance proved par­tic­u­larly diffi cult to master: Syn­thetic sap­phire, the ma­te­rial used as crys­tals for di­als and case­backs.

Vir­tu­ally iden­ti­cal to natural sap­phire, syn­thetic sap­phire was fi rst pro­duced at the start of the 20th cen­tury, but was not used in watches un­til the 1960s. Be­cause of its ex­cel­lent op­ti­cal prop­er­ties, su­pe­rior re­sis­tance to scratches, and the un­lim­ited amount that could be pro­duced, syn­thetic sap­phire be­came the go-to ma­te­rial for watch crys­tals.

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