carbon-article watch insight

Carbonised trio, IWC, Panerai and Zenith

Carbon isn’t a new material used in the watch industry. One of the brands that had been using it for a really long time is Hublot. They have managed to take this material to another level with their way of making it into an alloy with gold or titanium. But there are also other brands that have been studying ways of using this unique material. We took three of them to take a closer look at.

IWC Ingenieur Automatic Edition “AMG GT”

01_IWC_Ingenieur_Automatic_Edition_AMG_GT_Ref_IW324602_front  02_IWC_Ingenieur_Automatic_Edition_AMG_GT_Ref_IW324602_back

This model was designed for the ten-year partnership of IWC and Mercedes-AMG. It is the first watch in the world made of Boron Carbide. This is the third hardest material known by men. Following Diamond and Cubic Boron Nitride it is also called Black Diamond.

Commercial boron carbide is produced by reacting and fusing boric oxide and carbon, in an electric arc furnace.

IWC’s traditional prowess in precision technology is embodied by the Ingenieur Automatic Edition “AMG GT”’s in-house 80110-calibre, which has an integrated shock-absorption system and is one of the most robust movements made in Schaffhausen. As a tribute to its namesake, the designers of the Ingenieur Automatic Edition “AMG GT” have elegantly combined the colour black with stylish yellow elements that reference AMG’s exclusive colour, “solarbeam”. The eye-catching screws in the bezel and crown are made of black zirconium oxide. A glance through the see-through sapphire-glass back revealsa high-precision mechanical movement with a blackened rotor. The new watch is secured to the wrist with a rugged, skin-friendly rubber strap. With the black Dinamica® inlay, which is set off with yellow quilted stitching, the watch features the same innovative microfibre used by Mercedes-AMG to pad the steering wheel, seat upholstery and headliner in the new Mercedes-AMG GT. The Ingenieur Automatic Edition “AMG GT” is limited to 25 pieces and available from selected IWC retailers.


Panerai Carbotech

The Carbotech is a composite material based on carbon fibre, never before used in the world of watchmaking. As well as providing exceptional technical performance, Carbotech has an uneven, matt black appearance, which varies according the cutting of the material: the result is that each example is unique. The structure of Carbotech is designed to enhance both the aesthetics and theperformance of the material, which is used to make the case,the rotating bezel and the lever bridge which protects the winding crown. To form the plates of Carbotech from which these components are made, thin sheets of carbon fibres are compressed at a controlled temperature under high pressure together with a high-end polymer, PEEK (Polyether Ether Ketone), which binds the composite material, making it even stronger and more durable. With this structure, the mechanical properties of Carbotech are much higher than those of similar materials or of other materials used in the world of watchmaking, such as ceramics and titanium: Carbotech is lighter than these and much more resistant to external solicitations, as well as being hypoallergenic and not subject to corrosion.

Panerai Carbotech Wrist

While the technology of the material looks to the future, every detail of the design of the watch is faithfully inspired by the history of the brand. The Luminor 1950 case (47 mm in diameter), developed by Panerai in the late 1940s to be worn on the wrists of commandos of the Italian Navy, is enhanced by a rotating bezel with markers consisting of small studs, inspired by the model created by Panerai for the Egyptian Navy in 1956. The bezel rotates only anticlockwise and enables the time of immersion to be calculated: a very useful function for a professional underwater instrument which is tested for water-resistance up to 30 bar (about 300 metres).

Zenith EL Primero Lightweight

10_2260_4052W_98_R573Zenith El Primero Lightweight

For this special edition of the El Primero Striking 10th Zenith not only made the casing of special materials, a combination of Carbon and Ceramised Aluminium. Pushpieces for the chronograph are made of Titanium. Even taking it a step further, the movement was also adjusted to accomplish a very lightweight watch.

The base of the movement is the El Primero calibre launched in 1969. This extreme precise first ever automatic chronograph beating at the exceptional frequency of 10 vibrations per second (36.000 vibrations per hour). In 2010, Zenith reinvented the “jumping seconds” in presenting the El Primero Striking 10th. Equipped with a sweep seconds hand making ten jumps per second and a complete turn of the dial every ten seconds, this chronograph not only measures but also displays tenths of a second with extreme precision. To enhance the performance of this mechanism requiring a considerable amount of energy, the Manufacture from Le Locle notably fitted it with a double chronograph wheel in silicon, a material three and a half times lighter than classic alloys.

The main elements of the movements that are the heaviest parts of the watch when they are made in brass: namely the mainplate and five bridges (barrel bridge, balance bridge, pallet bridge, pallet-wheel bridge and chronograph bridge). The Manufacture has also maintained the silicon double chronograph wheel, while adding a lever and an escape-wheel made from the same high-tech, light, antimagnetic material that is harder than steel and guarantees excellent efficiency. The result is a one-quarter lighter engine weighing just 15.45 g (compared with 21.10 g for a similar classic movement).