We hate to break it to you, but the world of modern watchmaking is no longer just about functionality. The principles of a mechanical watch will remain the same for many years to come. However, what has changed is the influx of newer and stronger materials — from ceramics, carbon fibre and DLC to PVD coating — that has made the simple task of zeroing-in on a case material vastly complicated. Here's a run-down of the top six new age case materials to help you make the right choice when you are on the hunt for your next watch
Richard Mille RM 53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough
Here is a brand that has always been known to introduce some of the most interesting watch cases in the market. Taking its pioneering approach to new heights again, the Haute Horlogerie brand released the RM 53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough in a brand new case material called Carbon TPT. What is it? Carbon TPT stands for Carbon Thin Ply Technology that is produced by NTPT, the world’s leader in ultra-lightweight materials. While carbon has been used regularly in watchmaking, Carbon TPT made by NTPT has never been used before. What makes this so special is its unique aesthetic. It features extremely thin carbon filaments that are separated from large carbon fibres until they acquire a thickness of a maximum 30 microns. These carbon filaments are then woven together with the help of some resin that allows the formation of a pattern, which gives it an exclusive look.
Limited to just 30 pieces, the RM 53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough features a case size of 44.5mm and is powered by the uniquely constructed Calibre RM 53-01.
Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-TECH™ 3 Days Automatic
Panerai debuted this new case material with the Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-TECH™ last year. BMG-Tech (Bulk Metallic Glass) is a glass-like composite of copper, aluminium, titanium, nickel and zirconium.
This alloy is made by using high-pressure injection at high temperatures which is then followed by rapid cooling. The process of cooling stops the atoms from reforming hence leaving them in a randomly aligned state. This results in the creation of an amorphous structure that gives the BMG-Tech extreme hardness, shock and corrosion resistance while simultaneously making it impervious to magnetic fields.
Also called Liquid Metal, the BMG-Tech™ allows the 47mm diver watch to be comparatively lightweight, hence very comfortable on the wrist. The 47mm timepiece is powered by the P.9010 automatic movement and clocks in a power reserve of three days. It also features a unidirectional bezel that is made of Carbotech (a material based on carbon fibre that combines toughness and exceptional lightness), another material introduced by the Italian-Swiss watch brand.
Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Chronograph
While this material might have the word “Glass” in its name, it is not as fragile as it sounds. Carbon Glass is a new material developed by Girard-Perregaux that demonstrates properties of being extremely lightweight, water-resistant and 100 times stiffer and stronger than steel.
Due to its high density, the material features an unprecedented impermeability that allows it to be perfectly sealed and makes it practically float in water. Additionally, the material offers a range of colourways due to the presence of pigmented glass fibres. This is the reason behind the blue streaks and blotches featured in the carbon glass case of the SIHH 2019 novelty — the Laureato Absolute Chronograph from Girard-Perregaux.
The black carbon is combined with the blue tints of the glass to keep with its "Earth to Sky" theme and offers a vibrant, distinct and contemporary art of expression for your wrist!
Ulysse Nardin Skeleton X
For the development of the Ulysse Nardin Skeleton X, the Swiss watch brand approached the aeronautics industry for a unique and high-performance composite material that they could use for their watch. The French start-up Lavoisier Composites introduced Ulysse Nardin to Carbonium — a lightweight and sustainable material that is usually used in the production of airplane fuselage and wings. Carbonium is made from the thermo-compressed combination of carbon fibres and high-temperature epoxy (glue).
This results in the production of a unique marbling effect on the material that can never be repeated, which means that every watch case is absolutely unique. The tough material has an exceptional resistance-to-lightness ratio and despite it being a carbon composite, the production of the process has 40 per cent less environmental impact than other materials. For the Ulysse Nardin Skeleton X, Carbonium is combined with gold and used in a 43mm case with shimmery, flowing black and gold waves.
These incredible design elements work perfectly well with the skeleton dial featuring four indexes that form the 'X' of the Skeleton X timepiece.
IWC Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph TOP GUN Ceratanium
A groundbreaking material made especially for IWC, Ceratanium® combines the advantages of titanium and ceramic to produce a material that is light, rigid, hard and scratch-resistant. It also offers other compelling features like skin-compatibility, high corrosion-resistance and a striking matte black colour.
This revolutionary material was first used in the 2017 IWC Aquatimer Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Edition that celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Aquatimer collection. The 2019 Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph TOP GUN Ceratanium® is the first time the material has been used in either a Pilot's watch or any other unlimited model.
Every part of the watch, from the chronograph push buttons on the case to the pin buckle, are made from Ceratanium® that gives it a suave jet black design code that is hard to ignore. Powered by the 79420-calibre movement and clocking in a power reserve of 44 hours, the Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph TOP GUN Ceratanium® is worn on a black rubber strap with a textile inlay.
Hublot Big Bang MECA-10 Magic Gold
Following the brand's philosophy of the “Art of Fusion”, Hublot has been a pioneer when it comes to the development of the performance and aesthetics of traditional precious metal alloys. Among the many materials that the brand has developed over the years, the biggest innovation was the creation of the Magic Gold. Unique and proprietary to Hublot, Magic Gold is the world's first and only 18k scratchproof gold alloy that was developed in collaboration with the Swiss Polytechnique School of Lausanne (EPFL). Magic Gold is essentially an alloy of gold and ceramic that has undergone various processes to produce a metal that has a hardness of 1000 Vickers.
In the Big Bang MECA-10 Magic Gold, Hublot combines the versatility of this one-of-a-kind material with the very best of its mechanics — the HUB1201 movement with a Meccano-inspired design. Limited to just 200 pieces, the Big Bang MECA-10 brings together the brand's finest mechanics with its “Art of Fusion” philosophy casting a spell that shakes the very foundation of traditional watchmaking.