SPECIAL REPORT

High Gear Technology

by Pooja Agarwal
05 May 2017

Traditional watchmakers are putting high technology to good use

What better place to discover how technology is advancing watchmaking than at Baselworld, the reference show for the latest trends, and the largest annual gathering of the horological community.

What started a century ago as an event for a handful of Swiss watchmakers to come together and showcase their new creations, has become an iconic international show. This year, BaselWorld celebrates its 100th anniversary.

As the show has evolved, so have its wares. Today, watchmakers are adopting the most advanced technologies available to improve the production processes and output. For instance, the gemstones used in movements were traditionally cut by hand, but today are trimmed to the minutest precision by machines.   

High-tech will not be the sole focus of watchmaking, and machines will not replace the artisan anytime soon. Rather, be prepared for continued exploration and application of high technology to produce amazing timepieces.

  • OYSTERFLEX BRACELET
  • CERAMIC & RUBBER
  • BREITLIGHT
  • CONNECTED & MECHANICAL MODULES
  • FULL SAPPHIRE WATCH
  • MONOCRYSTALLINE SILICON

Oysterflex Bracelet

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Rolex has always been a leader in innovation. This first ever Rolex with a rubber strap was revealed at BaselWorld 2015. Tremendous research and development went into the special Osterflex bracelet in true Rolex style.

This technical bracelet combines in a singular way the robustness and reliability of a metal bracelet with the flexibility, conform and aesthetics of a high-performance black elastomer strap. 

Fitted with the innovative Oysterflex bracelet and three new versions of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosomograph Daytona launched this year, and equipped with the patented monobloc Cerachrom bezel in high-tech black ceramic.

 

 

  • OYSTERFLEX BRACELET
  • CERAMIC & RUBBER
  • BREITLIGHT
  • CONNECTED & MECHANICAL MODULES
  • FULL SAPPHIRE WATCH
  • MONOCRYSTALLINE SILICON

Ceramic & Rubber

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Complicated to construct from a single block of blue ceramic, the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean ‘Big Blue’ goes high-tech combining rubber with ceramic. Diamond tools are used to machine the ceramic—a very tough substance to work with.

Some parts have been encrusted with liquid metal to make the ceramic bezel, but also vulcanized with orange colored rubber for the first fifteen minutes of the bezel—a professional tool for diving. After the encrustation of liquid metal, a hole is made using laser engraving technology, then all these parts are vulcanized with rubber, while removing the excess to achieve a very smooth finish on the bezel.

  • OYSTERFLEX BRACELET
  • CERAMIC & RUBBER
  • BREITLIGHT
  • CONNECTED & MECHANICAL MODULES
  • FULL SAPPHIRE WATCH
  • MONOCRYSTALLINE SILICON

Breitlight

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The new Breitling Avenger Hurricane Military timepiece comes in an imposing 50mm case made out of the innovative black Breitlight, a futuristic material, which is ultra-strong and ultra-light. Unveiled in 2016, Breitlight is an exclusive high-tech material, which is 3.3 times lighter than titanium.

As for resilience, it is 5.8 times lighter than steel and yet remarkably harder. The watch comes with a comfortable yet robust wristband that combines natural rubber and a high-resistance Military textile fiber.

  • OYSTERFLEX BRACELET
  • CERAMIC & RUBBER
  • BREITLIGHT
  • CONNECTED & MECHANICAL MODULES
  • FULL SAPPHIRE WATCH
  • MONOCRYSTALLINE SILICON

Connected & Mechanical Modules

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Hybrid smartwatches are gaining momentum. Launched in 2015, the TAG Heuer Connected sold 56,000 units the following year to exceed expectation.

This year, the watchmaker introduced its latest concept watch, Connected Modular 45, which allows the wearer to switch between connected and mechanical modules. According to Jean-Claude Biver, TAG Heuer chief executive, this is a revolutionary watch, destined to change the watchmaking industry. He forecasts a global demand of 150,000 units of this next-generation creation in 2017.

  • OYSTERFLEX BRACELET
  • CERAMIC & RUBBER
  • BREITLIGHT
  • CONNECTED & MECHANICAL MODULES
  • FULL SAPPHIRE WATCH
  • MONOCRYSTALLINE SILICON

Full Sapphire Watch

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The first watchmaker to unveil a full sapphire watch in 2016, Hublot has successfully industrialized this material in quantities. The new Hublot Big Bang Unico Blue Sapphire watch proves Hublot’s continued innovation with products and materials.

Celebrating a new world’s first record in 2017, sapphire and metals have been fused to achieve a Big Bang case in blue color – the color and size of the case being the challenges. Pushing the limits of engineering and chemistry, Hublot developed a process that delivers large, transparent sapphire watchcase in a perfectly uniform color.

  • OYSTERFLEX BRACELET
  • CERAMIC & RUBBER
  • BREITLIGHT
  • CONNECTED & MECHANICAL MODULES
  • FULL SAPPHIRE WATCH
  • MONOCRYSTALLINE SILICON

Monocrystalline Silicon

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Celebrating its 185th birthday, Longines presents a COCS-certified automatic collection. To further boost the accuracy and durability, Longines equips its best calibres with hairsprings made of monocrystalline silicon, a highly resistant, lightweight material rust-free material, which remains unaffected by regular temperature alterations, magnetic fields and variations in barometric pressure.