Carbon trust – is it time to put your faith in a new material?
When you think luxury watches, gold, titanium and stainless steel probably spring to mind.
But carbon, existing in pure or nearly pure forms such as diamond and graphene, is quite an impressive material.
Carbon can’t melt – instead it changes from solid straight to gas at incredibly high temperatures – and with the flexibility of how it is processed, it can create a finish that is unique to each watch.
Carbon fibers are most useful when woven together and bound with a plastic polymer by heat or pressure to form a composite. Some luxury brands have tapped into using carbon fiber composites for a robust finish, especially for sports watches, as carbon is three times stronger than titanium but weighs half as much. As a result it’s also used for items such as golf clubs and tennis racquets.
The only downside we can see is the price as carbon is so difficult to machine, meaning the watches are much more labour-intensive. But luxury has its price for a reason.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph
This brand was quick to tap into forging when it comes to carbon, not faking carbon. It’s the process of using heat and pressure to form a shape and a stronger product. The visual effect is a marbling effect which looks rather impressive and is unique to each timepiece. A carbon Royal Oak Offshore would weigh just a quarter of a gold one.
With this watch, Audemars used a bezel from a ceramic alloy as well as carbon fiber in the case. This model is water resistant to 100 metres and has an impressive power reserve of 55 hours.
Hublot Classic Fusion Ferrari GT 3D Carbon
Embodying the best of the car and watch industries is a culmination of Ferrari and Hublot, the Hublot Classic Fusion Ferrari GT 3D Carbon offers a 72-hour power reserve.
This model, also available in titanium and gold, is enhanced by the texture of the carbon case. Hublot weaves carbon fibers which makes the material look almost like the fabric of a tailor-made suit.
Richard Mille RM 11-02 McLaren Automatic Flyback Chronograph
Costing a fair whack – well, the price of an actual McLaren supercar – only 500 of Mille watches, featuring orange to match the racing team’s corporate colour, were ever created.
Titanium pushers mirror the McLaren 720S’s headlights, while its titanium inserts are the same shape as the air-intake snorkel on the F1.
This model is made from carbon TPT which is shared by the cabin of the new McLaren Speedtail. With a 55-hour power reserve, complications include an annual calendar with oversized date and a 12-hour chronograph.
Roger Dubuis Excalibur Aventador S
Also enjoying a team partnership with a car brand is Roger Dubuis who created watches with Lamborghini.
This model sees a case crafted from C-SMC carbon which looks slick as a background for the bright red and blue features. Caliber RD103SQ combines two balance wheels, placed at an angle, to increase the precision of the movement. The Excalibur Aventador S is incredibly light and comfortable to wear all day.
Hublot Big Bang All Carbon
Hublot is one of the few watch manufacturers able to manufacture both case and movement components from carbon fiber composites, as the material behaves differently that traditional alloys and requires different manufacturing.
With this eye-catching model, the case, bezel, and even the dial are made from traditionally-weaved carbon fiber.
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