Which watch brands create their own luxury alloys?
When it comes to precious metals for luxury watches, we all know gold, titanium and stainless steel. But what about Honey Gold, Oystersteel and Hublonium?
While every watchmaker seems to be on missions to make the latest complication or unusual parts for watches, some go as far as to create their own alloys in a bid to make stronger, more durable watches.
Here we take a look at some of the more popular materials and why they’ve been created by the world’s most popular luxury watch brands:
Why create a new substance?
While precious metals are popular, some of them may look attractive but their properties are not always suitable for watchmaking in unaldertated form. For example, take gold, it looks expensive and shiny - traits you’d want for a multi-thousand pound watch. However, gold is very soft and malleable, meaning it can easily be scratched or lose shape.
This is why watchmakers attempt to create alloys - a mixture of more robust substances - to create the perfect formulations for timepieces. But even 18K gold is not pure gold, as it comprises around 75 per cent gold, the rest being copper and silver.
However, today we are going to look at some patented alloys that are unique to some of our favourite brands.
Hublot - Hublonium and Magic Gold
For every material created by Hublot, the makers have a philosophy - The Art of Fusion. The brand has created Hublonium, which is a unique metal alloy developed by Hublot combining magnesium and aluminium, making it remarkably light.
Aluminum-magnesium alloys combine strength with corrosion resistance due to the formation of hardening the solid solution as it is processed.
This alloy was used to create the iconic Big Bang model, which was created in 2015 to mark its 10th anniversary, on the 44mm Hublot Red Dot Bang model.
Magic Gold is another of the brand’s sophisticated alloys. The scratch-resistant material is made using melted gold that is fused with ceramic (harder than gold) resulting in a much harder gold.
Rolex - Oystersteel
Rolex created its own steel alloy called Oystersteel. It is incredibly resistant to corrosion and can create an exceptional sheen.
Many watchmakers use 316L stainless steel, but Rolex decided to use a unique blend of 904L stainless steel. Oystersteel was first introduced at Baselworld 2018 where it replaced 904L stainless steel but nowhere reported exactly how it was different.
It’s an alloy comprising stainless steel, copper, nickel, chromium and molybdenum, to give it the robust qualities it needs to be used in industries like aerospace. It can be hard to cut which makes it expensive to use but it does have properties similar to precious metals.
While stainless steel has been considered inferior to other materials in the past, it’s now up there with some of the most coveted materials in the watch industry.
Lots of Rolex models are offered in Oystersteel or the new alloy combined with another precious metal, for example, yellow gold.
Omega - Moonshine Gold
One of Omega’s signature gold alloys is Moonshine gold, inspired by the moon, if you hadn’t guessed. It was used to create the Speedmaster Moonwatch Apollo 11 50th anniversary limited edition.
Omega says that the mellow yellow, patent-pending alloy of gold, silver and palladium offers high resistance to fading, retaining its lustre for decades.
The colour - a duller yellow-gold - is reminiscent of the colour of the moon at night.
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