Ceramic

Date:
Categories: Innovation
"With a hardness that surpasses that of any traditional metal used in watchmaking, ceramic is considered a “scratch-proof” material that will never show any signs of wear or aging."
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Ceramic: the hardest of them all.

Ceramic is a general term used to denote any material that is an inorganic, nonmetallic solid prepared by the action of heat and subsequent cooling.
One of the oldest man-made materials, the earliest known ceramic remnants date back to 27’000 BC.

The specific type of ceramic used by Hublot is a high-tech “zirconium oxide” ceramic, a man-made material that can be produced in a handful of colors and tones, most notably black and white.

Zirconium-oxide ceramic has certain properties that make it a perfect material for watch cases and components such as ball bearings within a movement. With a hardness that surpasses that of any traditional metal used in watchmaking, ceramic is far, ceramic is considered a “scratch-proof” material that will never show any signs of wear or aging; perfect for a watch’s external components.

Unlike metal elements and alloys that are milled and machined from a single block or sheet, ceramic parts are produced in an entirely different fashion. Using a zirconium oxide powder, pigments are added and then the powder is either applied by pressure into a pre-form cast or injected into a mold that is then “cooked” under intense heat and high pressure. What comes out of the furnace is the final piece, that is then given a surface treatment such as polishing, satin-brushing or bead-blasting for a matte appearance.

Today, ceramic has become a popular material choice in watchmaking for its durability and extreme hardness. But when the original Big Bang models were created in 2005, the notion of “Art of Fusion” meant exploring new possibilities in materials. At the time, ceramic hadn’t been widely accepted as a watch case material, with the majority of black watches made from stainless steel or other metals with a black coating that would chip and fade over time.

Within Hublot’s own Research & Development department and Metallurgy new applications and varieties of ceramic are being invented including bright red ceramic and yellow ceramic, as well as metal-ceramic composites such as the proprietary Magic Gold, the only scratch-proof 18-carat gold alloy in existence.

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