In 2016, the top 10 technological breakthroughs in the watch industry were ranked in no particular order.
04 Jaeger-LeCoultre Gyrolab® balance
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Gyrolab® balance appeared for the first time nine years ago. Jaeger-LeCoultre used this balance wheel on the compress extreme lab concept table of the year. The H-shaped Gyrolab® balance, similar to an anchor, is completely different from any previous circular balance. According to Jaeger-LeCoultre, the specially shaped Gyrolab® balance brings many advantages to the movement’s operation. First, the weight of the non-circular Gyrolab® balance is greatly reduced, which brings great advantages to the energy management of the movement and reduces the power loss of the balance operation. At the same time, the Gyrolab® balance reduces aerodynamic resistance and improves the accuracy of watch movement. Can help the watch to reach the level of accuracy of the observatory. Jaeger-LeCoultre spent 7 years perfecting the performance of the new Gyrolab® balance and creating the possibility of mass production. Compared with ordinary balance wheels, the manufacturing process of Jaeger-LeCoultre Gyrolab® balance wheels is more complicated. The production of conventional balance wheels involves 6 types of tools and equipment, and the balance wheel is cut and formed in 1 minute. Jaeger-LeCoultre Gyrolab® balances require 14 types of equipment for 10-minute cutting. In addition, the Gyrolab® balance is adjusted by 4 gold weights with H-shaped edges.
Geophysic® Geophysical Observatory Series Watch Using Jaeger-LeCoultre Gyrolab® Balance Wheel
The reason why non-circular balance wheels have not been widely used for a long time is that the production process is complicated. Many watch factories are outsourced balance wheels and do not need to produce them by themselves. For the first time, Jaeger-LeCoultre put non-circular balance wheels into mass commercial manufacturing, creating a ‘miracle’ in the watch industry. The Gyrolab® balance was first equipped in the 770/772 movement of the Geophysic® series of watches in 2015. Two watches in this series, one with a jumping second and three hands, and one with a jumping seconds world all use the Gyrolab® balance wheel. It is undeniable that the application of Gyrolab® balance is a real technical achievement compared to jumping seconds. Since then, Jaeger-LeCoultre has used the Gyrolab® balance on the fourth-generation spherical tourbillon of the Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon this year. It can be seen that the Gyrolab® balance has been promoted. Obviously, making a product with a disruptive structure is nothing, because a few experimental products will not bring any change to the watch industry. The large-scale use of new technologies is the revolutionary product needed by the watch industry. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Gyrolab® balance is a revolutionary product in the watch industry.
Seconds mechanism in Jaeger-LeCoultre 770/772 movement (top) and Gyrolab® balance.
Compared with the performance advantages brought about by the unique structure of Gyrolab® balance, many viewpoints believe that Gyrolab® balance will bring higher brand recognition to Jaeger-LeCoultre. Just like Omega’s coaxial escapement, the Gyrolab® balance will be the next generation of Jaeger-LeCoultre technology.
05 Breitling in Chronoworks® movement
Breitling has completely eliminated the ruby bearing in the moving wheel train of the Chronoworks® movement. Before that, it had never been heard and never appeared in the entire watch industry. The Breitling Chronoworks® movement is actually a concept version of the Breitling B01 movement, which applies the latest technology in the watch industry to this movement. For the first time, Breitling uses a ceramic main splint on a Chronoworks® movement. Breitling uses high-tech ceramics (hexagonal boron nitride) to make plywood. Ceramics have a self-lubricating property (no need to add lubricant). Because of this characteristic, ceramics are usually used to make ball bearings for automatic rotors in watch movements. The Breitling Chronoworks® movement uses a ceramic main splint to allow the gear shaft to run directly in the hole of the splint. Due to the very low coefficient of friction of the ceramic splint, it is not only necessary to place a jewel bearing on the gear shaft, nor to add a gear shaft oil. Due to the elimination of ruby bearings on the running gear, the Chronoworks® movement uses only 37 gem bearings compared to the 47 gem bearings of the regular B01 movement.
Breitling Super Marine Culture Chronoworks® Chronograph
To complement the new ceramic main splint, Breitling uses silicon gears on Chronoworks® movements. Everyone knows that the use of silicon to make silicon escapements is common in the watch industry, but the use of silicon to make the gears of the time train is another major innovation in Breitling’s Chronoworks® movement.
Breitling Chronoworks® movement (top) and the silicon gear in the movement, we can see that there are no gem bearings on the splint.
In fact, silicon is very suitable for making gears. Both silicon escapements and silicon gears are manufactured using DRIE (Deep Reactive Ion Etching). One of the characteristics of silicon etching is that the surface of the etched part is abnormally smooth. This degree of smoothness to the nanometer level makes silicon parts very suitable for friction parts such as escapement wheels and forks, which cannot be achieved by traditional cutting methods. Because it is extremely smooth and has a very low coefficient of friction, there is no need to add oil for lubrication, which is a major technical achievement in modern watchmaking. The second, third, and fourth (second) wheels of Breitling’s Chronoworks® movement are silicon-made silicon gears. In other words, except for the head wheel of the barrel, the entire travel gear (plus escapement) is Made of silicon, the altar is rare.
06 Blancpain 50 噚 Bathyscaphe Ocean Commitment II watch
Today, many watch factories have invested in the research and development of high-tech ceramics, and Blancpain is one of them. Different from the previous ceramic technology, various watch factories have adopted zirconium dioxide as the latest technical material for ceramic watch cases. Zirconia ceramic case has stronger hardness and changeable color than previous ceramic case. Blancpain’s latest 50 噚 Bathyscaphe Ocean Commitment II limited edition watch uses an all-ceramic blue case, which we have never seen before. Prior to Blancpain’s new limited edition of 50 噚, it is a challenge for the watch industry to make ceramics uniform and uniform in color when they are pigmented and have sufficient hardness. This is why the ceramic watches we usually see are white, grey and black. The problem is that if the mixed ceramic pigments are not completely colored or unevenly heated during the heating process, the ceramic watch case will fade and is irreparable. Although we can see more and more watches using colored ceramic bezels, such as Rolex, Tag Heuer and so on. However, very few watches currently use all-ceramic color cases. Please note that the case, crown and chronograph button of this Blancpain watch are all made of full blue ceramic.
Blancpain 50 噚 Bathyscaphe Ocean Commitment II Limited List
Blancpain said that in order to achieve this full blue, the new limited edition 50 噚 Bathyscaphe Ocean Commitment II has added a new colorant and binder during the production process. Before curing the case, buttons, crown and other ceramic parts, the adhesive is heated at a low temperature. According to Blancpain, this technology has been developed for many years. This is a ceramic manufacturing technology we have never seen before. Blancpain’s new limited edition 50 噚 Bathyscaphe Ocean Commitment II chronograph has a diameter of 43.6 mm, a thickness of 15.25 mm, and a water resistance of 300 meters. The all-ceramic case has excellent scratch resistance and will never fade. Although the traditional ceramic case has the disadvantage of being fragile, it is easy to break. Blancpain’s latest ceramic technology has greatly improved the impact resistance of the 50 噚 Bathyscaphe Ocean Commitment II ceramic case, reaching a new technological height in the watch industry.
Blancpain’s Bathyscaphe Ocean Commitment II chronograph uses the F385 high-frequency self-winding flyback chronograph movement.
Blancpain’s new limited edition 50 噚 Bathyscaphe Ocean Commitment II chronograph uses the F385 self-winding high-frequency flyback chronograph movement launched in 2014. It has a swing frequency of 36,000 times / hour, a power reserve of 50 hours, and a 12-hour flyback timer and calendar function. Through the case bottom, you can see a lot of technical characteristics of the movement and the marine protection logo carved on the 18K gold automatic tourbillon.
07 TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer-02T Tourbillon Watch
The entry threshold for the Swiss tourbillon is in the hands of TAG Heuer. TAG Heuer introduced the cheapest Swiss tourbillon watch at this year’s Basel Watch Fair, the TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer-02T tourbillon watch. This tourbillon watch with chronograph function and observatory certification costs only 15,000 Swiss francs. In other words, this number is about 100,000 yuan. 100,000 yuan is basically the price of a steel shell Dayton in a specialty store. Even the price of 100,000 yuan can not even buy a gold dateJUST in the specialty store (41 mm with diamonds, the public price is more than 100,000). Now I buy a tourbillon with the price of a steel watch, and it also comes with timekeeping. It is still certified by the observatory. I have nothing to say except to startled my chin.
TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer-02T Tourbillon Watch
Of course, I can understand the tourbillon watch at such an amazingly low price. More automated production and reduced labor costs (Switzerland’s high labor costs are one of the reasons for the high price of watches), the modular movement, the use of universal parts (this tourbillon movement is the CH80 automatic chronograph before Tag Heuer Developed on the basis of the core), have further reduced the cost of the Tag Heuer Carrera Heuer-02T tourbillon watch, reducing the price. Due to the low price of this tourbillon watch, Patek Philippe President Teri Stein has stated that the Tag Heuer Carrera Heuer-02T tourbillon watch has destroyed the value of Swiss watchmaking. But there is no doubt that the Tag Heuer Carrera Heuer-02T tourbillon watch has greatly reduced the entry threshold for Swiss-made tourbillons, which is definitely good news for watch buyers.