Material Innovation in Watchmaking: Ceramic

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ceramic

Back in 2005 when Rolex unveiled their new Cerachrom bezel material at Baselworld, the watch world took notice of ceramic’s potential in the areas of watch manufacturing. At its core, ceramic is extremely scratch resistant, offers an eye-catching look, and can be utilized in a range of applications. What was once a rare and often expensive manufacturing material is now more commonplace. Today, brands are continuing to explore the possibilities of ceramic and we thought it would be a great idea to share some of our favorite watches that utilize the material.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ceramic
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ceramic

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ceramic was one of the biggest releases at SIHH 2017. Not only is it a beautifully executed perpetual calendar from AP but the entire case and bracelet are crafted from matte black brushed ceramic. Audemars Piguet also mentioned that the bracelet alone takes around 30 hours to construct. However, what is perhaps most impressive, is the range of finishing found throughout the watch and the fact that AP was able to increase shock protection. Overall, the package is extremely attractive and represents some of the highest tech achieved by Audemars Piguet.

Academy Tourbillon Georges Favre-Jacot in 45 mm ceramic case
Zenith Academy Georges Favre-Jacot Tourbillon Ceramic

This was Zenith’s first watch (hands-on here) to use a chain and fusee system to run a constant force mechanism. The watch also has a tourbillon regulator and although it is also offered in a rose gold case, the black ceramic case really sets off the whole high-tech look of the piece. This is a situation where ceramic is used to compliment a design that is undeniably avant-garde and Zenith executed it perfectly. In a way, the watch exudes both the classic Zenith aesthetic as well as what the brand is capable of in terms of material innovation.

Audemars Piguet’s most recent releases in its Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph collection feature some contemporary design updates. Here’s a closer look at six Audemars Piguet Royal Oaks, and the similarities and differences they share with their predecessors.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor Chronograph Ceramic
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor Chronograph Ceramic

While the previous watches we’ve focused on deliver somewhat of a dressy high-end look, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor Chronograph Ceramic takes ceramic to a more tool-ish focus. What is special here is the contrast Jaeger-LeCoultre managed to achieve with the inclusion of rose gold elements. Sure, 18k rose gold isn’t exactly the toughest looking material but when paired with black ceramic, it results in a look that takes the watch to a whole new visual level. Paired with a black Trieste cloth strap, the watch is stealthy and makes for one of the most visually interesting uses for a ceramic case.

So, although the use of ceramic in watches can be a little more subtle than sapphire or carbon, there’s no denying that watch brands still commit to finding new uses for it. What would be interesting to see is how and when brands can improve ceramic’s overall shock durability, which is unfortunately one of its known weaknesses. But, if there’s anyone who can improve upon that, it’s the Swiss watch industry and as always, we’re eager to see what’s next.

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