Carbon watches: sturdy high-tech materials for the wrist
Fiber-reinforced plastics have long since come to be regarded as indispensable key materials in the futuristic discipline of lightweight construction. Energy-saving aircraft such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner or the Airbus A 350 would be nearly inconceivable without the use of carbon fibers. This material’s properties include high resilience, impact strength, chemical stability, weight saving, and longevity. It is accordingly not surprising that the watch industry has likewise discovered the benefits of carbon fibers. Carbon watches are for example manufactured in a sort of forging process as applied by Audemars Piguet. The material comes in precisely shaped matrices that are compressed at a temperature of approximately 240° Celsius and a pressure of more than 300 kilograms per square centimeter. The resulting body for the watch case contains 76 percent carbon fiber and 24 percent polyamide. The correct formula, suitable processing methods, and above all the elaborate tools all pose exacting demands. The components that are being manufactured must have sharp edges and perfect surfaces right from the start because neither post-processing nor subsequent polishing are possible. The final quality and appearance result from skillful arrangement of the raw material in the matrix.