The technology of artificial sapphire crystal has been invented as early as 1891. After more than 100 years of development, it has made great progress and is widely used in our lives. The mirrors of our watches, the lenses of cameras or telescopes, the panels of smartphones or tablets … are made of artificial sapphire crystal. What if the watch is made of artificial sapphire crystal? Then, you can get a whole body crystal clear, like a ‘Crystal Palace’ watch, it is even more pure and free of impurities than natural sapphire. In early December, Hublot opened a watchmaking class at the Art Museum of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. Mathias Buttet, the director of the brand research and development department, popularized ‘the use of artificial sapphire crystal to create Watch ”. In 2016, Hublot launched the brand’s first sapphire crystal watch MP-05 LaFerrari. The three-dimensional structure of the transparent case makes the movement seem to be suspended in the air. In 2018, Hublot launched the Big Bang MP-11 sapphire watch at the Basel Watch Fair. Through the sapphire crystal, you can enjoy the watch’s ‘engine’ 360 degrees without dead ends. The reality is that the hardness and scratch resistance of artificial sapphire crystals are almost equivalent to diamonds. The Mohs hardness of diamonds is 10, and the hardness of sapphire is 9. In the manufacture of watch mirrors, camera lenses, smart phone panels … because the shape is relatively simple, the difficulty is not great, and it can be produced in large quantities through machinery. However, the watch case is much more complicated, with various arcs and grooves, various convex corners and tenons, and even extremely small screw holes. Therefore, it is necessary to overcome great difficulties in cutting and grinding. A transparent case, as long as one screw hole is not polished in place, it will form a matte effect, becoming a nail in the eye and a thorn in the flesh. At present, artificial sapphire crystals are polished with a liquid containing diamond powder, and must be manual, and cannot be completely mechanical. Hublot Big Bang Soul Sapphire Watch Hublot MP-07 Sapphire 40 Days Power Reserve Watch Secondly, although the hardness of the sapphire crystal is very high, I have tried scratching the surface with the blade and the tip of the rotating screw that opens the wine cork No trace will be produced. But it is very brittle and can’t stand falling, otherwise you won’t hear someone crying about the watch mirror or the screen of the mobile phone being broken all day. In the watchmaking class, I asked Matthias how to solve this problem? He said that the technology of heating sapphire at different temperatures at different manufacturing stages can reduce the sapphire fragmentation rate by 50%. The principle is that during the heating process, the dislocated atoms in sapphire can be reset and their internal stresses can be released. And when is the best time and temperature for heating, you need to use complex means such as acoustics and visual inspection, which is a trade secret, but the application of new technology has greatly reduced the rate of watch repair. My understanding of this is that just like we wear a ceramic watch, we ca n’t just drop it on the ground, and we do n’t expect it to crack. Sapphire crystal itself is a more delicate material, which is already more precious than precious metals. Or stainless steel has the advantage of not being worn and scratched, so it is natural to take care when wearing it. It’s like we wear ultra-thin watches or big complicated watches. So when someone asked Matthias on the scene, how many meters of water-resistant watches can be made with sapphire crystals? Matthias’ answer is straightforward: 100 meters waterproof is OK, but why do you wear a watch like this to go diving? Hublot’s sapphire crystal watches have a variety of colors to choose from. In addition to developing cutting, grinding, and enhancing the anti-cracking ability of artificial sapphire crystals, the brand has also overcome the sapphire crystal dyeing and diamond setting problems. At present, the watches made by the brand with sapphire crystal can produce red, blue, pink and black styles in addition to pure white. This is the use of sapphire crystals to add other traces to the raw material alumina (Al2O3). Metal elements such as iron (Fe) and titanium (Ti) will crystallize blue transparent sapphire, and chromium (Cr) will produce red transparent sapphire. In the past, Hublot’s sapphire crystal watches were set with metal and diamonds. As for gem setting, it is even more amazing. Previous brands of sapphire crystal watches were set with diamonds or other colored stones on the bezel. They were set in a metal setting, and then the metal setting was fixed on the bezel. But this year’s Basel watch exhibition launched Hublot’s sapphire tourbillon watch with diamonds. We found that the metal setting was missing, and the diamond was set directly on the sapphire crystal bezel. The metal setting is removed, the entire watch is more transparent, and there are no obstacles blocking light and sight. Because there is no metal setting claw to fix the diamond, the sapphire crystal base must be formed into a ‘’ shape, which is the so-called orbital setting. The column-cut diamond is pushed into the groove of the setting and locked, and then a transparent The liquid polymer makes it fit without producing any bubbles. Matthias said that it takes 1,000 man-hours to inlay 48 diamonds on a sapphire bezel, and sometimes it breaks at 90% completion, and the previous work is lost. Therefore, the technician who is engaged in this work is under great pressure and cannot be left alone Responsibility must be divided among multiple people to share the pressure. In 2018, before the push of the sapphire tourbillon watch square diamond model, I heard that some brands said that they successfully inlaid diamonds on extremely hard ceramics or carbon fibers, and the technology was extremely difficult. I thought, why should we set diamonds? Ceramics and carbon fiber have nothing to do with diamonds. But setting it on a sapphire crystal feels great, because both are so transparent, allowing light to refract and flow in it, reflecting bright light. This idea makes sense. But because of the high cost, this tourbillon 5-day power reserve sapphire watch costs $ 1,265,400 for a square diamond model and $ 984,200 for a model without diamonds. Of course, Hublot is not the first, nor the only one, to use artificial sapphire crystal to make the case and create a transparent wrist crystal palace. You know, the brand does n’t make sapphire crystal by itself, just like the brand does n’t produce stainless steel, precious metal or carbon fiber by itself. These are purchased from manufacturers specializing in sapphire crystal. The aesthetic look that empowers the soul, each brand has its own philosophy. Next we also come to appreciate some sapphire crystal watches from other brands. RICHARD MILLE (Richard Mill) is arguably the first brand to use sapphire crystal to build the case. As early as 2012, it launched a limited edition of five pieces of RM56 Felipe Massa sapphire tourbillon two-second chase chronograph. After the RM56-01 sapphire crystal tourbillon watch in 2013, the bottom plate and bridge plate of the movement were further made of sapphire crystal, making the watch more transparent. In 2014, the RM56-02 sapphire crystal tourbillon watch integrated the brand’s exclusive suspension movement into the already transparent case, showing the visual effect of the movement suspended in midair, which is very magical. RICHARD MILLE RM56 Felipe Massa Sapphire Tourbillon Two Seconds Chasing Hands Chronograph RM56-01 Sapphire Crystal Tourbillon Watch RM56-02 Sapphire Crystal Tourbillon Watch As for the use of colored sapphire crystals, RICHARD MILLE was also the first to launch in 2015 RM07-02 Pink Lady Pink Sapphire Watch. RICHARD MILLE RM07-02 Pink Lady Sapphire Watch In 2016, Bell & Ross launched the BR-X1 Chronograph Tourbillon Sapphire chronograph with a transparent sapphire crystal case. In 2018, it will further hollow out the movement Introduced 3 BR-X1 Skeleton Tourbillon Sapphire watches, which are more transparent as a whole. The case is composed of 5 sapphire crystal glasses. Bell & Ross BR-X1 Skeleton Tourbillon Sapphire watch MB & F Horological Machine No.6 Alien Nation watch Greubel Forsey 30 ° double body tourbillon sapphire crystal limited watch H. Moser & amp Cie) Adventurer Tourbillon Two-Sapphire Hollow Watch This article contains a large number of original pictures, some of which are from the brand. Anyone may not use them without permission. For reprinting, please contact us for authorization.