Nanotechnology used to make watch case

May 6, 2015 by Nick Carne, The Lead South Australia

It's one thing to take a Swiss watch to Switzerland, quite another to impress the locals. Australian company Bausele recently did just that, thanks to some clever thinking at Flinders University in South Australia.

Prof David Lewis and colleagues in the Flinders Centre for NanoScale Science & Technology have developed a unique ceramic material that sets new standards for the design and quality of watch cases.

Bauselite is very strong, very light and, because of the way it is made, avoids many of the traps common with conventional ceramics.

It was used to create Bausele's new Terra Australis, which this year became the first watch from Australia to be accepted for showing at Baselworld, the world's largest watch and jewellery trade fair. The response was more than pleasing.

"This is a great achievement as Baselworld is strictly an invitation-only event for the watch and jewellery industry, and the most important showcase for our industry anywhere in the world," said Bausele's Founder, Christophe Hoppe.

"We attracted attention from other watch brands who were interested in the look of our material and we might manufacture the component for them in the near future."

Ceramics are an increasingly popular alternative to steel in cases because they are lighter, are more tactile, and can be created in a range of colours. However, colour control can be difficult, the design options are limited and the final product can have flaws.

"Because the cases are cast, any tiny gaps or holes can create defect points that cause cracking or deformities," Prof Lewis said.

Nanotechnology used to make watch case

"That leads to a lot of rejects and a lot of wastage which is not what you want in a high-value, high-precision but low-volume manufacturing process. We have taken a step back and adopted a completely new way of making these components that avoids these problems."

The new material is only used for the top of the case, giving Bausele the flexibility to create a range of unique designs. Potentially it could offer customisation to the point where a buyer's name could be inscribed into the ceramic.

However, all these ideas can only become reality because of the manufacturing process.

Bauselite will soon be patented as a proprietary composite and discussions are under way to commence commercial manufacture in South Australia. And that might not be the end of the story.

"Our partnership began because Bausele came to us and essentially said 'you're good at nanotechnology is there anything you can do for us'," Prof Lewis said.

"When we sat down and asked more about what they do, how they do it and where the issues are, together we came up with a number of areas worth exploring.

"Case design was top of their list and we've had a great result, but there are a lot of other exciting things that will hopefully be seen in the years to come."

The initial relationship was made possible through NanoConnect, a collaborative research program managed by Flinders with support from the South Australian Government.

NanoConnect provides a low-risk pathway for companies to utilise university-based research resources, such as advanced analytical equipment, they would not otherwise have access to.

Explore further: TAG Heuer to partner with Google, Intel to create smartwatch (Update)

Related Stories

Developing portable, highly sensitive gold detection

April 29, 2015

University of Adelaide researchers are developing a portable, highly sensitive method for gold detection that would allow mineral exploration companies to test for gold on-site at the drilling rig.

Recommended for you

Smallest ever sieve separates atoms

March 20, 2018

Researchers at The University of Manchester have discovered that the naturally occurring gaps between individual layers of two-dimensional materials can be used as a sieve to separate different atoms.

Quantum bits in two dimensions

March 20, 2018

Two novel materials, each composed of a single atomic layer and the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope, are the ingredients for a novel kind of quantum dot. These extremely small nanostructures allow delicate control ...

Rubbery carbon aerogels greatly expand applications

March 19, 2018

Researchers have designed carbon aerogels that can be reversibly stretched to more than three times their original length, displaying elasticity similar to that of a rubber band. By adding reversible stretchability to aerogels' ...

Scientists have a new way to gauge the growth of nanowires

March 19, 2018

In a new study, researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne and Brookhaven National Laboratories observed the formation of two kinds of defects in individual nanowires, which are smaller in diameter than ...

Plasmons triggered in nanotube quantum wells

March 16, 2018

A novel quantum effect observed in a carbon nanotube film could lead to the development of unique lasers and other optoelectronic devices, according to scientists at Rice University and Tokyo Metropolitan University.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.