About Time: The Power Of Ceramic Watches

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About Time: The Power Of Ceramic Watches

Words by Mr Chris Hall

4 December 2020

Watchmakers first experimented with using ceramic as a case material in the 1980s, but it’s only recently that it has become widespread. Desirable for its scratch-proof, lightweight and colour-fast properties, ceramics are time-consuming and expensive to machine into shape – hence the relatively slow uptake.

IWC SCHAFFHAUSEN has been at the forefront of ceramic usage in watchmaking since the very beginning, as seen on the Da Vinci in 1986. As our video explains, it predominantly deploys ceramic in its action-ready Pilot’s watches, but has also begun to roll it out across the range, as demonstrated by the Big Pilot’s Perpetual Calendar Rodeo Drive edition, which is cased in black ceramic. Indeed, when it comes to IWC’s most advanced models, the brand now uses something called Ceratanium, a proprietary blend of ceramic and titanium. Here, ceramic is bonded to a titanium alloy, rather than formed from a powder, as a wholly ceramic case would be. In short, it makes for a supremely durable case.

These days, ceramics can be produced in all manner of colours, but it doesn’t hurt that black – one of the most straightforward to produce – has become one of the most popular looks for watches over the past decade. IWC’s ceramic pieces lean into this while embracing the military heritage of its Pilot’s range and adding a modern, utilitarian feel.

Don’t miss the rest of our About Time videos, where we have an in-depth look at the IWC Pilot itself, pick our favourite IWC chronographs and offer up-close examinations of the latest watches from Jaeger-LeCoultre and Vacheron Constantin.

Ceramic art