The pay-offs of intensive research and development in metallurgy, these eight extraordinary timepieces are made of metals exhibiting remarkable properties.
More precious and durable than gold, platinum is the denser and rarer metal. Due to its less malleable nature, platinum is comparatively harder to be fabricated into watch cases. This test of craftsmanship is reflected in the price tag and only the most exceptional watches are justified with the precious metal option, one of which is the Cartier Tank Asymétrique. Limited to 100 numbered pieces and part of the Cartier Privé collection, this extra-large model is underscored by a 47.15mm by 26.2mm platinum case with a cabochon ruby-set crown and is driven by the hand-wound 1917 MC, an in-house calibre.
Beyond the 12 micro-sculpted knights in pink gold on its dial, Roger Dubuis’ fifth edition of the 45mm Excalibur Knights of the Round Table stands out for its unique case material, Damascus titanium. Incredibly lightweight with an unparalleled aesthetic, the metal is twice as light as steel yet 30 per cent more resistant. Made from a block of Damascus titanium, the case and bezel are machined and then dipped in an acid bath designed to reveal the inimitable pattern that is the perfect symbol for contemporary knights. A limited edition with 28 pieces, the watch is equipped with the self-winding Calibre RD821 and bears the Poinçon de Genève quality hallmark.
Omega’s proprietary Moonshine Gold was first revealed in 2019 on the Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition. The unique 18k gold alloy is paler and warmer than traditional yellow gold thanks to the addition of palladium, which renders it more resistant to fading that occurs over time with standard yellow gold. It makes an appearance here on the 39mm Omega De Ville Trésor model for ladies showcasing an elegant bezel partially set with diamonds. The watch is driven by the Omega 4061 quartz movement, which resides behind a special mirrored caseback with a floral motif.
Fast becoming the material of choice for sports watches, titanium is 40 per cent lighter but far more durable and pricier compared to its steel counterpart. Since the corrosion-resistant alloy with a dark grey finish boasts non-magnetic properties, it makes it a fitting choice for a pilot’s watch like the updated Longines Avigation BigEye Titanium. Dressed in a contemporary petrol blue dial, the dashing new 41mm chronograph is equipped with the self-winding mechanical calibre L688 with a power reserve of 54 hours.
Featuring a unique hue that resembles the golden liquid produced by bees, Honeygold is reserved for A. Lange & Söhne’s most exclusive timepieces, with only eight limited editions cast in the precious alloy. Introduced in the maison’s 165th Anniversary Homage to F.A. set in 2010, it is much harder than other gold alloys and platinum, and extraordinarily difficult to shape and finish. This renders the patented material – whose exact formula remains a manufactory secret – extremely damage-resistant. Limited to 100 pieces, the 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold is the first A. Lange & Söhne model to combine a Honeygold case with a black dial cast in silver. Its new L101.2 manually wound calibre boasts a 58-hour power reserve.
Although widely utilised in heavy industries such as automobiles, aerospace and shipbuilding, aluminium is rarely employed in watchmaking. Apart from being lighter than steel, this non-ferrous alloy boasts superior corrosion resistance. The winner of the 2020 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève Iconic Watch Prize, Bvlgari’s Aluminium Chronograph reaps benefits from a more durable 40mm aluminium alloy case reinforced with a titanium caseback. Finished with a chic matte black rubber bezel and strap, this chronograph is driven by the B130 movement with a power reserve of 42 hours.
Lucent Steel A223
The hypoallergenic alloy is made by re-smelting steel at a high temperature with additional ingredients to yield Lucent Steel A223, which is 50 per cent harder and more resistant to abrasion than its metal counterpart. Distinguished by a lustrous finish that imparts an ethereal incandescence, Lucent Steel A223 was developed exclusively or the Alpine Eagle by Chopard in partnership with Voestalpine Böhler. Also cast in the unique metal is the 44mm Alpine Eagle XL Chrono, a modern yet elegant COSC- certified chronograph driven by the self-winding mechanical Chopard 03.05-C calibre with a 60-hour power reserve.
Entirely developed and patented by Hublot, Magic Gold is the world’s first and only scratch-resistant 18k gold alloy that maintains its beauty, shine and polished appearance over time. To achieve its revolutionary robustness, a ceramic powder called boron carbide is compressed into a mould before it’s heated to 2,200 deg C to fuse the particles. As the interior of the shape is porous, liquid gold is then added and worked into the material at high pressure to produce Magic Gold. A limited edition of 50 pieces, the new Hublot Big Bang MP-11 Magic Gold boasts a 45mm case in the proprietary gold alloy that houses the hand-wound skeleton HUB9011 movement with a 14-day power reserve.
Art direction: Aaron Lee; background images: Unsplash and Pexels
This story was published in the April 2021 issue of Prestige Singapore.