Ceramic Watches Get Their Glow On Thanks to IWC Schaffhausen's Ceralume®

Ceramic Watches Get Their Glow On Thanks to IWC Schaffhausen's Ceralume®

THM Desk
28 May 2024 |
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IWC Schaffhausen has unveiled its proprietary Ceralume® technology, a pioneering innovation that enables the production of fully luminous ceramic watch cases for the first time. This remarkable achievement is the culmination of years of dedicated research and development by IWC's engineering division, XPL.

Ceralume® is a highly engineered and patent-pending process that involves homogeneously mixing ceramic powders with high-grade Super-LumiNova® pigments, a luminous material renowned for its ability to store and emit light energy. The seamless integration of these luminous pigments into the ceramic matrix results in a material that can emit a vibrant blueish glow for an extended period, as demonstrated in dark chamber tests where a fully luminous concept watch manufactured using Ceralume® technology continued to emit light for over 24 hours.

IWC Schaffhausen has a long-standing legacy of ceramic watchmaking expertise, spanning almost four decades. The company's pioneering spirit was evident in 1986 when it introduced the world's first wristwatch with a black zirconium oxide ceramic case. Since then, IWC has continued to push boundaries, unveiling innovative ceramic timepieces, including models crafted from brown silicon nitride ceramic and black boron carbide ceramic, one of the hardest known substances.

IWC Schaffhausen Ceralume®

Dr. Lorenz Brunner, Department Manager of Research and Innovation at IWC Schaffhausen, expressed the company's pride in its role as a pioneer and innovator in ceramic watchmaking. He emphasized the challenges overcome in developing Ceralume®, citing the need to achieve maximum homogeneity and meet exacting quality standards. To accomplish this feat, IWC engineered a groundbreaking new manufacturing process tailored to the unique combination of ceramic powders and Super-LumiNova® pigments.

The captivating glow effect of Ceralume® watches is achieved by incorporating high-grade Super-LumiNova® pigments into the ceramic raw materials. Engineered by the Swiss technology company RC Tritec, Super-LumiNova® is a high-tech ceramic compound that behaves like a light storage battery, absorbing light energy from sunlight or artificial sources, storing it temporarily, and then emitting the absorbed energy as visible light. This cycle can be repeated infinitely without causing the material to age or diminish its light storage capacity.

The production of Ceralume® involves a highly engineered process that begins with a dedicated ball milling process, customized to ensure a perfectly homogeneous mix of raw materials despite their different particle sizes. Subsequently, the parameters of the sintering process and the grinding of the sintered ceramic body are specifically adapted to the luminous ceramic.

IWC Schaffhausen Ceralume® Caseback

Showcasing the potential of Ceralume®, IWC's experimental division, XPL, has manufactured a fully luminous ceramic concept watch in the iconic Pilot's Watch Chronograph 41 design. In addition to its luminous Ceralume® case, the concept watch features a white luminescent dial and a white luminescent rubber strap, both enriched with Super-LumiNova® pigments. The dial's brass base is sprayed with a Super-LumiNova® solution before the printing is added on top of the luminescent layer, while the rubber strap is manufactured using an injection molding process that incorporates Super-LumiNova® pigments.

IWC Schaffhausen's patent-pending Ceralume® technology represents a significant milestone in the brands rich history of watchmaking innovation and is poised to serve as the foundation for future developments and releases, further solidifying IWC's position as a leader in the luxury watchmaking industry.