Nanotechnology meets fashion: Luxury Australian watch incorporates novel ceramic material | The American Ceramic Society

Nanotechnology meets fashion: Luxury Australian watch incorporates novel ceramic material

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[Image above] Flinders Centre for NanoScale Science & Technology scientists Jonathan Campbell (left) and David Lewis work on a novel ceramic composite for watchmaker Bausele. Credit: Bausele Australia; Youtube

Researchers at Flinders Centre for NanoScale Science & Technology (Adelaide, South Australia) are watching the success of a unique ceramic material they have developed.

The university team, led by materials science professor David Lewis, has paired up with Australian luxury watch company Bausele to incorporate the novel high-strength, low-weight ceramic into some of the company’s luxury watches.

Together they developed Bauselite, a proprietary composite ceramic that Bausele has incorporated into some of its watches.

“Bauselite is very strong, very light, and, because of the way it is made, avoids many of the traps common with conventional ceramics,” according to a article.

The material makes up the top of the case covering the company’s Terra Australis model, which was accepted into the world’s largest—and invitation only—watch and jewelry trade fair this year. The lightweight ceramic case of the Terra Australis is 46 mm in diameter and houses a Swiss-made Soprod A-10 calibre movement.

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Bausele’s Terra Australis model in rose gold. Credit: Bausele

“Because the cases are cast, any tiny gaps or holes can create defect points that cause cracking or deformities,” Lewis says in the article. “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.”

Being able to manufacture the cases at home in Australia is important to Bausele’s founder, Christophe Hoppe. “The fact we have our own production facility in partnership with Flinders University is a great achievement,” Hoppe says in the press release. “I am very proud to be bringing manufacturing back to Australia at a time when many companies outsource all of their manufacturing overseas.”

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An early prototype shows the shape of the watch face. Credit: Bausele

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Ceramic watch case manufactured through the collaboration of Flinders and Bausele. Credit: Bausele

In addition to being manufactured at home, Bausele’s watches each contain a piece of Australia—literally—in the crown, “including Red Earth from the Outback, Sand from one of the beautiful beaches, or Opal from under this ancient land,” according to the website

As far as further details about the ceramic material, though, mum’s the word. Lewis writes in an email that the team is still patenting various aspects of “future” versions of the material, so he can’t say much about the material yet.

The Flinders–Bausele pairing comes through NanoConnect, a program initiated by Lewis that aims to bridge the gap between university-led nanotech research and industry. “Apart from enlightening industries about the potential of nanotechnology, the program also provides a low-risk mechanism to test promising product ideas in a way that clearly demonstrates the technology’s value,” according to a Bausele press release.

“Our partnership began because Bausele came to us and essentially said ‘you’re good at nanotechnology, is there anything you can do for us’,” Lewis says in the article. “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 material might also find its way into watches outside of the Bausele brand. Hoppe adds, “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.”

Credit: Bausele Australia; Youtube