Ceramic Watch Bands
Many people think of pottery or cookware when they hear the word "ceramics," but the material used in watch bands is slightly different than that used in fragile cookware. The watch-making material is synthetic and known as high-tech ceramic. This more durable product is made through scientific techniques of firing and glazing other synthetic materials, such as aluminum, silicium carbide, yttrium, and zirconium. Powdered raw materials are placed inside a cast and heated to extreme temperatures. Skilled technicians then sand, shape, and polish the high-density material for beautiful and long-lasting results. High-tech ceramic is extremely durable, lightweight, and non-reactive. This material has been used in various industries like aeronautics and engineering. The Swiss company Rado was the first brand to use high-tech ceramics in its watches in 1986.
Soon after Rado made its pioneering efforts in ceramic watches, other Swiss companies caught on to the appeal of the highly durable material. The International Watch Company use ceramics for timepieces as well as watch cases to protect these accessories. Early watches were designed with athletic individuals in mind as the strong properties of high-tech ceramics were ideal for active individuals who spent a lot of time outdoors. It was not until the year 2000 that Chanel released one of the first fashionable watches featuring ceramic in the Chanel J12 series. Since the turn of the 21st century, dozens of brands have incorporated high-tech ceramic into their watch designs for both men and women.
So many brands starting using high-tech ceramics for watch bands due to the favorable attributes of this material; strength is one of the most notable qualities, but ceramic is also very comfortable for the wearer.
Durability of Ceramic Watch Bands
Scientists tested the strength of high-tech ceramic using the Vickers hardness test, which uses diamond to assess the material. The ceramic used in watch bands scored 1250 HV, indicating a very strong substance. To compare, steel has a hardness score of 600 HV, and sapphire maintains a top ranking at 2200 HV. Another hardness scale ranked high-tech ceramic at 9.1 out of 10 points. Unlike pottery and clay ceramics, the watch band material will not shatter when dropped onto hard surfaces. The microscopic components of the material actually expand upon impact to prevent cracks from forming. The high-density compounds and bonding agents give ceramic watch bands the durability required for everyday wear and vigorous activities.
Even though ceramic is a strong material, it is thin and lightweight for a comfortable fit. The heft of steel or gold can feel heavy on the wrist, but high-tech ceramic does not carry that amount of weight. The smooth surface of these watch bands also feels good against the skin. As a non-metallic material, high-tech ceramic is not affected by cold or heat, so it is always a comfortable temperature for the wearer. These watches are hypoallergenic as well and can be worn by anyone with metal allergies. High-tech ceramic bands will not alter the chemistry of the skin or cause any other negative reactions. Just like other types of watch bands, the ceramic versions are completely adjustable for an ideal fit. Consumers who have purchased jewelry made from this type of material tend to prefer the comfort of ceramics over traditional metals.
One of the most attractive features of ceramic watch bands is their scratch resistance: After years of wear and tear, these timepieces will continue to look brand new. The high durability and unique properties of yttrium and zirconium protect the band against damage from drops, scrapes, and dings. In addition to scratch resistance, high-tech ceramic is also water resistant due to a permanent hydrophobic coating. The watch band will not fade, discolor, or tarnish even after sweating or showering while wearing the accessory. Since this material is non-reactive, the salt and other chemicals in perspiration will not alter the ceramic's integrity. High-tech ceramic is naturally resistant to extreme temperature changes. This attribute protects the mechanical or electronic parts within the watch and prolongs the life of the timepiece. Individuals can wear ceramic watches while climbing high mountain peaks or leave these devices in cars on hot, sunny days without damaging the internal components.
The oxides in high-tech ceramic resist wear and uphold their molecular structure, which makes the watch always look brand new. Through different finishing methods, designers create multiple looks for the watch band. Hand polishing produces a shiny metallic effect, and sand blasting creates a matte finish for a subtler style. The use of ceramics in jewelry began as an alternative to black tungsten in men's accessories. Some men did not like the weight of tungsten, and the black coating often chipped away to reveal the dark grey metal underneath. Black ceramic maintains the same color throughout the material, so even if the jewelry piece does chip, it will retain its tone. Many men also prefer the lighter weight and comfortable grip that high-tech ceramic offers. The same advantages were later applied to women's jewelry and watches with more colors and styles. The original ceramic watch designs were only produced in either black or white, but several brands have come out with a wide range of color options as this material becomes more popular. Designer and fashion watches come in pastel shades, dark tones, and metallic hues. With leather and metal watch bands, consumers only have a few color choices, like silver, gold, black, and brown. Luxury watches containing ceramic, however, sometimes even feature diamonds, crystals, or colorful rhinestones in addition to the vast spectrum of colors they are manufactured in. With such a wide range of styles, high-tech ceramic watches are made to fit all budgets: Consumers can find high-end luxury watches, durable sports watches, and fashion accessories containing the innovative material.
As with any type of watch band, dirt can accumulate in the crevices and between the links. It is sometimes best to clean a ceramic watch band with just a cloth and non-abrasive cleaner. Some jewelers recommend window cleaner solutions while others claim that regular dish soap does the trick. First, wipe the band down with a dry cloth to remove the loose dust and debris. Spray the cloth with a cleaner before wiping the watch a second time. Old toothbrushes work well for reaching difficult crevices. Wipe the band one last time with another dry cloth. If using dish soap, be sure to rinse the band with warm water to remove all of the suds before drying it.
Ceramic watch bands combine durability for long-term use, comfort for everyday wear, and the elegance of luxury and fashion pieces. The versatility of the material allows for use in watches that utilize different technologies, such as mechanical, digital, solar, and motion activation. Consumers can find heavy-duty sports pieces or light, trendy fashion watches to suit their lifestyles. High-tech ceramic is an innovative material that has improved numerous industries and continues to inspire designers to create new styles of watch bands.
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