Accidental scrapes against a rough surface or the unintentional bump against a door frame. These seemingly innocent and often silly mistakes can result in frustrating yet inevitable scratches on your beloved watch.
This situation, however, is no longer the case. Over the last century, watch brands have invested time, effort, and resources in experimenting with watch materials to make them more durable and survive all kinds of environments and years of wear without looking like it. They have employed a range of advanced technology to keep their watches scratch-resistant and that means worry-free wear for you.
While some people prefer a rugged-looking watch, others love pieces that look new even after years of wear and tear. These convey a sense of general strength and technical superiority. How do they do it, anyway? Here, we look at some of the most common factors that increase a watch’s scratch resistance.
4 Scratch-Resistant Features to Look For In a Watch
Different formulas and production processes create different alloys with different properties. While metals can generally be called steel, gold, or bronze, doesn’t mean that their composition is identical to any other metal of the kind. This is particularly true with watches where brands use different alloys with varying compositions and grades, resulting in metals that differ slightly.
For example, Rolex’s patented Oystersteel is said to be an alloy of 904L stainless steel, which is regarded to be more corrosion-resistant than 316L. As a master of the Art of Fusion, Hublot regularly experiments with unusual material pairings such as gold and ceramic to create a scratch-resistant material called Magic Gold. Meanwhile, in 2014, Bulova used a forging process to harden gold, which is then used in their 24-carat gold Bulova watches.
The watchmaking industry is inundated with terms that refer to different types of coatings or processes to add colors in watches or in this case, a layer of protection against scratches. DLC, short for diamond-like carbon, describes a type of coating that offers excellent scratch resistance. Seiko and Citizen are some brands that have patented their respective types of scratch-resistant coatings without affecting the finish of the case material.
While scratch-resistant coatings do the job, the problem is that they themselves can wear away over time and the damage looks more obvious if the color underneath is different. The coating can also show damage when the underlying material deforms, resulting from an impact.
Surface Hardening Treatment
Instead of using a scratch-resistant alloy or coating, surface hardening is a chemical technique wherein a surface layer of the material is significantly hardened. A downside of this method is that a substantial impact can still dent the softer material underneath, thus causing an eggshell effect. It’s where the surface feels solid as a rock but only to a certain point as the inside feels damaged.
Sinn is a German watch brand known for this technique, which it calls regimenting. But, you would find other companies employing the same method under different terms such as moisturizing. Meanwhile, watch cases from Bremont undergo a surface hardening treatment, resulting in a surface hardness that is up to seven times more durable than typical 316L stainless steel.
Sapphire glass is often the default choice for luxury watches, primarily because it’s the hardest crystal available, compared to acrylic and mineral glass. It also remains clear and scratch-free even after frequent use.
For an average watch, a mineral glass may suffice, and it’s way cheaper, too. But, it’s also more susceptible to scratches, which is less than ideal if you’re looking for an investment watch that you could sell in the future.
Why Watch Materials Matter
Wristwatches are made out of a wide range of materials depending on the brand and the model. Sure, while they contribute to the overall aesthetics of the accessory, what materials are used also matters a great deal as it determines the durability of the watch.
Overall, there are at least five basic features that you should look for to ensure the quality of a watch: material, glass, water resistance, movement, and finish. Because of the difficult and complex process involved in making scratch-resistant watches, their price range can be significantly higher than other regular models.
The high demand for scratch-resistant watches boils down to their durability and longevity, which renders them a worthwhile investment.
How exactly watch brands improve the hardness and durability of their watches are highly variable, but generally falls into the factors listed above. But, regardless of your preference, the result is a watch that can better resist scratches, dents, and damage that you could otherwise expose your watch to. More often than not, these properties will help your watch maintain a brand-new look for several years to come.
What do you think of the factors that make your watch scratch-resistant? Let us know by leaving a comment.