10 Watch Brands That Make Their Own Metals


We’re all familiar with the most popular materials for watch cases — steel, rose gold, titanium, et cetera. But what about Rolesium, Ceragold, and Powerlite? While many watch brand take great pride in making their own cases, movements and dials, only a handful have gone the extra mile and actually invented their own materials, mostly for use in cases, but sometimes even for parts inside the watch. Many of these have come about as watch brands invested in developing new alloys in an effort to make stronger, lighter, and/or more scratch-resistant substances. Below we take a look at ten brands that have invented their own alloys by combining different metals.

1. Rolex

Rolex Yacht Master with Rolesium case
Rolex Yacht Master with Rolesium case

One of the metals developed by Rolex is a material known as Rolesium, a combination of 904L stainless steel superalloy and 950 platinum. Rolesium was used in the 40-mm diameter Oyster case of the Rolex Yacht-Master seen here.

Rolex also developed Cerachrom, which it has used on the bezels of the Rolex Submariner and the 50th Anniversary Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, which was launched at Baselworld 2013. Cerachrom is an extra-hard, corrosion-resistant ceramic; Cerachrom bezels have engraved numerals and graduations coated with a thin layer of platinum via a PVD (physical vapor deposition) process. Rolex has also used Cerachrom for the bezel of its redesigned Daytona, which debuted last year.

50th Anniversary Rolex Cosmograph Dayton with Cerachrom bezel
50th Anniversary Rolex Cosmograph Dayton with Cerachrom bezel

The movement of the 50th Anniversary Rolex Cosmograph Daytona also features a hairspring made of blue Parachrom, another Rolex-exclusive material that is uncommonly resistant to magnetic fields. Hairsprings made of Parachrom, an alloy of niobium, zirconium, and oxygen, are said to remain stable through temperature variations and be much less susceptible to shocks, remaining, according to Rolex, 10 times more precise in case of shocks than a traditional hairspring.

2. Omega

Omega Planet Ocean with Ceragold bezel.
Omega Planet Ocean with Ceragold bezel.
Omega spent years developing a material blending ceramic and 18k gold, known as Ceragold. The technique used to make Ceragold allows for the growth and bonding of 18k gold in ceramic, and is used to create ceramic bezels with gold numbers that are smooth to the touch, as in the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Ceragold.

Omega Constellation Sedna
Omega Constellation Sedna

The Omega Constellation Sedna features a case crafted in 18k Sedna gold, an alloy developed entirely in-house by the Swatch Group, which blends gold, copper and palladium for, Omega says, an uncommonly long-lasting reddish hue. The alloy requires a minimum gold content of 75 percent, along with a precise portion of copper, to create the vibrant red color, while the palladium strengthens the material’s luster and makes it longer-lasting. “Sedna” is the name of a Trans-Neptunian object — i.e, a body in space that orbits our sun at a greater average distance than the planet Neptune — whose surface has been described as one of the reddest in the Solar System.

3. Hublot

Hublot Big Bang Ferrari Magic Gold
Hublot Big Bang Ferrari Magic Gold

As part of its “fusion” philosophy, Hublot has developed several of its own materials. Among them are Cermet, which mixes ceramic and metal, and Hublonium, an alloy composed of magnesium and aluminum. The brand also created a hard, scratch-resistant gold alloy known as Magic Gold. Made of 75% pure gold, Magic Gold is made by a process in which gold is melted and fused with ceramic (which is porous and harder than gold), resulting in a harder gold. For details on Hublot’s Magic Gold development process, click here.

4. Linde Werdelin

Linde Werdelin SpidoLite II
Linde Werdelin SpidoLite II

Unveiled at Baselworld 2013, the Linde Werdelin Spidolite II Tech features a proprietary material, ALW, or “Alloy Linde Werdelin.” To make a lighter watch, Linde Werdelin incorporated an outer case of carbon and an inner case of ALW, which is an alloy 50% lighter than titanium. The ALW inner case, which retains the same strength as steel, receives 25 microns treatment to harden its surface, while achieving a radiant red or green color visible through the angular hollows of the skeletonized outer case sides.

5. Ulysse Nardin

Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronometer Manufacture
Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronometer Manufacture

Ulysse Nardin used its own material, Diamonsil, in the Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronometer Manufacture.

Ulysse Nardin’s manufacture Caliber UN-118
Ulysse Nardin’s manufacture Caliber UN-118

The escapement in its movement, Caliber UN- 118, is made of Diamonsil, the result of a collaboration between Ulysse Nardin and the Swiss firm Sigatec, which consists of synthetic diamond grown on a silicon base.

Discover more watch brands that make their own metals on the second page of this article.

42 Responses to “10 Watch Brands That Make Their Own Metals”

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  1. Dear Mark
    Interesting article, but please check your facts. There is no such thing as Rolesium alloy. Rolesium is a steel case and a platinum bezel. I suppose you think Rolesor is an alloy as well, but I see that you have dropped that from an earlier version of this article which has been re-hashed. That is of course a steel case and a gold bezel.

    Reply
  2. You missed Rado which is especially known for experimenting and innovating with materials they use for their watches

    Reply
  3. Hi there,

    Very interesting, I am happy to see Seiko made it into the top ten list.

    Cheers

    Carl

    Reply
  4. Michael Romano

    What about Breitling’s amazing Breitlight material, used on the Avenger Hurricane?

    Reply
  5. Nasruddin H Narsidani

    Please give prise&address of showrooms in Ahmedabad Gujarat

    Reply
  6. Yannick Boisvert

    Two German brand also make their own steel, more resistant. Damasko and Sinn watches.

    Reply
  7. srhardy

    The future of watch inovation and manufacturer is home 3D printing where users design, innovate and print thier own watch parts and assemble with unique materials! It will do more to change the swiss watch dream than even the quartz revolution of the 70’s-90’s…

    The great thing is places like this on the net will become more important than they are now!

    The swiss are so screwed and the speed Chinese are catching on with super plants and tech in the meantime will change us in the interim, believe me… The swiss frank is killing exporters, im being told OMEGAS are going up 20% in 2015 and thats after doubling already since 2006

    Reply
    • Warren Ellesbroek

      Interesting idea on paper, but I don’t think it is practical in the least bit! Can you 3-D print a crystal?
      And what about the springs…especially a hairspring? You show me a 3-D printed hairspring that functions as precisely as a “real” one and I’ll buy that printer and give it to you for free!!!!

      Reply
    • i have worked with 3d printers, a run printing metal which is powder based costs $800 for a single run, which then needs to be treated and polished, and the machine which can 3d print metals retails for over $350000; before that you need extensive experience in cad to understand how to create a model and export an stl, which 99% of the world would not be able to do. now if you wish to print rare metals you need an organic matter printer, which retails for over $900000, and costs $2500 per run, before you work out the costing of materials, if want a brittle and cheap plastic watch by all means by a cubepro or makerbot, they will set you back $2000 and cost $60 per run.

      Reply
  8. After I red carefully the article and the comments made, I’m wondering if all this extra materials the swiss companys use to make their watches more attractive, it means that the swiss are not comfortable anymore and are waiting for another …dark decade… The Japanese Seiko instead looks more secure with their market share. Are the Cinese an upcoming competor to the swiss?? And why do the swiss keep increasing their prices with no justification???? In Europe, during Christmas time there is a shortage of watches like rolex, omega etc and since there is no fix or suggested retail price all the above and available watches are gone up by a 20% at least!!! Coincidence ??????

    Reply
  9. Watches should be compared based on durability, resistance to water and shock and of course, accuracy. Along with finish, attention to detail and most importantly appearance, the only other factors are long term repairability and resale value. Mechanical innovation is only valuable if it actually improves these rating areas. Hand finish and assembly should also be treated with the question how does it make the watch better? It’s just like comparing the newest Corvette with a Ferrari; results are similar so is their real value in one costing three or four times the price of the other? Objective criticism becomes impossible.

    Reply
    • Damien

      Agreed! Thats why i confidently where an invicta pro divers watch for work doing construction

      Reply
  10. Alyssa lemuda

    Rolex and Omega,they all the king of watches and have their own market.so its fantastic information,I m enjoying it .I really like your post.

    so thanks again.

    Reply
  11. mohamed shartouh

    How about Panerai? They made their own material as well. the Composti Radiomir.

    Reply
  12. Gadgety

    Oh, I see from the comments this article, dated May 27, 2014, is a rehash from last year. It is interesting to read about these variations of alloy, ceramic.

    “Ceragold allows for the growth and bonding of 18k gold in ceramic” Omega is Midas. I know it’s possible to grow diamonds, but I didn’t know gold could be grown. This must surely be a scientific breakthrough that will see the gold market seriously hit.

    Reply
  13. Jim Chong

    I have one Omega watch about 40 yrs .sent back to the agent in Swiss for repair/maintenance/complete service.coded me S$2420.00 & will guarantee for 2 yrs but not guarantee for waterproof. I feel very shock that at such the price I pay for the watch because of the brand “Omega” At that price maybe less I can buy one pre-own Rolex watch.Finally I ask them do not repair the watch and sent it back to me. I will get any watch repair center to repair my watch and I think it won’t cost me so much even it not guarantee for waterproof.

    Reply
  14. Aryton Senna

    I have an old Rolex, but all of these are really ugly!

    I would never consider buying any.

    ret expat MD

    Reply
  15. All this metallurgy talk brings me to my pet peeve about black watches. I love black metal watches, as does most collectors and aficionadoes. This is 2013-why hasn’t the watch industry come up with a solid black stainless-steel metal that’s black through and through?? We should not have to pay $500+ for a coated stainless-steel product that will only scratch and wear through, sometimes in a matter of days or weeks, and expose the shiny stainless-steel below the black coating! That looks like hell and cheapens the watch! Yes, you say there are alternatives to stainless-steel. There’s black ceramic and black plastic (err, excuse me-resin) but both have their short-comings. Ceramic is brittle and resin is soft and cheap-they just don’t stand up to steel. And of course, there’s Titanium-but it’s not black-it’s gray. Since black watches have become popular years ago-first with paint and powder coating, the black has always scratched, chipped or worn through revealing the base metal below. Now we have VPD and ion plating-a little better but not good enough in my book-it’s still a coating. I think it’s high time the industry comes up with a solid black stainless-steel for watchmaking cases and bracelets!! Sorry, just had to get this off my chest!!

    Reply
    • virtanen

      Most coatings are hard and they stay, but they crave hard base. 316L is soft (and Ti and Al are much softer) and the coatings will tear off because of this. Check for example TiN coating on tool steels. Tool steels are far harder and that is why the coatings can handle real abuse compared to watches in daily use. 316L (and 904L) is pretty good material in terms of corrosion resistance, machining (cheap!) and it is hypoallergenic to most of us but it still is soft.

      Coloring metal is not easy compared to plastics or ceramics, for example. Alloying may change the color a bit but usually variations of silverish grey are the most common colors of metals. Coloring additives may also affect material properties just like with plastics and ceramics. Zr is grey metal and with O it becomes white (ceramic), and Fe becomes brown (rust).

      Reply
  16. Esteban Sperber

    Omega and Rolex are the best, but Patek Philipe are the bet of the best.

    Reply
    • I agree, the Seiko Spring Drive model 001 “Snowflake” has a proprietary Titanium that is harder than stainless steel. AND the watch looks a lot better than any of these IMO. That makes it practical and beautiful. They may also have their own special alloy for the mainsprings in some of the grand seikos.

      Reply
      • Indeed, and Seiko also makes its own materials for springs. I guess Seiko is too cheap a brand to be taken seriously here. (Snobs :-)

        Reply
  17. Zegarki

    Very good article but I don’t understand why everyone is so much enthusiastic about Omega, Rolex and this kind very expensive brands. True Omega is out of hand for 97% of world. There are many brands with normal prices and also nice look (i.e Seiko, Casio, Lorus and many others).

    Reply
    • It is mostly a collector’s and watch enthusiasts website. It is hard to be enthusiastic about Casio, although it is a good watch in terms of keeping accurate time. BTW, are you Polish??

      Reply
    • Omega and Rolex are not that expensive. You can buy one for £4-6k. There are watches for £100-500k and people still buying them. Why would I buy Lorus? Anyone can buy Lorus or Casio. Not anyone can buy Omega or Zenith. Watchtime is for enthusiasts and collectors. Would you buy unreliable Ford if you could buy BMW or Mercedes? If everybody was wearing Casio watches, Swiss watch industry would be gone. Yet they selking more watches then ever.

      Reply
      • Most Fords and Chevys are as reliable as BMW or Mercedes, just not as luxurious or performance oriented or exclusive. Factor in the cost of ownership and it’s far more weighted toward those domestic US brands. But in the world of high end watches, those are not the usual measures for desirability so the comparison is impertinent

        Reply
    • And by normal prices we understand Lorus for 20 USD. How cool is that. For that you can buy six pack. Wrong web site my friend. I do not think that 3000 or 5000 USD for omega is out of reach for 97% of population.

      Reply
  18. Sorry guys but “Rolesium” is NOT an alloy, rather it is a combination of two different metals featured in the same watch. For example in the presented Yacht Master the case is a 904L stainless steel and the bezel is a solid 950 platinum. Therefore – “Rolesium”. Rolex uses ruthenium for their platinum alloy which contains 95% platinum and 5% ruthenium. (The alloy may contain some insignificant traces of other additives to achieve a desired alloy but this is not important for the purpose of this article).By the same token there is something called “Rolesor” – not an alloy either – it is a combination of different parts of the same watch in different metals, in this case stainless steel parts and either white,yellow or rose gold parts. Example – Datejust with “two tone” bracelet, s/s case and gold bezel – this would be a “Rolesor” Rolex.

    Reply
  19. Always kinda makes me chuckle that Seiko is excluded from these types of reviews. Especially since only a tiny handful of Swiss Watchmakers, like Rolex and Patek are in the same class when it comes to manufacturing, quality control, and metallurgy. The Swiss brands are great companies, why do they require lazy journalism on top of that. It actually makes the Swiss brands look bad, like they are not capable of standing on their own merits.

    Reply
  20. Anthony

    Great article. While are probably 75% gimmick and 25% “real” it’s still interesting to see companies go beyond “surgical steel”, titanium, etc.

    Reply
    • Gadgety

      “…probably 75% gimmick and 25% real”

      Step 1. Create a material with some marketable advantage (anything but cost reduction).
      Step 2. Spend 80% of the company budget on marketing, part of which is spent convincing the public your brand has an advantage worth paying a premium. Make the prospective buyer covet red gold. Launch your red gold, instead of “common, 24K yellow gold which doesn’t contain copper”, and market the fact that your red gold stays red longer.

      Reply
      • Marksman

        It’s not gimmick! I’ve been to Hublot and they really *do* make their own materials!! So do Breitling, by the way (particularly with the new Brelight composite). You are *wrong*.

        Reply
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