IWC Schaffhausen makes first fully luminous ceramic concept watch

IWC announced yesterday, May 27, that in dark chamber tests the concept watch emitted a bright bluish light for more than 24 hours.

Based on a highly engineered, patent-pending process developed by IWC’s engineering division XPL, the technology enables IWC to produce fully luminous ceramic watch cases for the first time. This is achieved by homogeneously mixing ceramic powders with high-grade Super-LumiNova pigments, a luminous material that acts like a battery for storing light energy. The concept watch emitted a bright bluish light for more than 24 hours in tests.  

Over almost four decades, IWC Schaffhausen has acquired comprehensive expertise in engineering ceramic watches. Ceramic is light, extremely hard and highly resistant to scratches.

Back in 1986, the Swiss luxury watch manufacturer launched the world’s first wristwatch with a black zirconium oxide ceramic case. Since then, major IWC ceramic innovations have included watch cases made of brown silicon nitride ceramic and black boron carbide ceramic, one of the hardest substances known.

IWC Schaffhausen’s patent-pending Ceralume technology will form the foundation of future developments and releases.

After introducing a range of Top Gun models in striking colored ceramic, IWC is now pushing the boundaries with Ceralume.

Dr. Lorenz Brunner, department manager of Research & Innovation at IWC Schaffhausen, says, “With the first fully luminous ceramic case rings, we underscore our role as a pioneer and innovator in ceramic watches. The development of Ceralume took several years. The main challenges we faced were producing watch cases with maximum homogeneity and meeting our exacting quality standards. To achieve these goals, we engineered a ground-breaking new manufacturing process—tailored to the unique combination of ceramic powders and Super-LumiNova pigments.”

The fascinating glow effect comes from mixing Super-LumiNova pigments and ceramic raw materials. Engineered by Swiss technology company RC Tritec, Super-LumiNova is a high-tech ceramic compound that absorbs light energy from sunlight or artificial light, stores it temporarily, and then emits the absorbed energy as visible light. This cycle can be repeated an infinite number of times without ever causing the material to age or diminishing its light storage capacity.

Light energy from sunlight or artificial light is stored temporarily, and then emitted as visible light.

One of the main challenges in the development of Ceralume was achieving a perfectly homogeneous mix of raw materials despite their different particle sizes and avoiding particle accumulation. To achieve this, IWC’s engineers reverted to a dedicated ball milling process, which had to be customized to the raw materials used. In addition, the parameters of the sintering process and the grinding of the sintered ceramic body also needed to be specifically adapted to the luminous ceramic.

IWC’s first fully luminous ceramic concept watch in a Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 design features a white luminescent dial and white luminescent rubber strap. The dial and strap have also been 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. Manufactured in an injection molding process, the white rubber strap is likewise enriched with SuperLumiNova pigments. 

IWC Schaffhausen’s patent-pending Ceralume technology will form the foundation of future developments and releases.

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