We hear about all sorts of items being made via three-dimensional printing… but watches? Absolutely. In fact, over the past years, more and more watch brands have been using 3D printing in creating prototypes of watches that are in research and development stages. Yesterday, we wrote about Vortic Watch Company, which makes all of its finished cases via 3D printing. The brand turns to a New Jersey-based company that specializes in 3D printing for the military and aerospace industry for the printing of its cases. Additionally, many other brands have long benefitted from three-dimensional printing of prototypes in our centuries-old watch industry, as it helps considerably to speed up the process of watch development.
By three-dimensionally printing cases and bracelets, designers and watchmakers can study the ergonomics of the pieces, the sizes, and curves and the fit. In the past, a watch brand would have to have a mold made and then have samples made for them to see, touch, and feel. This process would easily take a few weeks each time something new had to be made for a prototype. However, three-dimensional printing takes almost no time in comparison.
In a recent survey, more than 60 percent of watch executives said they already use 3D printing for prototypes of cases, dials, bracelets, buckles and crowns. The benefits of moving more quickly also equal a labor and time reduction, which may help influence eventual prices. Additionally, because objects are designed on a computer for 3D printing, it is very precise and incredibly detailed, giving watch brands a pretty exact idea of how the piece will turn out when finally made for real.
Thus far, none of the top luxury watch brands are making 3D-printed finished watches, however, several of finest haute horlogerie companies are investigating new production methods in secret laboratories and universities. This area promises to be ever more prevalent moving forward in 2018.