The average watch wastes about 75% of the energy it produces. Enough of that, thought Cartier, and it has created a pioneering energy-efficient concept watch.
The Cartier ID Two is the latest concept watch from the luxury brand, the fruit of five years of development through its ID programme – aka Innovation & Development – its second ID timepiece that follows its 2009 Cartier ID One.
While its first ID creation eliminated the use of oil and had a virtually eternal working life, this second innovation – which will never be realised as an actual timepiece, remaining a lauded concept watch – has taken on a new challenge, that of cutting the energy consumption of the watch by half to create the world’s first energy-efficient timepiece.
During the process of its creation, Cartier’s ID team are said to have addressed three key problems: how to store the most amount of energy, how to transfer this energy to the oscillator and how to minimise energy consumption within the timepiece.
Cartier’s objective was a heady one. It wanted to increase the timepiece’s stored energy by nearly a third while also reducing its energy consumption by half for a constant volume. Tricky when a standard watch is said to waste about 75% of the energy produced by the spring and within the case the air and friction of the movement will also reduce the power, even when the case is airtight.
So, tackling the issue one by one, Cartier began by focusing on the mainsprings of the watch. It swapped traditional metal mainsprings for four created in fibreglass, an ultimately more supple material that produces much more energy. The springs were then coated with a fine film that has removed the need for oil through being naturally smooth, and so harbours 30% more energy than a traditional timepiece’s springs and barrels.
Next up was a focus on transferring this retained energy from the barrel to the oscillator as efficiently as possible. The ID team toyed with the gear train and found that through realignment of the gears, which in turn were made with lighter, anti-corrosive and anti-magnetic silicon instead of steel, a smoother outcome was achieved.
Finally, there was the issue of minimising the consumption of the energy within the watch. Though Cartier used a super lightweight oscillator in the ID One, something it carried over into the ID Two, this was not enough to do the job.
In fact, the team at Cartier realised that simply removing the air from the case could help improve efficiency. Though a simple-sounding task, putting it into action gave the Cartier team some technical challenges.
The solution was to make the case in two parts. Unlike a regular timepiece, the case was not secured with screws but instead seals that were bonded through the addition of nano-particles, resulting in a timepiece that contains 500 times fewer air particles than in the normal atmosphere. In fact, Cartier says this purer atmosphere allows the ID Two to consume 37% less energy than a traditional watch.
And, to show off all the hard work, the brand also pioneered the use of Ceramyst, a transparent polycrystalline ceramic material that showcases the ID Two’s innards, which are a striking reminder of the years of research and development, and the trials and errors that have gone into making this efficient and stylish watch.
Movement: Mechanical manual winding Caliber 9460 MC
Materials: Tourbillon bridges, pallet and escapement wheel in carbon crystal
Power reserve: 32 days
Case size: 40.1mm
Components: 195 components
Water resistance: 30m
Who worked on it? 135 engineers, technicians and watchmakers. It had six patent applications.
Price: Cartier chairman Bernard Fornas dubbed it “priceless”.
This article was taken from the September 2012 issue of WatchPro magazine, out now. To view a digital version of the magazine click here.