If you want an idea of what the watch of the future might look like, then Cartier’s new ID TWO concept watch is a good place to start. The brand approached the design of this piece with two simple objectives: to maximise the amount of energy that a watch with a regular-sized case and a Swiss lever escapement can store and to minimise the loss of energy during its operation.
Perhaps the most impressive result of several years of research is the patented use of a vacuum in a watch, in order to eliminate friction from drag. But aside from the obvious advantage of no dust or oxidation inside the watch, the vacuum also meant developing a movement that could operate entirely without lubrication, since liquids “boil” in a vacuum. We take a look at the main elements in this revolutionary new timepiece.
The 42mm diameter transparent case is in Ceramyst—a ceramic with a hardness of 800 Vickers that is used in bulletproof windows. The case back is held in place solely by the vacuum inside, which is created by effectively sucking the air out of the watch through the crown. Only two gaskets are used – one for the case-back and one for the crown. Their pores have been sealed with nanoparticles of clay to ensure that air cannot penetrate inside the watch to affect the vacuum. A special two-stage crown allows the time to be set without affecting the vacuum.
- Cartier’s ID TWO concept watch
Twin DuoLevel barrels
To eliminate friction between the coils of the mainsprings and between the spring and the barrel housing, Cartier developed the first mainsprings in fibreglass, which are more flexible than a standard mainspring and can store more energy. The springs are coated in parylene to reduce friction and housed inside low-friction ADLC (Amorphous Diamond Like Carbon) coated barrels.
+ 30 per cent more energy stored
- One of the twin DuoLevel barrels
Differential gear train
A planetary gear system reduces friction and teeth load. The gear wheels are made from carbon crystal-coated silicon, which is 60 per cent harder and 70 per cent lighter than steel, as well as being non-magnetic and resistant to corrosion. Tooth profiles have been modified and ADLC-coated pivots on the gear wheel staffs reduce friction in the ruby bearings without the need for lubrication.
+ 10 per cent transmitted energy
- The differential gear train
Carbon crystal escapement
The pallet fork (which has no ruby pallet stones) and escape wheel are made of carbon crystal using the deep-reactive ion etching (DRIE) process (the same process used for creating circuits on silicon wafers). This ultra-lightweight configuration rests on ADLC-coated pivots.
+15 per cent transmitted energy
- The carbon crystal escapement
Carbon crystal balance wheel
The balance wheel is made as a single piece of carbon crystal and is fitted with a Zerodur® balance spring whose active length is directly adapted to the balance wheel. Since the carbon crystal balance wheel oscillates in the 99.8 per cent vacuum of the Airfree® case, the drag that can account for 80 per cent of balance wheel friction in a conventional watch is almost entirely eliminated.
-37 per cent energy consumption
- The carbon crystal balance wheel
With this new concept watch, Cartier has set the standard by which future research and development in the watchmaking industry will be measured.