Metals still constitute the majority of materials used in watchmaking. Whether it’s for the movement or the case, a wide range of metals is used based on their mechanical, physical, and aesthetic properties. Although traditionally used in watchmaking for a long time, certain alloys such as steel or brass continue to undergo developments to optimize the qualities of the components they are intended for.
Steels represent one of the largest families of alloys. Steel alloys consist of iron and carbon (with the carbon component determining the hardness of the blend). One or more elements could be added to the alloy to achieve desired characteristics (such as elasticity, corrosion resistance, ductility, etc.).
Brass is mainly an alloy of copper and 30% to 40% zinc.
German silver can be considered as high quality brass.
Platinum is a rare, precious and dense metal. It has a white/grey appearance and the specificity of being stainless. It is also one of the few metals that is heavier than gold and is also used in higher proportions than gold (mainly 75% for gold and 95% for platinum).
According to its title and the composition of its alloy, gold is commonly used in watchmaking, either for decoration or to make certain components of the movement.
White gold is 18K gold, the remaining 25% of which is mainly palladium and silver.
Rose gold is 18K gold of which the remaining 25% is mainly copper.
Titanium is a very strong, hard and light metal.
Tantalum is a grey-blue metal. Its atomic number is 73. It has a very high melting point of 3017 degrees Celsius and a density of 16.4 g/cm3.
Spring steel is a steel that has undergone two termic treatments so that it retains a memory effect in its elasticity.
Tungsten is a grey coloured metal which has the highest melting point at 3422 degrees Celsius. It also has a very high density which is close to that of gold or platinum.
Aluminium is a light grey metal with a low mass/volume.
Silver is a white metal that can be considered semi-precious.
Copper is a reddish coloured metal which can become greenish after oxidation.
Cast iron is mainly an alloy of iron (up to 98%) and carbon.