Empa researchers have pulled off a masterstroke of ceramics research: as of now, a dark-red ceramic bezel adorns a Swiss luxury watch - a world premiere and stunning example of top-flight materials science.
The ‘Speedmaster’ by Omega is legendary. To this day, it is the only watch to be certified for spacewalks by the American space agency NASA. Back in 1962, an Omega ‘Speedmaster’ blasted off into space in a Mercury capsule on Walter Schirra’s wrist. It was also worn by an American astronaut during the first spacewalk in 1965, the moon landing in 1969 and every Space Shuttle mission since. Besides the ‘Speedmaster Professional’, which travelled into space, however, there are other models of the luxury watch on the market - including diamond-encrusted versions for women or ones with a moon dial (interesting for us earth-dwellers but useless for astronauts). Empa has now also contributed an eye-catching part to these technical icons ‘made in Switzerland’: the red ceramic bezel on the Omega ‘Speedmaster Moonphase Co-Axial Master Chronometer’, which goes on sale in the fall, was developed at Empa’s High-Performance Ceramics lab. ‘Until now, no-one had succeeded in producing deep-red ceramics,’ says project leader Jakob Kübler, who accomplished the feat with two of his colleagues. Black, blue and green ceramics are commonplace, pink ceramics are popular in medical engineering. ‘But red is tricky,’ says Kübler; ‘we knew that going in.’
Read the full article in the latest issue of EmpaQuarterly, page 08