21 Jan 2023

Sapphire crystal is a popular choice for watchmakers due to its durability and scratch-resistance. The history of sapphire crystal in watches can be traced back to the early 20th century, when the first synthetic sapphire was produced by French chemist Auguste Verneuil.

Verneuil developed a process called flame fusion, which used a flame to melt aluminum oxide powder and slowly deposited it onto a seed crystal. This process allowed for the production of large, high-quality sapphire crystals.

In the 1930s, Corning Glass Works in New York developed a new process for producing synthetic sapphire, called the Verneuil process, which improved upon Verneuil's original method and made it possible to produce even larger and higher-quality crystals. This process is still used today to produce sapphire crystals for watchmaking.

Sapphire crystal was first used in watches in the 1960s, when the Swiss watchmaker Omega introduced a watch called the "Seamaster 300" that featured a sapphire crystal. This watch was designed for divers, and the sapphire crystal provided an added level of protection for the watch face against the pressure of deep water.

In the 1970s, more and more high end watch brands began to adopt sapphire crystal, and it quickly became the standard for high-end watches. This was partly due to the fact that sapphire crystal is much more scratch-resistant than mineral crystal, which was the previous standard for watch faces. Sapphire crystal is also more impact-resistant, which is important for watches that are worn in rugged conditions.

Sapphire crystal is also highly transparent and can be treated with different coatings to make it even more scratch-resistant or to reduce glare. This makes it an ideal material for watch faces, as it allows for easy readability in any lighting conditions and allows all the beautiful details of finely finished dials to be viewed easily.  Sapphire crystal is used in almost all high-end watches, and many mid-range watches also feature sapphire crystal. It has become the industry standard for quality watch faces.  All ZENEA timepieces feature a sapphire crystal as part of our timepieces.

One of the most common treatments applied to sapphire crystal is the application of an anti-reflective coating. This reduces glare and improves visibility, especially in bright sunlight. Some watchmakers also apply a hard coating to sapphire crystal, which makes it even more scratch-resistant.

Sapphire crystal is not only used in watch faces, but also in watch cases. Sapphire crystal is an excellent material for watch cases because it is extremely hard and scratch-resistant. It is also highly transparent, which allows for a clear view of the watch movement inside the case.

Sapphire crystal is also used in watch movements, such as in the balance wheel, escapement and rotor. These components are exposed to a lot of wear and tear and sapphire crystal provide them a good protection.

Sapphire crystal has come a long way since its first use in watches in the 1960s. Today, it is a standard material for high-end watches due to its durability, scratch-resistance, and transparency. It is not only used for watch faces but also for watch cases and movements. With the continuing development of new coating and treatments, sapphire crystal will remain as an important material in watchmaking industry.