Hardened watches: a scratch resistant coating that changes everything

1st December 2018

With the launch of our recent Nanok campaign, we introduced scratch-resistant watches as an optional upgrade. We wanted to take a bit of time to talk in detail about what that means, and how it's changing what we're doing over the next few years.

The background

You know the feeling. You've waited for weeks for a new watch to arrive and you can't wait to get it on your wrist. You grab your tools to adjust it, your screwdriver slips slightly, and you've got a scratch on the bracelet before you've even worn it. Or if you get through the adjustment process, the clasp has micro-scratches from your desk within minutes, and the case clips a doorframe and you've got marks on your watch within hours.

It's the worst.

Over the last few years, some high-end brands have started solving this problem with hardening technology applied to their watches that makes it far harder to scratch the steel. However, it's mostly been an expensive process, appearing on watches at least 2-3 times the price of ours.

For the Nanok campaign, we introduced our new technology as an affordable alternative, and we're so pleased with how it's gone that we're rolling it out further.

Methods of hardening watches

There are a few options for hardening watches, and all brands do it slightly differently. Some use an ice-hardening process that treats the steel throughout the entire thickness, others treat the outside of the metal.

We researched, considered, and tried multiple options before settling on our method. We found that full treatment of the cases resulted in a far higher failure rate than we were comfortable with, meaning we had to make far more cases than we needed in order to get enough perfect ones. That increases the cost for every customer. Furthermore, we found that watches treated in this way occasionally had rusting issues later on, and there's no way that is acceptable.

We also needed a process that worked on our titanium watches, and many of the full-metal treatments weren't suitable for this.

In the end, we settled on applying a coating to the watches. At about 3.0 microns thick, it's basically invisible. Once the coating is added, the hardness rating of the outside of the watch goes up from about 225HV (the hardness rating of standard 316L stainless steel) to 900-1100HV.

What does that actually mean? Well Corning® Gorilla® Glass 6 (the latest version of the stuff most smartphones use) has a rating of around 680HV, while sapphire crystal has a rating of somewhere over 2000HV. So the coating on your watch case will be somewhere between the two, and many times harder than standard 316L stainless steel.

Scratch resistant watches from Hamtun

As of January 2019, and unless we state otherwise, all new releases from Hamtun will feature our scratch-resistant coating as standard. That means that if you buy a watch from us, you'll know that we've done everything we can to ensure that it'll remain like new for as long as possible.

That starts with the H2/Kraken, the latest version of our original H1 titanium dive watch, which will be launching for pre-orders in Q1 2019.

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