IWC Schaffhausen’s new offering is the first fully luminous ceramic concept watch

The latest Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 is made with new Ceralume® technology, the brand’s patent-pending manufacturing process
IWC Schaffhausen’s highly engineered Ceralume® technology, the result of which is the world’s first fully luminous ceramic concept watch, is causing a stir in the watchmaking industry. And rightly so. Ceralume® is a luminous material capable of storing light energy, made by a proprietary luminous ceramic technology developed by IWC’s engineering division XPL. The desired glow is achieved by homogeneously mixing raw ceramic powders with high-grade Super-LumiNova® pigments. The technology now allows the brand to produce fully luminous ceramic watch cases for the first time. 

Tested in dark, the watch can glow blue for more than 24 hours, thanks to Ceralume®, which absorbs light energy from sources like sunlight or even artificial light, and stores it temporarily to later emit the absorbed energy as visible light. What’s fascinating is that the cycle can go on forever without causing the material to age or diminish its light storage capacity. 

The white ceramic is made by mixing zirconium oxide with other metallic oxides, which are later shaped into a so-called green body, machined close to the actual case size and then sintered at high temperatures in a kiln. To achieve a perfectly homogeneous mix of raw materials, to develop Ceralume®, the brand’s engineers used a dedicated ball milling process, which had to be customized to the raw materials used. The sintering process and the grinding of the sintered ceramic body was also customised to achieve the luminous ceramic.

Spotted on Lewis Hamilton’s wrist during the recent 2024 Monaco Grand Prix, the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 with the Ceralume technology features a luminous brass case sprayed with a Super-LumiNova® solution, a white dial, and a white rubber strap, also enriched with Super-LumiNova® pigments. All in all, IWC has crafted a wholly luminous watch.

“With the first fully luminous ceramic case rings, we underscore our role as a pioneer and innovator in ceramic watches. The development of Ceralume® took several years. The main challenges we faced were producing watch cases with maximum homogeneity and meeting our exacting quality standards. To achieve these goals, we engineered a ground-breaking new manufacturing process – tailored to the unique combination of ceramic powders and Super-LumiNova® pigments,” says Dr. Lorenz Brunner, Department Manager Research and Innovation at IWC Schaffhausen, about the technology and the watch.

The dial of the watch entails Arabic hour markers, a 30-minute counter at 12 o'clock, 60-seconds counter at 6 o’clock, 12-hour counter at 9 o’clock, and a week of the day and date window at 3 o’clock. Powering the watch is the in-house automatic 231-part calibre 69385, boasting 46 hours of power reserve. 

Images: Courtesy brand

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