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Horology moves leaps and bounds forward as new materials continue to help the industry evolve. With one of its newest creations, the Sonata Silicium, Ulysse Nardin makes use of silicium in both the appearance and movement of the watch. This limited edition watch is produced to 500 pieces in each 18 carat white and rose gold. Silicium, as it is not magnetic, is the ideal material for use in watch making. It is an extremely hard material at 1100 Vickers, which is 400 Vickers harder than steel. In addition it has a high resistance to corrosion. It is less reactive than its chemical analog carbon and does not occur free in nature.
The Sonata Silicium's dial is cut out of a silicium wafer and the color untreated. There are three subdials, two white and one grey and the hands on the watch are blue and bright yellow. The case is 42mm and made from 18k white or rose gold and has a sapphire crystal case-back. The Automatic Ulysse Nardin Caliber UN-67 movement runs with a 28’800 A/h oscillator and an anchor escapement etched out of silicium. Both the anchor and escapement wheel are manufactured of silicium. The technical movement is similar to the the Sonata Cathedral Dual Time and includes the novel alarm setting with a countdown indicator.
It was just last year that Panerai introduced the P.2005 Tourbillon GMT movement in its PAM00276 model. Though many thought the addition of a tourbillon model was a somewhat strange step for the sport-watch focused company, they have now proven themselves capable of achieving this substantial technical challenge. Now, with the success of its release Panerai gives us three new tourbillon models - the PAM00306 a Luminor 1950 Tourbillon GMT in titanium or steel, the PAM00315 Radiomir Titanium Tourbillon GMT, and the PAM00316 which is the Platinum version of the PAM00315. Panerai's tourbillon movement has some very distinctive features, the first being its unusual perpendicular position inside the case. The second, the rate at which the cage moves is twice that of most tourbillon movements completing two revolutions per minute. The tourbillon itself is only visible through the sapphire crystal on the back of the case. The only evidence of the tourbillon on the dial is a small blue dot within the seconds subdial which rotates every 30 seconds.
The PAM00306 has 47mm brushed steel or brushed titanium case with a polished bezel and a 2mm thick see-through sapphire crystal case-back. Its hand-wound mechanical movement, Panerai Calibre P.2005, has a 6 day power reserve. It features hours, minutes, seconds, second time zone, power reserve indicator on the back, 24 hour indicator, and of course Tourbillon. It comes on an alligator strap with a brushed large-size buckle and is Water resistant to 100 meters.
The PAM00315 and the PAM00316 have a 48mm brushed titanium or platinum case with removable wire loop strap attachments. The bezel is polished titanium or platinum and has a see-through sapphire crystal case-back. The hand wound movement, Panerai Calibre P.2005, features three spring barrels and 31 jewels. The functions of the watch are hours, minutes, seconds, second time zone, power reserve indicator on the back, 24 hour indicator, and Tourbillon. It comes on an alligator strap with a large-size brushed titanium buckle or white gold buckle. It is Water resistant to 100 metres.
First discovered in 1803 it has taken many years and several breakthroughs to reach the point that Palladium is today. Until very recently palladium alloys were too soft to meet the standards to be used for watch cases. But all that changed when the 950 palladium alloy was developed by Johnson Matthey, a world leader in advanced materials technology. The new palladium 950 alloy is a lightweight and durable option for watchmakers. It is lighter weight than gold with a greater wear resistance, though they are similar in malleability. It is harder metal than platinum and is less likely to scratch. And while it is thirty times more rare than gold its value is less than half per troy ounce. It is so rare in fact that it is one of the ten rarest elements in the earths crust.
Palladium has been made into jewelry since 1939 and has been used in watch springs for sometime now. The development of the Palladium 950 alloy and its subsequent use by watchmakers is perfect timing for the great increase in popularity of the white metals. It is now being used by such brands as Cartier, Chopard and Ulysse Nardin and has been used in several of their limited edition releases. As the public becomes increasingly aware of Palladium, other big brands are sure to follow the lead of companies like Cartier and begin incorporating this metal into their collections.