On Thursday 15th December, in the Metallurgy department of the Hublot Manufacture in Nyon, Jean-Claude Biver, chief executive officer of the Swiss watch brand owned by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, and Andreas Mortensen, a Professor at EFPL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne), announched that the luxury brand will launch a scratch-resistant gold alloy for use in the watches. Almost three years of collaboration and research have gone into achieving this impressive result: a completely new type of noble gold, graded 18 carat by the Central Office for Precious Metals Control.
Magic Gold is a a genuine fusion of 24-carat gold and the very latest in high-tech materials expertise. Hublot’s 18-carat gold is the world’s first scratch-resistant gold, and as such eliminates the age-old vulnerability of gold and its alloys. Hublot’s 18-carat gold will only be scratched by something as hard as a diamond, as the hardness is known to be 1000 Vickers. Most steel varieties have around 600 Vickers of hardness, and gold has around 400. Pure ceramic cases range from about 1,200 – 2,000 Vickers but can max out at 10,000 Vickers. The bottom line is that Magic Gold is more scratch resistant than steel and more than twice as scratch resistant at standard 18k gold.
A major drawback to wearing a gold watch is that sooner or later it will need to be polished, particularly if it was highly polished to begin with. Gold is soft and scratches appear very quickly. This is the reason that 24-karat gold has never been used for watch cases and that only recently have 18-karat cases come into use. Historically, 14-karat gold cases have been most popular; though they have a lower gold content, they scratch less easily.
Basically, what the passionate technicians have done is to combine pure liquid gold with boron carbide, a powder that is compacted and pressed to make ceramic. The porous molded ceramic allows enough space to be filled with the liquid gold to the tune of 75 percent of the emerging composite metal. It has even been certified by the Central Office for Precious Metals in Bern, allowing Hublot to stamp it with the 18-karat mark – if it could be stamped.
The first watches using Magic Gold by Hublot will be presented at Basel World 2012.