Nanotechnology in watches – New advanced manufacturing company grows out of NanoConnect collaboration

bauseleFlinders University and Bausele Australia have combined to form a new company ‘Australian Advanced Manufacturing’ that will produce high precision watch components from a unique ceramic material. This was reported on Channel 9 News this week, and video of this can be seen here.

The material, trademarked ‘Bauselite’, is a product of a recent NanoConnect collaboration between the company and CNST researchers. Through this program Bausele was able to investigate a wide range of nanotechnologies that could be applied to watch-making, with a particular focus on improved performance and design. The first application to be tested was watch case design, with research efforts successfully achieving the fabrication of a unique lightweight ceramic material which Bausele have incorporated into their premium watches.

Bausele’s watch range – combining Australian elements with traditional Swiss ingenuity – was launched in 2013 by Swiss watch designer Christophe Hoppe. “Every one of our watch designs contains a small element of Australia within its hollow crown (the circular winding mechanism), such as beach sand or red earth,” said Mr Hoppe. “We are now crafting 28 different watches in seven styles and are fortunate enough to be the first Australian luxury watch brand to be invited to Baselworld.

The long term vision is to manufacture more of the watch components here in South Australia. “While our watches are currently put together in Switzerland using the finest Swiss craftsmanship, we want to bring more of our manufacturing processes to Australia with the aim of creating timepieces crafted through the combined skills of Australian and Swiss engineering,” he said.

The Terra Australis model (pictured) was launched at the Baselworld world watch fair in Switzerland, and has already attracted a great deal of attention in the industry. To satisfy a growing number of orders for this specialist timepiece a large number of ceramic components have to be made, and this is where the new company will step in. In the future, it is envisioned that a wide variety of components made from a range of materials will be produced, and the continuing R&D collaboration with Flinders researchers will maintain a supply of new innovations for Bausele.

The NanoConnect Program, funded by the South Australian Department of State Development, aims to provide local manufacturers with an accessible entry point to exploring the potential for nanotechnology in their products or processes. It provides access to scientific knowledge and experience in advanced materials science in two stages. The first step is a technology review where issues and ideas can be explored and assessed for technical and commercial suitability, and the second stage provides resources to undertake a laboratory based feasibility study to test the ideas and show proof-of-concept. The program applies advanced materials science to real world problems.

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