Requirements of Steel for the Watch Making Industry

disassembled watch movement

There are various types of watch making steel. In principle, one differentiates between parts for movements and parts which are used for the watch case and its parts (as well as watch straps). The parts have the highest demands on precision, the materials require a fine structure. Hardenable carbon steels are usually not corrosion-resistant. Therefore, corrosion-resistant, hardenable steels are used for the medium- and high-price segments for all moving parts. Achievable hardness 600 HV. Non-moving parts are made of brass and / or copper nickel alloys (nickel silver).

Watch case steel requires the best corrosion resistance, as well as the highest demands on the polishing ability. A point that’s becoming more and more important today is the clock’s non-magnetism, as the influence of electronic devices in our environment increasingly adversely affect the clock’s accuracy.

A quantum leap for the production of steel parts necessary in the watch or clockwork industry is the use of stainless steel produced by a technique called powder metallurgy. In this process the steel is melted and after pushed through a nozzle under high pressure, after cooling the “steel haze” becomes a very fine steel powder. The powder is melted again and this results in a steel quality with an extremely homogeneous and fine structure.

tourbillon with gears

LAW 100 X®, a watchmaking steel with excellent qualities

One of the most suitable steels for the manufacturing of parts for clockworks or watches is the unalloyed, lead free LAW 100 X®. This new generation of watchmaking steel is produced with the technique of powder metallurgy. Due to its extremely fine structure, no lead has to be added, and thus the LAW 100 X® also meets the criteria of environmental friendliness.

It has an extremely low distortion and is suitable for the manufacturing of even the smallest precision parts and instruments.

At the reworks such as tempering/hardening, coating or polishing of parts, spectacular results are obtained. Because of its high wear resistance it is ideal to use for parts which are constantly in motion and therefore highly qualified in the watch making industry. Moving parts such as pivots, axles, pinions and gears are made from LAW 100 X®.

The use of LAW 100 X® is not limited to the watchmaking industry, it is also used in the automotive industry and for the production of heavily stressed parts for tool making machines.

Chronifer® M-15 X, high-quality steel for watch making

One excellent steel for the manufacture of clockwork parts or precision parts for watches is the Chronifer® M-15 X. It is a stainless hardenable martensitic steel which is produced by vacuum melting (Micro-Melt®) and a special powder metallurgic process.

Martensitic stainless steel is extremely tough and strong and shares some similar characteristics with ferritic steel, but it has a higher carbon content. Therefore it can be hardened and tempered, its corrosion resistance is similar to that of an AISI 304.

By this manufacturing process a finer and more homogeneous material structure is achieved. This results in higher corrosion resistance, more regular workability and lower distortion after hardening. Furthermore, it is characterized by better polishing ability and fatigue resistance. Due to its excellent properties Chronifer® M-15 X is especially qualified for pulling smallest tolerances and for the very economical production of small precision parts. In the watchmaking industry it is used for the production of pivots, bridges, pinions, plates and other clockwork parts.

The use of this steel is not limited to the watch making field, it is also used in the medical industry for manufacturing of medical instruments.

L. Klein SA, is trader and distributor of watchmaking steel. Thanks to their many years of experience and specialization they can give advice which material is suitable for the different parts and precision moving parts of watches. They have high quality watch making steel available on stock and deliver worldwide even in small quantities and units.

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