Watch cases crafted from carbon are here to stay, and for a good reason. Although not the easiest to craft, they are light and pleasant to wear. Generally speaking, there are two ways to make a carbon watch case: you can press the carbon fibers together under high pressure, sometimes aided by a resin and heat, or you can layer them. The first results in a case with a camouflage like look to it, the seconds gives you the look of a pinstripe suit. But no matter how you make a carbon fiber case, they are always strong, light weight and anti-corrosive!
With the Luminor 1950 Carbotech 3 Days LAB-ID, Panerai gave us an insight of the future of the brand, and that future comes in a carbon fiber case. While their models are usually vintage inspired, this one is refreshingly modern. Its carbon case houses an innovative movement in which Panerai applied a lot of new technology, including parts made of carbon fiber. Low friction makes it that it needs no lubrication, allowing Panerai to expand the interval between maintenance to 50(!) years. While being high-tech, the LAB-ID is no prototype, but a limited edition available to 50 lucky owners. More on the Panerai LAB-ID here.
Of course, does Richard Mille has a watch with a carbon fiber case in its collection. In fact, they have several. Referred to as the F1 constructor among watch makers, Richard Mille embraced the material early on and developed unique technology to take carbon fiber to the next level. By injecting it with a resin, it gets even harder, and Richard Mille is even able to color its carbon fiber cases. Blue was the color of choice for an enticing collection of limited editions to honor FIA-chairman Jean Todt’s 50th career anniversary, while red was chosen to show off the RM011 Red TPT Quartz Automatic Flyback Chronograph. While they have the option, not all Richard Mille’s carbon watches come with a colored case as they decided to show off their record-breaking split-second chronograph with tourbillon weighing only an astonishing 38 grams (strap included), in the materials natural color
Roger Dubuis has been using carbon fiber cases for quite some time. Combined with the amazing spider movements, they result in feather light watches that have a very high-tech look to them. Especially fitted with their double tourbillon movements, these watches seem to form a bridge that connects old-school craftsmanship with the most modern technology. For their latest carbon fiber watches, they have teamed up with Pirelli, who supplies the rubber used in straps. Not just any rubber, but taken from a used F1 tire.
This De Grisogono No.Uno chronograph is one of the older watches in this line-up, being introduced about two years ago. It shows however that carbon fiber watches maintain their modern look. This is not only thanks to the layered carbon fiber case but also due to the unique use of color. While this De Grisogono is quite large and thick, the carbon fiber case keeps the weight comfortable. What also helps is that with this watch are the lugs which curve with the wrist.