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In Praise of Forged Carbon
August 9, 2011 Innovations

In praise of forged carbon

A pioneer in the use of new materials, Audemars Piguet is the first watchmaking company to invest significantly in forged carbon. Spotlight on an ultra-high-tech material.

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Audemars Piguet experimented with carbon watch parts in the 1980s and developed a keen sense for the material’s potential. Forged carbon is the registered brand of an aeronautical company in the region of Lyon, France. The idea of using carbon for the case or other elements of the watch originated in a meeting between the Swiss manufacturer and Vincent Duqueine, head of the French company.

To take advantage of this material, Audemars Piguet developed extensive know-how, from manufacturing to equipment, based on the forging method employed in aeronautics. “The  process utilized in aeronautics isn’t suitable for watchmaking because it is intended for very large pieces. We have kept the same philosophy but have modified the technique for heating and cooling the molds,” explains Yves Leuba, head of Audemars Piguet’s forged carbon department.  The first model featuring forged carbon, the Royal Oak Offshore Alinghi Team, came out in 2007.

Forged carbon has obvious qualities: it is very resistant, while remaining very light. From an aesthetic point of view, its marbled effect, satiny and soft to the touch, is particularly prized. “The Royal Oak Offshore Alinghi timepiece in gold weighs about 461 grams, whereas the model in forged carbon weighs no more than 92 grams,” explains Leuba. The specialist adds that each watch is unique because the carbon fibers are distributed in a random manner in the mold. “When the material is compressed under heating, it evolves in an unpredictable way.”

Based on this success, other models in forged carbon have followed, such as the Millenary Carbon One and the Royal Oak Offshore Grand Prix Chronograph, presented at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in 2010.

In Praise of forged carbon

In Praise of forged carbon

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  • In Praise of forged carbon

    Royal Oak Offshore SELFWINDING

    Selfwinding watch with dive-time measurement and date. Forged carbon case, black dial, black strap.

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    Reference 15706AU.OO.A002CA.01 Thumbnail

    Selfwinding Manufacture Calibre 3120

    Selfwinding Manufacture Calibre 3120, front
    Front
    Selfwinding Manufacture Calibre 3120, back
    Back
  • In Praise of forged carbon

    Royal Oak TOURBILLON CHRONOGRAPH

    Hand-wound tourbillon watch with linear chronograph minute counter with central sweep seconds hand, function selection indicator and power-reserve indication. Forged carbon case, openworked dial, black strap.

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    Reference 26265FO.OO.D002CR.01 Thumbnail

    Calibre 2895 Manufacture

    Calibre 2895 Manufacture, front
    Front
    Calibre 2895 Manufacture, back
    Back
  • In Praise of forged carbon

    Millenary Tourbillon Chronograph

    Hand-wound tourbillon chronograph with 24-hour power reserve indication. Forged carbon case, black dial, black strap. Limited edition of 120.

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    Reference 26152AU.OO.D002CR.01 Thumbnail

    Calibre 2884 Manufacture

    Calibre 2884 Manufacture, front
    Front
    Calibre 2884 Manufacture, back
    Back