UK team helps develop ‘world’s lightest watch’

Engineers from the University of Manchester have joined forces with watchmaker Richard Mille on the development of a graphene-based mechanical timepiece claimed to be the lightest of its kind on the world.

RM 50-03

Unveiled at Geneva’s annual gathering of watchmakers, the Salon International De La Haute Horologie, the 40 gram RM 50-03 watch (which was produced in collaboration with Mclaren F1) features a graphene-based composite in the lightweight case which houses the watch’s mechanism. Graphene is also used in the device’s rubber strap.

Graphene is the world’s first two-dimensional material at just one-atom thick. It was first isolated at The University of Manchester in 2004 and is thought to have great potential across a variety of applications including high-performance composites for the automotive and aerospace industries, as well as flexible, bendable mobile phones and tablets and next-generation energy storage.

The graphene composite used in the watch – known as Graph TPT – is claimed to weigh less than similar lightweight materials previously used in watchmaking.

Commenting on the university’s involvement in the project, Robert Young Professor of Polymer Science and Technology at the University, said: “We evaluated the effect of including graphene in both the watch case and strap. We helped in the fabrication of the different components and analysed their microstructures using x-ray computed tomography and Raman spectroscopy, along with a detailed evaluation of their mechanical properties. We have shown that the incorporation of graphene into the watch case can have major implications for improved performance of the component in service and also enable further weight reduction in future designs.”