the making of michael hill ceramic diamond watches
High tech ceramic is highly resistant to scratches with a Mohs hardness index rating of 9 out of 10. Only diamonds, rated at 10, are more resilient, making them the only substance that can be used to cut, shape and polish each element of our ceramic watches.
The process begins when black ceramic powder is mixed with a special binding agent and left to react for 24 hours. This special ceramic mixture is then poured onto super-heated rollers where it is mixed at approximately 260 degrees celcius for 10 hours.
With the prolonged and intense heat, the ceramic mixture changes from a cement-like consistency to a smooth elastic mixture, which is then spread onto heat-resistant sheets to cool. Once cool, the sheets are fed into a machine press where the watch cases and bracelet links are stamped out.
At this point in the process, the ceramic watch cases are almost double the size of the final watch case as almost half of the ceramic case will be polished away during the polishing process.
The unpolished watch cases are placed onto an extremely slow-moving conveyor that travels through an open oven heated to 560 degrees. The cases take 24 hours to travel from the entrance of the oven to the exit. They are then placed into a kiln and fired for a further 24 hours at over a thousand degrees Celsius.
The fully fired cases move on to the polishing process. Each case is carefully shaped by ceramic technicians who take turns adding sinuous curves and perfectly rounded edges to give each watch its finished form using specially designed diamond-coated polishing wheels.
The finished cases and watch links are then placed into a ceramic agitator for the final polish. White ceramic beads rub against the black ceramic cases and links which in turn makes them smooth and shiny. The polished links are then threaded together by hand to form the watch bracelets.
While the ceramic process is taking place, diamond graders hand sort specially selected parcels of diamonds into groups of 65 identical stones. Each diamond is measured to ensure that they all have the same depth and diameter.
Each group of diamonds is then assigned a stainless steel bezel. The bezel has 65 perfectly proportioned holes machined into it to the exact depth and diameter of the diamonds in the unique parcel. This unique bezel along with its corresponding parcel of diamonds is then passed along to our diamond setters who carefully place the diamonds into the machined holes.
Every diamond is checked for position before the four tiny claws reaching up from each machined hole are meticulously folded over to secure each diamond in place. The bezel is given a final check and polish before being passed along to the craftsmen who will assemble the watch.
The watch dials are individually screen printed using special inks and quality checked before being passed on to another diamond setter where the diamond hour markers and indices are applied to each dial by hand.
Once the watch has been quality approved, the water resistant watch back is screwed down into place.
The highly polished, fully-assembled, ceramic and stainless steel bracelet is then given its final check before being mated to the watch it will hold and secure for years to come.
The strap and bracelet are carefully aligned and the last two pins are placed by hand before being slid into place using a special hand press.
All completed watches are then sent for a dry pressure test to ensure their integrity, before undergoing a full wet pressure test.
The finished watch is now ready to be admired by its new owner.