So you just bought a shiny new luxury watch made of stainless steel, with beautifully contrasting polished and brushed finishes. While most people don’t open the caseback where usually only a watchmaker would look, you’re not most people. There, surrounding the delicate clockwork mechanism, you find a ring made of — gasp — plastic? Are you horrified?
Don’t be. The use of plastic is a documented phenomenon in watches that cost well into four figures. And while it might not fit your romantic image of age-old Swiss craftsmanship, it’s there for a reason: someone decided it is the right material for the job.
“Synthetic polymers [plastics] are irreplaceable in society and do many, many important things, ” says Dr. Frank Bates, Regents Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Minnesota. “Windmills might not exist without thermoset plastics, ” Bates says. “When you need an artificial hip, you’re going to be very happy high-density polyethylene is around. ”
It’s easy for a layperson in order to come away with only a crude idea of what plastic is. The word itself is an oversimplification. Plastics, plural , are an entire family of materials that combine polymers (particularly long, repeating chains associated with molecules) with other components to achieve a variety of effects. They can be lightweight like Styrofoam cups, flexible like grocery bags, hard and heavy like bowling balls, resistant to extreme kinetic force like a bulletproof vest — but they’re durable no matter what form they take.
No watch brand better illustrates the particular way these properties may dovetail with the making of a great view than Casio. Take the G-Shock 5600 series. It is lightweight plus comfortable on the wrist, with the pleasing texture. It’s probably one of the most comfortable watches I’ve ever worn, and I have worn hundreds of timepieces. And whilst G-Shocks are known with regard to being comfy, they’re famous for being basically indestructible.
Need proof? YouTube has a bevy associated with videos featuring G-Shocks surviving drops from helicopters, bunny-hopped upon by BMX bikes and other unspeakable torture tests. The G-Shock DW5600E-1 holds a Guinness World Record regarding surviving the pass under the wheels of a 27. 5-ton truck, plus models of all stripes can be seen on the arms of active duty soldiers in photos released by just about every branch of the US military.
Overall design and other technologies beyond fantastic plastic material contribute to G-Shock’s renowned toughness, yet when it comes to being the featherweight and shrugging off punishment, no so-called “premium” material like titanium or ceramic could do the job half as well as plastic-type — while being affordable to boot.
Cheapness will be one of plastic’s greatest strengths, but also a chief reason watch collectors tend to sneer at it. Fortunately, many companies have found an easy solution, one which happens to be more accurate too: call it something else. The particular waterproof-but-breathable Gore-Tex? Tumi’s “ballistic nylon”? Those Italian-made “acetate” sunglasses? Your comfy fleece jacket? Almost any athletic wear? Despite the particular differences in their branding plus the details of their physical characteristics, they’re all part polymer.
“Plastics aren’t going away, ” Dr . Bates states. And that’s true in more than one sense. It’s impossible to imagine a modern life or even economy without plastic, but they also take virtually forever in order to decompose. As a result, single-use plastics like polyethylene shopping bags, polystyrene cups and straws pile up in landfills and pollute the oceans. “There are usually problems, and they’re very visible, ” Bates says. “We need to figure out how to deal with that stuff, but it doesn’t detract through the incredible technology that goes in to producing them. inch
Ironically, while throw away products provide plastic a bad hip hop, it’s actually terrifically suitable for products which are intended to last permanently. The same longevity that will makes plastic-type material so problematic in landfill-bound bubble wrap makes it excellent intended for a watch designed in order to last decades. That plastics are also inexpensive shouldn’t necessarily be equated with “cheap, ” as in low quality; it makes them even more impressive.
The G-Shock, which embraces its unabashed ruggedness, has earned plenty associated with respect among watch enthusiasts of all stripes. But when plastic rears the head within luxury applications, protecting the delicate mechanism or performing other feats no other material could manage, the hemming and hawing begins. In both cases, however, the same question applies: don’t you want the best?