Throughout most of 2018, French “special metals” distributor STAINLESS and French watchmakers UTINAM Besançon collaborated to make France’s first automatic, mechanical 3D-printed watch. UTINAM Besançon was established by clock maker Phillippe Lebru in 1993. STAINLESS was established in 1928 and distributes special metals to mainly the aerospace and medical industries, including metallic powder for 3D printing.
The two companies had as many of the watch’s parts as possible manufactured within the boundaries of the eastern French province of Franche-Comté; the most significant of the few exceptions was having timing mechanism made in Japan. The watch’s hands were made in a 100-year-old factory in Morteau, and an anonymous craftsman of Besançon made the bracelet out of real leather and sewed it entirely by hand.
The watch’s case was entirely 3D printed, using stainless steel 316L powder on a Renishaw AM250. (The Renshaw AM250 has since been superseded by the Renishaw AM400.) Renishaw of Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, England was established by David McMurtry and John Deer in 1973, when David McMurty invented a so-called “touch trigger probe” to help coordinate-measuring machines properly measure the fuel pipes on a prototype jet engine. (John Deer is not to be confused with John Deere of John Deere tractors.) The case was 3D printed by apprentices of the Besançon training center at the UIMM “Creativ Lab”.
The watch was displayed by STAINLESS at September 2018’s MICRONORA Exhibition in Besançon. By the end of 2018, it will be on sale at the UTINAM Besancon boutique, opposite the Musée du Temps.
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