Watch Trends 2006: Automatics Thrive, Complications Spread

Among the most fascinating features of the annual Swiss watch fairs in Basel and Geneva are the marvelous innovations unveiled there. Many recent ones underscore the rejuvenation of mechanical watchmaking. Following are some of this year’s advances. MOVEMENTS Breguet, Patek Philippe, and Rolex—collaborating with a Swiss research institute and with considerable investment—have developed new technology to make mechanical movement components (i.e., balance springs, gear wheels, pallets) of silicon. This improves precision and operation, because silicon parts are antimagnetic, lighter and harder than steel, resistant to corrosion and wear, and—unlike traditional machined parts—need no lubrication. That means more efficient timepieces and less servicing and repairs. At BaselWorld 2006, each of the three luxury watchmakers presented their own patented applications of
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