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Peter-H

Ceramic watches - AVOID

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This thread refers: 

 

The fault came back. The original watchmaker who "fixed" it a few times stopped responding to emails or phone messages, this time. So I sent it to IWC...

They quote the £500 standard service plus £1700 for a new case!

They sent me some photos which show tiny chips where the spring-loaded pins go. Some of these are very hard to believe they were there when I had the watch, and I have earlier photos which prove they were not there. So either the package came open in transit and got smashed (IWC discarded the packaging) or somebody at IWC messed with it (very hard to believe). They tell me their procedures make an accidental swap with somebody else's watch impossible.

20190509154614709.jpg

Obviously a metal watch would never get this.

I am now stuffed. The watch is almost worthless unless I pay out the £2200. IWC refuse to do a service without changing the case. I could do what a lot of people do and put it on Ebay and get a few k for it, without disclosing the intermittent timing issue.

But at least I will have a "as new" watch with a 2 year IWC warranty.

Pretty obviously it is really easy to chip this ceramic. I have the correct tools for compressing the spring pins, and I use the tool from the bottom of the case, whereas in the above pic somebody used some kind of a tool from the top of the case.

This oval shaped depression is also interesting.

20190509384625109.jpg

and this photo shows what might be a hairline crack

20190509194635309.jpg

Lesson: never buy a used watch unless it comes with a manufacturer's service!

 

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Ceramic is not a suitable product for watch cases in my humble opinion. Despite the marketing BS from the usual suspects, Ceramic has a particular lattice bond structure at molecular level which means shocks can sometimes be transported ( and sometimes  amplified ) linearly , not radially and this means if a shock wave hits a "vein" where the ceramic has more vacuous strata then this can cause what many in Ceramic industries refer to as "time bomb damage".

If you look at a ceramic cereal bowl that is about 5 years old and regularly used and inspect it under a UV lamp that has frequency variance , you can soon spot these structures.

Watch makers claim that their compression manufacturing process removes this issue but its not really possible in my view to do this with 100% certainty due the basic nature of the raw material(s).

Your story is not isolated. I know of two people who have had ceramic watch cases crack near the strap locator.

Thanks for taking the time to air your experience....:thumbsup:

 

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I wonder if there is a specific vulnerability here, in the spring pins naturally flexing (as the strap gets pulled, with normal arm movement) and exerting possibly large forces against the sides of the holes in the ceramic.

Such forces would place the ceramin under tension, and we all know it is very weak in that mode.

Are there special pins for these watches? I have been using just normal pins. I use a silicone rubber strap (ex Traser watch) because I swim every day and a leather one gets smelly :) I don't like metal ones due to hair pulling.

I also wonder about that oval shaped depression. It could not have been created just with a knock, because this material is really hard. It would have just smashed. It looks like a manufacturing defect. But it isn't visible in my original post-purchase pics e.g.

20190509024653610.jpg

The only possible explanation (case has been swapped) is pretty serious and not one made lightly.

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In my opinion , that oval depression could only have been made by abrasion. I know it may sound ridiculous but that looks like someone has accidentally attacked it with a point sanding tool and its slipped towards the edge and the vibration at caused the edge to fracture.

Regards strap pins , they are usually deliberately made from softer steel than standard watch steel and should have enough tolerance laterally to absorb most energy from wrist flexing etc etc , that said , Ceramic as you say does not cope with stress very well so maybe this is another can of worms regarding strap fixing.

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3 minutes ago, Nigelp said:

i would expect ceramic is too hard and too brittle,

Watch makers claim to have "patented ceramics" involving carbon introduction at various phases of the process to temper these issues ... but for me , the whole thing was just a gimmick and its possibly not what it was claimed to be ...

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Not good news at all. 

My only ceramic watch a Jungens mega solor ceramic is still going fine after 20 odd years of use?

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This hurts, feel sorry for you, mate. And thanks for the advice.

Did you decide what to do with it? 

Cheers 

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Thats terrible hope gets sorted somehow, try not to worry and dwell on it to much and thanks for the heads up

Dean

Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk

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I am paying the 2.2k.

The Ebay option would be doing a dirty on somebody, notwithstanding the fact that "half" the sellers on Ebay do that already :)

But I want to get hold of the "correct" pins, whatever that means.

Regards ceramic cases, they don't scratch so look like new for many years, whereas metal cases look quite naff quite soon. But obviously ceramic lugs are a weak point. There are many pics online of IWC lugs having broken right off.

I am also surprised by the IWC report of a badly damaged gear train. How much of a shock would it take to do that, while ending up with a watch which is still accurate to better than a second a day afterwards - as this one was, all the time it wasn't gaining 3 seconds per minute?

I am disappointed with IWC communications. The people you speak to know almost nothing about watches and are clearly under instruction to say as little as possible, while the people who actually do the work are absolutely banned from any contact with customers. So you just get bland descriptions  and no way to get to the bottom of anything. But hey this is the way of most organisations these days... Those which aren't full of idiots keep the smart people well behind the customer interface.

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Eeep. Are you sure they didn't get your watch mixed up with somebody else's? 

If nothing else it puts me off dealing with IWC.

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7 hours ago, JonnyOldBoy said:

Ceramic is not a suitable product for watch cases in my humble opinion. Despite the marketing BS from the usual suspects, Ceramic has a particular lattice bond structure at molecular level which means shocks can sometimes be transported ( and sometimes  amplified ) linearly , not radially and this means if a shock wave hits a "vein" where the ceramic has more vacuous strata then this can cause what many in Ceramic industries refer to as "time bomb damage".

If you look at a ceramic cereal bowl that is about 5 years old and regularly used and inspect it under a UV lamp that has frequency variance , you can soon spot these structures.

Watch makers claim that their compression manufacturing process removes this issue but its not really possible in my view to do this with 100% certainty due the basic nature of the raw material(s).

Your story is not isolated. I know of two people who have had ceramic watch cases crack near the strap locator.

Thanks for taking the time to air your experience....:thumbsup:

 

Johnny old chap I do agree with you on their use in watch cases but would like to amplify your technical explanation. Watches generally use either a zirconium oxide ceramic, nitride ceramic or something similar and as is the case with all ceramics the atoms of the various components are held together with covalent and ionic bonds, these bonds are very strong, much stronger than metallic bonds and this is what gives ceramics their strength. However the strength is limited to compression, in tension ceramics are weak and brittle in contrast to metal which is ductile.

Ceramics have different structures depending on their composition and manufacture, nitride ceramics for example have a simple cubic structure but there are a number of others. The brittle fracture occurs across the granular cells along cleavage planes in a similar way some minerals fracture. The other thing you touched on was surface microfractures, yes a big issue but can be negated somewhat by careful machining and polishing however any pre-existing flaws result in a stress concentration which weakens the ceramic considerably. Ceramics can also undergo transformational toughening to close the cracks. Internal flaws can also affect the performance of a ceramic.

Anyway, no matter how you look at it ceramics are brittle and weak under tension so a ceramic watch case with a leather or rubber strap will have vulnerable lugs (I suspect the same watch on a ceramic bracelet probably less vulnerable) and will be vulnerable to any trauma which causes tension.

The oval shaped fracture posted in the @Peter-H the  OP's picture is a conchoidal fracture (similar fractures can be seen in napped flint) and it is indicative of the lug having been hit on a sharp edge or conversely being hit by a sharp edge or point. The possible hairline crack also suggests trauma, it is highly unlikely it would happen with a strap changing tool.

 

  

 

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A very good point about a non-metal strap. That will try to bend the pins, whereas a metal (rigid) strap will just pull on them perpendicularly to their axis, which will greatly reduce the stress on the ceramic, around the pin holes.

So I need to find a strap which has metal links at the watch end, and the rest is something which (a) doesn't pull hair out and (b) is ok with daily swimming. I wonder if there is such a thing.

BTW does this forum software allow messages to be edited after saving? I see no button for it. Maybe it is disabled until you have reached some number of posts. 

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7 minutes ago, JoT said:

all ceramics the atoms of the various components are held together with covalent and ionic bonds, these bonds are very strong, much stronger than metallic bonds

 

  

 

And mathematically , herein lies one issue, the crystalline asymmetry of the post-bonded structures means that there is always a probability of weaknesses in casts that are very irregular in shape. So a watch case shape is more at risk than a Vase or Pot ... Its a mathematical modelling exercise of course and vastly complicated I assume but I would think at least one or two potentially dodgy cases per 1000 is not unreasonable, or something in that order...... 

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@Peter-H Simply, this should not happen. What makes it worse is the manufacturers response. I have no personal experience of Richemont Group products, but I know those who have, and your dilemma does not surprise me. There will be plenty who will have good stories, I'm sure.

 

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I don't think IWC ever understood the 3 sec per min issue was intermittent. Or maybe somebody deep in there did/does but the written response is illiterate.

A year ago I sent them a movie proving it (posted in the other thread) because basically nobody believed it was possible, and after a lot of hassling their switchboard I sort of got a confirmation that somebody did watch it, but they were totally non committal as to the possible cause and how much it might be, worst-case.

Very difficult, but not untypical for a present-day huge company (which I am sure they are NOT) set up to isolate the customers from the internals. I never ever got through to anybody who knew anything about watches.

Yes swapping the case is the only obvious explanation, but who would do that, and why?

IWC must have good security, which (based on some other businesses I know, where customers routinely haggle about what they sent in and in what condition) very likely involves a video of the person opening and closing each package.

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Yeah I think ceramics are way over valued in everything. They're extremely brittle, I've never been impressed

Sorry to hear and see this, that sucks.

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I have been looking at the strap attachment options and it sounds like with these ceramic watches the important thing is for the pins to be the most rigid type you can get. That also means choosing the length to be the maximum that will fit - to minimise the potential for the pin wobbling sideways.

Also you need to make sure the diameter of the end portion

20190511554662517.jpg

is not a tight fit into the hole in the watch case. If it is a tight fit, it will create an enormous localised stress in the ceramic and chip a piece out of it.

IWC's "we won't touch a watch which has any damage to the case" attitude doesn't help... it is really good for revenue generation though!

I also wondered if it would help, if using a flexible strap e.g. fabric or silicone rubber, to somehow insert a metal link next to the watch and have the strap attach to that. That will prevent the pin getting flexed.

Has anyone in the business here come across any of this before?

Or maybe my watch had been attacked by a monkey?

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My other half has a Channel J12. It’s 12 years old, is a daily wear and suffers quite a lot of abuse! Still looks like it did on the day or purchase not a single mark! 

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11 minutes ago, Jersey1965 said:

My other half has a Channel J12. It’s 12 years old, is a daily wear and suffers quite a lot of abuse! Still looks like it did on the day or purchase not a single mark! 

Everyone's idea of abuse is different.

I have a buddy at work. He had a watch from a previous job. Generic quartz. He's worn it for about 5 years. Mostly it's served him well, even though he's never used the Chrono function, ever. About a year ago a hand fell off one of the Chrono subdials. It was quartz. No big deal but the watch was ruined at this point. He had somehow caused the watch to come apart from the rubber strap about 3 times. He came to me, naturally, knowing I knew my stuff about watches. I replaced the spring bar once, it came apart in 3 days. I replaced it again with a thicker bar, again came apart in about 2 weeks. I replaced the spring bar again, after measuring the other spring bar that had never come out, and ensuring I was getting the right size, and again, in about a week it somehow came out. The watch was done. The lugs were turn up and the watch was beat to hell.

I gave him my Stuckx bullhead quartz Chrono, at that time (also gave him my Dan Henry 1968 Chrono, about a few months ago, but that's neither here nor there, yet). I had that Stuckx on the original strap and he managed to pop it off. I kept the springers l spring bars because he managed to find the loose one and put it on a one piece leather NATO. He still managed to pop one of those loose, always the same side I've come to determine and find. I replaced the spring bar with an extra thick, call barely fit the strap inside spring bar. He's since popped it out twice more and even after putting it back on without any way to help, he's now popped lose the central seconds hand on the Bullhead!!! I'm livid with him at this point. I have away about $700 worth of watches! Stuckx apparently it's no longer in business, as I went to claim warranty on it and found they don't exist. He keeps coming to me for help and I have no idea what to do.

He says he does nothing different than anybody else, but clearly, he does many things much differently than everybody else. I've told him this, bluntly, because you know me, that's who I am. He refuses to admit fault.

Anyway, today I told him I'm done. Eff him, his daughter, his wife and his soul, he can ride the gravy train to hell as far as I'm concerned, he should never wear another watch in his entire life again.

I say all of this to illustrate, sometimes, some people, are just a$$hole$ who don't realize they are pure unadulterated garbage, whom treat everything so poorly that they haven't the couth within them to recognize what $h!tbag$ they truly are.

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I never abused the watch. Those chips in the ceramic are a mystery, but if they are the result of normal wear, that material is totally unsuitable for a watch. Maybe for posing :)

The ETA 7750 movement on which this watch is based should be plenty robust enough, however.

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On 12/05/2019 at 06:47, JayDeep said:

Everyone's idea of abuse is different.

I have a buddy at work. He had a watch from a previous job. Generic quartz. He's worn it for about 5 years. Mostly it's served him well, even though he's never used the Chrono function, ever. About a year ago a hand fell off one of the Chrono subdials. It was quartz. No big deal but the watch was ruined at this point. He had somehow caused the watch to come apart from the rubber strap about 3 times. He came to me, naturally, knowing I knew my stuff about watches. I replaced the spring bar once, it came apart in 3 days. I replaced it again with a thicker bar, again came apart in about 2 weeks. I replaced the spring bar again, after measuring the other spring bar that had never come out, and ensuring I was getting the right size, and again, in about a week it somehow came out. The watch was done. The lugs were turn up and the watch was beat to hell.

I gave him my Stuckx bullhead quartz Chrono, at that time (also gave him my Dan Henry 1968 Chrono, about a few months ago, but that's neither here nor there, yet). I had that Stuckx on the original strap and he managed to pop it off. I kept the springers l spring bars because he managed to find the loose one and put it on a one piece leather NATO. He still managed to pop one of those loose, always the same side I've come to determine and find. I replaced the spring bar with an extra thick, call barely fit the strap inside spring bar. He's since popped it out twice more and even after putting it back on without any way to help, he's now popped lose the central seconds hand on the Bullhead!!! I'm livid with him at this point. I have away about $700 worth of watches! Stuckx apparently it's no longer in business, as I went to claim warranty on it and found they don't exist. He keeps coming to me for help and I have no idea what to do.

He says he does nothing different than anybody else, but clearly, he does many things much differently than everybody else. I've told him this, bluntly, because you know me, that's who I am. He refuses to admit fault.

Anyway, today I told him I'm done. Eff him, his daughter, his wife and his soul, he can ride the gravy train to hell as far as I'm concerned, he should never wear another watch in his entire life again.

I say all of this to illustrate, sometimes, some people, are just a$$hole$ who don't realize they are pure unadulterated garbage, whom treat everything so poorly that they haven't the couth within them to recognize what $h!tbag$ they truly are.

stuckx still in business

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