Chanel’s latest watch which was created using “chemical 3D printing” has been setting tongues wagging. Not because of how striking the Chanel watch is, or because of the rather ridiculous $43,255 price tag, but it is mainly because many of us are wondering what the heck is chemical 3D printing?.
Announced a few days ago, Chanel shared that their new Boy-Friend Skeleton Watch was made using a 3D printing technology. According to 3dprintingindustry.com, the chemical 3D printing refers to a kind of electroforming technique related to galvanizing, commonly used to strengthen metallic surfaces and protect them from environmental wear, e.g. corrosion/sun damage. Swiss luxury watchmaking Rado, calls its process of creating such items “galvanic growth,” and it uses it to achieve premium textures on watch faces.
The site continues by explaining how the process takes place in an electrically charged immersion bath, containing metallic salts like copper, nickel and silver. When a plate of metal is submerged in the bath, the electrolytic charge attracts metallic particles from the salt to its surface. The particles gradually build up on the plate in layers, sometimes of multiple materials, to create a coat, which is then removed as a complete metal plate, or in Chanel’s case, movement wheels.
Although a complicated process, last year, in 2017, Canada’s additive manufacturing accelerator program Canada Makes invested $750 thousand in a company that takes a similar approach, and it has come to light that Imperial College London is now developing a low-cost metal 3D printing technique based on a similar technique.
If you are familiar with Chanel, then you will know that the luxury company has been dabbling in the latest technologies for a couple of years now. In 2015, Chanel director Karl Lagerfeld appeared at Paris Fashion Week in a 3D printed suit and more recently there was a lot of excitement over the fact that Chanel was looking to mass-manufacture a 3D printed mascara brush.
Technology aside, style-wise the watch boasts pure lines, balanced proportions and perfect shapes. Pure simplicity, the BOY∙FRIEND watch is radically elegant while daring to assert a new look that erases the lines between masculine and feminine style. Got the spare change to invest in the BOY∙FRIEND Skeleton Watch?