Nov 24, 2016 | By Tess

There is no denying that 3D printing technologies have helped breathe new life into a number of smaller niche industries, perhaps most notably the watchmaking industry. From refurbishing vintage watches with 3D printed parts to creating wholly new designs with 3D modeling, additive manufacturing is an exciting new technology for watch makers and designers. Among those working with 3D printing to create new watches is Dutch designer Michel Holthinrich, who very recently launched his very own 3D printed watch brand: Holthinrichs Watches.

The new brand, which so far consists of one stunning 3D printed watch design called the Ornament 1, is the product of several years work, all beginning six years ago when Holthinrich studied architecture at the University of Delft in the Netherlands. While studying, Holthinrich found himself more interested in watchmaking and design than in building design, so decided to create his very own watch.

Notably, Holthinrich was determined to create his watch using a combination of traditional watchmaking techniques and more contemporary technologies. Naturally, the designer was drawn towards 3D printing, as it offered him a unique way to make original and intricate designs that would be impossible using other manufacturing methods.

As the designer writes on his website, "3D printing evokes new ways of thinking, creating possibilities for new designs which are traditionally not or very difficult to realise. When the specific conditions related to power and heat remittance are sufficiently incorporated in the design it has the potential to open up whole new and interesting possibilities in terms of formal design and future mechanics within the watchmaking tradition.”

To help with the 3D printing process, Holthinrich reached out to Belgian 3D printing company Materialise, which helped him to prototype and test some early versions of his watch case. After some botched attempts and much tweaking both on the design and 3D printing front, the watchmaker and Materialise were able to successfully print a number of metal cases for his watch. The next step was to refine the 3D prints using more traditional manufacturing techniques, such as CNC milling. CNC milling allowed the designer to refine the 3D printed cases until they were smoothed out, and all final touches were done by hand.

Overall, each watch took about 20 to 30 hours to 3D print and post-process, and at least 40 hours of manual finishing. Let’s just say that each watch took a lot of time to make. The mechanics of the watch are provided by a reliable Swiss ETA 7001, a movement that has been around for decades and which watchmakers are familiar with, making the new 3D printed watches easy to repair.

Holthinrich’s first watch, which is currently available for pre-order, costs 3,499 euros through his website. Of course, this is a high price point, though considering how many hours have gone into perfecting the timepiece, it begins to seem a bit more reasonable. Additionally, the wristwatch can be personalized with an engraving.

Michel Holthinrich officially launched his 3D printed watch brand this week at the University of Delft. Over 80 people attended the launch, including representatives from other Dutch watch companies who were interested in his 3D printing approach. Tell us, would you spend 3,499 euros on an expertly designed and personalized 3D printed watch?



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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