Diamond dust – a wolf in sheep’s clothing

Subtle in the shadows and in darkness, the diamond dust dial explodes into a glistening surface as soon it is exposed to sunlight or artificial light. As if on a field covered by snowflakes, thousands of tiny diamond stars vie for attention. Conceived with great patience, our latest model is utterly delightful.

by Walter Hess

Diamond fragments with defined sizes from 39 to 46 microns are applied to a preconditioned dial substrate with a complex process. They produce sparkling hues depending on the color combinations of the diamonds and the background.

Captivating and complicated

The application of the diamond dust on the dial is not easy: It took two years to develop the right combination of light refraction, bond, surface texture, and uniformity. Our suppliers worked hard to achieve this result and tested our perseverance. But it was worth the effort!

Chapter 1 – The discovery

While sharpening my burin with a diamond grinding wheel, I tried to imagine how the gray coating permeated with diamond dust might be useful for producing visually attractive light reflections. The purpose of the grinding wheel is to remove hard steel particles with the even harder diamond particles, thus resulting in sharp cutting edges on steel tools.

Chapter 2 – The idea

Replacing purely technical diamond grains with crystal-clear fragments seemed straightforward enough, but to apply them to a surface in such a way that they would sparkle like a snow field or a star-studded sky took much time and many experiments.

The obvious approach was to bond the grains to the substrate galvanically, as is done for certain types of grinding wheels. In this process, our substrates – the metal dial wafers – are dipped in a galvanic nickel bath. The diamond grains scattered across the dial are immersed in nickel, making them adhere to the dial. Depending on the thickness of the nickel layer, a smaller or larger portion of the diamond grain will protrude from the nickel coating and the ballet of light can begin.

Chapter 3 – The trials

So much for theory. After countless tries, it became clear that this bonding approach is not suitable for achieving the envisioned effect. The base color shifted to a greenish hue and there way no way to obtain a uniform distribution of the crystals.

An attempt was made using colorless lacquer instead of the galvanic method. Uniformity improved dramatically, but now, the diamond grains were trapped in lacquer to such a degree that they seemed to drown and would no longer sparkle like real little diamonds. Here, too, countless experiments were performed with varying degrees of lacquer viscosity in the quest for a good solution. In vain. These trials ended up in an impasse.

Finale – The secret

The breakthrough finally involved the attachment of the diamond grains on the substrate in such a way that they can be distributed uniformly but also protrude from the base material to such a degree that a fascinating choreography of light can unfold. The exact process remains our little secret.

A little hint: The changes in substrate color also alter the interaction of the diamond colors with the hue of the dial as a whole.

The dials are available in black, gray, and champagne for the TWO.2. The hands and appliques are in rhodium for the black dial and charcoal-colored for the gray and champagne dials.

The diamond dust models
Walter Hess

Walter Hess

Watchmaker at Hess Uhren Luzern
With HESS Uhren, we give time a profile. Beauty and harmony - timelessly united.
Walter Hess
2017-07-26T15:15:43+00:00

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