Now, mostly famous watch brands like Rolex, Bulgari, Patek Philippe, Apple, etc. are adopting PVD technology. Besides these famous brands, average watchmakers are also adopting PVD coatings for their products due to improving durability.
Then, what is unique about PVD coating? Why do all famous watchmakers think that it is necessary for making premium watches?
In this blog, I will explain your doubts one by one. Let’s start.
1. Why Does a Watch Need PVD Coating?
The main enemy of a watch is the scratches, sweat, and chemicals in the air. The scratches not only make a watch look bad and old but also give a pathway to moisture and chemicals into the inner side. These will corrode the watch in no time.
So, in order to avoid corrosion and wearing of watches, they always come with PVD coatings, which are more durable than simple paints.
PVD coatings are so hard that some coatings have hardness only second to diamond, which means PVD coating on watches will give them super scratch and wear resistance properties.
Besides being durable, PVD coatings also make watches moisture-proof, especially sweat, which is the main corroding agent for in-touch body items. Thus, except for watches, jewelry is also an in-touch body fashion items and PVD on jewelry is also very common.
With PVD coating, you can also change the various other properties of a watch, such as friction, heat resistance, surface finish, and a lot.
PVD coatings on watches will be only a few microns thick, 0.25 microns ~ 5 microns.
Thus, the watches will get scratched and old with time, no doubt, but they are more durable than other watches and will surely last longer. It is said that PVD-coated watches can last for 10 years and more with proper care.
2. How Is Watches PVD Coated?
In the Physical Vapor Deposition ( PVD ) process, a coating substance is converted into vapors. Then these vapors are deposited on the object’s surface at molecular or atomic levels.
You can say the PVD process is like spraying layers of coating material onto the surface of an object but at microscopic levels.
So, in the case of a watch, first, it is placed in a PVD machine vacuum chamber. Secondly, a coating substance, usually a metal, such as titanium, stainless steel, etc. is converted into vapors and then sprayed on the watch surface layer by layer until achieving desired thickness.
There are different types of PVD methods, but among all those, Sputtering and Cathodic-Arc are very effective.
But in the Cathodic-Arc method, the temperature may rise up to 15000° Celsius ( 15273° Kelvin ), which most materials cannot stand. In contrast, Sputtering occurs at temperatures that are suitable for almost all kinds of PVD coating materials.
So, in short, you can say that the mostly Sputtering PVD process is used for coating watches.
3.How Much Does It Cost to PVD Watches?
The cost of PVD coating is different. On average, the price for PVD coating a watch is usually between $650 ~ $2000. This price refers to coating service for the individual rather than the commercial manufacturing.
It is very difficult to say about the exact cost of PVD coating a watch because it depends on many factors, such as:
- Material of a watch
- Final quality of coating
- Coating material
- Quantity of watches to be coated
You should ask the PVD coating supplier for details if you want to know the exact price. In the following, I’ll tell you the factors that affect the price.
Material of a watch
Some material of the watches, such as stainless steel, titanium, etc. can be coated at less price because these materials do not need a base layer before the process.
In contrast, other material watches, such as steel, brass, etc. may need a base layer before coating, which will add an additional price to the overall cost of coating.
Final quality of coating
The quality of the coating also affects the overall cost of PVD coating a watch.
Many qualities of PVD coating can be enhanced, such as:
- Heat resistance
- Sliding properties
- Scratch resistance
- Corrosion resistance
The more you enhance these qualities, the more costly the PVD coating will become, but the more durable the watch will get.
Different coating materials have different prices. For example, titanium has less cost than actual gold.
Take gold-PVD watches as an example, here are two methods to make them:
- In the first method usually, titanium or similar metal is manipulated into gold-like color and afterward coated on the watch.
- In the second method, the watch will get an additional layer of actual gold on the base PVD layer of titanium or similar metal.
Manipulating the color of the coating is less costly than coating an actual gold on a watch. Yes, real gold-coated watches will give you a more realistic look than the artificial color, but both will almost look the same.
Quantity of watches to be coated
The PVD coating cost will also depend on how many watches you are coating per batch in the machine. It does not matter if you have your own machine or you are getting a coating from a service provider.
Either way, if you have a lot of watches for PVD coating, they can all get coated collectively in the machine, which will decrease the overall cost of PVD coating per watch.
4. PVD vs DLC Coating on Watches
Physical Vapor Deposition is a process in which a coating substance ( metal ) is evaporated and then sprayed on the object’s ( watches ) surface.
Diamond-Like Carbon Coating ( DLC ) is a name of coating, not a method. A diamond-like coating is made by giving Carbon atoms a certain amount of energy and bombarding them onto a substrate ( watch ) to form a highly dense Diamond-like film. DLC coatings are usually done by PVD and CVD processes.
For learning more about PVD vs CVD watches, see the chart below:
|PVD Watches||DLC Watches|
|Coating Substance||Gold，Titanium, Zirconium, Stainless steel||Carbon atoms|
|Hardness||1500 HV ~ 4500 HV||4000 HV ~ 9000 HV|
|Friction||Very low but still higher than DLC||Mostly, 200% ~ 500% lower than PVD|
|Surface Finish||Mirror, Matte||Mostly Matte only|
5. Some Types of PVD Coated Watches
The most common color of PVD coating on watches is gold, which gives people a sense of nobility. Except for gold, black is also popular these years. Of course, all colors are available from PVD coating suppliers.
Usually, PVD coating is used on the watch case, strap or bracelet. Sometimes, you can also see PVD coating on the crown and the hands.
Watch with Black PVD Case and Frame
The cases and frames of these types of sports watches are usually made of 316L stainless steel. Besides, only the case frame is coated with a black PVD coating.
Moreover, the strap can be made of stainless steel, nylon, silicone, etc. In general, sports watches are black and their straps are made of nylon or silicone, which will be more comfortable.
Watch with Gold PVD Case and Frame
Similar to the first watch, these types of watches have gold PVD coating only on the case frame. Plus, the materials for the strap or bracelet can be various, including leather, nylon, or metals.
Quartz Watch with Black PVD Bracelet and Case
The main material for this watch is stainless steel. The bracelet and case are made from black PVD plated stainless steel. It comes with black dial and solid caseback. Moreover, it is water resistant to 50 meters, and is made quartz movement.
Quartz PVD Gold Watch
The materials of the case, bracelet, and bezel are all stainless steel. They come with a yellow gold PVD coating. Plus, the dial is black and the analog dial is gold. It is suitable for ladies as the case size is cute.
PVD Coated Smartwatch
This smartwatch features a stainless steel loop with an additional black physical vapor deposition layer. It has a modern design, which is suitable for every occasions.
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Excellent article, educational and concise! Thanks!