Let’s talk about Bulk Metallic Glass, or BMG rather. What the hell is bulk metallic glass? And why on Earth does it have any practical application to fine timepieces?
Innovative and unique case materials have never been more prevalent a trend in the watch industry than they are today. While your ceramic and PVD cases of yesteryear are today finding stiff competition from brands like Richard Mille leading the charge in wildly high-tech case materials. Brands like Panerai, Hublot, AP,Roger Dubius and others are all following suit. Collectors and enthusiasts have flocked to some of these unique pieces, take either one of the Panerai Bronzo(s) the PAM 382 or the PAM 507 (pictured below). Both originally retailing for over/under $10,000 USD, limited to 1000 pieces each. They are presently trading in the secondary market for anywhere from $25,000 to $40,000 if you can get your hands on either one.
On the subject of the Bronzo, 2017 marked the addition of a third Panerai Bronzo (PAM00671) with a blue dial. The PAM 671 will again be a limited edition of 1,000 pieces, and it will be priced at $14,400 USD. The new blue dial Bronzo was just one of the new 2017 SIHH Panerai novelties that overshadowed the Panerai BMG-TECH™. There was also the release of the highly innovative LAB-ID™ Carbotech™ (PAM00700), which is a fascinating timepiece and seemed to be Panerai’s showstopper this year.
These other exciting pieces should not for a moment take away from how cool the BMG TECH™ is, and perhaps the best grade of non-precious metal watch on the market today. If you are as serious a watch enthusiast as we proudly exalt ourselves to be at Shreve, Crump & Low than you will find the following very interesting…
Conventionally, a stainless steel watch case is shaped from a chuck of finished solid stainless steel metal alloy stamped via a series of industrial hydraulic presses. Breitling and Rolex being two prime examples of this process. However, the case on the Panerai BMG-TECH™ is die-cast, meaning a molten hot liquid mix of zirconium, copper, aluminium, titanium and nickel (Bulk Metals) is poured into a mold of the Luminor Submersible 1950 watch case producing your BMG case.
The liquid metal is immediately cooled within seconds after casting, allowing the metal to take on an atomic make-up similar to that of glass, which is very hard and very resistant to scratches. While glass is brittle, metal is not. Hence the moniker Metallic Glass, one of the strongest materials on the market today.
Let me better illustrate the structure of BMG on an atomic level. The atomic make-up of conventional stainless steel packs and arranges atoms into the group structures observed in exhibit A, whereas the BMG has an amorphous more encompassing atomic make-up observed in exhibit B.
The effect this has on the quality of the metal produces a profoundly more durable product than high grade 316L “surgical grade” stainless steel that Breitling and other brands use, and even a higher quality grade metal than the 904L stainless steel which Rolex uses.
BMG has a hardness twice that of most stainless steels and titanium, and at least four times the hardness of aluminum and magnesium. It also has far fewer surface imperfections than stainless steel. In general, the resistance to corrosive environments in BMG is outstanding and also superior to stainless steel.
The piece didn’t feel much heavier on the wrist than it’s stainless steel counterpart. It did give off a smooth dark gray metallic sheen, similar to a titanium coloring. The “BMG-TECH™” logo is set off in a sharp blue, and really does pop against a royal blue dial, which like most blue dials varies significantly in hue with lighting.
The PAM 692 houses an automatic P.9010 calibre (in-house Panerai movement). The case is a 47mm Luminor Submersible 1950, and it is water-resistant to 300 meters. The piece will have a set retail price of $10,200 USD. Shreve, Crump & Low Boston has been allocated very few of these pieces for 2017, for purchase inquiry please call the Boston store 617-267-9100 or email [email protected]
Check out Panerai’s promotion video for the BMG-TECH™ below: