In design process of Fractalis few pure design imperatives, such as maximum readability in displaying the time, accuracy, robustness, wearing comfort, and aesthetically pleasing appearance were chosen, then followed pragmatically into logical conclusion, and finally design result was meticulously engineered into elegant piece of timecraft.
Maximum readability in displaying the time
To assure maximum readability in displaying the time the dial has large diameter per se, and in fact offers very high dial to case ratio. Dial design is traditional, clean and reduced to bare essentials, resulting uncluttered and soothing look. Dial is protected with flat, distortion free and extremely hard scratch resistant sapphire crystal.
For guaranteeing accuracyFractalis utilizes proven Swiss ETA2892-A2 movement, which has spectacular track record. It has been used by many of the upper echelon big brands (Omega, Breitling, IWC, etc.) for several of their models for long time, and as an direct ancestor of prior ETA movements all potential weak points of the movement have been optimized throughout the process of many years of deployment and hundreds of thousands movements. Further, in case of servicing most watchmakers can work with ETA movements as many of them have even practiced on these movements already during their education, and the supply of parts is available.
ETA2892-A2 has relatively high frequency of 28800 vibrations per hour or 4 Hz, it has 21 jewels and Etachron regulator system. All Fractalis watches are unequivocally regulated to 5 positions with accuracy better than ±4sec/day prior to leaving the workshop. Measurement certificate is naturally attached to delivery.
To maximize robustness resolute design and material choices have been made. All case parts, lugs and crown have been crafted out of Grade 2205 High Strength and High Corrosion Resistance Stainless Steel. In comparison to commonly used Surgical Stainless Steel 316L or 904L advocated by Rolex, the Grade 2205 Stainless Steel is far superior in three most prominent qualities: hardness, nickel content, and corrosion resistance.
Hardness is desirable quality for watch case as the harder material is much more scratch resistant. Grade 2205 is XX % harder than 316L and XX % harder than 904L.
Nickel is allergenic, i.e. it may cause allergic sensitization, and it may come as a surprise to many that Surgical Steel 316L contains typically 10-14% nickel. Further surprise may come in realization that 904L steel contains even more, typically 23-28% nickel, which approximately doubles nickel content of 316L. In contrast, Grade 2205 contains at maximum half of nickel in 316L or at maximum only one fifth of nickel content of 904L Steel.
Corrosion resistance is needed to protect the watch against hostile environment, such as salt water, or acid or alkaline solutions. There is no shortage of salt water as oceans cover 71 percent of the Earth's surface, and human sweat is typically moderately acidic and also salty. One measure of corrosion resistance is pitting resistance test, where metal is left to strong acid for certain time and pitting of metal surface is measured. Pitting resistance of Grade 2205 is XX % better than 316L and XX % better than 904L, making Fractalis almost impossible to corrode in any conceivable circumstances.
Water resistance ratings of watches are often unnecessarily obscured. It doesn’t seem too straightforward to realize that one cannot really swim confidently with watch rated to depth of 50 meters. It takes 200 meters rating to be confident at the pool. With Fractalis these obscured ratings are omitted, and prior to leaving the workshop each of the watches is actually pressure tested with 6 bar over ambient pressure, which equals to amount of pressure experienced at depth of 60 meters under water. It is guaranteed that Fractalis can take any pressure at recreational diving depths up to 30 meters deep.
One design feature providing real water resistance of Fractalis is general structure of the case and respective gasket arrangement. On top of the case is sapphire crystal, which is held at place by top ring. Beneath the crystal is O-ring gasket. Caseback seals against bottom of the case, squeezing O-ring gasket between the case and caseback. In an usual arrangement caseback is secured and tightened by screwing it in. This obviously causes significant shear stress to gasket, and too often gasket is damaged and water resistance compromised already during installation even if proper lubrication is used.
In Fractalis the top ring and caseback are both held in place and compressed against the case by special fork-like design of lugs, called compressor lugs. This removes completely shear stress to gaskets as there is no need to rotate the caseback and allows damage free installation. Another benefit of special lug design is that it allows tiny compression of crystal and caseback against the case. This contributes to stronger sealing as pressure against the watch increases.
The stem design of Fractalis lends also to sealing capacity of the case. Stem is rather large in diameter, 3 mm, and contains grooves for two hefty, adjacent O-ring gaskets.
All Fractalis gaskets are made of Viton™ fluoroelastomer, which was introduced in 1957 to meet the needs of the aerospace industry for a high performance seal elastomer. Since then, the use of Viton™ fluoroelastomer has expanded to many other industries, especially in the automotive, fluid power, appliance, and chemical fields. With over half a century of proven performance, Viton™ fluoroelastomer has developed a reputation for outstanding performance in high temperature and extremely corrosive environments.
The dial of the Fractalis is a multipurpose part which sits firmly inside the case, and in addition to enabling just display of the time, it also encloses the movement inside with screw secured locking ring, and serves thus as a movement holder. The dial is milled out of single block of metal, and there is no possibility of hour markers or other indices becoming loose and even stopping the whole watch.
The crystal of the Fractalis is constructed of sapphire, which is very hard material with its rating of 9 at Moh’s scale, just behind diamond which measures 10. Out of all watch crystal materials, sapphire crystal is the least prone to shatter or be scratched. For example, sapphire cannot be scratched using normal steel knife or screw driver.
Sapphire crystal is secured in place by top ring, which in turn is kept in place by lug forks. Top ring acts as protective ridge around crystal, which sits sheltered slightly lower, preventing unnecessary hits or contacts with crystal. Top ring also prevents “crystal pop”, which may occur when pressure against the watch decreases below the ambient (e.g. during high altitude flight), effectively creating higher than ambient pressure inside the watch, which may force crystal of the normal watch to pop out.
Typical way to attach strap or bracelet to watch is to use spring bars that are compressed between lugs. Every now and then something unexpected happens, such as hitting or sticking watch somewhere, which compromises spring bars, and as a result the watch is thrown to tarmac and may be seriously damaged. Instead, Fractalis may be worn at ease either with strap or bracelet, which are secured with small hexagonal allen screws through drilled lug holes. To break connection between watch and strap requires some serious effort.
In an unlikely event of damage to Fractalis case due to some serious accident it is reassuring to know that all the parts are individually replaceable. For example, if one of the lugs is damaged, it suffices to replace only that particular lug. With traditional watch case, whole case should be replaced in the same situation.
For assertive wearing comfortthe case size of Fractalis was carefully considered. Case diameter is moderate 42 mm, steering away from flamboyantly large sizing. This size hits the sweet spot of neither being too small nor too big for most of the wrists. Lug-to-lug distance is XX mm, and it is adjustable by changing the longer or shorter replacement lugs.
Case is remarkably thin, only 10 mm, which makes Fractalis pleasant to use in every occasion, and for resolute users it is also perfectly suitable to wear as a dress watch, regardless of its statementesque strong appearance.
With everything considered, Fractalis sits comfortably on the wrist, being moderately sized, yet bold and substantial.
Aesthetically pleasing appearance
Basic design of Fractalis is breaking some traditions, respecting others, both visually and functionally. Functional design of the case and lugs is innovative engineerign with compressor lugs holding the case together and with monoblock dial which serves also as a movement holder. Visually Fractalis has clean, strong and technical look, and despite its general round shape, distinct lug design gives it somewhat angular look.
Presumably the most remarkable visual feature of the Fractalis is spider lug design, which pays tribute to spider designs already introduced in 50’s by Gruen and Omega. In Fractalis spider lugs are referred as compressor lugs, because they compress the top ring, case and caseback together.
Dial is visually clean, soothing and uncluttered. It contains just essential elements needed to read time reliably. Hands pose strong personality, and are sized to allow good readability.
In all, Fractalis is pleasing to the eye, and there are lots of small distinctive details to look at, such as flat and round surfaces, grooves, conical shapes, hollows, textures and technical components.