In the design process of the Fractalis three equally important imperatives of practicality, ergonomics, and aesthetics of ideal design were respected, translating them in to requirements of accuracy, robustness, wearing comfort, maximum readability in displaying the time, and aesthetically pleasing look and feel.
These requirements were followed pragmatically into logical conclusion in selection of materials, dimensions and part functionality, and finally result of the design was meticulously engineered into first prototype series.
Fractalis is a watch with fresh combination of traditional and novel features; crystal protected by bezel, rotation free caseback, downward shaped and changeable compressor lugs holding bezel, case and caseback together, and functional solid-steel dial.
With these qualities Fractalis sits at crossroads with engineering and art. It has authentic, easy-to-recognize design, where form largely follows the function, and decidedly clean solid lines suggest strong masculinity - yet avoiding brute vulgarity.
Fractalis is pleasing to the eye, and there are lots of small distinctive details to look at, such as flat and round surfaces, tilted edges, grooves, conical shapes, hollows, textures and technical components.
Original design of Fractalis conveys precision, craftsmanship, durability and toughness.
WHY IS FRACTALIS DIFFERENT?
In three words: design, looks, and materials.
Unlike in conventional watches, in Fractalis lugs and case are separate pieces. Though, this is not just a design quirk, but it serves a definitive purpose. Lugs have small claws at upper and lower sides, and are attached to case with small screws.
Claws compress caseback and bezel to their places, and there is no need to rotate caseback, which may compromise gasket sealing capacity.
Flat sapphire crystal is kept in place under the bezel, which completely prevents the possibility of crystal pop due to air pressure changes, and elevated bezel also reduces risk of any mechanical impact to crystal.
Dial of Fractalis is heavy and solid piece of stainless steel, and it also serves as a movement holder. Traditionally watch movement is kept in place by dial feet, two thin wires that extrude from dial back in to the movement. This arrangement is susceptible to bending or breaking of the feet, causing movement to break loose.
In Fractalis, movement fits inside the dial piece, and is locked in place with three screws and sturdy retainer ring. There is no way movement can break loose in Fractalis!
Also strap/bracelet is secured firmly with screws instead of spring bars.
Abovementioned design choices give Fractalis its unique, strong and easy-to-recognize look, where form follows function.
Finally, materials used in Fractalis range from commonly used 316L stainless steel to much harder and much more corrosion resistant 2205 Super Steel, and further to Grade 5 titanium which is very hard, and basically corrosion free in any conceivable environment.
Case diameter 42 mm
Thickness 10 mm
Lug width 22 mm
Lug-to-lug distance 48 mm
CASE & LUGS:
Material choices: Stainless Steel 316L, Super Steel 2205, and Grade 5 Titanium
Scratch & corrosion resistant
Material nickel content from medium (316L) to low (2205) to zero (Titanium)
Special compressor lug design.
Swiss made ETA2892-A2, automatic, mechanical
Frequency 28’800 vph (4 Hz)
Power reserve 42 hours
Diameter 25.6 mm
Verified to 6 bar
Special non-shear gasket arrangement
Single-block steel with integrated indices
Uncluttered, clean design
Original skeletonized or lumed spring steel hands
1mm thick distortion free flat sapphire crystal
Retained and guarded by elevated bezel
STRAP & STRAP SECURITY:
Secure screw attachment for strap / bracelet
Available with natural rubber and polished stingray leather straps
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.
Skeletonized watch hands have original design with strong lines, substantial size and optionally strong Superluminova lume.
For guaranteeing accuracy Fractalis 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.
Resolute design and material choices have been made to maximize robustness of Fractalis watch. In addition to overall sturdy design, robustness of Fractalis stems from four cornerstones: scratch resistance, corrosion resistance, water resistance, and strap/bracelet security. First two goals are tackled with material choices, and two latter with innovative desigin.
Fractalis case and lugs are available in three materials. First material is Surgical Stainless Steel 316L, that is often used in cases of diving watches, and other watches requiring good durability and corrosion resistance.
Second material is Super Steel 2205, that is much harder, much more corrosion resistant and contains much less nickel than 316L.
Third material is Grade 5 Titanium, that is even harder than Steel 2205, contains no nickel at all, and is on par with corrosion resistance of Steel 2205.
Hardness is desirable quality for watch case parts as the harder material is more scratch resistant. In comparison to Surgical Stainless Steel 316L or 904L advocated by Rolex, the Steel 2205 is superior in three most prominent qualities: hardness, nickel content, and corrosion resistance. Specifically, Grade 2205 is 35 % harder than 316L (293 vs. 217 HB) and 33 % harder than 904L (293 vs. 220 HB).
Hardest of our case and lug materials, Grade 5 Titanium is 54% harder than Steel 316L (334 vs. 217 HB) and 14% harder than Steel 2205 (334 vs. 293 HB).
Nickel is allergenic, i.e. it may cause allergic sensitization. Typical nickel content for Surgical Steel 316L is between 10-14% nickel. It may come as a surprise that Steel 904L contains way more, typically 23-28% nickel, which approximately doubles nickel content of 316L. In contrast, Grade 2205 (4.5-6.5% Ni) contains around half of the nickel in 316L and around one fifth of the nickel content of 904L Steel.
Lowest nickel content of Fractalis case and lug materials is at Grade 5 Titanium, it contains no nickel at all.
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.
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 the Pitting Resistance Equivalent number PRE which has been developed to correlate steels composition to its relative pitting corrosion resistance. PRE is computed using simple formula and is based purely on chemical composition of steel, and as such it does not address factors such as the presence of intermetallic phases, improper heat treatments, or inferior surface condition. Because of this limitation, one must be careful when using the PRE number to make material decisions. Mathematical PRE of Grade 2205 is 46 % better than 316L (35 vs. 24) and similar to that of 904L.
The relative resistance to localized corrosion for different alloys can be quantified by determining the critical temperature required for initiating attack. The critical crevice corrosion temperature CCCT is measured using either immersion test methods (e.g. ASTM G48), or by electrochemical methods (e.g. ASTM G150). When a higher critical temperature is necessary to initiate attack of a stainless steel alloy, it is more resistant to localized corrosive attack. Measured CCCT for Grade 2205 is 440 % higher than for 316L (23.2 °C vs. 5.2 °C) and 46 % higher than for 904L (23.2 °C vs. 15.9 °C).
Although both PRE and CCCT give useful indication about corrosive resistance of steels, they may be somewhat far fetched with regard to normal use scenarios of watches. Salt water spray test is closer to normal usage scenario, and such can be carried out in a salt spray fog chamber following ASTM B117-73 for several thousand hours. After the test steel samples are weighed for material loss due to corrosion. In 3000 hour salt water spray test 316L lost 15 times more material due to corrosion than Grade 2205 (2.915 vs. 0.1909 mil), and 904L lost 15 times more material than Grade 2205 (2.0483 vs. 0.1909 mil).
The corrosion resistance of titanium is well known and appreciated. A stable and inert oxide film provides the material with outstanding resistance to corrosion in a wide range of aggressive environments. Grade 5 Titanium has outstanding resistance to corrosion in most natural and many industrial process environments, and it offers excellent general corrosion resistance, superior to that of Steel 316 and even 2205.
Based on these numbers it is fairly reasonable to state that is almost impossible to corrode the Fractalis 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.
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 48 mm, and it is adjustable by changing 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.