In the design process of the Fractalis, three equally important imperatives of ideal design were respected: practicality, ergonomics, and aesthetics. These principles were translated into requirements of accuracy, robustness, wearing comfort, maximum readability in displaying the time, and an aesthetically pleasing look and feel.
Continuing on, these requirements were followed pragmatically to a logical conclusion in the selection of premium materials, dimensions, and component functionalities. Finally, the result of the design was meticulously engineered into the first prototype series.
Fractalis is a watch with a fresh combination of traditional and novel features. It incorporates innovative design elements such as a crystal protected by a bezel, a rotation-free caseback, downward-shaped and changeable compressor lugs that secure the bezel, case, and caseback together, and a functional solid-steel dial.
With its exceptional qualities, Fractalis elevates itself to the culmination of engineering, artistry, and practicality. Its authentic, easy-to-recognize design seamlessly fuses form with function, and its decidedly clean, solid lines suggest strength and strong masculinity without any hint of 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.
The original design of Fractalis conveys precision, craftsmanship, durability, and toughness, all while maintaining an air of sophistication and luxury.
WHY IS FRACTALIS DIFFERENT?
The uniqueness of Fractalis can be summarized with three words: design, aesthetics, and materials.
Unlike in conventional watches, in Fractalis lugs and the case are separate pieces. Though this is not just a design quirk, it serves a definitive purpose. Lugs have small claws at the upper and lower sides and are attached to the case with small screws.
Claws on the lugs compress the caseback and bezel to their places, and there is no need to rotate the caseback, which may compromise the gasket sealing capacity.
The flat sapphire crystal is securely kept in place under the bezel, which completely prevents the possibility of the crystal popping due to air pressure changes, and an elevated bezel also reduces the risk of any mechanical impact on the crystal.
The dial of Fractalis is a heavy and solid piece of stainless steel, and it also serves as a movement holder. Traditionally the watch movement is kept in place by dial feet, two thin wires that extrude from the dial back into the movement. This arrangement is susceptible to bending or breaking off the feet, causing the movement to break loose.
In Fractalis, the movement fits inside the dial component and is locked in place with three screws and a sturdy retainer ring. There is no way a movement can break loose in Fractalis!
Also, the strap/bracelet is secured firmly with screws instead of spring bars.
The abovementioned design choices give Fractalis its unique, strong, and easy-to-recognize look, where form follows function seamlessly.
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.
In contrast to the commonly used bulging crystal, in the Fractalis watch, the sapphire crystal is flat and lies below the level of the elevated bezel, which reduces the risk of any mechanical impact to the crystal.
The flat sapphire crystal in the Fractalis watch is held in place under the bezel, which completely prevents the possibility of the crystal popping due to air pressure changes. As a result, the Fractalis watch is safe to use even in the vacuum of space or during a moonwalk.
This was not always the case with the Omega Moonwatch, as Dave Scott witnessed during his moonwalk on the Apollo 15 mission; the hesalite crystal of his watch popped due to the non-existent outside air pressure.
The Fractalis dial is a heavy and solid block of stainless steel, bronze, copper or titanium, and it also serves as a movement holder.
Traditionally, the watch movement is kept in place by dial feet, which are two thin wires that extrude from the dial and into the movement. However, this arrangement is susceptible to bending or breaking of the feet, which can cause the movement and hands to break loose.
In Fractalis watches, the movement fits inside the dial block and is locked in place with three screws and a sturdy retainer ring. Therefore, there is no way the movement can break loose in Fractalis watches!
Unlike conventional watches, in Fractalis watches, the lugs and case are separate pieces. This is not just a design quirk, but it serves a definitive purpose.
The lugs have small claws at the upper and lower sides, which compress the bezel and caseback into place when the lugs are tightened to the case with small machine screws.
The strap or bracelet is secured firmly with screws instead of spring bars.
The claws of the lugs compress the caseback to the case, ensuring a good seal. This eliminates the need to tighten the caseback by rotating it, which could compromise the gasket's sealing capacity.
Additionally, the hefty O-rings are 1 millimeter thick.
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 ensure maximum readability when displaying the time, the dial has a large diameter per se and in fact, offers a very high dial-to-case ratio. The dial design is traditional, clean, and reduced to bare essentials, resulting in an uncluttered and soothing look.
The dial is milled from a single solid block of steel, and there is nothing attached to it. Hour and minute indexes are also milled, so there is nothing on the dial that could become detached and get stuck between the hands. The dial is protected with a flat, distortion-free, and extremely hard scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. Additionally, an elevated bezel reduces the risk of any mechanical impact on the crystal.
The skeletonized watch hands are of substantial size and have an original design with beautiful circular shapes at the center and a strong, lance-like linear shape at the tip. The watch hands can be optionally lumed with strong Superluminova to enhance their legibility in the dark.
To guarantee the accuracy, Fractalis utilizes the proven Swiss ETA2892-A2 movement, which has a spectacular track record. It has been used by many upper-echelon big brands such as Omega, Breitling, and IWC for several of their models for a long time. As a direct ancestor of prior ETA movements, all potential weak points of the movement have been optimized throughout years of deployment and hundreds of thousands of movements. Additionally, in case of servicing, most watchmakers can work with ETA movements as many have already practiced on these movements during their education, and parts are readily available.
The ETA2892-A2 has a relatively high frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour or 4 Hz, 21 jewels, and an Etachron regulator system. All Fractalis watches are unequivocally regulated to 5 positions with accuracy better than ±4sec/day prior to leaving the workshop. A measurement certificate is naturally attached to the delivery.
Resolute design and material choices have been made to maximize the robustness of Fractalis watches. In addition to the overall sturdy design, the robustness of Fractalis stems from four cornerstones: scratch resistance, corrosion resistance, water resistance, and strap/bracelet security. The first two goals are tackled with material choices, while the latter two are addressed with innovative design.
The Fractalis case and lugs are available in three materials. The first material is Surgical Stainless Steel 316L, which is often used in the cases of diving watches and other watches requiring good durability and corrosion resistance.
The second material is Super Steel 2205, which is much harder, more corrosion-resistant, and contains much less nickel than 316L.
The third material is Grade 5 Titanium, which is even harder than Super Steel 2205, contains no nickel at all, and has superior corrosion resistance to that of Super Steel 2205.
Hardness is a desirable quality for watch case parts, as harder materials are more scratch-resistant. Compared to the Surgical Stainless Steel 316L or 904L advocated by Rolex, Steel 2205 is superior in three of the most prominent qualities: hardness, nickel content, and corrosion resistance. Specifically, Grade 2205 is 35% harder than 316L (293 vs. 217 HB), and remarkably, it is almost double as hard as 904L (293 vs. 150 HB).
The 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, meaning it may cause allergic sensitization. The typical nickel content for Surgical Steel 316L is between 10-14%. It may come as a surprise that Steel 904L contains way more, typically 23-28% nickel, which approximately doubles the nickel content of 316L. In contrast, Grade 2205 (4.5-6.5% Ni) contains around half the nickel of 316L and around one-fifth the nickel content of 904L Steel.
The lowest nickel content of Fractalis case and lug materials is in Grade 5 Titanium, which contains no nickel at all.
The crystal of the Fractalis is constructed of sapphire, a very hard material with a rating of 9 on 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 a normal steel knife or screwdriver.
The sapphire crystal is secured in place by a top ring, which, in turn, is kept in place by lug forks. The top ring acts as a protective ridge around the crystal, which sits sheltered slightly lower, preventing unnecessary hits or contacts with the crystal. The top ring also prevents “crystal pop,” which may occur when pressure against the watch decreases below the ambient level (e.g., during high-altitude flight), effectively creating higher than ambient pressure inside the watch, which may force the crystal of a normal watch to pop out.
Corrosion resistance is a needed quality to protect the watch against hostile environments, such as saltwater, acid, or alkaline solutions. There is no shortage of saltwater since oceans cover 71 percent of the Earth's surface, and human sweat is typically moderately acidic and salty. One measure of corrosion resistance is the Pitting Resistance Equivalent number (PRE), which has been developed to correlate steel composition to its relative pitting corrosion resistance. PRE is computed using a simple formula and is based purely on the chemical composition of steel. As such, it does not address factors such as the presence of intermetallic phases, improper heat treatments, or inferior surface conditions. Due to this limitation, one must be careful when using the PRE number to make material decisions. The 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 an attack. The critical crevice corrosion temperature (CCCT) is measured using either immersion test methods (e.g., ASTM G48) or electrochemical methods (e.g., ASTM G150). When a higher critical temperature is necessary to initiate the attack of a stainless steel alloy, it is more resistant to localized corrosive attack. The 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 a useful indication of the corrosive resistance of steels, they may be somewhat far-fetched regarding the normal use scenarios of watches. The saltwater spray test is closer to a normal usage scenario and 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 a 3000-hour saltwater spray test, 316L lost 15 times more material due to corrosion than Grade 2205 (2.915 vs. 0.1909 mil), and 904L lost 11 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 excellent 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 it is almost impossible to corrode the Fractalis in any conceivable circumstance.
Water resistance ratings for watches are often unnecessarily obscure. It is not always straightforward to realize that a watch rated to a depth of 50 meters cannot be confidently used for swimming. A rating of 200 meters is required to be confident in a pool. With Fractalis, these obscured ratings are omitted. Before leaving the workshop, each Fractalis watch undergoes a pressure test with 6 bars over ambient pressure, which is equivalent to the pressure experienced at a depth of 60 meters underwater. This guarantees that Fractalis can withstand any normal day at the pool.
Fractalis has several design features on its watchcase's general structure and gasket arrangement that contribute to its factual water resistance.
On top of the case is a sapphire crystal, which is securely held in place by a top ring. Contrary to normal watches, where the crystal gasket is located at the outer rim of the crystal, in Fractalis, the O-ring gasket is beneath the crystal. The caseback seals similarly against the bottom of the watch case, squeezing the O-ring gasket between the case and the caseback. In a typical arrangement, the caseback is secured and tightened by screwing it in. This causes significant shear stress on the gasket, and too often, the gasket is damaged, and the water resistance is compromised 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 and O-ring gaskets by a special fork-like design of lugs called compressor lugs. This completely eliminates shear stress on the gaskets as there is no need to rotate the caseback, allowing for damage-free installation. Another benefit of the special lug design is that it allows for a small compression of the crystal and caseback against the case and O-ring gaskets, which contributes to increasingly stronger sealing as pressure against the watch increases.
The O-ring gaskets utilized in Fractalis underneath the crystal and the caseback are a noteworthy 1 mm thick, providing a substantial difference in comparison to typical watches.
The stem design of Fractalis also contributes to the sealing capacity of the case. The stem has a rather large diameter of 3 mm and contains grooves for two hefty, adjacent O-ring gaskets.
All gaskets used in Fractalis watches are made of Viton™ fluoroelastomer, which was originally introduced in 1957 to meet the high-performance seal elastomer needs of the aerospace industry. Since then, its use has expanded to many other industries, particularly the automotive, fluid power, appliance, and chemical fields. With over half a century of proven performance, Viton™ fluoroelastomer has earned a reputation for outstanding performance in high-temperature and extremely corrosive environments.
The dial of the Fractalis watch is a multi-purpose component that fits securely inside the case. In addition to displaying the time, it encloses the movement with a screw-secured locking ring and serves as a movement holder. The dial is milled from a single block of metal, ensuring that hour markers and other indices cannot become loose and cause the watch to stop.
The typical method of attaching a strap or bracelet to a watch is by using spring bars that are compressed between the lugs. However, unexpected incidents such as hitting or getting the watch stuck somewhere can often compromise the spring bars, resulting in the watch being thrown to the tarmac and potentially causing serious damage.
Fractalis, on the other hand, allows for easy and very secure attachment of a strap or bracelet through small hexagonal allen screws that are tightened into drilled lug holes. Breaking the connection between the watch and the strap or bracelet requires significant effort, providing peace of mind when wearing the watch.
Furthermore, in the unlikely event of damage to the Fractalis case due to a serious accident, it is comforting to know that all parts are individually replaceable. For instance, if one of the lugs is damaged, only that particular lug needs to be replaced. This is in contrast to traditional watch cases where the entire case would need to be replaced in the same situation.
The Aittokoski Fractalis watch compressor lug details: claws/forks compressing bezel and caseback against the case are clearly visible. Lug attachment screws can be seen at the bottom of lug crevices, and strap attachment screws are visible at the lug tips.
To ensure a pleasurable wearing experience and an impressive wrist presence, the case size and lug geometry of Fractalis were carefully considered.
The case diameter is a 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 wrists.
The case is remarkably thin, only 10 mm, which makes Fractalis pleasant to wear for any occasion and attire. For resolute users, it is also perfectly suitable to wear as a dress watch, regardless of its statement-esque strong appearance.
The superior wrist presence is achieved by combining a reasonably sized case with an intelligent lug design where the lugs are tilted downwards and the strap attachment point is at the same level as the watchcase bottom. This is contrary to many typical designs where the watchcase bottom bulges downwards, the strap attachment point is much higher than the watchcase bottom, and the case itself is too thick, resulting in an unbalanced wrist presence where the watch jiggles and wobbles uncomfortably around.
The lug-to-lug distance of the Fractalis watch is 48 mm, and it is possible to adjust this dimension by replacing the lugs with longer or shorter ones (which are available as optional accessories upon request).
Fractalis may appear larger than its actual size when placed on a table, making it important to try it on the wrist to truly appreciate its wrist presence. On the wrist, it is also easy to feel that Fractalis is comfortably light. The watch head weighs only 79 grams, giving a total weight of 104 grams when adding some 25 grams of a quite typical leather strap.
All things considered, Fractalis graces the wrist with an unparalleled level of comfort and commanding allure. The timepiece is of moderate size, yet exudes boldness and grandeur, radiating an air of uncompromising sophistication, making it an effortless fit for any discerning wearer.
The comfortable wrist presence of Fractalis can be largely contributed to the thoughtful lug design where the lugs are tilted downwards and the strap attachment point is at the same level as the watchcase bottom.
In many typical designs, the strap attachment point is at a much higher level than the watchcase bottom, the watchcase bottom bulges downwards, and the case itself is too thick. This results in an unbalanced wrist presence, causing the watch to jiggle and wobble uncomfortably around.
Aesthetically pleasing appearance
The basic design of Fractalis breaks some traditions, respects others, and innovates a few new ones, both visually and functionally. The functional design of the case and lugs is innovative engineering, with compressor lugs holding the case together and a monoblock dial that also serves as a movement holder. Visually, Fractalis has a clean, strong, technical and refined aesthetic, and despite its general round shape, the distinct lug design gives it a somewhat angular appearance.
Presumably, the most remarkable visual feature of the Fractalis is the spider lug design, which pays visual tribute to spider designs already introduced in the 1950s by Gruen and Omega. In Fractalis, the spider lugs are referred to as compressor lugs because functionally they compress the top ring, case, and caseback together.
The dial of Fractalis is an exercise in restrained elegance, with only the essential elements needed for reliable timekeeping present. It exudes a sense of visual cleanliness, soothing in its uncluttered simplicity. The hands possess a strong personality, featuring beautiful circular shapes at the center and a strong, lance-like linear shape at the tip. Sized for optimal readability, the dial and hands provide a functional and visually stunning addition to the timepiece.
Overall, Fractalis is a timepiece that exudes an aura of refined elegance and innovation, with its many intricate details such as flat and rounded surfaces, grooves, conical shapes, and textures adding depth and character to its overall aesthetic.
It is a timepiece to be treasured by discerning connoisseurs who hold a deep appreciation for the rare and exceptional, unique design and innovation.