The only real problem faced by the watch industry is the same problem it has faced since the first masters began to take time seriously: the truly timeless problem of friction. The limitations of modern steel’s integrity are tolerated because of advancements elsewhere in the movement that are only able to exist because of the fineness of the steel used. But essentially, the watch would not last as long as it theoretically could, were the beneficial properties of ‘old’ and ‘new’ steel merged – an impossible feat.
Several esteemed watch houses have begun experimenting with silicon as a likely successor to steel. In particular, the research conducted by Swiss Watch manufacturer Ulysse Nardin, founded in 1846, has highlighted many advantages of the material, as well uncovering a method of manipulation enabling micromechanical parts to be cut and treated in a way that makes them suitable for integration into existing movements.
Read more about use of the chemical element silicon by watchmakers in Time for Time to move with the Times – The Silicon Revolution in Watchmaking, by Watchprojects’ new contributor R. Jay Nudds.