The World's First 3D-Printed Mechanical Watch Debuts

It's the first of its kind. 

by Sam Blum
Christoph Laimer

While pocket watches might seem archaic and cumbersome to anyone with an iPhone, the once common fashion accessory tool just received something of a 21st century facelift, thanks to the wonders of 3D printing.

Christoph Laimer, a Swiss engineer, managed to cram all of the minute components of a traditional pocket watch — the escapement, pendulum, and tourbillon — into a clean, concentric design. And he assembled it all with a widely available consumer printer.

Perhaps most impressive about Laimer’s work is the tourbillon, an instrument that mounts the watch’s escapement and balance wheel in a rotating cage, and counters the effects of gravity when the watch jostles around in someone’s pocket.

Laimer assesses the tourbillon as “a nice piece of complex mechanics spinning in the watch” adding that “with the concentric design, the minute and hour hands are hovering with invisible hands around the tourbillon.”

Here’s Laimer designing the product:

And here’s the watch being 3D-printed:

Could Laimer’s invention change the way watches are made? As 3D printing technology becomes more common, it seems increasingly so.

There’s one catch: Laimer says that the watch only works for 30 minutes before needing to be wound again.

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