Prototyping a New Watch Design

Devon Works set out to design a new awe-inspiring watch unlike any other. Their new concept relinquished traditional watch hands and opted instead for beautifully interwoven time belts. The watch, named the TREAD 1, was so unique and out of the box that Devon knew the “first step toward making their watch a reality was to move beyond the CAD image and develop a highly accurate prototype” (qtd. in Design News). Without having a physical model they would not have been able to accurately convey their idea in order to get retailers and individuals interested in the final product.
3d printed watch prototype

I don’t think we need to sell you on how cool this watch looks. One look at the prototype and you too will start wondering how it would look on your wrist. The Tread 1 design consists of four time belts depicting the hour, minute and second that accurately move on a series of chassis, a technology adopted from the aerospace industry. The time belts, gears and sophisticated microprocessor sit within bulletproof polycarbonate edged in surgical-grade stainless steel. This watch exudes luxury and technology.

Jason Wilbur, Director of Design at Devon Works, reached out to Stratasys Direct Manufacturing to aid with the creation of the initial Tread 1 prototypes. “We produced the 3D CAD drawings, but that wasn’t enough to give us the true sense of the impact the real watch would have,” stated Wilbur. “We needed to have a real watch on our wrists because, without it, we knew it would be difficult to get the new concept across” (qtd. in Design News). The complex design presented numerous prototyping challenges due to the intricacies and material requirements. Wilbur was able to work closely with Stratasys Direct Manufacturing’ Project Engineers to come up with viable solutions that would accurately represent and convey the Tread 1.

The custom made prototypes used PolyJet, CNC machining and Urethane Casting technologies.Stratasys Direct Manufacturing relied on several of their manufacturing technologies and an array of materials to create 5 prototype watches.

“The aesthetics of the timepiece were designed around a combination of technologies, which meant that we needed to use multiple technologies for the prototype as well,” stated Wilbur.

With such a wide variety of prototyping technologies under one roof, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing was able to carefully select the most ideal process for each component in the watch. CNC machining was used to create numerous aluminum components including the watchband links, tuning knob, outer case, band clasp and back plate as well as the clear acrylic watch crystal. Each of these pieces was polished anodized or hand polished to ensure a highly cosmetic finish. The time belts were created from black vinyl that was silkscreened with number graphic to display the hours, minutes and seconds. Each belt was carefully woven and bonded into its proper location. The PolyJet 3D printing process was used to develop a number of other internal components which were finished with a metallic paint to simulate the final material. QuantumCast Urethane Casting with a Shore 90A Advanced Formula Polymer was selected to create the watchband.

Wilbur concluded, “It takes a trained eye to tell the difference between the final manufactured timepiece and the prototypes we had built” (qtd. in Design News).

I think it’s pretty clear that we all want a Tread 1. So the next time you have $17,000 lying around or if you’re looking to win MAJOR brownie points (we hope for your sake that you don’t ever find yourself in that position), you may consider buying forking out the cash and buying this gorgeous timepiece.

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