PITAKA isn't the first to make carbon fiber watch bands, so how are these different from others?
We've seen many so-called 'carbon fiber' watch bands that are often just carbon fiber embossed leather or fabric. However, PITAKA's Carbon Fiber Watch Band is made up of 100% solid carbon fiber links.
Go behind the scenes with us to see how this new product came to life!
A Carbon Fiber Watch Band? No Way!
Our R&D team decided it was time to make a watch band about a year ago. And, following PITAKA's penchant for unique and innovative products, the watch band would be no exception.
Watchbands tend to be made from fabric, leather, or metals. Since we've used carbon fiber to great success in the past, our team started experimenting with carbon fiber to make a strap. Working with the material was extremely difficult, not only in the actual manufacturing process but also in the usability of a watch band made from carbon fiber.
Since carbon is so hard, making a strap that was comfortable to wear was too challenging.
Fabric & Leather Worked, But…
Having struggled to work with carbon fiber, the PITAKA R&D team turned to softer, more pliable materials. After making blue and yellow watch straps crafted from fabric and leather, they asked other people's opinions. Nicole, our customer service team leader, felt that they just didn't meet the same aesthetic and quality standards of our other products.
Yes, she's that straightforward.
We sent pictures to one of our customers who's supported us for a long time.
His response was not wholly unexpected:
"I have seen other options from companies such as XX, XX, and XX…From my consumer lens, these bands do not look like they fit the 'PITAKA brand,' and I would have no idea that they were made by your company."
So the challenge was on.
Never Say Never
Fabric and leather didn't work. What else could we use? Metal watch bands look great, but they are too heavy to wear on the wrist all day.
After reviewing many materials, our designers decided to take another crack at carbon fiber.
Carbon fiber is robust and by far one of the hardest fibers, so there's no way to make one long watch band.
Our designers then cut processed carbon fiber into pieces and joined them with pins. The pins are made from 316 stainless steel, which has a higher corrosion resistance than the better-known 304 stainless steel.
The processing requires Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining tools, which involves many complicated and time-consuming procedures.
The initial carbon fiber watch band sample took several months to complete.
Tons of Challenges
Since there are no examples of authentic carbon fiber watch bands on the market, every small change our designers made needed weeks - or even month-long tests and analysis.
Here are some of the challenges our team of designers and engineers came across during the development phase:
1. Will it pull arm hairs?
Ben Geskin said, to his surprise, it never pulled any hair.
Unlike a typical fabric or leather band, our carbon fiber design is divided into links. Between each is a tiny gap, making it possible for arm hairs to get caught and pulled. Our engineers needed to make sure that wouldn't happen and managed to find the right structure, with every link having the same bending angle.
2. How to adjust the length
Since one size doesn’t fit all, being able to adjust the strap length was essential. The only way to do this with a carbon fiber watch band is by adding or removing links. Our team created a small tool, made from 316 stainless steel too, to help the customer adjust the length of the band themselves.
3. Will the pins fall out?
To keep the band looking clean, minimalist, and comfortable, the steel pins holding the bracelet links together are inside small holes. Instead of blocking the holes completely, our engineers made tiny grooves inside the link to keep the spring pin from moving. Use the tool to push the spring pin down; when you hear or feel the “click”, the pin is locked in the right position to.
Is that all? Of course not, but we'd better stop here, in case your patience is wearing thin.
Finally, the Upgraded Sample in September
The second version sample looked much better than the previous one, but how well did it wear? We sent samples to beta testers in September and received varied feedback, positive and negative.
All we cared about was the positive ones. Just kidding!
From one of the beta testers
While we knew that carbon fiber was the right way to go, some testers still felt it wasn't comfortable enough. Sometimes the hard links could sting, and the push butterfly buckle would dig into the wrist while typing at a desk.
Our team then reshaped and polished the links.
The buckle was the real headache.
Push butterfly clasps didn't meet PITAKA standards, while the tang buckle, usually seen on fabric and leather watch straps, couldn't be used with the hard material.
The Apple stainless steel watch band features a hidden butterfly buckle, but the design is patented.
The R&D team had to come up with something completely different. After some trial and error, they devised a magnetic clasp and security lock. Just snap the two ends together, and they attach magnetically.
To unlock it, all you need is to push two buttons on either side. This patented design makes taking the band on and off easily without compromising on comfort.
It Should Survive 30 Minutes in Boiling Water…
Now that the product has a great aesthetic and works efficiently and comfortably, we needed to test its durability.
Apart from the regular strength, endurance, and corrosion tests, our engineers also threw a prototype into boiling water for thirty minutes to see if the band changed color, blistered, or peeled.
We assume that some people may want to cook their Apple Watch band, but it's also a temperature and waterproof test :D
100% Carbon Fiber?
Yes, the bracelet links are 100% carbon fiber. The band does include a small amount of steel and two tiny round magnets, but I think we can call that an authentic carbon fiber watch band, can't we?
PITAKA Carbon Fiber Watch Bands have now hit the market in most areas (If not, they are coming in two to three weeks). Whether you own a Series 6 or a 1, our Watch Bands are available in both Modern or Retro designs for your Apple Watch.
Don't worry, there's no wrong decision.
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