In addition to connected watch, could the analog quartz watch, pillar of the watchmaking market, finally get a makeover thanks to high MEMS technology? A French start-up, SilMach, based in Besançon, is betting on it.
The company used silicon microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) to produce a completely new wristwatch motor for analog watches. It is half the size of a standard circuit but three times more efficient than what is currently produced.
An evolution changing the way analog watches work
According to data compiled by the Gitnux research firmTHE analog watches represent still 3⁄4 of the watch market. While sales of smartwatch constitute 1⁄4 of this one.
However, the technology who composes the analog quartz watches of today remained unchanged For years. If the first models introduced 53 years ago by a Swiss consortium and Japanese watchmaker Seiko are still popular, that’s fine.
Except now it’s time to upgrade these devices. This is why the idea ofuse silicon MEMS to make a watch motor approached the French engineer Patrice Minotti in 1996. And this idea has currently been developed by the French startup SilMach. This, with the aim of designing new, more efficient watches.
News design hybrid or analog watches can be done from the MEMS technology. In their current form, the motors that make up these watches and all other components can be soldered directly. And this, on a single surface-mounted printed circuit board.
It is thanks to the collaboration between the watchmaking giant Timex Group and a joint venture called TiMach that the development of this technology was able to succeed. And of many watch manufacturers can now use these parts. They are compact and easy to integrate into the cases of recent models of wristwatches.
Brands using this technology
It is especially the manufacturers of connected or hybrid watches who are fond of it. Withings, Garmin, Citizen, Fossil and Skagen are part of. They allow you to equip your smartwatch with various functions. There’s the heartbeat monitoring and sleepfollowed by the physical condition, Bluetooth communications or the display of messages.
And MEMS technology can even ensure the turn of physical hands in the dial of a semi-connected watch. This is why SilMach is banking on market expansion death hybrid smartwatches for which its engine is very well suited.
An engine also suitable for smartwatches
Jean-Baptiste Carnet, another co-general director of SilMach, explains that “in a typical hybrid smartwatch, the Lavet engine occupies up to 70% of the interior of the case“. Thus, the reduced size of MEMS technology leaves much more room for other electronic components and sensors.
This means that the watches could finally be sufficiently compact. They could be worn by people with a normal-sized wrist. Furthermore, the fact that MEMS motors can be integrated directly into other electronic components simplifies their manufacturing.