In Focus Watches

Mauron Musy’s Armure Takes a Gasket-Free Approach to Water Resistance

Water resistance has always been one of the great puzzles of watchmaking. How do you ensure that, no matter how much it wants to finagle its way into your delicate watch movement, water stays on the right side of the case? It’s a problem that’s been addressed in many ways over the years, ranging from early military pieces to Rolex’s anywhere-on- Earth Deep Sea Challenge, helium escape valves to  protective outer cases. And yet, despite nearly a century of watchmaking before them attempting the exact same goal, Mauron Musy have still managed to find a unique, innovative way to combat underwater pressure.

Founded my Messrs Eric Mauron and Christophe Musy, the strictly Swiss watchmaker is unmistakable. Once you’ve seen the silhouette of their Armure collection, with its distinctive shape and gloriously over-engineered lugs, you won’t be forgetting it any time soon. Theirs is the kind of contemporary flair you generally see in the upper echelons of Swiss watchmaking. But unlike many of those rarefied manufacturers, there’s a solid reason for the way the Armure looks – and it ties into Mauron Musy’s approach to water resistance.

Mauron Musy nO-Ring Waterproof Watches

Each Armure case is built from 36 different components, with not one of them being a gasket. Gaskets are basically the rubber rings that slot between metal parts to ensure watertightness, something that’s been a staple of the watch world for decades. In fact, they’re a large part of the reason 300m water resistance is par for the course for a standard diving watch these days. To remove them requires completely re-thinking the approach.

So, Mauron Musy designed the nO-Ring technology, a clamp system integrated into the case that, through tightening and tightening, ensure that not a drop of water can make it though. Doing so with metal-on-metal components however is easier said than done; otherwise, older watches with outer cases (think Omega’s early Marine) would have been far more effective.

Mauron Musy Armure MU03-401

Mauron Musy Armure MU03-401

The difference here is the tolerance Mauron Musy can work to, where a millimetre out is like trying to land in New York and ending up on Venus. It required no less than 30 prototypes before a proof of concept was good enough to go into production and even then, it all needed to be produced in-house to ensure anywhere near the level of precision required from the design.

Even then, what might look perfect can often have a flaw, so the testing process each Armure goes through is rigorous in the same way as an Iron Man race. That’s particularly true of the water resistance trials, which are far more extensive than the usual, frustratingly basic pressure testing of other watchmakers. After all, if the nO-Ring failed, tragedy ensues. Obsessiveness is pretty much the only way of dealing with that possibility.

Mauron Musy nO-Ring Waterproof Watches

The big question here however is a simple one. Why? Why are Mauron Musy so obsessed with ditching the gasket? Well, firstly, because they can. Advancements in watchmaking often come about simply because someone wanted to see what they could do and the Armure is no different. The other and more important reason is more practical: gaskets can wear out.

Gaskets are, in general, flimsy bits of rubber. They can wear out over time and you might not even know until its too late and your previous movement is imitating the Nautilus – Captain Nemo’s, not Patek Philippe’s. By eliminating the need for one, Mauron Musy have developed a watch whose water resistance will last far, far longer than any other. The fact that, in a form-follows-function sort of way, the nO-Ring case is an intensely striking piece of metalwork is simply the flawlessly machined icing on the contemporary cake.

More details at Mauron Musy.

1 Comment

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  • Looks fantastic and is a long awaited breakthrough that no doubt will be followed by other watch makers in the future.

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About the author

Sam Kessler

Legend has it that Sam’s first word was ‘escapement’ and, while he might have started that legend himself, he’s been in the watch world long enough that it makes little difference. As the editor of Oracle Time, he’s our leading man for all things horological – even if he does love yellow dials to a worrying degree. Owns a Pogue; doesn’t own an Oyster Perpetual. Yet.