The precision required to engineer elite wristwatches of the highest quality demands particular expertise – which Flinders University has provided for specialist Australian watch company Bausele.
The signing of a landmark contract has created a new joint-venture between Flinders University and Bausele to ensure the manufacture and supply of watch components made from a new material, designed and created at Flinders University through an exacting three-year research and development phase.
The agreement means that components made from a unique new ceramic material, called Bauselite, will be manufactured and supplied by Australian Advanced Manufacturing Pty Ltd, owned equally by Flinders University and Bausele.
Sophisticated watch componentry has only previously been available from a few countries, most notably from Switzerland, but the Flinders breakthrough with Bauselite has created an Australian first.
Bauselite componentry is a prime feature of Bausele’s new luxury watch release, called Terra Australis, which has now been released to the market.
“The new material and method of production solved a number of issues specific to using ceramics in watches,” says Dr Jonathan Campbell, from the Flinders University Centre for NanoScale Science and Technology.
“It’s a significant accomplishment that watch components are being produced here, signalling a major step forward and a powerful statement about Flinders’ delivery of elite engineering.”
The process began in 2014, when Flinders University’s Centre for NanoScale Science & Technology answered the call from Bausele CEO Christophe Hoppe to provide the expertise synonymous with famed Swiss watchmakers for his own Australian wristwatches.
The initial research and development was performed by NanoConnect, run by the Flinders University Centre for NanoScale Science & Technology, and the continued manufacturing and supply of components with be done by Australian Advanced Manufacturing on Flinders University campuses at Bedford Park and Tonsley. The joint-venture also aims to expand and produce a wider selection of high quality watch parts in the future.
“The new company provides the conduit for exciting new materials research to manifest itself in the commercial marketplace – and it shows where we can develop further from here,” says Mark Bruce, Interim CEO of Flinders Partners, the commercialisation agent for Flinders University’s academic research and intellectual property.
The Bauselite innovation is a star feature of Bausele’s new Terra Australis watch design, heralded as the first world-class timepiece ever made from parts designed and crafted in Australia.
A five-pronged diamond clasp to secure the watch face is topped by a distinctive black crown, made of Bauselite. This crown contains the idiosyncratic design feature of grains of red earth from the Kimberley region – truly enabling the watch to carry part of Australia within it, and has become a key commercial attraction of Bausele’s new watches.
The prototype of Bausele’s Terra Australis wristwatch enjoyed international exposure thanks to Australian actor Dominic Purcell’s character Lincoln Burrows wearing it during the latest season of international hit TV series Prison Break.
This has helped spark strong pre-orders for the watch, with Bausele offering each customer bespoke selections from 850 possible combinations of colour and styling elements. Mr Hoppe believes the keen initial interest will lead to steady production of Bauselite components.
“The fact we have secured control of our own production in partnership with Flinders University is a great achievement,” says Mr Hoppe. “I was always keen to have my products manufactured in Australia, but I initially thought it was impossible. Flinders proved otherwise and has presented me with an amazing opportunity. I am so proud to be manufacturing in Australia at a time when many companies outsource all of their manufacturing overseas.”