Blowtorches, buckles and the color blue…

As watch enthusiasts, we’ve always been interested in heat bluing – first with steel hands and later with titanium – and we’ve discussed the possibility of using heat blued titanium in our watches several times.

So, it came as little surprise when I walked into the office one day to find MT hunched over in the balcony, blowtorch in hand, bluing some buckles*. We spent the next couple of hours sacrificing several buckles… for research purposes and because it’s fun, in an arguably juvenile way.

*We do not recommend trying this at home.

The pin before heat is applied
Half way through (notice the different colors caused by uneven heat absorption)

The end result (the difference in color between each end is again because of uneven heat absorption).

When heated, titanium (or steel) reacts with oxygen in the atmosphere and the metal takes on new optical properties that result in the change in color. It’s quite fascinating to watch, as the metal goes from silver to a brownish-gold reminiscent of bronze, followed by purple and finally blue.

Of course, a bare blowtorch is a very rudimentary method that offers little to no fine control. We’ve since progressed to more suitable methods and are continually experimenting. MT does all the bluing personally and it’s a slow process because, unlike hands, each component of a buckle or case has to be blued individually to ensure colour consistency between components.

The process also has a high failure rate because components (particular for something like a watch case) are of varying thickness and heat up at different rates. This has to be controlled carefully to achieve uniform colour and prevent the metal from distorting and changing proportions. Suffice to say, it’s an interesting challenge and if we can refine the process to meet our requirements, the possibilities are interesting. ;)  

Stay tuned for more updates on this and other interesting experiments we’re cooking up at MING HQ… PRS

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