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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My first Seiko was a SMY003 Submariner style divers watch, it was made in the 90's and it used a crystal called Sapphlex, it was essentially a mineral crystal with a sapphire laminate coating applied to the surface, so you had the scratch resistance of a sapphire crystal with the shatter resistance of a Hardlex crystal.

My old SMY003 was my only watch for many years, I wore it 24/7 and 12 years later there is not a single scratch on the crystal. So what happened to Sapplex? Was it too expensive? Even if it was surely some of the mid range or high end watches could have had it? Anyone know?
 

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I think they wanted to differentiate higher (sapphire) and lower (hardened mineral) priced lines in accordance with their "value" strategy.
 

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Tudor Peligrosos, Breitling Colt or Stowa “Big Eyes”
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From what I've read, the cost was more than what they can make some of there sapphire crystals for now days.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So they spent more than the cost of sapphire on a sapphire alternative/replacement, I guess it was just a short lived R&D exercise then. It's a shame as my other kinetic diver, the BFK, only managed a couple of years before I scratched the Hardlex.
 

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Tudor Peligrosos, Breitling Colt or Stowa “Big Eyes”
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So they spent more than the cost of sapphire on a sapphire alternative/replacement, I guess it was just a short lived R&D exercise then. It's a shame as my other kinetic diver, the BFK, only managed a couple of years before I scratched the Hardlex.
I would think it was more like at the time when they started using sapphlex the cost of producing sapphire for them was not cost effective, but as they've developed there techniques cost has come down to ether an equal or close approximation, and sapphire won the battle. This is just my guess.
 

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It is a most probably cost related issue. It is a pity that this crystal is no longer available...I think most of us agree to pay that extra cost and have a sapplex...even on an skx007!!

They were of a very high standard! My father's 14year old 5m43 kinetic diver came with a sapphlex and I have to say it is still brand new (in appearance) as the watch is used 24/7
 

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I think the Asian modders can provide a sapphire crystal for the mineral crystal Seikos. If the hardlex on my 007 gets scratched, I'll replace it with sapphire. But I'm not particularly hard on my watches, so I expect the crystal to last as long as the movement.

Sapphlex is hardlex with a sapphire coating.
But what do they do to regular mineral glass to create hardlex ?
 

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I would think it was more like at the time when they started using sapphlex the cost of producing sapphire for them was not cost effective, but as they've developed there techniques cost has come down to ether an equal or close approximation, and sapphire won the battle. This is just my guess.
your guess is correct. sapphlex was merely a stop gap measure when pure sapphire was still too difficult to produce reliably and cost effectively. however as production techniques improved sapphire was able to be produced reliably and relatively cheaply and so sapphlex became redundant.

btw, as has been said previously, the idea that hardlex/mineral is more shatter resistant than good sapphire is a complete myth. todays sapphire is harder AND stronger than hardlex/mineral.
 

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My first Seiko was a SMY003 Submariner style divers watch, it was made in the 90's and it used a crystal called Sapphlex, it was essentially a mineral crystal with a sapphire laminate coating applied to the surface, so you had the scratch resistance of a sapphire crystal with the shatter resistance of a Hardlex crystal.
I too have a SKJ001 that I bought in 1996. It ran flawlessly for 4 years, then stopped dead. Had the capacitor replaced, but it only ran for less than 2 months. I had it chucked in a drawer for 9 years where it got beat up often with all kinds of stuff, before a friend resurrected it with a service and new lithium cell. Now runs perfect and as good as new !!! And yes, that beautiful Sapphlex crystal is still flawless, after 16 years !

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It is still being used......maybe the production cost came down.
Svalbard comes to mind...........they are using Sapphlex crystals.
 
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Apparently Invicta (cough), uses something similar as they advertise their proprietary “flame fusion “ crystal to have the shatter resistance of mineral and the scratch resistance of sapphire. Knowing them though it’s probably a very inferior version of the sapphlex.


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Just replaced the old capacitor on this watch. I had this since the 90s and put it through hell. After the capacitor died it went into a draw for more or less ten years. Works great now. Not a scratch on the sapphlex crystal.
15766558
 

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Dan Henry, iconic vintage watch design reproducer, uses a sapphire coated K1 for at least their “1937“. They source movements from Seiko and Miyota, and I expect the rest of the manufacturing and assembly occurs in Asia. SOMEONE is still making a sapphire coated mineral most likely in Asia, and it's available to micros to boot.
 

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At the time Sapphlex crystals were being installed on Seiko watches, sapphire crystals were expensive to add to a watch that was only $300-$500.

Now they are cheap.

Wenger still uses sapphire coated crystals for a lot of their watches.
Of course I have never not bought a watch because it did not have sapphire crystal. I like mineral crystals well enough. In fact the last time i put a scratch on a Seiko with mineral crystal, I also put a scratch on me which required stiches so i was not really worrying about the crystal.
 
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