Hardlex vs Saphire
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  1. #1
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    Hardlex vs Saphire

    Is the Seiko hardlex crystal good? How does it compare to a saphire crystal?

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    Member ksv123's Avatar
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    Re: Hardlex vs Saphire

    I think it all depends on how it is hit or scratched.
    I have both and the sapphire has a small scratch and the hardlex has a pin hole size ding.

    There is alot of info out there on this debate.

    I would not halter on either, so don't let it make you not buy a specific watch.
    Cheers!
    Ken Vella

    Dive watch fanatic since 1987

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    Member ksv123's Avatar
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    Cheers!
    Ken Vella

    Dive watch fanatic since 1987

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    Member Angelis's Avatar
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    Re: Hardlex vs Saphire

    From what I have heard:

    Sapphire crystal is expensive (especially the thicker it is), but it is not impact resistant. It is HIGHLY scratch resistant, not scratchproof.

    On the other hand, mineral crystal, even Hardlex, is very impact resistant, but less scratch resistant. Ideally, a thick curved sapphire crystal is best, but SO expensive. I'd settle for a thick curved minearl crystal.


    Angelis

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    Inactive Isthmus's Avatar
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    Re: Hardlex vs Saphire

    The second link Ken posted above really goes a long way toward explaining the differences and dispelling the myths surrounding sapphire crystals versus hardened mineral crystals. Read it and if you still have any questions we'll be glad to help answer them.

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    Member Angelis's Avatar
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    Re: Hardlex vs Saphire

    The most critical info from the second link, IMHO, as quoted from this link: http://www.larrybiggs.net/scwf/index...&id=1176221491

    A LITTLE INFO. ON WATCH CRYSTALS:

    There are four main types of crystals that concern us here: Sapphire, Seiko Proprietary, Acrylic & glass.

    Artificial sapphire (as is used for watch crystals) is grown in a crystal lattice, unlike the flame-formed sapphire, like the kind you find in common graduation rings. The Sapphire crystals used in the overwhelming majority of watch crystals are artificially grown (in a boule. Once formed, the boule is then sliced and the pieces are then cut and polished to the desired shape. This material is very hard an resistant to scratches from common every day use, but it is also (like diamonds) brittle and has a tendency to shatter on impact (provided the impact is just right). Flame formed sapphire while chemically identical, lacks the internal crystalline structure and is much softer and brittle.

    Hardlex is a Seiko proprietary type of hardened mineral crystal and comes in at least two different varieties (what goes in Seiko 5's is not the same quality of what goes into ISO divers). Hardlex is closer to 7 in the Moh's scale, but is much more flexible than sapphire. IOW's sapphire is harder but more brittle. Hardlex will scratch easier but resists impact much better. You can read more about Hardlex and the different types of it here:

    http://www.larrybiggs.net/scwf/index.php?mod=103&action=0&id=1037842045

    Sapphlex is also a Seiko proprietary type of hardened mineral crystal that is laminated (layered on the outer side of the crystal) with sapphire. The idea being to provide the best of both sapphires's superior scratch resistance and Hardlex's superior impact resistance.

    The types of plastics used to make acrylic crystals has varied widely throughout the years. From a performance POV there are acrylics out there which perform very well in professional divers (most dive computers today use acrylic crystals). The problems with acrylics are that although they can be made to be very very impact and preasure resistant (at least in higher end ones), they are highly susceptible to scratches from simple bumps that would normally not scratch a simple mineral crystal. Provided the scratches are not too deep, they can generally be easily buffed out with the appropriate tools.

    Buffing out scratches on mineral crystals (of any kind - sapphire included) is possible, but difficult and time consuming. even then if you are able to remove the scratch, you run the risk of altering the shape of the crystal in that spot. There are no real guaranties as to the quality of results. Although it is possible, it is usually not worth the time and effort to repolish a mineral crystal. Also, since replacements are generally inexpensive, most people prefer to just replace them.


    Personally, I have no problem with Seiko's choice of high-end Hardlex (it is not the same stuff that goes on Seiko 5's), as it has superior impact performance to Sapphire and is not that drastically softer than sapphire (7+ on the Mohs scale vs 9 for sapphire).

    ---------------------------------------

    CRYSTAL SHAPES:

    The overwhelming majority of mineral crystals (Sapphire, Hardlex, Sapphlex, or glass) come in of of two general shapes: flat or domed. There are tons of variations on the actual shapes of each from (and acrylics come in many more forms). There are pro's and con's to both general shapes.

    Flat crystals tend to have a cleaner look and when used in tool watches such as divers, tend to be easier to protect, as they generally sit slightly lower than the bezel that surrounds them. The problems are that the flat shape makes them much more susceptible to impact failure (shattering and cracking), and the shape of the glass tends to act like a mirror when viewed at an angle - especially under water (this issue can be easily resolved with the use of AR coating, IMHO, preferably on the inside of the crystal).

    Domed crystals, by their very nature distribute impact forces more evenly around the crystal and are thus more resistant to impact. Generally this characteristics tends to increase with the curvature of the dome. however, because of their raised profile dome crystals are far more susceptible to scratching, especially near the crystal's apex. the domed shape of the crystal naturally does away with the mirroring effect observed in flat crystals, but also distorts the image of the dial underneath it. Again the distortion is more pronounced the greater the curvature of the crystal. AR coating can be applied to domed crystals, but many would argue that it is not really necessary.
    Last edited by Angelis; December 31st, 2007 at 19:59.

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    Inactive Isthmus's Avatar
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    Re: Hardlex vs Saphire

    Quote Originally Posted by Angelis View Post
    The most critical info from the second link, IMHO, as quoted from this link: http://www.larrybiggs.net/scwf/index...&id=1176221491
    What did you leave out? (LOL)

    Thanks for reposting my article here. I could have sworn that I also posted it to WUS when I originally wrote it. I'm pretty sure a copy of it is in the WUS archives either under the seiko forum or the dive watch forum (or both).

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    Re: Hardlex vs Saphire

    I can't help it Isthmus---I saw it and I liked it, and felt that I'd save us all the trouble of searching the archives when we can all enjoy these bits of wisdom. I enjoyed the depth, and found that we both agree on the strong and weak points of both crystals.

    However, does anyone still use acrylics? Can they be useful to us in these days?



    Angelis

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    Re: Hardlex vs Saphire

    Quote Originally Posted by Angelis View Post
    However, does anyone still use acrylics? Can they be useful to us in these days?
    Sure the do. As far as I know, there are still dive computers that prefer to use acrylics. If you look further down the page, I think I expanded on the article with a reference to acrylics and the manufacture of sapphire crystals.

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    Re: Hardlex vs Saphire

    thanks very much for all the info. Even more than I ever needed to know Not so afraid of Hardlex anymore.

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