Clockwork: Striving for accuracy
In the world of time masters, specialist watchmakers in the manufacture of watches tend, in recent years, increasing the frequency of oscillation of the regulatory bodies of their mechanical gauges. This change in the design of watches would be the result of a dual quest: that of schedule in terms of precision performance and tend to the announcement effect, highly sought after!
Two schools are regularly in watchmaking, only to get the same result. For example clockmakers, whose creations are static, with the aim to achieve the highest accuracy has long imposed minimize interactions between the various components of a clock. Over the pendulum beat slowly (about one second) with low amplitude (between 1 and 3 degrees of angle) and the instrument was likely to be specific. Indeed, in these very specific conditions, the isochronous oscillation, ie constant, and this whatever its period.However, to enjoy this natural quality, it was necessary for the mechanism to maintain these oscillations do not stray movements of the pendulum. By reducing the period, extending the pendulum and subtracting all the friction generated by the air, it was possible to significantly improve the accuracy of instruments whose qualities were upgraded after the development of first atomic clocks.
All well and good, but not really reproducible on mechanical watches. To ensure high precision and extremely fine measuring fractions of time, watchmakers then began looking for high frequencies. At the dawn of the twentieth century, the industrial world, eager to measure everything, dreamed of precision and could not merely the instruments then available. Recognizing this, the house Heuer, which was already specialized in manufacturing chronographs, quickly committed in the way of high frequency, offering instruments with vibrating rockers at high rpm.Thus was born, in 1916, the Mikrograph, a handheld meter capable of reading the dial 1/100 th of a second with a vibrant balance 360 000 vibrations per hour. Very advanced, competition would propose as Omega for recording athletic performance, mechanical counters, with or without flyback function, measuring 1/10 of a second vibrating at 36,000 vibrations per hour. With these pieces tu seeking the finest precision frequencies war was just beginning.
However, the battle for the right "beat" really started after the passage of revolutionary watches, pocket wrist. Soon, engineers noted that the accuracy of the first mechanical wristwatches whose regulating organ beating so often to 18,000 vibrations per hour, was disturbed by the repeated gestures of their carriers. To counter these effects, watchmakers were then considered several solutions.In particular, they retained the one that was to reduce the inertia of the pendulums (lighter and smaller) by increasing the efficiency of the exhaust group (increase of hourly oscillations). Thus, over the years, most brands have increased the performance of their gauges, 18,000 vibrations per hour sometime in the 1940s (though capable beautiful chronometric performance) at 21,600 vibrations per hour during the "Golden Fifties". Then, with Girard-Perregaux house (first class in 1966) and Zenith (1969), reaching 36,000 beats per hour in the late 60s.
The boundaries of the high speeds
Despite its natural qualities, a gauge as El Primero Zenith launched in 1969, has remained marginal. Let's face it, long controlled by watchmakers attached to traditional values, style offices remain sealed the importance of regulating bodies at high frequencies in the area of mechanical watchmaking. Lack of suitable materials, they seemed to them too prone to wear.In addition, they were often liable for projections oils from pallets anchors which come into contact with the spring, could be the case, by bonding of one or more coils therebetween, a Fast forward to the watch or its dirty shutdown. These allegations were obviously held by the selection of Rolex to employ the Zenith El Primero caliber for the Cosmograph Daytona agreed that the plan or 28,800 vibrations per hour. This decision was dictated by a concern for internal rationalization of production, gave the "food for thought" to critics regulatory groups high yields. She has also forget how engineers Zenith had been innovating while solving the various problems associated with oiling for the El Primero caliber by appropriate use of solid lubricants such as molybdenum carbides, or by the application of dry treatment with a low coefficient of friction, as épilamages based synthetic paraffins.
In 1969, if the world did not believe the high mechanical frequencies is that the watch was trying to industrialize other control modes, making them hyper use of high frequencies. In these times when the younger generation of engineers planned blithely in the future, the Bulova brand managed to run his Accutron caliber, the tuning fork vibrating at high frequency, was one step at a micro-serrated wheel. With this instrument, the foundations were laid quartz. It only remained to miniaturize the components, the CEH (Centre watchmaker e) Neuchâtel managed to do in 1967 with the caliber Beta 21, and Seiko delivered as standard from December 25, 1969 with the launch of the Astron first series of shows analog quartz. But it's good to Girard-Perregaux that one should have been able to impose the frequency of 32,768 Hz, the norm today for watches series of quartz.
Since the popularization of quartz and comeback mechanics, few brands have lent themselves to the game of high frequencies for series products. Furthermore Zenith, the El Primero caliber remains the only in its field of application, especially since the development of the Striking function (lightning on the time of second hand), he returned to TAG Heuer honored to have revived competition there has five, with the presentation of the chronograph Calibre 360. With a 360 000 vibrations per hour performance for the balance of the additional module dedicated to the chronograph measures allowed the craft, at the tip of the needle, achieve readability 1/100 th of a second. The use of high frequency regulators was then in the times and in the heads of many developers. Audemars Piguet, spurred by competition and knowing the fashionable idea in competing engineering firms, has developed a vibrant high performance exhaust without damage. Against all odds, this inspired regulator that developed in the eighteenthcentury watchmaker Robin unfortunately was not highlighted at the last International Salon of Haute Horlogerie (SIHH). This is unfortunate because in this sector brands seem to give voice. Thus, last year, proposed a model of Seiko Grand Seiko watch beating at 36,000 vibrations per hour, breaking a de facto monopoly of Zenith. In late 2010, it was revealed that Breguet Type XXII his new chronograph whose diet is 72 000 vibrations per hour with a control group that incorporates machined silicon components (escape wheel, spiral) that do not require lubrication. As for the LVMH group, it has retained the pole reading accuracy in terms of position by offering two products: the Carrera Mikrograph TAG Heuer chronograph with automatic caliber house with two rockers, one vibrating at 28,800 alternations per hour and the other at 360 000 vibrations. The play, which displays the 1/100 of a second, was followed by a revolutionary instrument, the 1000 Concept Chronograph, developed by the team of Guy Sémon.Functional, but still in the prototype stage, it is the first mechanical watch instrument to measure the 1/1000 of a second. The battle in the increase in accuracy is launched. The road will be long, paved with potholes, but exciting for who prides himself pure mechanics.
The limits of high frequency
High frequencies are in watchmaking talk about them because they maintain this highly innovative aspect of a profession which, moreover, is very attached to the traditional nature of its construction. The incredible figures carefully distilled and innovative operating modes commented with great hyperbole reinforcement, attract media whose focus is one of the preferred means of communication in this sector. But watchmakers voices against the media products and the results in terms of functionality and efficiency remain to be proven.Thus, the Audemars Piguet escapement presented in 2006, which was announced he was going to revolutionize the world of mechanical watches by allowing organ regulating high frequency operations, is still waiting for a significant development. Similarly, the proposal of a vibrating Zenith caliber 360 000 vibrations per hour, developed for a while in manufacturing and whose presentation was scheduled for Baselworld 2011 is "officially postponed." And if the "revolutions" watch TAG Heuer hit hard, they do not raise issues under mechanical, also remained unanswered. For in timekeeping and high frequency, watchmakers always come up against two problems. One related to the lubrication of components and the one on the time taken by the acceleration of the balance to achieve a return to make accurate readings to 1/20, 1/100 or 1/1000 th e second.To validate their qualities, we therefore expect a confrontation between these new mechanical models presented as extremely accurate, standards and instruments controlled by thermally regulated quartz calibers, capable of displaying time with accuracies similar.