The basics of watch technology.

“Ticking of a mechanical timepiece is the heartbeat of human culture”
– Robert Lewin (American Psychologist)

Most of us, at some point in our life, have been fascinated by mechanical pieces and as a result of this newfound curiosity made an attempt to understand its underlying principle. In this spirit of inquisitiveness, I was tempted to study more about the world of Horology, the art of making clocks and watches and the study and measurement of time. Since their inception, mechanical watches have been considered a work of art, requiring unwavering attention to detail and adding personality to the time piece along with increase in its functionality. Such time pieces are crafted by skilled watchmakers by making use of the knowledge that has been passed down -through generations.
Time never stands still for anyone. The industry has seen constant evolution whether it is in the material being used or the technology being implemented, all done in the pursuit of precision. The anatomy of watches is much more like that of a human body.

Watch basics

To begin to comprehend this, we can start by imagining the main spring barrel and rotor as the digestive system whose function is to provide energy to the entire system. And, the nervous system would be the gear train along with the hands and the dial. In such a system, complications such as equation of time, grand-petite sonnerie are added. Coming to the circulatory system, it is the escapement viz. responsible for carrying and processing waste energy. It is also the heart of the watch which beats at different rates varying from 2.5 Hz to 8 Hz. Moreover, here Tourbillon or Carrousel is added which contributes towards the precision and beauty of the time piece. While the Bridges, Main plate and Case are the skeletal system of the watch, protecting the components in every possible way.

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There are other easier ways to understand this but are either less poetic or less emotional. One of them was used in vintage Hamilton advertisements. It can be seen in the reference image, water is the energy which is provided by the tap, acting as a mainspring barrel in watch. It travels by the means of a water hose which is the gear train in the watch. By adding a dial on hose we can measure the rate at which energy is flowing. The other end of the hose or the nozzle acts as an escapement for the energy to be released. This model covers the basic principle of the watch if we control the energy escaping through it at a constant rate.

Over the years ETA movements have been used in a number of watches manufactured by a plethora of brands. The exploded view of the calibre 6497 shows the components which we intend cover in upcoming articles.


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