Precision Is The Mission Of Watches

We are used to looking at the appearance of watches, the culture of the brand, and the polishing of the craftsmanship, but in essence, watches have always been scientific achievements, and early timepieces have always been a symbol of advanced Western science. Even today, clocks still represent the advanced level of science and technology in the West. Watches made in China cannot enter the forefront of the world. It is not because polishing cannot keep up, it is not because the design level is not good, but because the ability of materials and precision manufacturing cannot keep up. Of course, this is a digression. Today, we mainly share with you some interesting clock patents announced this year. These are rarely seen in ready-made products at present, but it is not excluded that they will not be used in the future, and from these In the patent, we can see the inherent precision and scientificity of the timepiece, and what are the possibilities for further development at present.

Wheelless balance wheel-Navosort
   We all know that the balance spring system of mechanical watches is the heart of the movement. Its accurate and stable swing is the key to the accuracy of mechanical watches. For hundreds of years, many great watchmakers have been searching for the ideal balance spring system. There are three main areas to explore: one is the material, the other is the shape, and the matching structure. Our common balance spring system is a spiral balance spring with a balance wheel. Although such a system has been used for hundreds of years, it is still not perfect. Watchmakers’ exploration of this has never stopped.

Three pendulum scenarios

   Navosort is a company specializing in the development and production of mechanical movements. The factory is located in La Chaux-de-Fonds, a famous watchmaking town. They first proposed the concept of a rimless balance spring system in 2015, and then applied for a patent on December 14, 2016. The patent was published in June this year, and the patent number was EP15199927. You can apply at the European Patent Office or our national patent office. Website can be found. This patent is very interesting. Although it is also a balance spring system, its balance does not have a rim. Because the movement is a precision component, in fact, the current mechanical structure requires precise measurement to achieve the desired effect. The vibration frequency, isochronism, and coordination of the balance spring system are all based on scientific calculation theory, which will not be described in detail here, because it is still a bit complicated, and interested friends can study it by themselves.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Gyrolab

   This patent proposes a rimless balance. We know that the inertia of the balance has a very direct effect on the entire balance spring system, and the inertia of the balance is determined by the material of the balance (the material stiffness is generally fixed ), The thickness of the balance wheel, the height of the balance wheel, and the diameter of the balance wheel. At the same time, for precise balance considerations, the balance wheel is often equipped with counterweight screws and balance screws, or weights. This system becomes extremely precise. And adjustable. However, the watch industry has always known that there are some problems with ring balances, such as heavy weight, high resistance, and slightly higher energy consumption. The new patented balance wheel Gyrolab that Jaeger-LeCoultre began using in the past two years is an attempt to change from closed loop to open loop.

Four other pendulum scenarios

   Then the rimless balance system proposed by Navosort is, in my opinion, a bolder exploration of Jaeger-LeCoultre Gyrolab. Its basic composition structure has several types of ideas, one is a hairspring with one device There is a horizontal axis with a counterweight / screw. If you want the system to swing in balance, the balance must still be available, even if it is simplified, otherwise the oscillation of the hairspring is very easy to be disturbed by external forces. Then this horizontal axis with a counterweight is A balance wheel. The other is a balance wheel with four swing arms. The swing arms are symmetrical to each other, and the ends are equipped with weights or adjustable screws to adjust the inertia of the entire system. Compared with the traditional balance wheel, we can see that this structure is much simplified and easier to adjust. From a production point of view, this system is also obviously easier. In theory, this system is more efficient than the traditional balance spring system, but its aesthetics are insufficient. But as an attempt, we can at least know that the traditional balance wheel is still not perfect, and new exploration is moving towards the direction of simplification. Of course, simplification means more precision.
Hairspring made of heavily doped silicon-Rolex
   The Rolex brand has a very high reputation in the world, and it is also one of the most successful companies in the world. For a long time, Rolex watches have been known for their precision and durability. Of course, behind this, Rolex’s continuous development of new technologies. The two new movements just launched in the previous two years, Rolex 3255 and 3235, contain 14 new patents. They are amazing. They also admire Rolex’s precision manufacturing capabilities, allowing the watch to simulate the environment of wearing, with unprecedented precision. Plus or minus two seconds per day.

3235 movement

   Earlier this year, the National Patent Office announced a Rolex patent. The priority date of this patent was October 19, 2015. At the time, Rolex already had preliminary ideas. The application date was October 19, 2016. That is, the idea is basically mature and there are already results. This patent points to a new hairspring. We know the importance of hairsprings for watches. Rolex has two main hairsprings of its own, one is the blue niobium paramagnetic Parachrom hairspring, and the other is the silicon crystal Syroxi hairspring, which is mainly used for some women’s watches. However, of course, Rolex is more than these two hairsprings, but many of them have not been put into mass production in the market, just research and development.

   The new hairspring is a hairspring made of heavily doped silicon. Heavy doping is a material processing process. Generally speaking, there are P-type doping and N-type doping. We will not go into details. This is too professional, we just need to know that it can make this material. Then the main purpose of this hairspring invented by Rolex is to obtain the thermal compensation of the balance spring system. What is more special is that this material needs to match the specific material and performance according to the different doped silicon components and external processes. Only the balance wheel can get the ideal thermal compensation effect.
   This patent states that a hairspring made of heavily doped silicon, which includes component parts, especially at least a coil or a portion of a coil, has a heavily doped silicon that exceeds a certain required ion density. Then the part that uses heavily doped silicon has a thermal coefficient that can cancel or substantially cancel Young’s modulus, an expansion coefficient of the hairspring, and a thermal expansion coefficient of the balance. These three are the main variables that the temperature affects the natural frequency of the balance system. Of course, this also has a specific formula. In the past, in order to achieve the effect of thermal compensation, two general approaches are to either use more advanced alloy materials (the disadvantage is that the preparation is complicated) or cover the surface of the material with an oxide layer (the disadvantage is that high temperature processing is not good for hairsprings). Rolex’s heavily doped silicon hairspring allows the frequency of the balance spring to be independent or quasi-independent, which means that it can be basically independent of temperature.
Beating display structure-Richemont Group
   There are many kinds of beating display mechanisms, but the core components are generally similar. Most of them are controlled by a worm wheel, because a worm wheel has a feature that it has a cliff, so when a component contacts it, At this time, because of this cliff, there will be a momentary displacement, which will cause a jump. This structure has not been widely used for many years, and the patent filed by Richemont Group is a stricter set of beating display mechanism using worm wheel for precise control.

   The patent application date is January 13, 2017, and the publication date is July 20, 2017. It is a very new patent. Which brand will appear in the patent in the future, it is not known yet, it may already be tested. In fact, this system is slightly different from some previous structures. In the beating mechanism that is currently widely used, a toothed part is often in contact with the worm wheel. As the worm wheel rotates, it will Drive the teeth on this part to move, so there will be an indication on the disk surface, the most common is the backlash.

   In this patent, there is a worm wheel 14 on the gear 20, the flange 12 on the convex rod 4 is in contact with the worm wheel, and the other flange 8 is used to push the gear 2 through a space, each time the flange 8 Because the falling of the convex rod 4 will push the gear 2 through one grid, so as to realize the jumping display, and the elastic element 4 is used to provide the pushing force to the convex rod 4. In terms of structure, this function is suitable for calendar display, time jump, minute jump and other functions, but it is obviously not a reverse jump structure, so pay attention to the distinction between reverse jump.
Summary: Today we only look at these three examples. None of the tables currently on the market have been applied, and they are all experimental explorations. Although we never pay attention to these things when buying a watch, from an industrial point of view, they are worth thinking about. Although the clock and watch may seem simple, it is not easy to be precise. So you will find that the reason why good watches are expensive is that there is a huge investment in R & D and testing behind the watch factory. Finally, you find a good solution and bring it to the market. It was not successful from the beginning.