Christiaan Huygens foresaw it. Antide Janvier and Abraham-Louis Breguet made it happen. Resonance is a well-known phenomenon of physics, but only a handful of modern watchmakers have succeeded in applying it to their movements.
However insignificant it may appear on the surface, you would need to have a screw loose not to give this fundamental part the attention it deserves. The screw, whose invention is lost in the convolutions of history, performs most of the mechanical connections in today's complex calibres. Whoever said screws matter hit the nail on the head.
First came the "Naissance d'une Montre" venture launched by Time Æon Foundation. Now Urwerk, Greubel Forsey and the FHH are lending their support to a similar project, Oscillon, whose ambition is to perpetuate the skills and excellence of watchmaking.
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The unit cost of a balance spring is considerably more than the per-ounce price of gold. This, alongside difficulties in securing supplies of special calibrated balance springs, has prompted certain watch brands to "go it alone" and manufacture their own.
With the balance spring now ensconced in their movements, watchmakers were able to consider a more precise subdivision of time for their pocket watches, hence the advent of the minute hand circa 1700. The race for precision was a serious business that would force watchmakers to imagine new escapements and new balance springs to go with them.
As well as dressing fashionistas and mummies, linen has plenty to offer watch brands. Hublot finds new applications for this natural fibre in the Big Bang Linen collection.
A component weighing just a few hundredths of a gram transformed the watch from mechanised jewel into a scientific instrument that measured time with sufficient precision to enable navigators to discover the oceans and later take Man into space. Read all about the fabulous adventure of the balance spring…
Breitling, Lang & Heyne and Piaget have all presented a new type of wheel this year. Made from silicon or gold, their purpose is to improve performance. All three are made not by machining, but using erosion or material growth technology.
A CNC machine that delivers the same quality as one which uses ten times more space and energy was the centre of attention at the EPHJ trade fair in Geneva. The environmental benefits could be huge.