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Automatic Mechanical Watches Timespain
Waht is an Automatic Watch?
An automatic is a mechanical watch whose mainspring is wound as a result of the wearer's arm motion
Is that the same as a hand-wound watch?
No. Hand-wound is a mechanical watch that the wearer winds by turning the crown by hand.
Why do they call it "automatic?"
Because instead of the wearer having to wind the watch to generate power, the watch winds itself "automatically" when worn.
What is the difference between an automatic and a self-winding watch?
Nothing. The terms are synonymous. Self-winding means that the watch winds itself.
Is that the same thing as a "perpetual" watch, like a Rolex Oyster Perpetual?
Right. Rolex refers to its automatic watches as "perpetuals." Automatic, self-winding and perpetual all mean the same thing: the watch winds itself. (A perpetual calendar, however, is something else.)
How does an automatic watch work?
The movement of the wrist and body causes the rotor, a metal weight attached to a winding mechanism, to pivot freely on its staff in the center of the movement. The rotor rotates back and forth in a circular motion at the slightest action of the wrist. The rotor's movement winds the mainspring, a flat coiled spring that powers mechanical watches.
Who invented the automatic watch?
The modern rotor system was developed and patented by Rolex and introduced into the Oyster line as the Oyster Perpetual in 1931. Emile Borer, Rolex's technical chief at the time, is credited with inventing the modern rotor system.
The person who first developed a rotor, however, was Abraham-Louis Perrelet (1729-1826), one of Switzerland's greatest watchmakers. Perrelet is considered the father of the automatic watch. He introduced the concept in 1770 and was way ahead of his time since the invention was better suited to wristwatches. Perrelet lived in the pocket watch era and, because the watches did not move much in pockets, the rotor system did not perform so well. The rotor did not move around enough to wind the mainspring sufficiently.
Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747-1823) improved self-winding watches; he called them "perpetuelles" (the likely source of Rolex's term). Other watchmaking greats of the 19th century advanced the concept. But it wasn't until wristwatches became popular after World War I and Rolex perfected its system that automatics came into their own.
Why do we see more automatics these days?
Like all mechanical watches, automatics fell out of style during the quartz watch revolution of the 1970s. Electronic watches were the rage then and were far more accurate than mechanicals. In the mid-1980s, however, as quartz watch production soared to hundreds of millions of pieces each year, some people, mostly watch collectors, began to appreciate the value of a fine mechanical watch. In the past 10 years, fine mechanical watches have staged a comeback on world markets. Automatics have rebounded as part of the mechanical counter-revolution.
How popular are they in the United States?
Very. Between 1993 and 1995, U.S. imports of Swiss luxury mechanical watches jumped 95% in units and 87% in value, according to the American Watch Association. This data also includes hand-wound watches, but the majority are automatics. Data for 1996 is not available yet.
Why are they so popular?
Many people appreciate the craft involved in making a mechanical automatic movement. They like the fact that this technology is hundreds of years old, involves many moving parts, yet keeps very accurate time. (Many automatics come with glass backs which enable the wearer to view the action of the rotor and other moving parts.) They appreciate the human element involved in an automatic watch, that the movement is assembled by hand. Others like the fact that automatics run on so-called "clean," natural energy--wrist power--and that there are no polluting batteries to dispose of.
How accurate are they?
Mechanical technology, by definition, is inferior to the extreme accuracy of an electronic watch. Automatics are plenty accurate for normal daily timekeeping, though. A normal automatic is accurate to within +30/-5 seconds a day, depending on the quality of the movement.
Are they expensive?
They can be, but they are not necessarily. Automatics are available in every price range, starting with Swatch automatics.
How much motion does an automatic need to work properly?
A person's normal arm and wrist motion will keep an automatic watch properly wound. People who are inactive--the elderly or patients confined to beds-may need to wind their watch to keep it powered.
Is it safe to wind an automatic watch?
Sure. Winding the watch won't hurt it at all. If you haven't worn an automatic in a while, it is best to wind the stopped watch before putting it on. Ten to 15 turns of the crown is usually enough to give full power to the mainspring. Some companies recommend more: Breitling, for example, suggests turning the crown on its automatics 30 to 40 times. But be aware that the barrel in an automatic movement doesn't have a hook so that you won't feel any resistance when the mainspring is fully wound. Don't worry; you can't overwind the watch.
How long will an automatic watch keep turning off the wrist?
That depends on the type of movement in the watch and how much power is left in the mainspring when you take it off.
A normal, fully wound automatic movement will keep running from 36 to 48 hours. Frederic Piguet, the Swiss movement manufacturer which specializes in complicated movements, produces an automatic movement which stores 100 hours of power. Bernhard Stoeber, vice president of technical services at the Movado Group, recommends winding an automatic watch when one takes it off so that it will keep running as long as possible when not worn. Stoeber also suggests occasionally winding an automatic that is not worn for an extended period of time in order to keep the oils properly lubricated and distributed.
How often does an automatic need to be serviced?
Most companies recommend the watch be checked and relubricated every three to five years. If the wearer regularly subjects a water-resistant automatic to water, the seals should be checked annually.
Automatic Chrono Watch
What is a chronometer?
A chronometer is an extremely accurate watch or clock. It takes its name from the Greek words (chronos + metron) meaning to measure time. A Swiss chronometer is a watch, usually mechanical, whose precision has been tested and verified by an official Swiss watch testing bureau. The watch comes with a ratings certificate issued by the institute. The chronometer designation is a badge of honor, proof that the watch is of superior quality.
What does a watch have to do to earn the title of chronometer?
The watch's movement must pass a battery of severe tests conducted for 15 days and nights. The movement's accuracy is checked in five different positions and at various temperatures which simulate conditions under which the watch will be worn.
Who conducts the tests?
The Swiss Official Chronometer Control (Controle Officiel Suisse des Chronometeres, or COSC, in French). COSC is an independent association governed by the Swiss Civil Code.
Watch companies desiring the chronometer designation on their best pieces send movements to COSC. (COSC tests uncased movements; the companies case the movements after the tests.) COSC issues a performance certificate for each timepiece which successfully passes the tests.
There are three COSC centers in Switzerland where watch companies send movements to be tested--in Geneva, Bienne and Le Locle.
Switzerland has been officially testing chronometers since 1878. COSC as it exists today was founded in 1973.
What tests are run on the watch?
COSC conducts elaborate precision tests on the movements using cameras and computers, which analyze the data. COSC performs seven different tests. Failure to meet the minimum standard in any one of the tests means that a movement is rejected. The tests are complicated. Here is an attempt at a simple summary:
| Test 1||Mean Daily Rate: After 10 days of tests, the mean daily rate of the movement must be within the range of -4 to +6 seconds per day. COSC determines the mean daily rate by subtracting the time indicated by the movement 24 hours earlier from the time indicated on the day of observation.|
| Test 2||Mean Variation in Rates: COSC observes the movement's rate in five different positions (two horizontal, three vertical) each day over 10 days for a total of 50 rates. The mean variation in rates can be no more than 2 seconds.|
| Test 3||Greatest Variation in Rates: The greatest of the five variations in rates in the five positions can be no more than 5 seconds per day.|
| Test 4||Horizontal and Vertical Difference: COSC subtracts the average of the rates in the vertical position (on the first and second days) from the average of the rates in the horizontal position (on the ninth and tenth days). The difference must be no more than -6 to +8 seconds.|
| Test 5||Greatest Deviation in Rates: The difference between the greatest daily rate and the mean daily test rate can be no more than 10 seconds per day.|
| Test 6||Rate Variation Due to Temperature: COSC tests the movement's rate at 8 degrees Celsius (46 degrees Fahrenheit) and at 38 degrees C (100 degrees F). It subtracts the cold temperature rate from the hot temperature rate and divides by 30. The variation must be no more than 0.6 seconds per day.|
| Test 7||Resumption of the rate: This is obtained by subtracting the average mean daily rate of the first two days of testing from the mean daily rate of the last test day. The resumption of rate can be no more than 5 seconds. Simple, isn't it? If a movement meets the standards, COSC issues a certificate designating it as a "chronometer."|
How many movements does COSC test each year and how many certificates are issued?
In 1995, COSC tested 844,043 movements. That was down slightly (-4.5%) from 1994 when a record 883,714 movements were submitted for testing. The vast majority of the movements sent in for testing pass. In 1995, COSC issued 814,868 certificates, 96.5% of those submitted. That means chronometers represent about 2% of Switzerland's total production of complete watches.
Why are most chronometers mechanical watches?
Just one-third of 1% of the movements submitted for testing in 1995 (3,026 total) were quartz movements. That's because electronic quartz technology is by definition an ultra-precise form of timekeeping and there is less need to demonstrate a quartz watch's accuracy. That's not the case with mechanical watches. Even so, COSC has developed stringent regulations which quartz watches must pass before they can be called chronometers. Worth noting: by far the leader in Swiss quartz chronometers in 1995 with two-thirds of the total certificates issued was Krieger Watch Corp. of Miami Beach, Fla.
Do many companies apply for chronometer certificates for their watches?
More than 60 firms submitted movements to COSC in 1995.
How is the demand for chronometers?
Despite the drop in requests in 1995, there has been a surge of watch company applications for chronometers in this decade. COSC data shows that the number of movements submitted bottomed out in 1976 at 225,712. Requests did not pass the 300,000 unit mark again until 1984. It rose steadily throughout the late 1980s but has soared in the 1990s, reflecting the strength of Rolex, in particular, and the general revival of Swiss mechanical watches on world markets. In 1990, the number of movements submitted to COSC passed the 600,000 unit mark for the first time. By 1994, the number had reached 883,714, an increase of 43.5% over 1990.
Which firm is the leader in production of Swiss chronometers?
Rolex is the undisputed chronometer king. An amazing 83% of all chronometer certificates issued by COSC in 1995 went to Rolex--more than 675,000 of them. You get some sense of Rolex's dominance when you realize that only five firms (one of them a group, really) produce more than 6,000 chronometers a year. The second largest producer of chronometers is TAG Heuer (51,638 certificates in 1995), followed by Omega (31,135 certificates), the Cartier Group (6,393) and Bulgari (6,056).
What is the difference between a chronometer and a chronograph?
The terms sound similar but they have nothing to do with each other. A chronometer, as we have seen, is a superior timekeeper. A chronograph is a watch with a stopwatch function.
So what is a marine chronometer?
A marine chronometer is an instrument used on a ship at sea to determine the longitude by measuring the time. It was developed in the 18th century.
Watches & Clocks History:
The history of clocks is very long, and there have been many different types of clocks over the centuries.
Not all historians agree on the history of the clock. The word clock was first used in the 14th century (about 700 years ago). It comes from the word for bell in Latin ("clocca").
Using the Sun
The first way that people could tell the time was by looking at the sun as it crossed the sky. When the sun was directly overhead in the sky, it was the middle of the day, or noon. When the sun was close to the horizon, it was either early morning (sunrise) or early evening (sunset). Telling the time was not very accurate.
The oldest type of clock is a sundial clock, also called a sun clock. They were first used around 3,500 B.C. (about 5,500 years ago). Sundials use the sun to tell the time. The shadow of the sun points to a number on a circular disk that shows you the time. In the big picture below on the right, the shadow created by the sun points to 9, so it is nine o'clock.
Around 1400 B.C. (about 3,400 years ago), water clocks were invented in Egypt. The name for a water clock is clepsydra (pronounced KLEP-suh-druh). A water clock was made of two containers of water, one higher than the other. Water traveled from the higher container to the lower container through a tube connecting the containers. The containers had marks showing the water level, and the marks told the time.
Water clocks were very popular in Greece, where they were improved many times over the years. Look at the picture below. Water drips from the higher container to the lower container. As the water level rises in the lower container, it raises the float on the surface of the water. The float is connected to a stick with notches, and as the stick rises, the notches turn a gear, which moves the hand that points to the time.
The Greeks divided the year into twelve parts that are called months. They divided each month into thirty parts that are called days. Their year had a total of 360 days, or 12 times 30 (12 x 30 = 360). Since the Earth goes around the Sun in one year and follows an almost circular path, the Greeks decided to divide the circle into 360 degrees.
The Egyptians and Babylonians decided to divide the day from sunrise to sunset into twelve parts that are called hours. They also divided the night, the time from sunset to sunrise, into twelve hours. But the day and the night are not the same length, and the length of the day and night also changes through the year. This system of measuring the time was not very accurate because the length of an hour changed depending on the time of year. This meant that water clocks had to be adjusted every day.
Somebody finally figured out that by dividing the whole day into 24 hours of equal length (12 hours of the day plus 12 hours of the night), the time could be measured much more accurately.
Why was the day and night divided into 12 parts? Twelve is about the number of moon cycles in a year, so it is a special number in many cultures.
The hour is divided into 60 minutes, and each minute is divided into 60 seconds. The idea of dividing the hour and minute into 60 parts comes from the Sumerian sexagesimal system, which is based on the number 60. This system was developed about 4,000 years ago.
Before pendulum clocks were invented, Peter Henlein of Germany invented a spring-powered clock around 1510. It was not very precise. The first clock with a minute hand was invented by Jost Burgi in 1577. It also had problems. The first practical clock was driven by a pendulum. It was developed by Christian Huygens around 1656. By 1600, the pendulum clock also had a minute
The pendulum swings left and right, and as it swings, it turns a wheel with teeth (see the picture to the right). The turning wheel turns the hour and minute hands on the clock. On the first pendulum clocks, the pendulum used to swing a lot (about 50 degrees). As pendulum clocks were improved, the pendulum swung a lot less (about 10 to 15 degrees). One problem with pendulum clocks is that they stopped running after a while and had to be restarted. The first pendulum clock with external batteries was developed around 1840. By 1906, the batteries were inside the clock.
As you already learned, a clock only shows 12 hours at a time, and the hour hand must go around the clock twice to measure 24 hours, or a complete day. To tell the first 12 hours of the day (from midnight to noon) apart from the second 12 hours of the day (from noon to midnight), we use these terms:
* A.M.--Ante meridiem, from the Latin for "before noon"
* P.M.-- Post meridiem, from the Latin for "after noon"
Quartz is a type of crystal that looks like glass. When you apply voltage, or electricity, and pressure, the quartz crystal vibrates or oscillates at a very constant frequency or rate. The vibration moves the clock's hands very precisely. Quartz crystal clocks were invented in 1920.
Because the Earth turns, it is daytime in part of the world when it is nighttime on the other side of the world. In 1884, delegates from 25 countries met and agreed to divide the world into time zones. If you draw a line around the middle of the Earth, it is a circle (equator). The delegates divided the 360 degrees of the circle into 24 zones, each 15 degrees (24 x 15 = 360). They decided to start counting from Greenwich (pronounced GREN-ich), England, which is 0 degrees longitude. To see a larger picture of the standard time zones of the world, click the picture below.
In the continental United States, there are four time zones: Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific. Each time zone varies by one hour, so when it is 7 p.m. in the Eastern time zone, it is 6 p.m. in the Central time zone, 5 p.m. in the Mountain time zone, and 4 p.m. in the Pacific time zone.Relojes Automáticos Timespain Fine watches and timepieces
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