The Most Complicated Watchmaking Function Is Ruined By Matches?

The birth of Repeater Watch is based on decades of invention. Human beings can finally recognize time, moment, and information in the dark. This situation continued for more than 160 years, until Austrian chemistry Home found a way to make red phosphorus.

   Centuries of arduous exploration, ingenious mechanical engineering, well-deserved innovation, the final outcome is (almost) shelved, because of a small wooden pole and a little red phosphorus, this is the questionnaire-widely considered Complex watchmaking features-stories. The questionnaire was born in 1685. In an era when there was almost no artificial lighting, houses and streets fell into darkness every night, it provided a way for generations to distinguish time. Despite its stark practicality, despite being hailed as an unforgettable technical achievement, just a century and a half later, the questionnaire was pushed down the altar by an invention from another field, the match.

Breguet N ° 4691 pocket watch, circa 1830. This is a half-hour questionnaire with many complicated functions, including time equation, day of the week, date, month, moon phase profit and loss and power reserve display.

Bright start

   As a practical tool, what is the reason for the decline of the watch? Most people may blame calcium sulfate, and in the late 1870s, this fluorescent material began to be used to decorate hands and dials. Of course, the innovative application of calcium sulfate is only part of the reason, and the fate of the questionnaire has come to an end earlier.

   In the history of time measurement, no invention was made out of thin air. By continuing to build on previous developments, watchmaking technology has transitioned from tower clocks to ultra-thin watches for seven centuries. The birth of the questionnaire is also the result of two important developments: the balance wheel and the minute hand (the latter is derived from the former). In 1675, Christian Huygens of the Netherlands introduced the Royal Society in Paris with a new speed-regulating device that would revolutionize time division and measurement. The combination of a speed-adjusting balance with a spiral hairspring allows watchmakers to make smaller, more accurate movements: the average daily error was as much as 40 minutes, but it is now reduced to less than 4 minutes.

   In that era, even the most complicated clocks displayed only hour information, and Huygens’ invention paved the way for the addition of an additional minute-metering hand. Allegedly, British watchmaker DanielQuare was the first to apply the minute hand. DanielQuare turned his attention to the means of telling time in the dark, but he needed to compete with fellow EdwardBarlow and ThomasTompion. In 1685, all three proposed the principle of the QuarterRepeater in London. King James II found that DanielQuare’s proposal was the most practical of the three, and his invention was granted a patent by the Privy Council in 1687.

Breguet series tourbillon minute repeater 7087, equipped with a gong invented by Abraham-Louis Breguet, the sound of the bell is clearer.

Cleverly constructed

   Minute Repeater is still waiting for decades. Around 1700, the earliest minute repeater patterns appeared in southern Germany, and it is difficult to attribute them to specific watchmakers. The movements of these minute repeaters, although relatively primitive in construction, have been called creative ingenuity. The movement is equipped with a rack and a worm wheel, which activates the timekeeping mechanism. The worm wheel determines the amplitude of the rack drop and is used to adjust the number of times the bell is struck by the hammer. According to the convention, the bass time, the treble and bass combined with the moment, the treble points. In 1787, Abraham-Louis Breguet developed a ring gong to improve the structure of the bell. In addition to producing a more pleasing sound, the new structure also effectively reduces the thickness of the movement.

   Since the birth of more than 160 years, the demand for questionnaires has been great. This complex and luxurious mechanism reflects the era when it was needed, nurtured, and pushed to the top. But in the end, the watch was the victim of a discovery that seemed trivial to the watchmaking industry. In 1831, Charles Sauria, a French chemistry student, accidentally invented a match based on white phosphorus friction ignition. In 1845, the Austrian chemist Anton Schrötter discovered a method for converting white phosphorus into red phosphorus. Soon, Anton Schrötter’s ‘safe matches’ were used to light candles, oil lamps, and later gas lamps.

   The match illuminated the face of the clock, and the practicality of the questionnaire mechanism was greatly reduced. Nevertheless, this demonstration of art and craft will never completely disappear, and the minute repeater function has always added the best quality pocket watches and watches (from the 20th century). As to whether watch owners continue to rely on them to tell the time in the dark, that is another question. (Photo / text watch home compiled by Xu Chaoyang)