The invention of the Perpetual Oscillator was a breakthrough at the time, and this achievement was unimaginable at the time. In about two decades, from the first watch to be awarded the Observatory in 1910, to the launch of the first oyster waterproof watch in 1926, and the introduction of the modern self-winding watch in 1931, Rolex and its founder Han Hans Wilsdorf has revolutionized watchmaking for three times, citing the same precision, ruggedness, water resistance and ‘permanence’ of watches. Perpetual rotors improve the accuracy and water resistance of the watch, while making it comfortable to wear, further improving the concept of the Oyster watch.
Perpetual Oscillator © Rolex / Christophe Lauffenburger
The Perpetual Oscillator is the basic component of every Oyster watch and a classic Rolex design. This design celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2011 and set an important milestone in the history of modern watchmaking. This self-winding system, invented by Rolex in 1931, requires only a very slight wrist swing to obtain energy and inject power into the movement, so that the watch continues to move. In addition, the device allows the wearer to establish a direct connection with the watch.
When the watchmaker opened the Oyster case, the first thing he saw was the permanent-moving oscillating weight. This half-moon-shaped automatic gyro rotates freely around the central axis wheel. Or show it out, giving people a glimpse of the famous automatic loop wheel, whose unique red design contrasts with other golden gears. On the automatic movement of the chronograph movement, the watchmaker can also see the uppercase name of the watch model, such as the engraved red ‘DAYTONA’ and the blue ‘YACHT-MASTER II’. The shapes and colors are harmonious and the quality of the decoration is flawless. Even hidden in the watch’s case, this device still displays the brand’s signature features, elegant and charming.
Watching the simple lines of this oscillating weight, it is not hard to think of how many important milestones Rolex has made in the history of watchmaking for 80 years. In 1931, the brand invented this famous device, which not only injected power into the movement of the self-winding watch, but also brought revolutionary changes to the entire watchmaking industry. This innovative design is incorporated in the self-winding device of modern watches, and its amazing impact has earned it countless reputations such as technical models and masterpieces.
Get energy from the wearer
The ingenious operating principle of the permanent-moving pendulum has remained unchanged during the various evolutions and improvements: only a very slight wrist swing is required, and the semi-lunar automatic rotor will run freely and quietly around the axis driven by the gravity of the earth. The kinetic energy generated when the oscillating weight is rotated is transmitted to the mainspring that is continuously wound by the gear of the winding device. When the watch is worn, the mainspring stores and ‘permanently’ releases the energy required for the mechanical movement to operate. In order to improve efficiency, the red automatic loop wheel can be wound in any direction of rotation, and this device, which was introduced in 1959, has also become a prominent feature of the constant-motion oscillating weight.
Once the mainspring reaches its maximum tension, the entire set of timing clutch wheels will stop the winding to prevent the mainspring from being damaged due to overwinding. When the watch is not worn, the fully wound mainspring provides two days of power reserve, and the Cosmograph Daytona, Sky-Dweller and Yacht-Master II models last up to 72 hours.
Precision and comfort
Perpetual movement of the rotor brings three major benefits to the wearer: first, it is not necessary to manually wind the watch manually; second, the automatic winding system will continue to wind the mainspring, thereby ensuring that the watch’s adjustment device is more accurate and regular ; Finally, the water resistance of the case has been significantly improved, as this helps to avoid wear and tear on the waterproofing system due to daily loosening and tightening of the winding crown. In addition to these three benefits, there is a more abstract and emotional advantage: having a watch that works like a magic clock, running day and night, allows the wearer to establish a permanent and inseparable relationship with his timepiece.
Perpetual Oscillator © Rolex / Christophe Lauffenburger
The Oyster of Excellence
The invention of the perpetual oscillating weight was a breakthrough at the time, and this result was unimaginable at the time. In about two decades, from the first watch to be awarded the Observatory in 1910, to the launch of the first oyster waterproof watch in 1926, and the introduction of the modern self-winding watch in 1931, Rolex and its founder Han Hans Wilsdorf has revolutionized watchmaking for three times, citing the same precision, ruggedness, water resistance and ‘permanence’ of watches. Perpetual rotors improve the accuracy and water resistance of the watch, while making it comfortable to wear, further improving the concept of the Oyster watch.
The Perpetual Oscillator has helped Rolex successfully solve a problem that watchmakers have long been concerned about. A self-winding pocket watch created by Abraham-Louis Perrelet or Hubert Sarton (experts differing on who is the inventor), circa 1770, There is a rotor system of the automatic tourbillon, which obtains the energy generated by the wearer when he moves, and then winds the pocket watch. However, the wobble of the wearer has little effect on the operation of the pocket watch. In order to improve the efficiency of the chain, a system using an alternating movement came into being. One of the system’s oscillating weight paths is limited by its stoppage during bumps and rebounds, which enhances back and forth movements.
British watchmaker John Harwood first applied this system to watches in 1924. Although this system can be applied to pocket watches, it is not suitable for wristwatches because the winding action based on the segmented buckle is too rough. However, the founder of Rolex came up with an ingenious solution. He asked the technical team to add an automatic winding system to the watch. The assembled rotor could rotate 360 degrees without vibration, so he thought this design was more suitable for watches. use. After years of research and development, Rolex gradually achieved results in terms of reliability and efficiency, and finally produced a perfect perpetual rotor in 1931.
Incomparable symbol of excellence
This achievement can be said to have fulfilled all wishes: the launch of the Perpetual Oscillator has achieved unprecedented success, becoming a symbol of excellent watchmaking technology. This patented self-winding system was an exclusive design of Rolex until 1948, which combined with the Oyster case made the brand even more famous. When the patent period ended, the design was widely used by the public, and the entire watchmaking industry adopted it, which quickly spread in the industry. The Perpetual Oscillating Rotor allows the wearer to interlock with the pulsation of the Oyster watch between his hands and feet. This device has been developing extraordinary for more than 80 years, and I believe it will also work stably in the future.
Perpetual Oscillator © Rolex / Jean-Daniel Meyer
Technology and Production
Whether the pendulum can fully exert its kinetic energy on the chain depends on several factors. First, the rotor must be as heavy as possible. To do this, Rolex generally uses tungsten alloys with particularly high density to ensure that small-sized rotors still exhibit excellent dynamic performance. Then, the center of gravity of the rotor must be as close to the edge as possible, and its operation must not be hindered by the movement or the case. Finally, the watch must be wound as quickly as possible, but not excessively, because for active wearers such as athletes, their movements will cause the entire set of timing clutch wheels that prevent excessive winding of the clockwork from operating too much. In fact, compared to a jogger and a wearer sitting at a desk all day, the amount of activity between the two can be 300 times apart, so it can be seen that it is very important to maintain a smart balance of winding activities. It can work reliably under any circumstances.
Bill: Production and Assembly
Bill Manufacturing is responsible for producing and assembling the components of the automatic winding system. Each component is shaped and processed before being inspected, monitored, and verified. Every detail is very important in Bill and the company’s departments, and each studio is based on the pursuit of perfection and meticulousness. For example, two carefully matched aluminum anode deoxidation automatic loops exhibit the same bright red hue. The next step is to assemble the various components of the winding system. These components are carefully monitored, and in particular the axial clearance (the axial clearance between the end of the moving part and the bearing or gem surface) is limited to 15 to 45 microns. This mechanical process needs to be performed under the supervision of a trained operator, and the relevant personnel can detect all deviations with the naked eye. Experience and expertise are also needed to lubricate the winding device. This extremely precise process uses very tiny needles, and workers need to be constantly monitoring by the machine. In another working room, technicians work together to assemble the automatic top, and then connect it to the winding device. After many operating procedures, the rotor is formally formed. The final step is to check whether the device can rotate freely and whether the appearance is flawless.
Geneva: case assembly and final monitoring
The pendulum will then be shipped by Bill to Acacias in Geneva. There, the watch will complete the last few assembly steps. First, the oscillating weight is assembled on the movement inside the case. Next, check whether the device can rotate freely and screw the bottom cover with screws. Afterwards, the hidden pendulum will pass the Cyclotest, which is the last test designed for its winding energy, that is, the ability of the detection device to obtain and store energy from wrist movements. To do this, the watch must be placed on a stand and rotated slowly for 27 minutes in both directions. During this time, the mainspring must be fully wound to ensure that the movement can operate normally for at least 6 hours.