Some models have become a symbol of historical milestones in the watchmaking industry, whether for technical, scientific reasons or aesthetic considerations. Listed below are ten models of history writing, each with its own story.
1. Pendant watch earlier than Huygens: bold display of time, challenging theology
Anonymous pendant watch, produced in Augsburg, Germany at the end of the 16th century
This is an unnamed pendant watch, produced in Augsburg, Germany, at the end of the 16th century, and is now hidden in the Lloyd Watch Museum-Mont Castle. It is equipped with a movement equipped with an original power adjustment system (based on a spring-loaded cam mechanism) instead of a sesame chain drive system. What did the early portable timepieces look like? This is an interesting example. Considering the lack of equipment and tools needed to produce small components at that time, it was not easy to make a watch so small and charming.
This extremely rare single-pointer tool is equipped with a sundial and compass to reset the control when stopping. Then in 1674, the Dutch mathematician Christian Huygens invented a spiral balance spring, and this pendant watch was not improved. Therefore, similar to all models before the end of the 17th century, this pendant is equipped with a crown wheel escapement, equipped with inertia bar crossbars and two bristles to apply the force of pushing back the balance wheel. In fact, after 1674, most of the watches originally equipped with crown escapements were modified and re-equipped with the famous spiral balance spring, thereby completing a precision flyover from half an hour to a minute. Of course, compared to the less reliable time display, this pendant watch itself is a wonderful story.
2.John Harrison H4 Marine Astronomical Clock: Pursuing Precision
John Harrison H4 Nautical Astronomical Clock
John Harrison was born into a carpenter’s family, and his profession was to build large wooden floor bells. Edmond Halley took him to visit George Graham so that the latter could fairly evaluate the work of the self-taught watchmaker. John Harrison was determined to take up the challenge and devoted himself to inventing marine clocks that could accurately measure longitude. At that time, the academic thought that he had lost his mind, but John Harrison was unmoved and applied for funds from the Longitude Committee again in 1755. A few years later, H4 was born. Its specifications are about the same as those of a horse-drawn carriage, and it is innovative and precise. The fleet equipped with this instrument provides a guarantee for Britain to win maritime supremacy.
How important is it? From 1763 to 1766, Ferdinand Berthoud, who served France at that time, came to Britain several times in order to discover the news of the marine astronomical clock. John Harrison ignored this kind of inquiry. Eventually, Thomas Mudge, a student of George Graham, the inventor of lever escapement, revealed to the French after learning H4 All production details. This marine astronomical clock is equipped with a crown wheel escapement system, which proves that accurate sea positioning can be performed with a simple and perfectly adjusted time measuring instrument.
3.Leroy 01: Keep asking for more
Leroy 01 pocket watch, exhibited at the Paris Expo 1900
The watchmakers always seem to have the magical magic of reducing complexity. In the tide of the industrial revolution in the late 19th century, the future elites would not tire of fierce competition. For those who promote and influence the world, traditional clocks can no longer satisfy them. Clocks and watches, which have been a symbol of power for more than four centuries, are now poised to rise to new heights. This is done in a near-normal case, covering the most complex features known to be integrated. The first to pioneer was Leroy 01, a pocket watch that had been exhibited at the Paris Expo 1900.
This pocket watch is 71 mm in diameter and equipped with 24 complications, some of which have never been seen before, including barometers, altimeters, replaceable sky charts, and time information for 125 cities around the world. The miracle of machinery! Leroy 01 maintained the reputation of ‘the world’s most complicated timepiece’ for 89 years, until Patek Philippe launched the Calibre 89 pocket watch in 1989. In addition, the super complicated timepieces familiar to watch fans include Henry Graves, James Ward Packard, Star Caliber 2000, and Vacheron Constantin reference number 57260, which just came out last year.
4.Rolex from Oyster to Oyster Perpetual: Legend
Rolex Oyster watch, produced in 1927
In 1908, Hans Wilsdorf officially registered the Rolex trademark. By providing simple and effective solutions to repetitive precision problems and water resistance problems, Rolex has made rapid progress in the field of small fashion watches. Since 1910, Rolex has allowed watches to pass tests and obtain certificates to partially solve precision problems. However, the reliability of timepieces under severe conditions still has a question mark. The First World War (1914-1918) effectively promoted the popularity of watch wear, but also highlighted the shortcomings of existing products in water and dust.
Many watchmakers worked hard to overcome this technical problem, and finally Hans Wilsdorf gave the most convincing solution in 1926: the first oyster watch. In 1927, Mercedes Giles crossed the English Channel historicly wearing an Oyster watch (the first time with a screw-locked crown), and Rolex gained a great reputation in the field of sports watches. Next, Rolex developed a revolutionary movement that automatically winds as the wearer moves, further consolidating his leading position. In 1931, a patented automatic winding mechanism (360 ° rotation by a pendulum) was born. The advent of these two key technologies pushed Rolex to the top of the watchmaking brand pyramid.
5. Omega Speedmaster: Space Traveler
The Omega Speedmaster Chronograph, the legendary lunar watch, came out in the middle of the Cold War in 1957. The stainless steel case has a diameter of 39 mm. The bezel is printed with a speedometer scale, equipped with arrow hands, and equipped with a robust and precise Lémania Calibre 321 manual winding chronograph movement. In 1962, NASA set out to choose a chronograph with excellent performance. After sifting through various layers and rigorous tests, the Omega Speedmaster watch stood out. In 1963, in order to protect the chronograph button and crown from unnecessary collision, Omega slightly adjusted the case of the Speedmaster watch (42 mm, asymmetric design), namely ST 105.012. In 1965, the Omega Speedmaster won the United States NASA recognizes participation in all manned space missions. On March 23 of the same year, Virgil I. Grissom and John Young took the Titan II launch vehicle to perform the Gemini 3 mission, wearing Omega Speedmaster watches.
Over the next few years, space missions continued, with the exception of replacing the metal bracelet with a Velcro strap (another Swiss invention), no major changes to the Speedmaster watch. Until 1968, the column wheel Lémania Calibre 321 was replaced by the cam mechanism Lémania Calibre 861 (now Caliber 1861, but it has not changed significantly compared to the traditional version). The Pa watch is also given a new model: ST 145.022. All of this is inseparable from the support of OMEGA Creative Director Pierre Moinat and designer Claude Baillod. Since then, the Omega Speedmaster continues its legendary journey with only minor adjustments, such as the introduction of different retouches and sapphire crystals. But we must know that without profound and radical changes, it is impossible to challenge the myths from outer space.
Related Reading: Ten Legendary Timepieces in History (Part 2)