Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Chronor uses a flexible clip that stops and releases the wheel ratrapante The dilemma of contemporary watchmaking art – how to be relevant in the XXI century and remain faithful to a centuries-old tradition? For some time houses the answer to this question is to follow closely the new technologies that can improve the design of the mechanical watch, without affecting their character.
The watch, as well as in architecture, the utility is a necessary but not a sufficient value.
In its advertising quartz watches of the 1970s, “of Seiko” was only half-right when he said that “all the watches ever to be made that way.
” What is happening today is not so much the energy revolution as material drive.
Silicon, or, more precisely, CVD process (chemical vapor deposition), allows to produce the components with the smallest degree of accuracy much higher than conventional machining capabilities.
These parts may simply be printed on a silicon substrate by adding or removing materials using a reactive gas and plasma.
More importantly, it was the catalyst for an entirely new way of thinking.
In its simplest form, the replacement of standard parts of their silicon equivalents allows brands to offer a watch that accurately measure time, last longer and require less service than the clock with conventional mechanisms.
And this is – a significant achievement, given that the after-sales service is an integral part of the business of luxury mechanical watches.
Silicon oscillator used in the Zenith Defy Lab includes all the elements of the shutter anchor Take, for example, only that running mechanism «Baumatic» by «Baume & Mercier», which corresponds chronometric standards, and thus has an extended warranty, and increased service intervals.
This was made possible almost entirely through the use of silicon.
Now developers can define the structure of the component molecules literally, designing parts that traditionally require assembly.
The hourly production this means reducing the number of parts: the balance wheel, springs, trigger wheel and the axis of the anchor escapement (usually at least 24 tiny trudnoobrabatyvaemyh component) to four, three or even one whole piece.
Imagine creating scissors from one side instead of four.
Compare this with a mechanical watch made of traditional materials.
They have three problems: they need lubrication (which eventually decomposes), their speed may vary depending on the temperature and should be protected from magnetic fields.
Silicon, on the other hand, has low friction performance, isothermal and non-magnetic properties.
Nearly 20 years ago, this prompted the Swiss brand «Ulysse Nardin» to begin development of silicon components for its watches, and led to the launch «Freak» collection in 2001.
«Freak» demonstrated the potential of silicon, and since then the technology, proving its reliability, is gradually being implemented throughout the industry.
Plate of silicon in the production of anchors Sigatec Ulysse Nardin Another example, springs.
In most mechanical springs used Swiss watches made of iron-nickel alloy called «Nivarox», produced by the same company of metal wire traditional method.
But the dominance of «Nivarox» may soon come to an end.
Recently, researchers from the “Laboratory of mechanics of materials and nanostructures”, part of the “Empa” (Swiss Federal Research Institute for Materials Science), developed a fundamentally different technology.
And today, a new spring is already being tested in one of the Swiss manufacturers.
Instead of a traditional winding, «Empa» electroplating command used for “growing” running and hair springs for hours.
The process begins with a silicon wafer similar to those used to manufacture computer chips.
The plate coated with a conductive layer of gold, on top of which a layer of a photosensitive dye.
Thereafter, light is projected onto the surface, and the mask retains the projection in the form of the desired shape of the helical spring.
The illuminated area reacts with the dye, causing it and the gold underneath etched with chemicals, leaving only gold spring form.
Then the plate is placed in a bath containing dissolved metallic compounds therein electric current is applied, whereby the metal is deposited on the gold to create loop spring.
Before spring it will be sent watchmaker requires a few additional validation processes, cleaning and processing.
Silicon spring balance with the magnetic axis Breguet hours Classique Chronométrie 7727 The laboratory is also working on process variations, including 3D-printing, for the manufacture of springs of different shapes and to create other micro-mechanical structures for hours.
According Laetitia Philippe, one of the «Empa» researchers, something that has yet to be improved, but this process can create new types of springs, which are opening up new design possibilities for watchmakers.
“The materials used in the process, should give the clock spring more resistant to temperature,” – she adds.
Furthermore, the spring can be made lighter and, since they are built up layer by layer, then there are certain features of the structure for different types of movements.
Girard-Perregaux descender blade 0.
14 mm thick is used in hours Constant Escapement LM clockworks developers quickly discovered that silicon manufacturing process allows them to experiment with geometry, beginning the creation of incredible shapes that can not be classified.
So, the newest shutter system «Oscillomax» from «Patek Philippe» is equipped with a spring balance, thickened at the ends, allowing it to fluctuate evenly at any orientation.
As shown by the oscillator «Girard-Perregaux Constant Force», these components may be very different from their conventional equivalents.
It is built on the basis of a thin blade that is bent, absorbing energy, and then returns to the original position, providing accurate pulses mechanism.
Exit “the Zenith” in the field of silicon components – is the brainchild of Guy Simon, Director General, “the TAG Heuer” in partnership with “Delft University of Technology ‘, one of the leading research centers in this area.
Oscillator «Zenith» is an integral component of silicon without friction, which maintains a constant rate from a fully instigated condition hours before the end of the 60-hour power reserve that ordinary clock can only when there is a complicated compensation mechanism.
Patek Philippe Advanced Research Aquanaut Travel Time are flexible steel regulator GMT In contrast, the threat posed to the conventional quartz watch industry invention in this case is the opposite.
Well-known brands as «Parmigiani Fleurier», «Omega», «Rolex» and «Patek Philippe», which supported the research in silicon use, were founded upon the new way of thinking, and applied it to more traditional materials, giving priority to the proven reliability of novelty: so the caliber of «Omega 8900″ combines the two approaches to the production of watches.
He will work with greater accuracy than traditional clock, in virtually any environment, with a much longer service life and warranty.
Perhaps the most interesting position on this issue – it is a position «Patek Philippe».
Innately conservative in its approach, the research laboratory of the company «Advanced Research Team» must balance the net value of new technologies hour culture, which built the famous brand.
But, says Frederic Meyer, deputy director of the department: “They may be more difficult to design and manufacture, but flexible arrangements include fewer parts and a smaller size, which means greater reliability.
” Flexible steel mechanism Patek Philippe 1.
244 mm in thickness, used in the Advanced Research Team hours In «Patek Philippe» last year demonstrated the clock «Advanced Research Aquanaut Travel Time», equipped with a “compatible” flexible mechanism that regulates GMT indication.
To perform its function, a mechanism is necessary to transfer, store and change the direction of the pulses of the buttons – a difficult task for which typically require assembly of 30 or more ingredients, half of which require lubrication.
Surprisingly, the new mechanism includes a total of 12 components and is made of steel with the use of both modern and traditional technology, with a gap of 150 microns between crossed springs, it would be impossible to imagine a few years ago.
It’s just a demonstration of how the technology can be applied in the future.
You can easily imagine and more complex assemblies, however, adds Meyer, “Our task – to make the best” of Patek Philippe “, and not just the best clocks.
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