Friday, August 14, 2009
MANUALLY WOUND/HANDWOUND The owners of manually wound watches wind their watches regularly since hand winding is what is required to charge the mainspring barrel with energy. When the mainspring eventually slackens, the watch is depleted of operational energy, and eventually comes to a stop. Some manually wound watches have a noticeably greater running autonomy than other watches of this type, and can have a power reserve longer than a week. Examples of such power reserve champions are the Chopard L.U.C Regulator, the Patek Philippe 10-Day Tourbillon, and the A. Lange & Sohne Lange 31. To attain such a lengthy power reserve, watchmakers typically employ more than one spring barrel or use an extra-long main spring. Efficiency of the mechanism (gear train design, energy transmission ratios, etc) can also draw out the power reserve. Much like those car aficionados who prefer manual transmissions for control and interaction with their vehicle, some watch collectors prefer the tactile pleasure that manual winding movements provide. AUTOMATIC/SELF-WINDING Automatic watches are those whose mechanical movements continually create energy from the motion of the wearer. As long as there is such activity, the watch will remain wound and running. What is accomplished with a manual wind watch via the thumb and forefinger, is achieved in an automatic watch through a rotating weight--the rotor--which winds the mainspring barrel(s) as the wearer moves his or her wrist. The origins of the self-winding watch lay in the French-Swiss watch making school. By all accounts, it was conceived by Abraham Louis Perrelet, a contemporary of Breguet. Interestingly enough, Breguet himself would go on to adopt a similar system in some of his horological masterpieces. Some automatic systems wind in both directions of rotor travel, while others wind in only one; the debate continues among the leading manufacturers as to which method is most efficient. QUARTZ Quartz watches are the result of horology's tireless quest for superior accuracy. Research and prototypes of quartz watches were being developed as early as the 1950's. Quartz watches were not available to the public in any real quantity until the 1970’s, and were extremely pricey at first. The power source of a quartz watch is customarily a battery. Exceptions exist, but as a rule quartz watches depend upon a battery to generate the electrical energy they require. With their predominantly electronic operating system, quartz movements are considerably less intricate than a mechanical watch, and consequently do not require as much long-term maintenance. The reason the quartz watch is more accurate than a mechanical watch is this: a quartz crystal vibrates at at the extremely rapid frequency of 32,768 vibrations per second. By contrast, the balance wheel of a mechanical watch moves at a comparative snails pace of 18,000 to 36,000 beats per hour! As a general rule, the faster the motion of the regulating organ, the more accurate the watch.