How a watch works

0 Comments 23.02.2014

ETA 6497-1If we want to get seriously involved in watchmaking and mainly in a watch movement design, construction and production, the most important thing is to understand the principle of its work. Just like with other things in life, the basis is to know how it works. If we can understand the principle of how things work, we would be able not only to repair any mechanism, but also to design a new or modify an existing one. This applies not only to the watch movement, but generally. If we can perfectly understand how something works we can design a steam engine or a rocket, build a milling machine or a lathe or to identify a failure in a combustion engine. Let’s explain how the watch movement works and get familiar with the terminology – names of individual parts of the mechanism. We will use the terms in the future, so it would be worth to remember them.

So, let’s explain the basic things regarding watches operation. The principle of the watch movement as we know it now has been known for long. In fact, the beginning of the modern watches dates back to 1657, when the balance spring was invented. Since then, the watch movement have not only become more accurate, but also more “portable” as the need to use a pendulum disappeared (if you want more information about the history of watch movement, you should start here). The principle of balance spring, but also the whole mechanism functioning (gear train, power source etc.) is transparently and clearly explained in a former video.

Quite simple, isn’t it? I hope, all of you’ve got it (if not, watch once more, as we are going to need it in the future). Another video will show us the individual components of the watch movement with its names. I am not saying these are the most sophisticated terms, but we will use them.

And in the end, let’s have a look at individual mechanism components as they are placed in the actual watch movement. ETA 6497, 17 jewels is used for illustration. I would like to express my gratitude for the model and the permit to use it to Steen Winther. (for slideshow click on image)


I make it also as video:

I hope, that the theory and the terminology of the watch movement are clear to you. Next time we will see and describe the individual parts of the movement live when disassembling the watches. I will show everything using the Molnija 3602 mechanism, as it is very simple and suits well to get the basis. So if you want to disassemble and assemble the movement with me, in the next part, get one. It is quite cheap and it is widely available. You can chose and buy one on ebay.

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