THE MOST EXCLUSIVE AUTOMATIC:THE VACHERON CALIBER 1120 by Walt Odets To my knowledge, there is only a single caliber that has been used by all members of the Swiss watchmaking trinity–Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, and Vacheron Constantin–and by no one else. Designed and manufactured (but not finished) by Jaeger... Read more
THE BALANCE COCK BY WALT ODETS   The balance cock (a cock is a bridge secured to the movement plate at only one end) is shown for all three movements in an inverted position. While the upper surfaces resemble the surfaces of the wheel train bridge, the undersides of... Read more
THE ESCAPE LEVER BY WALT ODETS   The escape lever of a watch meters the power of the gear train to the balance wheel and is thus a critical component in any watch. The escapement of a watch operates at extremely low forces and must do so with astonishing... Read more
ETA AUTOMATIC WINDING WALT ODETS   The automatic winding system first developed by Eterna (which joined ETA in 1932) is certainly the most widely used bidirectional system in the world. With the possible exception of the Jaeger Le Coultre switching-rocker system (which does not rely on click wheels) it... Read more
THE LANGE 1815 UP and DOWN:THE CALIBER L942.1 BY WALT ODETS The Lange & Sohne 1815 Up and Down is perhaps the quintessential Lange watch. Utterly traditional in appearance, it encases the caliber L942.1, a caliber L941.1 with the addition of a true differential power reserve mechanism. The addition... Read more
THE LANGE 1815 UP and DOWN:THE CALIBER L942.1 Part 2 BY WALT ODETS POWER RESERVE DISPLAY The power reserve display is not only a traditional feature on some Lange pocket watches, it is a very useful complication. The display is a reminder that a watch has or or has... Read more
MAKING A CASE FOR THE ROYAL OAK BY WALT ODETS Born in 1972, the Royal Oak is a good bit younger than The Queen. But they are both stately in their own ways, and they are both long-standing institutions. As with The Queen, I have always experienced the Royal Oak as something... Read more
MAKING A CASE FOR THE ROYAL OAK Part 2 BY WALT ODETS The protection of the movement and function of the large rubber ring are illustrated, right. The magenta lines represent sealed surfaces. The stem tube (at left) is soldered to the metal support ring around the movement and sealed... Read more
THE PURSUIT OF CENTER SECONDS Part 2 BY WALT ODETS DIRECT CENTER SECONDS For the aforementioned reasons, indirect center seconds was not a satisfactory solution for many manufacturers. In 1948, Zenith released the caliber 133. This “bumper” automatic was a 13”’ movement and was, for the time, remarkably thin at 4.9... Read more
THE PATEK ANNUAL CALENDAR MECHANISMby Walt Odets At the 1997 Basel Fair, Patek Philippe introduced its “annual calendar” watch, the Reference 5035. Based on Patek’s familiar caliber 315-SC automatic, the 5035 carries a calendar plate of new concept and design. Perhaps most significantly, this semi-complex calendar provides a guichet... Read more
A HEUER BEFORE IT WAS TAG BY WALT ODETS  In the days before it was Tag Heuer, it was Edouard Heuer. Founded in 1860 in Edouard’s St. Imier workshop, the company quickly became known for timers. Over the first  century of its existence, Heuer was known primarily for hand and wrist... Read more
THE IWC PERPETUAL CALENDAR MECHANISMby Walt Odets IWC greatly surprised the watch-making world in 1985 with its introduction of the Da Vinci (Ref. 3750) at that year’s Basel Fair. Here was an automatic chronograph perpetual calendar at about half the price of its nearest competitor. Additionally, it displayed the... Read more
The IWC Portugieser AutomaticRef. 3531 by Walt Odets In the late 1930’s, IWC received an order from a Portugese customer for a wristwatch the same size and accuracy as a pocket watch. It was delivered, in a steel case. In 1995, IWC released the first contemporary Portugieser, the Ref.... Read more
BASEL ’99 SNEAK-PREVIEW HIGHLIGHTS AUDEMARS PIGUET ANNOUNCES THE NEW “BEYOND MILLENARY” COLLECTION FOR PLANNED INTRODUCTION AT BASEL ’99 by Walt Odets Following on the unparalleled success of its “Millenary” collection, introduced at the 1996 Basel Fair, the prestigious firm of Audemars Piguet of Le Brassus has announced a new... Read more
THE BALANCE WHEEL OF A WATCHby Walt Odets The balance and balance spring are the “regulating organs” of the mechanical wristwatch, and it, therefore, seemed appropriate to begin my series of technical essays here–specifically with the balance wheel itself (I will discuss balance springs in a following piece). It... Read more
A MOST UNUSUAL HAMILTON RUTLEDGE BY WALT ODETS We live in a time when the Swiss wristwatch, among fine watches, dominates the world. As some collectors know, there were once American companies esteemed among the greats. Not the least of these was the Hamilton Watch Co. of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The... Read more
THE CHARM OF AUDEMARS PIGUET BY WALT ODETS There was a time, not long ago, when the mention of  Audemars Piguet lightened the hearts and lifted the spirits  of those in love with fine watches.  In recent years, particularly in the US, the name has come to do much... Read more
THE INVENTORY OF A SIMPLE WATCH BY WALT ODETS Mechanical wristwatches are made of parts, small parts, and a lot of them. Even the simplest mechanical watch is comprised of a surprising number of parts, none of which are superfluous. While servicing an Audemars Piguet caliber 2120, I thought it would be... Read more
THE OMEGA CO-AXIAL:AN IMPRESSIVE ACHIEVEMENT By Walt Odets At the 1999 Basel Watch and Jewelry Fair, Omega announced a new watch for the DeVille line: a chronometer-rated, limited edition watch. Although based on the Omega caliber 2500, an ETA 2892 derivative, the watch would, remarkably, be supplied with a... Read more
  VINTAGE VACHERON PART 2 BY WALT ODETS  The bottom plate of the caliber 452 is finished as handsomely as the top plate.  The screwed cap jewel plate for the lower balance pivot is visible at 8 o’clock.            The keyless works exhibits  classic Swiss design.  But note the... Read more
THE A-B-C’S OF WATCH FINISH by Walt Odets The subject of watch “finish” is often cited as important, and often given as the explanation for the high cost of a watch that runs at no more consistent a rate–in the short term, at least–than other watches at a fraction... Read more
TWEAKING THE MARK XII: PART 2.2 BASIC PRINCIPLES OF WATCH ADJUSTING by Walt Odets I have already discussed the concepts of watch timing (“Tweaking the Mark XII: Part 2.1“). In this part of the series, I will discuss the principles used in actually timing a watch. Understanding these principles... Read more
THE ZENITH CHRONOGRAPH BY WALT ODETS Zenith is a company with a history extending back to 1865, and is widely recognized for technical innovation and good quality watches. In 1967, Zenith introduced its arguably most interesting technical accomplishment, the caliber 1724. This movement, by substituting a planetary gearset for much of the... Read more
THE OMEGA CO-AXIAL:AN IMPRESSIVE ACHIEVEMENT Part 2 By Walt Odets WORKMANSHIP On first examination of the movement, what is most striking is the quality of the workmanship. While not an exercise in the finest, most time-consuming craftsmanship, this Omega caliber radiates the kind of fundamental quality that Omega has... Read more
  PATEK PHILIPPE’S BREAD AND BUTTER:THE CALIBER 215 BY WALT ODETS   If Patek Philippe has a bread-and-butter line, it is the series of simple, hand wound watches represented by the Calatrava and Gondolo lines. With a few exceptions, contemporary versions of these watches are all designed around the caliber... Read more
DIRECT DRIVE:THE REMARKABLE BULOVA ACCUTRONCALIBER 214 By Walt Odets The very brief technical superiority of the Accutron watch is, perhaps, one of the best known facts about the design.  The Accutron improved immensely upon the early “electronic” watch, which replaced the mainspring with a battery but established rate with... Read more
PART 2 TWEAKING THE MARK XII: PART 2.2BASIC PRINCIPLES OF WATCH ADJUSTINGby Walt Odets THE REGULATOR SWEEP The section of the balance spring “swept” by the regulator–the regulator sweep–is critical to the performance of the watch. As illustrated at right, the regulator itself must be moved away from the... Read more
THE ZENITH CHRONOGRAPH PART 2 BY WALT ODETS   THE BOTTOM PLATE The caliber 410 is supplied with a complete calendar, providing day, date, and month, plus moon phase.  While switching functions are conventionally engineered, the quality of finish is exceptional in the context of the cost of the movement.     Details... Read more
THE OMEGA CO-AXIAL:AN IMPRESSIVE ACHIEVEMENT Part 3 By Walt Odets ESCAPEMENT FUNCTION The co-axial escapement is considerably more complex than the familiar lever escapement. The Omega iteration of the escapement is what Daniels has called the “extra flat co-axial escapement.” As illustrated below, the extra-flat co-axial escape wheel does... Read more
THE CHRONOSWISS DELPHIS BY WALT ODETS   Chronoswiss is a small company producing a distinctive line of watches. The watches are easily recognized for their wonderfully done guilloche dials, their onion crowns, and coin-edged cases. The company has also specialized in a number of under-the-dial complications, as well as some modestly priced... Read more
LA GRANDE DAME DES AUTOMATIQUES SUISSE:The Patek Philippe Caliber 27-460 by Walt Odets The Swiss have been producing regular-production automatic movements for about half a century.  If there is a single  automatic movement that stands out as the reigning queen of that half century, it is the Patek Philippe... Read more
TWEAKING THE MARK XII: PART 2.3 ADJUSTING THE MARK XII/887 by Walt Odets In Part 1 of this series, I revealed the installation of an IWC caliber 887 in the Mark XII and promised to spend some time adjusting the movement to see if it’s performance could be improved... Read more
FORM FOLLOWS FORM:THE CARTIER TANK BASCULANTE BY WALT ODETS Cartier is not a company that leaps immediately to mind for technical achievement in the field of horology. Louis Cartier, heir to the family jewelry firm founded in 1846, was, however, a design pioneer in luxury goods, including the wristwatch. Although never a movement manufacturer,... Read more
The Omega DeVille Co-Axial Part 4 BY WALT ODETS LUBRICATION Upon first examination, the escapement of the Omega Co-Axial offered one great surprise. The impulse (small) escape wheel appeared to be heavily greased (right). Because the primary objective of the co-axial design is to eliminate lubrication at impulse surfaces... Read more

The Motion Works

The Horologium September 16, 2002

THE MOTION WORKS by Walt Odets The motion works, as the name implies, is the mechanism that gives motion to the hands of the watch. In other words, it is the motion works that translates the unwinding of a mainspring, the rotation of a gear train, and the reciprocating... Read more
FROM THE HOUSE OF HAPPY DIAMONDS:THE CHOPARD L.U.C. CALIBER 1.96 By Walt Odets   In an age when horology seems often  more about marketing than about authentic product, and many Swiss manufacturers would have the horologically knowledgeable remain ignorant of the innards of their timepieces, there is an occasional,... Read more
SECTION 2 TWEAKING THE MARK XII: PART 2.3 ADJUSTING THE MARK XII/887 by Walt Odets 7. The dial-up rate did, as expected, increase more than dial-down, but the spread between the two was still too large. Now, the dial-up amplitude was also dangerously high (threatening knocking with any activity),... Read more
FORM FOLLOWS FORM:THE CARTIER TANK BASCULANTE PART 2 BY WALT ODETS THE MOVEMENT Perhaps unexpectedly, the Tank Basculante is not simply a “jewelry watch.” It contains a first-grade movement.  Illustrated left, the movement is nothing less than a Frederic Piguet caliber 6.10.   A diminutive 6.5 lignes (15.2 millimeters) and... Read more
ANATOMY OF AN $85.00 WATCH: THE SWATCH AUTOMATIC by Walt Odets  The Swatch Automatic reminded me almost immediately of an episode from the Columbo television series of the early 1970’s, and of a scene that only a watch idiot savant would remember. Peter Falk, playing the habitually disheveled, cigar-smoking... Read more