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
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
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
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

The Keyless Works

The Horologium September 16, 2002

THE KEYLESS WORKS by Walt Odets Those without a sense of the history of the mechanical watch probably do not know that were it not for the innovation of Patek Philippe in 1841–with the invention of the “keyless works”–we might still be winding and hand setting our wristwatches with... Read more
THE AUDEMARS PIGUET CALIBER 2870 BY WALT ODETS In 1986, Audemars Piguet released a new caliber that, at the time was a remarkable technical achievement. This is the Caliber 2870. Not only was this the first production tourbillon with automatic winding, the tourbillon was also the smallest ever produced:  a... Read more
WHAT IN THE WORLD ISA JELLY FISH 344527460? BY WALT ODETS  I have written about the Patek caliber 27-460, which is nothing less than one of the two or three finest automatic movements ever to leave the hands of Swiss manufacturers.  It is an exquisite movement, built to the... Read more
THE LOVELY BLANCPAIN 1106 GETS A NEW BACK BY WALT ODETS For a company making a mere 4,000 or so watches a year, Blancpain and partner, Piguet, are producing a remarkable range of watches. With the notoriety of the chronographs, and particularly the successful Flyback, some of the more... Read more
IT’S A DUNHILL – SORT OF by Walt Odets Dunhill began in the late 19th century as a maker of luxury horse tack, quite literally for the carriage trade. But the advent of the automobile rightly caused Alfred to rethink things, and today Dunhill is widely known as a... Read more
THE AUDEMARS PIGUET CALIBER 2870 Part 2 BY WALT ODETS THE TOURBILLON With the exception of it’s (now relatively common) titanium cage, the tourbillon of the 2870 is conventional in design.  As illustrated (right ),  the cage (1) is screwed to a base plate (2).  The base plate carries ... Read more
TO BUDDY FROM FRITZI:A GRUEN VERITHIN BY WALT ODETS Albert “Buddy” Gondee must have been quite a guy–or at least Fritzi must have thought so.  On some important, unknown occasion around 1920, Buddy received an 18 K Gruen VeriThin from Fritzi.  The Gruen undoubtedly served him well for many... Read more
THE LOVELY BLANCPAIN 1106GETS A NEW BACK PART 2 BY WALT ODETS I have recently begun using a new Bergeon Lathe B, purchased through Bob Frei of the TimeZone Tool Shop. Swiss made, this is a very traditional watchmakers lathe of excellent precision and versatility. The feel and aesthetics... Read more
PURELY PERSONAL MUSINGS ON A LANGE SAXONIA by Walt Odets I had dinner a few nights ago with a very funny friend who used to be a watchmaker and now hopes to never handle a tweezers again for the rest of his life. And, oh yes, before dinner I... Read more
THE ROLEX EXPLORER REF. 14270 by Walt Odets Among the watches in Rolex’s current production, the Oyster Perpetual Explorer (Ref. 14270, but known popularly as “The Explorer 1″) stands in the lower-middle segment of the stainless steel line: a COSC certified center-seconds caliber 3000, without date, retailing for approximately... Read more
TIMING RESULTS ON FIVE HIGH-GRADE WATCHES BY WALT ODETS Much has been made–perhaps too much–about the “accuracy” of mechanical watches.  There are very few of us who actually rely on a watch to be accurate to within a second or two a day.  For my personal use, a watch... Read more
THE ANCHOR ESCAPEMENT by Walt Odets   When we speak today about the escapement of a wristwatch we are, almost invariably, referring to the double roller Swiss anchor escapement. It is the development and refinement of this escapement which, in the nineteenth century, vaulted the Swiss into an indisputable... Read more
THE JAEGER LECOULTRE MASTER ULTRA THIN: A STUDY IN SIMPLE EXCELLENCE by Walt Odets A diminutive 5.4 millimeters across its thickest section, the Jaeger LeCoultre Ultra Thin looks no more than two millimeters on the wrist. Perhaps that low profile is one reason it is so often ignored by... Read more
THE ROLEX EXPLORER REF. 14270 PART TWO (CONTINUED FROM PART ONE) by Walt Odets ISSUES OF QUALITY The timer performance of this caliber 3000 is noteworthy not only for the excellent figures but for the fact that such figures are possible from a movement in the poor condition that... Read more