The Keyless Works Hot

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
THAT IWC PLATINUM MARK XII BY WALT ODETS The Mark XII is one of my favorite watches–utterly straight forward and perfectly proportioned. I did a Horologium series on it, which included swapping out the original caliber 884 for a more nicely finished caliber 887. I then came across a... Read more
THOSE WONDERFUL PIGUET CHRONOGRAPHS BY WALT ODETS In 1987, Piguet first released a remarkable chronograph, the ultra-thin, hand-wound caliber 1180. With a total height of only 3.95 millimeters, it was the thinnest chronograph caliber every produced. A classic column-wheel design with some very novel design twists, it was also... Read more
JESSICA’S CORNAVIN DOLPHIN by Walt Odets In 1974, my friend Jessica was living in New York and working as a waitress in an average coffee shop on Canal Street. It was here that she came across the first–and last–horological love of her life, her Cornavin Dolphin. Out on the... Read more
THE VALJOUX 7750 CHRONOGRAPH BY WALT ODETS If there is a single movement ubiquitous in modestly-priced contemporary chronographs, it is the Valjoux 7750. Introduced in 1974–five years after the famed Zenith El Primero automatic–the movement has been supplied in both 21,600 and 28,800 beat versions. It uses an automatic-winding module... Read more
FUNCTION OF THE ESCAPEMENTIN DETAILBY WALT ODETS The following series of six drawings explains the entire cycle of the escapement and is worth detailed study. The series is taken from “Practical Watch Repairing,” by Donald de Carle, N.A.G. Press, Ipswich, Suffolk, 1969 (unfortunately currently out of print). Read more
  A COMPARISON OF THE KEYLESS WORKS IN A PATEK AND A LANGE BY WALT ODETS There has been much discussion about the relative qualities of the Lange and Patek. Both are obviously very finely made watches.  I have also felt that there are certain failures of craft in the Lange... Read more
THOSE WONDERFUL PIGUET CHRONOGRAPHS PART 2 BY WALT ODETS MINUTE AND HOUR ACCUMULATORS The vertical clutch design offers another benefit difficult to obtain with a conventional switched intermediate wheel. As illustrated left, the upper center wheel pinion carries both the heart cam (1) and a plate with finger (2).... Read more
TWEAKING THE MARK XII: PART ONE by Walt Odets In the 1970’s, I was a pilot flying printing plates, bags of canceled checks, and the occasional dead body, also in a bag. People wanted their magazines and definitely wanted their money. And some died away from home, and their... Read more
THE VALJOUX 7750 CHRONOGRAPH Part 2 BY WALT ODETS   OTHER FEATURES OF THE TOP PLATE The Valjoux 7750 uses a sturdy and convenient semi-fine rate regulation device.  The index (right, 1) is moved to adjust the daily rate of the watch.  Attached to an eccentric screw (2), this... Read more

Wheel Train Bridge

The Horologium September 16, 2002

THE WHEEL TRAIN BRIDGE BY WALT ODETS   The wheel train bridge carries the upper pivots of the center wheel (usually), third wheel, fourth wheel, and, sometimes, the escape wheel. The JLC bridge (1A) shows first-class finish. In addition to the sturdy construction and very fine machining, which provides... Read more
VINTAGE VACHERON BY WALT ODETS What has four wings, flies only in circles, and always wants to land back on your wrist?  For one thing, a Vacheron &  Constantin wristwatch from about 1940.More properly, the Vacheron shown right has, not wings, but triple-tiered teardrop lugs.  It is a classic... Read more
THE PATEK PHILIPPELIGHT-WOUND CLOCK by Walt Odets Nearly a half century ago–in 1950–Patek Philippe began marketing an extraordinary invention, the “light-wound” table clock. The clock required no regular winding and, after full charge, was capable of running in complete darkness for a year. Furthermore, Patek claimed a very impressive... Read more
TWEAKING THE MARK XII: PART 2.1 THE CONCEPT OF TIMING by Walt Odets Having switched the original Mark XII caliber 884 for a caliber 887 (see “Tweaking the Mark XII: Part 1“), I spent in excess of 50 hours tweaking the escapement of the 887 to see if I... Read more
DON’T ASK ME WHY THEY CALL IT THE TIME CUBE By Walt Odets Can we talk?  Is there anything about this automatic watch winder (right) that reminds you of a cube?  Are there eight days in the week?  Sixteen months in the year?  One hundred and two years until... Read more