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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica


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(in 0. Eng. woecce, a keeping guard or watching, from wacian, to guard, watch, wacan, to wake), a portable timepiece. This is the most common meaning of the word in its substantival form, and is the subject of the present article. The word, by derivation, means that which keeps watchful or wakeful observation or attention over anything, and hence is used of a person or number of persons whose duty it is to protect anything by vigilance, a guard or sentry; it is thus the term for the body of persons who patrolled the streets, called the hours, and performed the duties of the modern police. The application of the term to a period of time is due to the military division of the night by the Greeks and Romans into "watches" (OvXaxai, vigiliae), marked by the change of sentries; similarly, on shipboard, time is also reckoned by "watches," and the crew is divided into two portions, the starboard and port watches, taking duty alternately.' The transference of the word to that which marks the changing hours is easy.

' In the British navy the twelve hours of the night are divided into three watches of four hours - from eight to twelve the first watch, from twelve to four the middle watch, and from four to eight the morning watch. The twelve hours of the day are divided into four watches, two of four hours - eight to midday, midday to four P.M. - and two of two hours, from four to six and six to eight. These are the "dog watches," and their purpose is to change the turn of the watches every twenty-four hours, so that the men who watch from eight to midnight on one night, shall watch from midnight till 4 AIM. on the next. The "watch bill" is the list of the men appointed to the watch, who are mustered by the officers. Time was originally kept by an hour-glass, every half-hour; the number of the half-hour The invention of portable timepieces dates from the end of the 15th century, and the earliest manufacture of them was in Germany. They were originally small clocks with mainsprings enclosed in boxes; sometimes they were of a globular form and were often called "Nuremberg eggs." Being too large for the pocket they were frequently hung from the girdle. The difficulty with these early watches was the inequality of action of the mainspring. An attempt to remedy this was provided by a contrivance called the stack-freed, which was little more than a sort of rude auxiliary spring. The problem was solved about the years 15251J40 by the invention of the fusee. By this contrivance the mainspring is made to turn a barrel on which is wound a piece of catgut, which in the latter part of the 16th century was replaced by a chain. The other end of the catgut band is wound upon a spiral drum, so contrived that as the spring runs down and becomes weaker the leverage on the axis of the spiral increases, and thus gives a stronger impulse to the works (fig.

In early watches the escapement was the same as in early clocks, namely, a crown wheel and pallets with a balance ending in small weights. Such an escapement was, of course, very imperfect, for since the angular force acting on the balance does not vary with the displacement, the time of oscillation varies with the arc, and this again varies with every variation of the driving force. An immense improvement was therefore effected when the hair-spring was added to the balance, which was replaced by a wheel. This was done about the end of the 17th century. During the 18th century a series of escapements were invented to replace the old crown wheel, ending in the chronometer escapement, and though great improvements in detail have since been made, yet the watch, even as it is to-day, may be called an 18th-century invention.

The watches of the 16th century were usually enclosed in cases ornamented with the beautiful art of that period. Sometimes the case was fashioned like a skull, and the watches were made in the form of octagonal jewels, crosses, purses, little books, dogs, sea-shells, &c., in almost every instance being finely engraved. Queen Elizabeth was very fond of receiving presents, and, as she was also fond of clocks, a number of the gifts presented to her took the form of jewelled watches.

The man to whom watch-making owes perhaps most was Thomas Tompion (1639-1713), who invented the first dead-beat escapement for watches (fig. 2). It consisted of a balance-wheel mounted on an axis of semi-cylindrical form with a notch in it, and a projecting stud. When the teeth of the scape-wheel came against the cylindrical part of the axis they were held from going forward, but when the motion of the axis was reversed, the teeth slipped past the notch and struck the projection, thus giving an impulse. This escapement was afterwards developed by George Graham (1673-1751) into the horizontal cylindrical escapement and into the well-known dead-beat escapement for clocks.

The development of escapements in the 18th century greatly is shown by striking the watch bell, hanging on a beam of the forecastle, or by the mainmast, with the clapper. One stroke is given for each half-hour. Thus 12.30 A.M. is one bell in the middle watch, and 3 A.M. is six bells. The bell was also used to indicate the course of a ship in a fog. A vessel on the starboard tack tolled the bell, a vessel on the port tack beat a drum. The watch guns were fired when setting the watch in the evening and relieving it in the morning. The gun is now only fired at sundown.


improved watches. But a defect still remained, namely, the influence of temperature upon the hair-spring of the balancewheel. Many attempts were made to provide a remedy. John Harrison proposed a curb, so arranged that alterations of temperature caused unequal expansion in two pieces of metal, and thus actuated an arm which moved and mechanically altered the length of the hair-spring, thus compensating the effect of its altered elasticity. But the best solution of the problem was ultimately proposed by Pierre le Roy (1717-1785) and perfected by Thomas Earnshaw (1749-1829). This was to diminish the inertia of the balance-wheel in proportion to the increase of temperature, by means of the unequal expansion of the metals composing the rim.

Invention in watches was greatly stimulated by the need of a good timepiece for finding longitudes at sea, and many successive rewards were offered by the government for watches which would keep accurate time and yet be able to bear the rocking motion of a ship. The difficulty ended by the invention of the chronometer, which was so perfected towards the early part of the 19th century as to have even now undergone but little change of form. In fact the only great triumph of later years has been the invention of watch-making machinery, whereby the price is so lowered that an excellent watch (in a brass case) can now be purchased for about £2 and a really accurate time-keeper for about £18.

A modern watch consists of a case and framework containing the four essential parts of every timepiece, namely, a mainspring and apparatus for winding it up, a train of wheels with hands and a face, an escapement and a balance-wheel and hair-spring. We shall describe these in order.

The Mainspring

As has been said, the mainspring of an oldfashioned watch was provided with a drum and fusee so as to equalize its action on the train. An arrangement was provided to prevent overwinding, consisting of a hook which when the chain was nearly wound up was pushed aside so as to engage a pin, and thus prevent further winding (see fig. I). Another arrangement for watches without a fusee, called a Geneva stop, consists of a wheel with one tooth affixed to the barrel arbour, working into another with only four or five teeth. This allows the barrel arbour only to be turned round four or five times.

The "going-barrel," which is fitted to most modern watches, contains no fusee, but the spring is delicately made to diminish in size from one end to the other, and it is wound up for only a few turns, so that the force derived from it does not vary very substantially. The unevenness of drive is in modern watches sought to be counteracted by the construction of the escapement and balance-wheel.

Watches used formerly to be wound with a separate key. They are now wound by a key permanently fixed to the case. The depression of a small knob gears the winding key with the hands so as to enable them to be set. With this contrivance watches are well protected against the entry of dust and damp.

Watch Escapements

The escapements that have come into practical use are - (I) the old vertical escapement, now disused; (2) the lever, very much the most common in English watches; (3) the horizontal or cylinder, which is equally common in foreign watches, though it was of English invention; (4) the duplex, which used to be more in fashion for first-rate watches than it is now; and (5) the detached or chronometer escapement, so called because it is always used in marine chronometers.

The vertical escapement is simply the original clock escapement adapted to the position of the wheels in a watch and the balance, in the manner exhibited in fig. 3. As it requires considerable thickness in the watch, is inferior in going to all the others and is no cheaper than the level escapement can now be made, it has gone out of use.

The lever escapement, as it is now universally made, was brought into use late in the 18th century by Thomas Mudge. Fig. 4 shows its action. The position of the lever with reference to the pallets is immaterial in principle, and is only a question of convenience in the arrangement; but it is generally such as we have given it. The principle is the same as in the dead-beat clock escapement, with the advantage that there is no friction on the dead faces of the pallets beyond what is necessary for locking. The reason why this friction cannot be avoided with a pendulum is that its arc of vibration is so small that the requisite depth of intersection cannot be got between the two circles described by the end S of the lever and any pin in the pendulum which would work into it; whereas, in a watch, the pin P, which is set in a cylinder on the verge of the balance, does not generally slip out of the nick in the end of the lever until the balance has got 15° past its middle position. The pallets are undercut a little, as it is called, i.e. the dead faces are so sloped as to give a little recoil the wrong way, or slightly to resist the unlocking, because otherwise there would be a risk that a shake of the watch would let a tooth escape while the pin is disengaged from the lever. There is also a further provision added for safety. In the cylinder which carries the impulse pin P there is a notch just in front of P, into which the other pin S on the lever fits as they pass; but when the notch has got past the cylinder it would prevent the lever from returning, because the safety-pin S cannot pass except through the notch, which is only in the position for letting it pass at the same time that the impulse-pin is engaged in the lever. The pallets in a lever escapement (except bad and cheap ones) are always jewelled, and the scape-wheel is of brass. FIG. 4. The staff of the lever also has jewelled pivot holes in expensive watches, and the scape-wheel has in all good ones. The holes for the balance-pivots are now always jewelled. The scape-wheel in this and most of the watch escapements generally beats five times in a second, in large chronometers four times; and the wheel next to the scape-wheel carries the seconds-hand.

Fig. 5 is a plan of the horizontal or cylinder escapement, cutting through the cylinder, which is on the verge of the balance, at the level of the tops of the teeth of the escape-wheel; for the triangular pieces A, B are not flat projections in the same plane as the teeth, but are raised on short stems above the plane of the wheel; and still more of the cylinder than the portion shown at ACD is cut away where the wheel itself has to pass. The author of this escapement was G. Graham, and it resembles his dead escapements in clocks in principle more than the lever escapement does, though much less in appearance, because in this escapement there is the dead friction of the teeth against the cylinder, first on the outside, as here represented, and then on the inside, as shown by the dotted lines, during the whole vibration of the balance, except that portion which belongs to the impulse. The impulse is given by the oblique outside edges Aa, Bb of the teeth against the edges A, D of the cylinder alternately. The portion of the cylinder which is cut away at the point of action is about 30° less than the semicircle. The cylinder itself is made either of steel or ruby, and, from the small quantity of it which is left at the level of the wheel, it is very delicate; and, probably this has been the main reason why, although it is an English invention, it has been most entirely abandoned by the English watchmakers in favour of the lever, which was originally a French invention, though very much improved by Mudge, for before his invention the lever had a rack or portion of a toothed wheel on its end, working into a pinion on the balance verge, and consequently it was affected by the dead friction, and that of this wheel and pinion besides. This used to be called the rack lever, and Mudge's the detached lever; but, the rack lever being now quite obsolete, the word "detached" has become confined to the chronometer, to which it is more appropriate, as will be seen presently. The Swiss watches have almost universally the horizontal escapement. It is found that - for some reason which is apparently unknown, as the rule certainly does not hold in cases seemingly analogous - a steel scape-wheel acts better in this escapement than a brass one, although in some other cases steel upon steel, or even upon a ruby, very soon throws off a film of rust, unless they are kept well oiled, while brass and steel, or stone, will act with scarcely any oil at all, and in some cases with none.

The duplex escapement (fig. 6) is probably so called because there is a double set of teeth in the scape-wheel - the long ones (like those of the lever escapement in shape) for locking only, and short ones (or rather upright pins on the rim of the wheel) for giving the impulse to the pallet P on the verge of the balance. It is a single-beat escapement; i.e. the balance only receives the impulse one way, or at every alternate beat, as in the chronometer escapement. When the balance is turning in the direction marked by the arrow, and arrives at the position in which the dotted tooth b has its point against the triangular notch V, the tooth end slips into the notch, and, as the verge turns farther round, the tooth goes on with it till at last it escapes when the tooth has got into the position A; and by that time the long tooth or pallet which projects from the verge has moved from p to P, and just come in front of the pin T, which stands on the rim of the scape-wheel, and which now begins to push against P, and so gives the impulse until it also escapes when it has arrived at t; and the wheel is then stopped by the next tooth B having got into the position b, with its point resting against the verge, and there is dead friction between them, and this friction is lessened by the FIG. 3.

FIG. 6.

distance of the points of the long teeth from the centre of the scapewheel. As the balance turns back, the nick V goes past the end of the tooth and in consequence of its smallness it passes without visibly affecting the motion of the scape-wheel, though of course it does produce a very slight shake in passing. It is evident that, if it did not pass, the tooth could not get into the nick for the next escape. The objection to this escapement is that it requires very great delicacy of adjustment, and the watch also requires to be worn care: fully; for, if by accident the balance is once stopped from swinging back far enough to carry the nick V past the tooth end, it will stop altogether, as it will lose still more of its vibration the next time from receiving no impulse. The performance of this escapement, when well made, and its independence of oil, are nearly equal to those of the detached escapement; but, as lever watches are now made sufficiently good for all but astronomical purposes, for which chronometers are used, and they are cheaper both to make and to mend than duplex ones, the manufacture of duplex watches has almost disappeared.

The chronometer or detached escapement is shown at fig. 7 in the form to which it was brought by Earnshaw, and in which it has remained ever since, with the very slight difference that the pallet P, on which the impulse is given (corresponding exactly to the pallet P in the duplex escapement), is now generally set in a radial direction from the verge, whereas Earnshaw made it sloped backward, or undercut, like the scape-wheel teeth. The early history of escapements on this principle does not seem to be very clear. They appear to have originated in France; but there is no doubt that they were considerably improved by the first Arnold (John), who died in 1799. Earnshaw's watches, however, generally beat his in trials.

In fig. 7 the small tooth or cam V, on the verge of the balance, is just on the point of unlocking the detent DT from the tooth T of the scape-wheel; and the tooth A will immediately begin to give the impulse on the pallet P, which, in good chronometers, is always a jewel set in the cylinder; the tooth V is also a jewel. This part of the action is so evident as to require no further notice. When the balance returns, the tooth V has to get past the end of the detent, without disturbing it; for, as soon as it has been unlocked, it falls against the banking-pin E, and is ready to receive the next tooth B, and must stay there until it is again unlocked. It ends, or rather begins, in a stiffish spring, which is screwed to the block D on the watch frame, so that it moves without FIG. 7. any friction of pivots, like a pendulum. The passing is done by means of another spring VT, called the passing spring, which can be pushed away from the body of the detent towards the left, but cannot be pushed the other way without carrying the detent with it. In the back vibration, therefore, as in the duplex escapement, the balance receives no impulse, and it has to overcome the slight resistance of the passing spring besides; but it has no other friction, and is entirely detached from the scape-wheel the whole time, except when receiving the impulse. That is also the case in the lever escapement; but the impulse in that escapement is given obliquely, and consequently with a good deal of friction; and, besides, the scape-wheel only acts on the balance through the intervention of the lever, which has the friction of its own pivots and of the impulse pin. The locking-pallet T is undercut a little for safety, and is also a jewel in the best chronometers; and the passing spring is usually of gold. In the duplex and detached escapements, the timing of the action of the different parts requires great care, i.e. the adjusting them so that each may be ready to act exactly at the right time; and it is curious that the arrangement which would be geometrically correct, or suitable for a very slow motion of the balance, will not do for the real motion. If the pallet P were really set so as just to point to the tooth A in both escapements at the moment of unlocking (as it has been drawn, because otherwise it would look as if it could not act at all), it would run away some distance before the tooth could catch it, because in the duplex escapement the scape-wheel is then only moving slowly, and in the detached it is not moving at all, and has to start from rest. The pallet P is therefore, in fact, set a little farther back, so that it may arrive at the tooth A just at the time when A is ready for it, without wasting time and force in running after it. The detached escapement has also been made on the duplex plan of having long teeth for the locking and short ones or pins nearer the centre for the impulse; but the advantages do not appear to be worth the additional trouble, and the force required for unlocking is not sensibly diminished by the arrangement, as the spring D must in any case be fairly stiff, to provide against the watch being carried in the position in which the weight of the detent helps to unlock it.

An escapement called the lever chronometer has been several times reinvented, which implies that it has never come into general use. It is a combination of the lever as to the locking and the chronometer as to the impulse. It involves a little drop and therefore waste of force as a tooth of the wheel just escapes at the "passing" beat where no impulse is given. But it should be understood that a single-beat escapement involves no more loss of force and the escape of no more teeth than a double one, except the slight drop in the duplex and this lever chronometer or others on the same principle.

There have been several contrivances for remontoire escapements; but there are defects in all of them; and there is not the same advantage to be obtained by giving the impulse to a watch-balance by means of some other spring instead of the mainspring as there is in turret-clocks, where the force of the train is liable to very much greater variations than in chronometers or small clocks.

The balance-wheel and hair-spring consist of a small wheel, usually of brass, to which is affixed a spiral, or in chronometers a helical, spring. This wheel swings through an angle of from 180° to 270° and its motions are approximately isochronous. The time of the watch can be regulated by an arm to which is attached a pair of pins which embrace the hair-spring at a point near its outer end, and by the movement of which the spring can be lengthened or shortened. The first essential in a balance-wheel is that its centre of gravity should be exactly in the axis, and that the centre of gravity of the hair-spring should also be in the axis of the balance-wheel. True isochronism is disturbed by variations in the driving force of the train or by variations in temperature, and also by variations in barometric pressure. Isochronism is produced in the first place by a proper shape of the spring and its overcoil It is usual to time the watch's going when the mainspring is partly wound up, as well as when it is fully wound up, and then by removing parts of the hair-spring to get such an adjustment that the rate is not influenced by the lesser or greater extent to which the watch has been wound. The variations in length and still more in elasticity caused in a hairspring by changes of temperature were for long not only a trouble to watchmakers but a bar to the progress of the art. A pendulum requires scarcely any compensation except for its own elongation by heat; but a balance requires compensation, not only for its own expansion, which increases its moment of inertia just like the pendulum, but far more on account of the decrease in the strength of the spring under increased heat. E. G. Dent, in a pamphlet on compensation balances, gave the following results of some experiments with a glass balance, which he used for the purpose on account of its less expansibility than a metal one: at 32° F., 3606 vibrations in an hour; at 66°, 3598.5; and at loo°, 3599. If therefore it had been adjusted to go right (or 3600 times in an hour) at 32°. it would have lost 72 and 82 seconds an hour, or more than three minutes a day, for each successive increase of 34°, which is about fifteen times as much as a common wire pendulum would lose under the same increase of heat; and if a metal balance had been used instead of a glass one the difference would have been still greater.

The necessity for this large amount of compensation having arisen from the variation of the elasticity of the spring, the first attempts at correcting it were by acting on the spring itself in the manner of a common regulator. Harrison's compensation consisted of a compound bar of brass and steel soldered together, having one end fixed to the watch-frame and the other carrying two curb pins which embraced the spring. As the brass expands more than the steel, any increase of heat made the bar bend; and so, if it was set the right way, it carried the pins along the spring, so as to shorten it. This contrivance is called a compensation curb; and it has often been reinvented, or applied in a modified form. But there are two objections to it: the motion of the curb pins does not correspond accurately enough to the variations in the force of the spring, and it disturbs the isochronism, which only subsists at certain definite lengths of the spring.

The compensation which was next invented left the spring untouched, and provided for the variations of temperature by the construction of the balance itself. Fig. 8 shows the plan of the ordinary compensation balance. Each portion of the rim of the balance is composed of an t a inner bar of steel with an outer one of brass soldered, or rather melted, upon it, and carrying the weights b, b, which are screwed to it. As the temperature increases, the brass expanding must bend the steel inwards, and so carries the weights farther in, and diminishes the moment of inertia of the balance, the decrease of rate being inversely as the diameter of the balance-wheel. The metals are generally soldered together by pouring melted brass round a solid steel disk, and the whole is afterwards turned and filed away till it leaves only the crossbar in the middle lying flat and the two portions of the rim standing edgeways. The first person to practise this method of uniting them appears to have been either Thomas Earnshaw or Pierre le Roy.

The adjustment of a balance for compensation can only be done by trial, and requires a good deal of time. It must be done independently of that for time - the former by shifting the weights, because the nearer they are to the crossbar the less distance they will move over as the rim bends with them. The timing is done by screws with heavy heads (t, t, fig. 8), which are just opposite to the ends of the crossbar, and consequently not affected by the bending of the rim; other screws are also provided round the rim for adjusting the moment of inertia and centre of gravity of the balance-wheel. The compensation may be done approximately by FIG. 8.

the known results of previous experience with similar balances; and many watches are sold with compensation balances which have never been tried or adjusted, and sometimes with a mere sham compensation balance, not even cut through.

Secondary Compensation

When chronometers had been brought to great perfection it was perceived that there was a residuary error, which was due to changes of temperature, but which no adjustment of the compensation would correct. The cause of the secondary error is that as the temperature rises the elasticity of the spring decreases, and therefore its accelerating force upon the balancewheel diminishes. Hence the watch tends to go slower.

In order to compensate this the split rim of the balance-wheel is made with the more expansible metal on the outside, and therefore tends to curl inwards with increase of temperature, thus diminishing the moment of inertia of the wheel. Now the rate of error caused by the increase of temperature of the spring varies approximately with the temperature according to a certain law, but the rate of correction due to the diminution of the moment of inertia caused by the change of form of the rim of the wheel does not alter proportionally, but according to a more complex law of its own, varying more rapidly with cold than with heat, so that if the rate of the chronometer is correct, say, at 30° F. and also at 90° F., it will gain at all intermediate temperatures, the spring being thus under-corrected for high temperatures and over-corrected for low. Attempts have been made by alterations of shape of the balance-wheel to harmonize the progress of the error with the progress of the correction, but not with very conspicuous success.

We shall give a short description of the principal classes of inventions for this purpose. The first disclosed was that of J. S. Eiffe (sometimes attributed to Robert Molyneux), which was communicated to the astronomer-royal in 1835. In one of several methods proposed by him a compensation curb was used; and though, for the reasons given before, this will not answer for the primary compensation, it may for the secondary, where the motion required is very much smaller. In another the primary compensation bar, or a screw in it, was made to reach a spring set within it with a small weight attached at some mean temperature, and, as it bent farther in, it carried this secondary compensation weight along with it. The obvious objection to this is that it is discontinuous; but the whole motion is so small, not more than the thickness of a piece of paper, that this and other compensations on the same principle appear to have been on some occasions quite successful.

Another large class of balances, all more or less alike, may be represented by E. J. Dent's, which came next in order of time. He described several forms of his invention; the following description applies to the one he thought the best. In fig. 9 the flat crossbar rr is itself a compensation bar which bends upwards under increased heat; so that, if the weights v, v were merely set upon upright stems rising from the ends of the crossbar, they would approach the axis when that bar bends upwards. But, instead of the stems rising from the crossbar, they rise from the two secondary compensation pieces stu, in the form of staples, which are set on the crossbar; and, as these secondary pieces themselves also bend upwards, they make the weights approach the axis more rapidly FIG. 9. as the heat increases; and by a proper adjustment of the height of the weights on the stems the moment of inertia of the balance can be made to vary in the proper ratio to the variation of the intensity of the spring. The cylindrical spring stands above the crossbar and between the staples.

Fig. Io represents E. T. Loseby's mercurial compensation balance. Besides the weights D, D, set near the end of the primary compensation bars B, B, there are small bent tubes FE, FE with mercury in them, like a thermometer, the bulbs being at F, F. As the heat increases, not only do the primary weights D, D and the bulbs F, F approach the centre of the balance, but some of the mercury is driven along the tube, thus carrying some more of the weight towards the centre, at a ratio increasing more rapidly than the temperature. The tubes are sealed at the thin end, with a little air included. The action is here equally continuous with Dent's, and the adjustments for primary and secondary compensation are apparently more independent of each other; and this modification of Le Roy's use of mercury for compensated balances (which does not appear to have answered) is certainly very elegant and ingenious. Nevertheless an analysis of the Greenwich lists for seven years of Loseby's trials proved that the advantage of this method over the others was more theoretical than practical; Dent's compensation was the most successful of all in three years out of the seven, and Loseby's in only one.

Loseby's method has never been adopted by any other chronometermaker, whereas the principles both of Eiffe's and of Dent's methods have been adopted by several other makers.

A few chronometers have been made with glass balance-springs, which have the advantage of requiring very little primary and no secondary compensation, on account of the very small variation in their elasticity, compared with springs of steel or any other metal.

One of the most important and interesting attempts to correct the temperature errors of a hair-spring by a series of corresponding temperature changes in the moment of inertia of the balance-wheel has been made by means of the use of the nickel-steel compound called invar, which, on account of its very small coefficient of expansion, has been of great use for pendulum rods. In a memoir published in 1904 at Geneva, Dr Charles Guillaume, the inventor of invar, shows that in order to get a true secondary compensation what is wanted is a material having the property of causing the curve of the rim of the wheel to change at an increasing rate as compared with changes in the temperature. This is found in those specimens of invar in which the second coefficient of expansion is negative, i.e. which are less dilatable at higher temperatures than at lower ones. It is satisfactory to add that such balance-wheels have been tried successfully on chronometers, and notably in a deck watch by Paul Ditisheim of Neuchatel, who has made a chronometer with a tourbillon escapement and an invar balance-wheel, which holds the highest record ever obtained by a watch of its class.

It is obvious that in order that a watch may keep good time the centre of gravity of the balance-wheel and hair-spring must be exactly in the axis; for if this were not the case, then the wheel would act partly like a pendulum, so that the time would vary according as the watch was placed in different positions. It is exceedingly difficult to adjust a watch so that these "position errors" are eliminated. Accordingly it has been proposed to neutralize their effect by mounting the balance-wheel and hairspring upon a revolving carriage which shall slowly rotate, so that in succession every possible position of the balance-wheel and spring is assumed, and thus errors are averaged and mutually destroy one another. This is called the tourbillon escapement. There are several forms of it, and watches fitted with it often keep excellent time.

Stop watches or chronographs are of several kinds. In the usual and simplest form there is a centre seconds hand which normally remains at rest, but which, when the winding handle is pressed in, is linked on to the train of the watch and begins to count seconds, usually by fifths. A second pressure arrests its path, enabling the time to be taken since the start. A third pressure almost instantaneously brings the seconds hand back to zero, this result being effected by means of a heart-shaped cam which, when a lever presses on it instantaneously, flies round to zero position. The number of complete revolutions of the seconds hand, i.e. minutes, is recorded on a separate dial.

Calendar work on watches is, of course, fatal to great accuracy of time-keeping, and is very complicated. A watch is made to record days of the week and month, and to take account of leap years usually by the aid of star-wheels with suitable pauls and stops. The type of this mechanism is to be found in the calendar motion of an ordinary grandfather's clock.

Watches have also been made containing small musical boxes and arranged with performing figures on the dials. Repeaters are striking watches which can be made at will to strike the hours and either the quarters or the minutes, by pressing a handle which winds up a striking mechanism. They were much in vogue as a means of discovering the time in the dark before the invention of lucifer matches, when to obtain a light by means of flint and steel was a troublesome affair.

From what has been said it will be seen that for many years the form of escapements and balance-wheels has not greatly altered. The great improvements which modern science has been able to effect in watches are chiefly in the use of new metals and in the employment of machinery, which, though they have altered the form but little, have effected an enormous revolution in the price. The cases of modern watches are made sometimes of steel, artificially blackened, sometimes of compounds of aluminium and copper, known as aluminium gold. Silver is at present being less employed than formerly. The hair-springs are often of palladium in order to render the watch non-magnetizable. An ordinary watch, if the wearer goes near a dynamo, will probably become magnetized and quite useless for time-keeping. One of the simplest cures for this accident is to twirl it rapidly round while retreating from the dynamo and to continue the motion till at a considerable distance. The use of invar has been already noticed.

It would be impossible to enumerate, still more to describe, the vast number of modern machines that have been invented for making watches. It may be said briefly that every part, including the toothed wheels, is stamped out of metal. The stamped pieces are then finished by cutters and with milling machinery. Each machine as a rule only does one operation, so that a factory will cdntain many hundreds of different sorts of machines. The modern watchmaker therefore is not so much of a craftsman as an engineer. The effect of making all the parts of a watch by machinery is that each is interchangeable, so that one part will fit any watch. It is FIG. IO.

not an easy thing to secure this result, for as the machines are used the cutting edges wear down and require regrinding and resetting. Hence a tool is not allowed to make more than a given quantity of parts without being examined and readjusted, and from time to time the pieces being put out are tested with callipers. The parts thus made are put in groups and sorted into boxes, which are then given over to the watch-adjusters, who put the parts together and make the watch go. The work of adjustment for common watches is a simple matter. But expert adjusters select their pieces, measure them and correct errors with their tools. The finest watches are thus largely machine-made, but hand-finished. The prejudice against machine-made watches has been very strong in England, but is dying out - not, unfortunately, before much of the trade has been lost. A flourishing watch industry exists in Switzerland in the neighbourhood of Neuchatel. A watch in a stamped steel case can now be made for about five shillings. There is no reason why in such a neighbourhood as Birmingham the English watch industry should not revive.

The use of jewelled bearings for watch pivots was introduced by Nicholas Facio about the beginning of the 18th century. Diamonds and sapphires are usually employed and pierced either by diamond drills or by drills covered with diamond dust. Rubies are not a very favourite stone for jewels, but as they and sapphires can now be made artificially for about two shillings a carat the difficulty of obtaining material for watch jewelling has nearly disappeared.

Watches have also been fitted with machinery whereby electric contacts are made by them at intervals, so that if wires are led to and away from them, they can be made to give electric signals and thus mark dots at regular intervals on a moving strip of paper.

As in the case of clocks, the accuracy of going of a watch is estimated by observation of the variations of its mean daily rate. This is officially done at Kew Observatory, near Richmond, and also for admiralty purposes at Greenwich. At Richmond watches are divided into two classes, A and B. For an A certificate the trials last for forty-five days, and include tests in temperatures varying from 40° to 90° F., going in every position with dial vertical, face up and face down. The average daily departure from the mean daily rate, that is the average error due to irregular departures from the average going rate, must not exceed 2 seconds a day except where due to position, when it may amount to 5 seconds. The errors should not increase more than 0.3 seconds a day for each I° F. The trial for the B certificate is somewhat similar but less severe. Chronometers are put through trials lasting 55 days, and their average error from mean rate is expected not to exceed 0.5 seconds per diem. The fees for these tests are various sums from two guineas downwards. In estimating the time-keeping qualities of a watch or clock, the error of rate is of no consequence. It is simply due to the timekeeper going too fast or too slow, and this can easily be corrected. What is wanted for a good watch is that the rate, whatever it is, shall be constant. The daily error is of no account provided it is a uniform daily error and not an irregular one. Hence the object of the trials is to determine not merely the daily rate but the variations of the daily rate, and on the smallness of these the value of the watch as a time-keeper depends. (G.; H. H.C.)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Watch'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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