How The Escapement Of A Watch Works And What Is Its Function - Custom Watches Factory


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The escapement of a clock is the mechanism that regulates the time scale, either by means of a pendulum, in wall clocks for example, or by means of a balance wheel, in wrist watches.

In short, what is sought is that the energy developed by the spring is released little by little, instead of exerting an immediate movement.

On this occasion we are going to analyze what is the function of the escapement of a Watches Factory watch and what is its influence on the general mechanism of watches, especially on mechanical wrist pieces.

What is a watch escapement and how does it work?

Technically, the escapement of a watch is the mechanism in charge of maintaining the oscillations of the regulating organ. This task is carried out by blocking and releasing the movement of the mechanism, generating a series of intervals at the same frequency, determined in any case by the clock's regulating organ.

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What we are looking for is that the spring does not relax immediately, but that it moves or is dosed, when released at a fixed rate, the complex system of gears moves in relation to a certain cadence, usually in rates of between 10 and 15 thousandths.

It is important to minimize the shock or friction between parts, current models ensure that the regulating organ transmits only 30% of the force of the barrel, this avoids the wear of the parts, which cause long-term loss of accuracy.

There is no single model of escapement, in fact, as we will see below, several models of escapement are used in relation to its operation.

What types of escape currently exist

Many brands work with their own exhausts, developed for specific parts, however, most of them can be grouped into the following types.

Anchor escapement

It is the most traditional escapement. This escapement does not drive directly from the balance or pendulum, but through an intermediate piece, the anchor, at the ends of which there are two blades that regulate the movement.

This type of regulating movement originated in the year 1759 by the engineer Thomas Mudg, since then it has been applied to all kinds of pieces with slight variations.

Paddle exhaust

In this case, a toothed wheel is installed transversely with respect to the plane of the wheel, a vertical rod acts on the wheel by means of paddles that regulate the movement of the teeth.

This type of escapement is known as a blowback escapement and is often installed on large format watches.

Cylinder exhaust

It is a rest escapement composed mainly of two parts, the escape wheel and a cylinder capable of intercepting the movement of the spring. Each one of the teeth of the escape wheel is inserted into the cylinder, in this way the gear becomes constant.

Some brands such as Breguet have used the cylinder escapement in some of their pieces, however, its high cost means that many brands have chosen to incorporate the anchor escapement in most of their pieces.

Duplex exhaust

It has traditionally been used in pocket pieces, its operation is based on a mechanism of two wheels mounted one on top of the other, although it has been possible to mount this type of escapement on a single wheel.

The drive teeth contact a cylinder at rest, allowing the wheels to follow a rhythmic movement.

Graham's Escape

The Graham escapement is very similar to the anchor model, however, the Graham escapement allows the vanes to be adjusted, to optimize their movement.

Pin vane exhaust

Lastly, the pin escapement uses two escape wheels with 12 and 15 teeth, using a single pin pallet lever for more precise movement.

Escape from a clock

The balance wheel in an escapement movement

The key piece in an escapement movement is the balance wheel. The balance wheel is applied to mechanical clocks and its function is the same as that of the pendulum in wall clocks.

The regulating balance is a wheel with back and forth movement, regulated by the escapement, which transforms the rotary movement of the gears into impulses, which reach the compensating balance.

When we hear the tick tock of a clock, we are actually listening to the turning of the balance wheel, this movement allows the gear system to advance a fixed magnitude, moving the hands of the clock in the usual direction.

The use of the balance wheel dates back to the fourteenth century, and although quartz watches do not incorporate it, even today mechanical watches use a balance wheel to mark the movement of these parts.

Isochronism in mechanical parts

Although it is a very technical concept, it is worth reviewing the problem of isochronism when we talk about the operation of a mechanical watch.

Simply stated, isochronism is the need for two movements to be reproduced in an identical way, regardless of the conditions in which they occur.

The escapement must provide identical movement if, for example, the watch is resting on a bedside table, or if we are running while wearing it on the wrist. Isochronism is, without a doubt, one of the main challenges facing a watch escapement.

The spring relaxes faster when it is very tense, in addition, its movement is affected by issues such as friction, which is not always homogeneous, temperature, etc.

A quality escapement movement, such as those used by the great Swiss watchmakers, avoid long-term synchronism problems, ensuring that all the movements generated by a mechanism are practically the same.

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