How did Van Cleef & Arpels make their Midnight Planetarium?

Thread: How did Van Cleef & Arpels make their Midnight Planetarium?

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  1. #1
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    Question How did Van Cleef & Arpels make their Midnight Planetarium?

    Hi everyone,

    I'm new to this forum and to watchmaking in general. I am a physics student with a love for astronomy and I am intrigued by the way watches work and eager to learn more about them.
    So I was wondering especially about how watchmakers determine the sizes and amount of teeth on their gears. I know it is all about ratios so of course a watch with two hands, one making a revolution every 24 hours, the other every 1 hour, has very simple gears and gear ratios. But I was wondering how they do it for watches that have for example a moon phase indicator on it, which would have to make one revolution every 29.53 days. How do they design gears to go from a 1 hour revolution to a 29.53 days revolution? With a watch like the planetarium from van cleef & arpels it must be much more complicated with 6 planets that have even more inconvenient orbital periods than the moon. Or how have people been making remotely accurate orreries for that matter?
    Perhaps someone could make a simple sketch to show me examples of gear configurations? As a lover of astronomy, math, and watches, I would love to learn more about this without having to go to a watchmaking school

  2. #2
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    Re: How did Van Cleef & Arpels make their Midnight Planetarium?

    Hello! There are many books on this subject, especially those published in the 19th Century. I own a copy of Francois LeCoultre's " A Guide to Complicated Watches" that touches upon gearing for astronomical indications. Another fine, general text, is "Britten's Watch & Clock Maker's Handbook Dictionary and Guide". There are many others!

    I suggest an Internet search for what you're looking for...you should discover many sources, and enjoy several, long, nights of reading & calculation. Enjoy!

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