The World's Most Accurate Mechanical Clock Was Soviet...
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  1. #1
    Member Mark Gordon's Avatar
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    The World's Most Accurate Mechanical Clock Was Soviet...

    In the late 1950s Soviet physicist Feodosii Fedchenko began working on the development of an extremely accurate pendulum clock that was also robust and reliable (always a hallmark of Soviet watch and clock design!). It was hoped these clocks could be used in the more inhospitable and remote corners of the USSR.

    By the late 1960s he had succeeded in designing the most accurate mechanical clock in the world and the ‘All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Physicotechnical and Radiotechnical Measurements’ in Leningrad began producing the AchF series of pendulum clocks, which had an average accuracy of approximately 0.002 seconds per day.

    All together about 50 of these clocks in various configurations were produced from the late 1960s through the mid 1970s, when quartz technology became a less expensive alternative.

    These battery powered ‘astronomical’ regulator clocks feature an invar pendulum, constant pressure, isochronous suspension, temperature compensation, and short central impulsing. The electronically impulsed master pendulum swings with a 2-second period inside a heavy glass bell-jar containing an almost total vacuum.

    The master clock mechanism does not have a dial. Instead it produces 1-second beats that are sent via an electrical wire to a slave clock that is mounted on the framework holding the master clock mechanism.

    While I do not (yet) have a Fedchenko master clock in my collection, I was lucky recently to receive a Fedchenko slave clock with the serial number 4.

    The dial of this clock is signed ‘Standard’ – an understandable compromise considering how difficult it would be to fit the signature ‘All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Physicotechnical and Radiotechnical Measurements’ between the large upper sub-dial and the central pinion

    This is an interesting clock for several reasons.

    First, is the quality of its construction. It is made from heavy brass and assembled with blued screws. It has a beautifully etched metal dial and is protected by a thick beveled glass face. It is 35 cm in diameter and weighs a whopping 9 kg.

    Second, it is a regulator, with separate dials for hours, minutes and seconds. This is the only authentic Soviet-made regulator of any kind that I have so far seen.

    I have attached a few photos of the new Fedchenko slave and also a photo of a typical Fedchenko master clock on its framework with its slave clock (model AchF-3). There is more information and several more photos on my website. Go to record number 1477.

    -- Mark
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    Last edited by Mark Gordon; September 14th, 2011 at 05:41.
    View my collection at:
    http://www.ussrtime.com
    a fully searchable photo-info database containing more than 1500 Soviet-era clocks & watches

  2. #2
    Member pwalsh21's Avatar
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    Re: The World's Most Accurate Mechanical Clock Was Soviet...

    Amazing and absolutely fascinating. It seems like it was, as so many Soviet goods were, wonderfully over-engineered--pushing an aging technology to the absolute limit. I think that ability to develop something with such limited commercial potential was a terrific thing socialism had to offer.

    I take some issue with the term "mechanical", though. It's a quibble, of course, but to my way of thinking, any time electricity of any kind is involved, the clock/watch isn't purely mechanical. In this case, I'd probably call it "electromechanical".

    Awesome clock, though, whatever the heck you call it!

  3. #3
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    Re: The World's Most Accurate Mechanical Clock Was Soviet...

    You find the most interesting timepieces, Mark.

    It seems that in technology, often you reach an apogee then there is a paradigm shift. That happened with CRT TV sets – just as the technology reached its peak, it was replaced by something completely different and unexpected – flat panel displays.

    Seems the same thing happened with mechanical time pieces – while one group of engineers labored to perfect the state of the art of mechanical precision – another group of engineers went in a completely different direction – quartz regulation.

    The last generation of any technology is always very interesting.

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  5. #4
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    Re: The World's Most Accurate Mechanical Clock Was Soviet...

    Over-engineering aside, Volmax needs to market a 3133 version of the Fedchenko slave with a black enamel bezel and gold inner trim--that`s a great looking clock!

  6. #5
    Member ill-phill's Avatar
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    Re: The World's Most Accurate Mechanical Clock Was Soviet...

    What can I say...
    This is one of the coolest things and one of the reasons why I will continue to collect russian timepieces


    But I do not agree about the signature... it fits perfectly
    Name:  1477Ab.jpg
Views: 3928
Size:  111.7 KB

    it wouldn't surprise me if the rest of the clock would show up in singapore someday

    ....
    jiggered Phil

  7. #6
    Member pmwas's Avatar
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    Re: The World's Most Accurate Mechanical Clock Was Soviet...

    A nice clock! Thanks for sharing, again :)

  8. #7
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    Re: The World's Most Accurate Mechanical Clock Was Soviet...

    Excellent website Mark

  9. #8
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    Re: The World's Most Accurate Mechanical Clock Was Soviet...

    Very nice . I believe soon this clock is going to choose its owner between Mark and Phill. I know it will be a though choice to make....
    regards
    ..Sudhakar..

  10. #9
    Member ken_sturrock's Avatar
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    Re: The World's Most Accurate Mechanical Clock Was Soviet...

    Great post! Great acquisition. For those interested, There is a nice Fedchenko clock on display at the observatory part of the National Maritime Museum in London. It is downstairs with the other precision astronomy clocks.

    -Ken

  11. #10
    Member Lucidor's Avatar
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    Re: The World's Most Accurate Mechanical Clock Was Soviet...

    Mark,

    Great post on a historical piece of Russian engineering. This got me wondering; when was the atomic clock introduced in the Soviet?

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