How does a 100 year old Trench watch movement compare to a modern Mechanical?
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  1. #1
    28A
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    How does a 100 year old Trench watch movement compare to a modern Mechanical?

    I've had this thought a couple of times lately.. and thought i'd pose the question to you guys.

    How do you think a movement from a typical Trench watch, lets say a 15j movement, would compare to a modern Mechanical?

    A friend of mine has an Oris Artelier, with a 17j movement and although it has shock protection on the balance, it doesn't seem any different to either of my Trench watches.

    Has mechanical watch making changed so much in the last 100 years, or can a simple time and sub seconds movement be comparable to something modern with the same features?

    Curious to see what you guys think..
    Nick.

    Divers - June 1977 Seiko 6309-7040 Quartz Hybrid | March 1978 Seiko 7548-700H (Orange Dial) in a 6309-7040 case | February 1972 Seiko 6105-8110 | Seiko 7548 "Tuna" TST | October 1985 Seiko H558-5000 "Arnie" | Scurfa Stainless Steel.

    Chronographs - July 1972 Seiko 6139-6005 (True Pogue).

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    Re: How does a 100 year old Trench watch movement compare to a modern Mechanical?

    it really depends on what scale by which you mean "compare" . on the one hand-a properly maintained, oiled and care for trench watch should keep time as well as many many mechanical watches of the 20th century and all should be able to be regulated to within a fairly close level of accuracy.

    but if you want to start breaking down advancement in the mechanical watchmaking industry from incobloc, kif, free-sprung, auto-rotor, breguet, and on and on and on-it could be argued that there is no comparison between say-I'll use an example that some wis claim is the most beautiful and well regarded mass movement of all time in the 20th century-the Omega series 5-7xx-and the typical trench watch. But again-its really a matter of what your comparing-I have an Omega dated 1904 that keeps very accurate time and works perfectly well under reasonable conditions along with a recently regulated to cost standards- omega cal 564 and I can not honestly say that one is 'better' then the other. one definitely has a more advanced movement design but I guess I would have to say that the standards back in the early 20th were good enough where a thoughtful owner could get a reasonable comparable service out of both. But under more typical conditions? I guess that is where you would have to start doing a more detailed comparison and I have to imagine the modern movements would win out because they were not so much complete re-designs but improvements to an idea.

    I do understand what your point for discussion is but its really like asking: if two gas 4 cal engines-one from 1914 and one from 2014 both take you from point a to point b at 10mph-how do they compare?
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    28A
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    Re: How does a 100 year old Trench watch movement compare to a modern Mechanical?

    Some very good points there mate.

    I suppose i was thinking about this in the sense of time keeping accuracy, reliability (I guess how often you have to adjust the time to a known standard - my mates Oris has to be adjusted every couple of days as well so that's where that thought came from).

    I was also thinking in a sense of "Would a high end trench movement of its day be comparable to a high end 2015 movement" in terms of value (i.e original cost to purchase).
    Last edited by 28A; February 9th, 2015 at 08:04.
    Nick.

    Divers - June 1977 Seiko 6309-7040 Quartz Hybrid | March 1978 Seiko 7548-700H (Orange Dial) in a 6309-7040 case | February 1972 Seiko 6105-8110 | Seiko 7548 "Tuna" TST | October 1985 Seiko H558-5000 "Arnie" | Scurfa Stainless Steel.

    Chronographs - July 1972 Seiko 6139-6005 (True Pogue).

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    Re: How does a 100 year old Trench watch movement compare to a modern Mechanical?

    Quote Originally Posted by DaBaeker View Post
    I do understand what your point for discussion is but its really like asking: if two gas 4 cal engines-one from 1914 and one from 2014 both take you from point a to point b at 10mph-how do they compare?
    It kinda is DB and it kinda isn't. The gulf between the 4 cylinder from 1914 and the one of today is wide. IMH the gulf between a 1916 17j and a modern non automatic 17j is far narrower. What has changed a lot in the interim is in the production end of things, that and the materials used. In practical terms the introduction of shock resistance and more stable materials for balances are the biggies(though both showed up first in the 1920's IIRC so hardly new and breguet overcoils were around for much longer). IMH the innovations that made the biggest differences were the development of the auto wind and much better case design to keep the delicate inners safe from dust and water.

    Put it another way from a different angle, if you had the money and the expertise and customised a 1916 17 Jewel movement by adding incabloc and a modern balance wheel you'd pretty much have a "modern" hand wound watch movement. To keep with the petrol engine metaphor customising a 1916 car engine to bring it up to date would be far more difficult and all you might be left with is the engine block.
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    28A
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    Re: How does a 100 year old Trench watch movement compare to a modern Mechanical?

    I wonder.. how hard is it to add incabloc / some other form of shock resistance to a non resistant balance?

    Could be an interesting way to get a more rugged, yet old watch. I certainly don't have the skill for it but interesting to ponder. Its almost like "hopping up" that old 4 cyl..

    I'm sure if they survived the trenches they are pretty capable of todays average use though.
    Nick.

    Divers - June 1977 Seiko 6309-7040 Quartz Hybrid | March 1978 Seiko 7548-700H (Orange Dial) in a 6309-7040 case | February 1972 Seiko 6105-8110 | Seiko 7548 "Tuna" TST | October 1985 Seiko H558-5000 "Arnie" | Scurfa Stainless Steel.

    Chronographs - July 1972 Seiko 6139-6005 (True Pogue).

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    Re: How does a 100 year old Trench watch movement compare to a modern Mechanical?

    I agree with with most of what has been said. There is no single answer. The various aspects must be examined independently. I don't think shock protection improves the accuracy directly. On the other hand, logically thinking, it should affect accuracy adversely. When a watch receives a mild shock the geometry between the pallet fork and impulse pin changes. Is this enough to sap power/amplitude? I don't know, just thinking aloud. On the other hand, every shock does not break a pivot. Sometimes a pivot is just flattened/bent. This will certainly affect the accuracy. This is where shock protection helps.

    My father had a series of carburetted push-rod engined cars in the 60's and 70's. He did all basic maintenence himself. If you just look at the fuel consumption, he got better figures than a lot of our modern fuel injected OHC cars. But there is a downside. The engine needed a tuneup quite often, else the consumption would go up. Similarly, a trench watch would need frequent service since it has very little moisture/dust protection.

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    Re: How does a 100 year old Trench watch movement compare to a modern Mechanical?

    Most of the "advances" in the past hundred years have been in the areas of metallurgy and manufacturing, not really horology. Modern watches are made by machines with better refined materials. Old watches may have "real" pieces of gem, for example, which have natural flaws that make them a bit more brittle then modern synthetic jewels. Modern balances are made with special alloys that aren't affected by differences in temperature or magnetism. Pivots and jewel holes are drilled by machines calibrated to a much higher degree of reproducible precision. Mainsprings are alloy and maintain a much more even power output throughout their wind. And modern oils make the whole thing work better.

    A lot of posters have brought up cars as an analogy, but there's one big difference; the automobile is barely a century old; horology is pushing close to a thousand years (depending on how far back you want to go), so comparing a hundred year old car to a modern car is more like comparing a 500 year old watch to a modern one. Comparing modern to a 100 year old watch is more like comparing a modern car to a 80's or 70's model.
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    Re: How does a 100 year old Trench watch movement compare to a modern Mechanical?

    As pointed out above - many of the features/advancements which characterize "modern" mechanicals have been around for many years. One of the things that changed between the early days and the golden age is how common these features were.

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    Re: How does a 100 year old Trench watch movement compare to a modern Mechanical?

    Quote Originally Posted by AbslomRob View Post
    Comparing modern to a 100 year old watch is more like comparing a modern car to a 80's or 70's model.
    +1000. Well if we're just talking about mechanical escapements. Quartz and similar tech completely rewrote the book on nigh on every level including in the case of digitals even the display. Grinding the car metaphor ever further into the ground... :s:) the modern mechanical is akin to driving a 50's Corvette that's better built in general, far more reliable and uses less petrol*, while ignoring an electric car that is far faster, far cheaper to buy and run and goes for ten thousand miles without any fuel.


    DaBaeker, clearly a fellow petrolhead is now debating the WISdom of his decision to make the car analogy. Or he's just put me on ignore... :D




    *oh and by the by and speaking as a major petrolhead I don't see too many downsides to that. :)

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    Re: How does a 100 year old Trench watch movement compare to a modern Mechanical?

    Well, if we <really> want to play with the car analogies, then we're really talking about engines not cars; internal combustion is like mechanical watch movements, old steam engines (which date back to the 16th century, I think) equate to the old verge clocks that were developed back in the 13th century. Modern electric/hybrid engines are probably similar to the electric watches that started being developed in 60's (which I guess makes Tesla the Accutron of the car world?). I don't think cars have their "quartz" yet, but I'm still hoping to see it...I want my flying cars!!!
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