Innovation in mechanical watches - intro and pilot for what I hope to be a series of posts....
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    Innovation in mechanical watches - intro and pilot for what I hope to be a series of posts....

    Hope people will pardon a rather lengthy intro (and it is long), as I hope to make a point and get to some cool photos eventually…

    I’ve joined this site about 18 months ago and was immediately addicted. There was fun discourse, tons of cool photos and watches, and a really great community of watch enthusiasts, that included casual watch lovers such as myself, alongside people who really knew their stuff as far as watchmaking and the industry.

    I was really impressed with quality of posts – from great insights on the industry, watch innovation and history by posters like Mleok and Rdenney, to great photo essays and service insights by Archer, to seemingly bottomless knowledge of Zenith by Hartmut Richter. Seeing unusual watches posted by members like Brajhomes was also a cool way to discover models out of the ordinary range. Heck, shortly after I joined, I posted a question about my grandfathers Poljot watch that had huge sentimental value but was in awful condition – a member of the F10 community – Ratfacedgit – has offered a complete overhaul service on it and returned to me a precious family heirloom looking amazing and functioning great. He did this for free, because he loved watches. Furthermore – he taught himself to service watches despite having learning disabilities, he was autodidactic (mechanical genius as far as I’m concerned) – a true watch Savant.

    I never for a moment considered myself a WIS, but much more of a WL\WE (watch lover\enthusiast). So coming to WUS, I really enjoyed being able to learn about watches and interact with genuine watch experts and lovers.

    Lately, I’m finding that threads with interesting (granted – interesting is subjective and depends on the reader) watch-related content disappear from page 1 of F2 within hours, usually never gathering more than 10 posts. Yet a discussion of one’s income or what watch would a Californian cowboy travelling to space alongside James Bond to fight Spectre affiliated aliens would wear – is a guaranteed 20+ page “discussion”.

    It seems that the thread length (post quantity) is becoming inversely proportional to the usefulness of the content (post quality). In a recent inane thread complaining about inanity, Bradjhomes made a very good point:
    Did anyone think "I'm tired of reading inane threads so I'll start one that is more interesting"? Or just sit back and complain?

    Well, I want to take that challenge and try to post something that (I hope) may be interesting to members or useful to visitors. I thought about what I can post that may be useful – I’m no expert, have no watchmaking expertise, and don’t offer lifestyle\fashion advice. But the one area of watch industry I’m most passionate about is innovation, so why not write about that.

    I love the miniature engineering and wearable art aspect of mechanical watches and I love the retro vibe and nostalgic emotional connection with obsolete technology and old-world tradecraft. But I also love how innovation can be applicable to what may seem like a rather obsolete and fully evolved industry. From manufacturing scalability, to modern material usage, to focus on power reserves, accuracy, illumination, shock and magnetism resistance and much more – innovation is present in watch industry and really cool things are being created daily. Hell, even something as seemingly simple as straps\clasps are being innovated on – quick-release systems, easy strap changes, easy micro-adjustments on bracelets – all are improving on watch ownership experience.

    But these are not getting enough attention as 40+ page threads on “homages” and how many different ways can a same exact design be recreated on a cheap, are dominating the discussion.

    So again, I’ll take Brads challenge and will try to post something I hope people will find interesting. I plan to post a series on innovation in the mechanical watch space – looking at various areas of innovation and how they are changing the industry and our perspective on watches.

    My first post\thread on this to follow immediately after. Want to discuss a very simple thing – how watches tell time…If you have stayed with me thus far – thank you, and I hope you find what follows useful or at least briefly captivating.
    "I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it." George Bernard Shaw
    "Don?t argue with idiots. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience" Greg King
    ?Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.? Mark Twain
    "The problem with quotes found on the Internet is that it's hard to be sure of their authenticity." Abraham Lincoln
    "A Rose by any other name will smell as sweet. But it does not follow that whatever we choose to call a Rose will possess the Rose's fragrance." BB Warfield

  2. #2
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    Re: Innovation in mechanical watches - intro and pilot for what I hope to be a series of posts....

    Innovation – creating something different and unique, while staying true to mechanical watch engineering and paying tribute to history…

    Part 1 of what I hope will become a series (if there is interest) – Telling time.

    While different people perceive watches differently – some appreciate the tool aspect, others view them as jewelry or a status symbol, others look for fashion, and perhaps many view watches as a potpourri of these and more – the one common thing that people expect from the watches is the ability to tell time. That is ultimately the primary function of watches – be it a quartz Timex, a digital GShock, or a platinum Lange Datograph – they have to tell time.

    But how they tell time – well that is an area of watchmaking that is surprisingly flexible and allows for many diverse approaches. Traditionally the two most obvious approaches to telling time were:
    - Analog time display. This is the traditional way of telling time and has been this way since first clocks were built and is still the most popular way for wristwatches to tell time – whether it is a humble quartz Timex or haute-horology timepiece from PP. While I don’t know the roots or history behind analog display design, it is possible to extrapolate that the most obvious connection is simply rooted in one of the most ancient ways of telling time – the sun dial. Sun dials are essentially a disk where time is indicated by shadow position. If superimposes an analog watch face over a sundial – they are basically one and the same. with the hour hand indicating the time same as the sundial.
    - Digital display. While quartz was the first revolution in the world of watches, the digital revolution was possibly as impactful. Ever present in modern world – digital time displays haunt us on the walls of the trading floor, on microwave ovens and stove-tops, on our cell-phones, computers, and GShocks. Many kids (heck and even some young adults) today may not know how to read an analog clock, yet everyone can read a digital display.

    But what other ways can the watches tell time? There are some wonderful and innovative approaches that I am seeing and I wanted to share with the community here….
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    I see three trends in time-telling design approach.

    The first is rooted in analog design which itself pays homage to the sundial… Understanding the jewelry aspect of watches, I find it refreshing at how many brands are executing their time-telling. One trend I’ve noticed at recent watch events and shows is a shift to simple time telling, where precision is not absolute focus. Quite often – having an approximation of time is good enough.

    Few watches that caught my eye in this regard…
    - Meistersinger has reinvigorated the one-hander watch design. A single hand can tell time with reasonably good precision
    - The design is often present with high-end watches (RGM one-hander with enamel dial is a stunner, as is Jaquet Droz 24 hr dial), and with affordables (Russian Luch being an example)
    - Meistersinger has pushed the envelope even further with designs like Ben Franklin watch dial
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    Second design approach that I see a lot of innovation around (plus frankly it is pretty cool) is the digital time display. While expected and common with digital watches and clocks, the digital displays done using mechanical movements are anything but common or boring. These are fascinating to me, as movements are rather complicated and focus on power-reserve, parts durability and readability – making these watches rather interesting in melding old school mechanical approach with modern digital time-telling

    The hybrid approach commonly seen (and that has been around for some time) is the Jump Hour complication
    - Whether it is Chr Ward or Daniel Roth or Cartier or AP – this design has been around for some time and is well known to enthusiasts
    - Another one worth of notice is the Seiko Discus Burger
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    But it has been elevated to a whole new level with Lange Zeitwerk, 4N Paris MVT01, Devon Tread 1 who are really challenging the norms around telling time
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    The third and final design approach – is really a bucket combining a large number of approaches – watch brands who refuse to limit themselves to confines of traditional time telling and who really explore methods of telling time that are unique and different. I call it the screw-traditions bucket and find it cool as hell.

    Some of the watches I’ve recently handled that fall into this bucket
    - HYT, using fluid mechanics to display time
    - MCT (Manufacture Contemporaine Du Temps) watches use pivoting prisms\tumblers to display hours, combined with rotating central discs to display time (and watching the hours\minutes change is mesmerizing)
    - MB&F watches certainly don’t hold back when it comes to telling-time with so many cool and different designs that your head can spin… (common – tell me Robot clock is not cool)
    - Other players in this space include Urwerk, Christophe Claret, Hublot Ferrari and more. Many may find their designs ugly, impractical and\or expensive – perhaps, but the thing to keep in mind is that innovators pave the way and take the investment costs to introduce and perfect the technology… What I hope will follow is proliferation of these design approaches at a lower price point and with greater practicality\wearability.
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    Overall, I’m pretty impressed with the state of innovation around time-telling in the watch world today and am constantly amazed by what manufacturers put out there. As long as people can give time-dial boobs to a robot, there are no limits to what they can come up with.
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    Hope you found these pictures interesting and perhaps discovered something new. What time-telling approaches do you enjoy most? Are you looking to see more traditional watches or have interest in a “modern” or different approaches?
    Last edited by EnderW; October 21st, 2016 at 19:56.
    "I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it." George Bernard Shaw
    "Don?t argue with idiots. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience" Greg King
    ?Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.? Mark Twain
    "The problem with quotes found on the Internet is that it's hard to be sure of their authenticity." Abraham Lincoln
    "A Rose by any other name will smell as sweet. But it does not follow that whatever we choose to call a Rose will possess the Rose's fragrance." BB Warfield

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    Re: Innovation in mechanical watches - intro and pilot for what I hope to be a series of posts....

    I'm looking forward to the series.
    Thanks in advance.
    noregrets likes this.

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    Re: Innovation in mechanical watches - intro and pilot for what I hope to be a series of posts....

    Yeah, this is pretty good!
    :)

    14060m, 16200, Pam48, AT8500, El Primero 1969, Speedy FOIS, Antea KS, Orion Minimatik, ST8000SA Tourbillon, Zeppelin 7618-1

    want: ALS Saxonia, PP Nautilus,

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    Re: Innovation in mechanical watches - intro and pilot for what I hope to be a series of posts....

    Wanted to add one more design approach to discussion as it is a very controversial one. While we may view watches as tools, instruments, art or pure jewelry, I don't think there has ever been a watch as controversial as Haldimann H9. The crystal is opaque and watch literally serves no function in telling-time.
    In my opinion, this has crossed from innovation territory into plain silliness in an "emperor has no clothes" territory.

    Innovation has to deliver something new, while building on the initial function and intent. Form must follow function. This one deserved a top-spot on a list of watches I'd never consider, because it stopped being a watch once time-telling ability was completely sacrificed.
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    KtWUS and noregrets like this.
    "I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it." George Bernard Shaw
    "Don?t argue with idiots. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience" Greg King
    ?Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.? Mark Twain
    "The problem with quotes found on the Internet is that it's hard to be sure of their authenticity." Abraham Lincoln
    "A Rose by any other name will smell as sweet. But it does not follow that whatever we choose to call a Rose will possess the Rose's fragrance." BB Warfield

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    Re: Innovation in mechanical watches - intro and pilot for what I hope to be a series of posts....

    I dislike gimmickry...being clever and tricky purely for its own sake, with no value added. The MB&Fs define this. Art sometimes can justify a functional degradation for artistic purposes, but there's a limit to that...and in my book MB&F's pieces jump FAR past that. They're not the only ones, to be sure.

    Now, if you think of them as sculpture that incidentally tell time...that's ok. I simply put them into the category of Pure Art Piece, not 'watch' or 'clock.'

    The single-hand watches are interesting, and I rather think I'll get a good one at some point. I kinda wish Citizen or Seiko would do a solar single-hander...even if it was a standard quartz movement, no RF or TC. (Not that I'd object to TC.) I'd probably go for it. The single-hander is all about 'relaxed' time...you don't much care about being a little off because you're not generally trying to read it down to even 30 second resolution. "Oh, it's about 4:05...ok, I've got time to run to the store." Quartz' +/- 15 seconds fits perfectly with that. I'd just prefer to also avoid battery issues, ergo the solar...or SOME other form of recharging.

    I have no problem with a digital display...but there seems little middle ground between a basic Casio and the pointless complexity of the Devon. How *does* one make digital displays look good? :)
    The truth is rarely pure and never simple.

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    Re: Innovation in mechanical watches - intro and pilot for what I hope to be a series of posts....

    Quote Originally Posted by gangrel View Post
    I dislike gimmickry...being clever and tricky purely for its own sake, with no value added. The MB&Fs define this. Art sometimes can justify a functional degradation for artistic purposes, but there's a limit to that...and in my book MB&F's pieces jump FAR past that. They're not the only ones, to be sure.

    Now, if you think of them as sculpture that incidentally tell time...that's ok. I simply put them into the category of Pure Art Piece, not 'watch' or 'clock.'

    The single-hand watches are interesting, and I rather think I'll get a good one at some point. I kinda wish Citizen or Seiko would do a solar single-hander...even if it was a standard quartz movement, no RF or TC. (Not that I'd object to TC.) I'd probably go for it. The single-hander is all about 'relaxed' time...you don't much care about being a little off because you're not generally trying to read it down to even 30 second resolution. "Oh, it's about 4:05...ok, I've got time to run to the store." Quartz' +/- 15 seconds fits perfectly with that. I'd just prefer to also avoid battery issues, ergo the solar...or SOME other form of recharging.

    I have no problem with a digital display...but there seems little middle ground between a basic Casio and the pointless complexity of the Devon. How *does* one make digital displays look good? :)
    I hear what you are saying. I fully expected many of these to be controversial at best. MB&F is an interesting case. Reading about it and seeing the pictures - it seemed like an exercise in excess and showmanship and slight influence of hallucinogens. However, having handled them in-person last weekend - I did gain some appreciation for what they are trying to achieve. Speaking with the designers\watchmakers and trying these on the wrist - there is something special about them, while they remain mostly impractical.

    HM8 is a homage to Can am racer - the watch lines follow design of car frame. And it is surprisingly easy to read as a driver watch - on the wrist display is easy to read time on and it feels comfortable.
    HM6 on the other hand is not wearable - not a true wristwatch in my view. Hyperspace shield\dome to protect tourbillon and the twin turbines - are kind of gimmicky, although the complete piece is arguably pretty cool considering the design, execution and overall look. Would I ever wear it (even if I could afford it) - hell no. Still can appreciate it (kind of like Picasso)

    Not pictured on my essay (as it was not necessarily a different way of telling time) was MB&F Perpetual Legacy machine. Now that watch (price aside) was quite wearable and MB&F reps had Legacy machines strapped on. What makes that watch interesting though and puts MB&F as one of premier watchmakers in my eyes - is the execution of PC complication. It is truly unique and functionality driven. When audience questioned the panel of experts at the event, a question was asked about what the most impressive\interesting watch at the show was - unanimous answer was MB&F Perpetual Calendar. PC is a very interesting complication as it is both very technical and useful, and very pain in the ass to maintain since adjustments are not easy and mistakes are hard to correct. PC is probably the most unforgiving complication as it may require servicing or extended period of time of non-wear should user somehow set calendar improperly. What MB&F did with their PC is revolutionary - essentially it does away with the grand lever system, allowing for independent setting of hour\day\date\month\year using separate correctors and it also auto-protects from improper manipulation. This makes it essentially a first mechanical idiot-proof perpetual calendar.
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    "I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it." George Bernard Shaw
    "Don?t argue with idiots. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience" Greg King
    ?Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.? Mark Twain
    "The problem with quotes found on the Internet is that it's hard to be sure of their authenticity." Abraham Lincoln
    "A Rose by any other name will smell as sweet. But it does not follow that whatever we choose to call a Rose will possess the Rose's fragrance." BB Warfield

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    Re: Innovation in mechanical watches - intro and pilot for what I hope to be a series of posts....

    Here's another interesting version of the jumping hour, the Ludovic Ballouard Upside-Down Watch
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    Re: Innovation in mechanical watches - intro and pilot for what I hope to be a series of posts....

    I'm more impressed with he approach of Ochs&Junior
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    Re: Innovation in mechanical watches - intro and pilot for what I hope to be a series of posts....

    Quote Originally Posted by GrouchoM View Post
    I'm more impressed with he approach of Ochs&Junior
    Thanks for that. Indeed Ochs Und Junior PC is a very innovative watch, especially from time-telling for the calendar function.
    I really liked reading the Hodinkee review of it and it is interesting how he designed the PC using as few addl parts as possible
    https://www.hodinkee.com/articles/th...ditional-parts

    What makes it all the more special is that it is preeminetly wearable and relatively affordable at just $20K.
    Looks like members who went with Ochs & Junior are rather happy with their acquisitions
    https://forums.watchuseek.com/f381/st...l#post34669114
    "I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it." George Bernard Shaw
    "Don?t argue with idiots. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience" Greg King
    ?Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.? Mark Twain
    "The problem with quotes found on the Internet is that it's hard to be sure of their authenticity." Abraham Lincoln
    "A Rose by any other name will smell as sweet. But it does not follow that whatever we choose to call a Rose will possess the Rose's fragrance." BB Warfield

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