Longer power reserve - pros and cons
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  1. #1
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    Longer power reserve - pros and cons

    There seems to be a trend towards longer power reserve among the new movements, and it also seems that a movement with a longer power reserve is generaly perceived as a better than similar movement with shorter power reserve. But if you wear the watch all the time, longer power reserve is of no practical use, and if you don't wear the watch all the time, you can get a winder and the longer power reserve is again of no practical use.

    So I'm wondering are there any (theoretical) negative consequences of longer power reserve (besides higher cost and perhaps size), let's say on the accuracy of the movement, or reliability? In other words, all else being equal, are there any other cons or pros of the longer power reserve (besides the longer power reserve itself)?
    Last edited by Okapi001; July 6th, 2014 at 14:05.

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    Member Domo's Avatar
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    Re: Longer power reserve - pros and cons

    Interesting thoughts.....My plebeian understanding is that if anything, isochronism would be improved as the watch can operate for a longer period of time before reaching it's minimum state of reserve power to run on...But correct me if I'm wrong.
    On the note of reliability, perhaps you could argue that the winding system is under more stress having to re-wind a longer spring, but then again, without comparing two actual calibres, long PR movements may be built with that stress in mind.

    When I got my first 'long' PR watch (a Spring drive - so the isochronism thing doesn't apply here) I found and still do find the longer PR really, really useful. I like to switch what I'm wearing most days, and being able to sit it down in the morning with a few winds and pick it up in the morning 3 days later and still be running is awesome. I don't have any interest whatsoever in getting a watch winder.

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    Re: Longer power reserve - pros and cons

    Mostly size and price. Mostly a bigger PR means a bigger mainspring, or more than one mainspring barrel, both of which add size. And if it's a Swiss movement, there's going to be a 7,349,823,740,129,837,410,234.427% markup on it over your "normal" ETA movement.

    Extra complexity could be another con. More parts = more ways to fail. These up and coming movements don't have the 30+ years a 2824 or a 7750 have where the weak parts have been upgraded or everyone knows where 99.9% of the problems are and watchmakers know how to fix them or prevent issues from happening.

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    Re: Longer power reserve - pros and cons

    I know you're not asking about the Why of a long PR - but you are dismissive of it so....

    If you wear a smart automatic from Monday to Friday then with a long power reserve its still on the right time and date come Monday morning. I think a lot of people (ie the massive non-WIS majority) would chose that over a winder, all other things being equal

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    Re: Longer power reserve - pros and cons

    Isochronism is improved during the first day of usage as the spring looses power slower. However, assuming a manual wind at full and after let it run for longer time, the watch might become less isochronous as the difference in power at full and empty is larger. In order to compensate for this, some very advanced watches like the AL&S Lange 31 use remontoirs to make sure the power passed to the balance wheel remains constant.
    Last edited by Orex; July 6th, 2014 at 16:32.

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    Re: Longer power reserve - pros and cons

    Quote Originally Posted by Der Amf View Post
    I think a lot of people (ie the massive non-WIS majority) would chose that over a winder, all other things being equal
    True, but the winder is better because the watch will will stay fully winded (and so more accurate), and the cost of the winder might be lower than higher cost of the watch with longer power reserve. For sure it's more practical to just put the watch in a drawer, but on the other hand the winder can look very nice.

    And "massive non-WIS" majority" wear one (quartz) watch all the time

    Anyway, my "concern" is that this power reserve race may be similar to ever increasing number of megapixels in compact cameres, or 300+ m water resistance in watches. With no real benefits for most of the users and with some negative side efects we are not really aware of.
    Last edited by Okapi001; July 6th, 2014 at 16:43.

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    Member lmcgbaj's Avatar
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    Re: Longer power reserve - pros and cons

    Long PRs are great and very practical. I hate winders.

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    Re: Longer power reserve - pros and cons

    I have a couple of long(er) power reserve watches , mainly the new Hamilton chronos, H31 caliber, these are 60 hours, almost enough for Fri nite to Mon morning. Then there's the Swatch Sistem51& Tissot/Certina Powermatic 80 with 80hrs, more than enough, problem with these is that they haven't won me over with any of their designs...yet. Hoping to see the movement in some classier cases and dials.
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    Re: Longer power reserve - pros and cons

    A watch with a longer reserve takes more power to wind, and requires more spring power density. More winding power either means a heavier rotor or less winding efficiency. With today's bigger watches, these may not be significant issues.

    It also means greater motive torque on full wind, which requires larger pins and causes greater wear. Again, this can be designed around to a certain extent.

    We've known how to increase power reserve for many, many decades, but as with most things, design is a balance of competing objectives. I see the move to bigger watches opening the door to a different balance.

    Rick "whose resting watches are off the wrist for more than 80 hours, and all of whose watches are plenty accurate, so not really dissatisfied with 40-50-hour reserves" Denney
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    Moderator Public Forum John MS's Avatar
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    Re: Longer power reserve - pros and cons

    Quote Originally Posted by Okapi001 View Post
    True, but the winder is better because the watch will will stay fully winded (and so more accurate), and the cost of the winder might be lower than higher cost of the watch with longer power reserve. For sure it's more practical to just put the watch in a drawer, but on the other hand the winder can look very nice.

    And "massive non-WIS" majority" wear one (quartz) watch all the time

    Anyway, my "concern" is that this power reserve race may be similar to ever increasing number of megapixels in compact cameres, or 300+ m water resistance in watches. With no real benefits for most of the users and with some negative side efects we are not really aware of.
    I think the physical size and price of mechanical watches with very long power reserves will continue to limit buyer interest so the race will be small. Most watch owners have learned how to work with a 40 hour power reserve. Reasonably priced Seiko watches with a 48 hour power reserve are an alternative.
    Last edited by John MS; July 6th, 2014 at 17:34.

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