Retrograde seconds
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  1. #1
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    Retrograde seconds

    I am smitten by one of Blancpain's releases at Baselworld 2012 -- a Villeret ultraslim. It has a retrograde seconds subdial in which the hand travels an approximately 120 degree arc for 30 seconds then slams back to starting point to continue this process.

    Attachment 1021009

    I'd welcome please any information about a retrograde seconds function, specifically its origin (is it just a nifty alternative to a simple 360 degree subseconds dial or does it have some advantage?) and more importantly, its risk of failure and requirement for more frequent servicing.

    I'm not having much luck with general web searches, so any links to such description(s) would be appreciated.

    Thanks in advance for any enlightenment. BTW, in accordance with the general consensus re proper decorum as expressed in Mr Shameless' recent thread, I will come back and express gratitude as should be expected.

  2. #2
    Member brrrdn's Avatar
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    Re: Retrograde seconds

    I don't have more information about the retrograde seconds, but I have this Longines with 60sec retrograde. Watching the second hand jump is hypnotic :p

    Attachment 1021128
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  3. #3
    Member GETS's Avatar
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    Re: Retrograde seconds

    I have two watches with the retrogrde seconds function - the Longines and the Breguet. I can tell you that I have had no issues with either watch and neither have I heard that the retrograde function is more susceptible to issues. I think the reason why there is nothing on Google about this is because there are no issues to report?

    I think the only advantage of retrograde functions is that they generally take up less dial space than the alternative.
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  5. #4
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    Re: Retrograde seconds

    Quote Originally Posted by brrrdn View Post
    I don't have more information about the retrograde seconds, but I have this Longines with 60sec retrograde. Watching the second hand jump is hypnotic :p
    I must agree to the hypno attraction of it, for sure. Entertainment value and probably something best avoided while driving through school zones, I imagine.

    Quote Originally Posted by GETS View Post
    I have two watches with the retrogrde seconds function - the Longines and the Breguet. I can tell you that I have had no issues with either watch and neither have I heard that the retrograde function is more susceptible to issues. I think the reason why there is nothing on Google about this is because there are no issues to report?

    I think the only advantage of retrograde functions is that they generally take up less dial space than the alternative.
    I agree (and the lack of complaints is promising). I was trying to find a schematic that shows how mechanically it differs from a traditional gear train (I'd imagine the gear continues to turn constantly in the same direction; I wonder what causes the hand to snap back to the starting point). And I was wondering from whence the idea and design originated.

    The economy of space also makes sense, especially where the hand pivots on the Longines down at the very bottom of the dial, but in looking at the Blancpain, it appears that there would be enough room for a traditionial full dial, which makes me wonder if it's just an interesting novelty for that sake alone.

    Thanks to both of you for the replies.
    Last edited by aardvarkbark; March 24th, 2013 at 21:37.

  6. #5
    Member mpalmer's Avatar
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    Re: Retrograde seconds

    It's a unique complication, but I can think of no real practical purpose that it serves. Really, though, there is no need for practical purpose beyond aesthetic appeal. I am mesmerized by my tourbillon and that complication is just an aesthetic choice as well at this point. If you really like the way it looks and functions that is more than enough reason to justify the complication.
    "The stuff that dreams are made of…" - RGM ‘801 EE Motor Barrel’

  7. #6
    Member GETS's Avatar
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    Re: Retrograde seconds

    Hello again (I'm not sure if you want this information or not or if I will explain it properly but I'll try).

    I'll post a pic.



    You see at the 12 o'clock position there is a tear drop shaped "wheel" with an orange jewel and a gold lever balancing on it? This tear drop shaped wheel turns round clockwise for 60 seconds. As you can imagine the gold lever then drops off the end of the 'tear shape' and this causes the second hand to snap back. I'm not sure if that makes sense or helps at all?

    Last edited by GETS; March 24th, 2013 at 22:22.
    Current Collection
    Patek Philippe – World Time Chronograph – 5930G-001
    Patek Philippe – Annual Calendar 5135G
    Patek Philippe – Aquanaut – 5167a-001
    Patek Philippe – Calatrava – 5196P
    A Lange & Sohne – Datograph
    Breguet – La Tradition - 7037BB/11/9V6
    Breguet – Type XXI Transatlantique Flyback
    Audemars Piguet – Royal Oak -15300
    Jaeger LeCoultre – Grande Reverso Ultra Thin Duoface
    Breitling – Navitimer 46
    Breitling – Transocean Chronograph B01 Ltd Edition
    Rolex – Submariner No Date - 114060
    Zenith – El Primero – 30.0240.410
    Panerai – Luminor PAM 241
    IWC – Portuguese Chronograph
    Omega – Speedmaster (Sapphire Sandwich)
    Omega – Seamaster Aqua Terra GMT 43
    Omega – Seamaster Planet Ocean
    Longines – Column Wheel Single Push-Piece Chronograph 180th Anniversary Ltd Edition
    Longines – Master Retrograde Seconds
    Tudor – Heritage Black Bay 79220R Leather
    Meistersinger – Salthora Jumping Hours - SH908
    Tag Heuer – Monaco Calibre 11
    Tag Heuer – Aquaracer Two Tone Quartz

  8. #7
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    Re: Retrograde seconds

    Quote Originally Posted by GETS View Post
    I'm not sure if that makes sense or helps at all?
    Well, it's certainly more than I've seen elsewhere (the Blancpain has a display caseback, but doesn't offer the clarity of your skeletonized la Tradition, for sure).

    So, I see the nautilus ('tear') shaped wheel, and I understand (I think) that with every rotation the tip of the gold lever drops off from the widest point in its diameter and returns to the smallest, at which point the retrograde seconds hand snaps back to zero. Is the base of the second hand below the ruby jewel at the lower left of your picture? Does the gold lever somehow connect to the silver lever under the other ruby jewel? Where I'm getting lost is that I want to think that the gold lever should move, but yet it appears to be in the same position in both pictures (relative to the three blued screws it passes by), while the nautilus wheel has clearly moved round.

    At least I know of a good watch to go observe in order to see it best, and I thank you for that!

  9. #8
    Member Likestheshiny's Avatar
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    Re: Retrograde seconds

    This tear drop shaped wheel turns round clockwise for 60 seconds. As you can imagine the gold lever then drops off the end of the 'tear shape' and this causes the second hand to snap back.
    That's very cool. So few movements actually have interesting moving parts to look at.

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