Friction has always been a rival to mechanical timing and is no longer a stumbling block in this industry. But to sit back and relax, simply by not using grease as a lubricant for mechanical movement is not enough. Go down the mountain, take off your shoes and socks, imagine yourself as Patrick Swayze, and glide down the mountain in the classic shape of Doom. You will find that either you can’t slide down quickly or your feet have been worn out. Now, sprinkle oil on the hillside to lubricate your feet, and the gliding becomes smooth and smooth in an instant.
Indeed, oil (various oils) makes life easier, and its effect is much more practical than the example we have given. The actual meaning of oil far exceeds the meaning of the word ‘oil’ itself. Various oils play different roles in our lives. This widely used black gold derivative from ancient times was not very popular, but of course its value was quickly recognized. Fortunately, internal combustion technology has not been applied to watches, otherwise we have to find supplies in North America.
If a substance is used to define our way of life today, it must be oil. Despite its many advantages, only a few countries can control its disadvantages properly. The same is true of watchmaking companies. From the first application of impact pins to pallet forks, oil has become an integral part of the mechanical watchmaking industry.
Regarding the status of oil in the watchmaking industry, the influential ‘EuropaStar’ magazine quoted a comment made by the famous watchmaker Roret Manuel in 1825: ‘Of the various substances used by watchmakers, oil holds the most Important location. ‘The reason is friction, which can cause damage to many moving parts that make up a mechanical watch. Whenever these parts come into contact with each other, friction is generated, which is then damaged and eventually destroyed.
The most common solution is to use lubricating oil. Clockmakers have applied this solution to all their creations, from clocks to pocket watches to watches. There is currently no solution in any field other than grease that can solve the problem of friction once and for all.
In the contemporary era, synthetic oils that benefit the automotive industry also play an important role in watchmaking. Synthetic lubricants have greatly improved the durability of high-end Swiss (and similar German and Japanese) watch parts, but lubricants are still irreplaceable. This is one of the reasons why top watches often need to be sent for maintenance. The watchmaker needs to take apart all the parts and clean them one by one, and then lubricate the parts that need lubrication.
Obviously, the demand for lubricants, whether by industry or individuals, will never fade. However, the problem is that after the watch runs for a period of time, the lubricant will overflow the original container, pile up in other parts and cause blockage, and even cause more severe wear. Moreover, lubricants can affect the accuracy of a watch. For these reasons, watchmakers have long been searching for the “holy grail” of watchmaking-watchmaking technology that does not require lubricants. Abraham Louis Breguet once said, ‘Give me the perfect lubricant and I will make the perfect watch.’ But contemporary watchmakers are seeking a way to subvert this view and create watches that do not require any oil lubrication.
The significance of such an initiative is far more than simply reducing the number of watch maintenance. Reliability is undoubtedly a key factor, as are accuracy and power supply. Friction is a chrono movement that needs to be overcome, but how much power does it take to overcome friction? How expensive is the escapement? Unless you are a technical expert, the answer is unknown, but you can imagine that if you can get rid of the big trouble of friction, watchmaking companies will applaud.
This may sound unrealistic, but the contemporary watch industry has witnessed various efforts to try to solve the problem of friction. Although they have achieved varying degrees of success, no one method can match Jaeger-LeCoultre (product Home) and Ulysse Nardin (Athens). In fact, the two companies are convinced they have shaken off friction. Unveiling the mystery of the Extreme LAB series launched at the 2007 SIHH Geneva International Haute Horlogerie Exhibition, Jaeger-LeCoultre became the first watchmaking company in the world to announce the discovery of the “Holy Grail”. Athens followed closely behind, making its debut at Tempus with Innovision that same year. Their achievements provide hope and direction for others’ exploration.
What will be introduced in the future is not only how these two watchmaking companies found the Holy Grail in completely different ways, but also what efforts and other attempts are being made by other companies. Just like the appearance of quartz watches in the process of finding the most accurate timing device, a new breakthrough has emerged in this search for the way to get rid of friction.
The emergence of quartz watches has brought the number of people wearing watches to a historical peak, revolutionizing ordinary people to control time, and highlighting the importance of time to people. In any case, the quartz watch paves the way for a new round of exploration of mechanical watches. I hope that the discovery of the ‘holy grail’ of mechanical timing will bring more surprises to watch lovers and fully enjoy the accumulation of all human skills, traditions and control The precious wealth of the wisdom of mechanical movement. In fact, what we are about to witness is the future. In the next issue, we will first look at several important technological and historical breakthroughs achieved so far. (Picture / text watch home think time)