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post #19336 of 35671
Quote:
Originally Posted by Belligero View Post


Absolutely. It brings to mind a recent post on TZ-UK in response to someone's lament about being "bored with watches" — a first-world problem if ever there was one.

Just buying watches and taking pics to show off to like-minded individuals is pretty shallow. Let's face it, your only input in that situation is money.
Vintage watches, learning about watch movements and the chance of a coup at an antiques market/boot sale is the only thing that has kept me interested over time.
Conspicuous consumption of expensive baubles is not a hobby and is pretty meaningless in reality.

I'll add consideration of design principles to that list. I find Dino's writing particularly illuminating in this regard, as his approach to watches is based on history and design fundamentals. The recent posts on originality and lack of interest in "homage" watches clearly articulated this mindset, and provide insight that's unmistakably the product of considerable deliberation and a well-developed sense of discernment.

Watches do become a bit boring without this broader context, just like every other category of stuff. In fact, the learning can be more satisfying than the actual ownership experience, as the majority of experienced watch/clothing/car/motorcycle/audio/coffee/camera/etc. nuts can tell you. For me, the part that truly engages is trying to understand the elements that constitute a quality design, much more so than simply possessing the object itself. You certainly don't need to own a watch to make meaningful contributions to this type of discussion.

The more you learn about enduring and well-appreciated design of any type, the more you discover how much the principles are transferable in both the concrete and the abstract sense — that's the "aha!" bit.

Edited for following reason: "The only grammar Nazi you want to see in a thread is yourself."

 

Yes, absolutely agree with this.
post #19337 of 35671
A few things to keep in mind.

Generally, you would never expect a long power reserve movement, such as the 7-days 5001, to be as precise as a movement with a regular power reserve. Why? Because the long power reserve is driven by an extra-long mainspring, or more than one mainsprings that must be switched between using a transmission. In the first case, isochronism error becomes a big problem, as there is an exaggerated difference in tension when the mainspring is fully wound versus unwound. In the second case, you get "lumpier" results and introduce added mechanical complication and future maintenance challenges. Most modern long power reserve movements use the multiple mainspring solution. The single mainspring solution is mechanically more elegant, but makes regulation very challenging due to isochronism error. In the instance of the 5001, I suspect the single mainspring solution was absolutely necessary since it is an automatic movement (I believe it remains the only automatic long power reserve movement in existence).

Anyway, isochronism error is the problem faced by the 7-days 5001. To regulate the movement optimally, the watchmaker must account for how it is likely to be worn. If worn everyday, it will stay fully-wound and the watchmaker will bias the regulation toward high amplitude. If it will only be worn every few days, and the mainspring stays in a more relaxed state with less tension, he will have to regulate it for more moderate amplitude. Anyway, that's why you can get such wildly variable timekeeping with the 5001 Portuguese. You need to tell your watchmaker how you wear your watch in order for it to be correctly regulated. Also, if you change the way you wear it frequently, it will be near impossible to regulate it that well.

Is this a flaw with the movement? Arguably. However, I like the single long mainstream approach and think it is at least a more innovative and elegant one. Originally it was thought that they could overcome isochronism error by simply never letting the mainspring fully unwind (there is a cutoff point)--that is why you get 7 days as opposed to 8 or 9. Yet, that clearly didn't do the trick.

High-end watches like the 5001 are all about heritage, design, and horological interest. I find that I care much less about accuracy/precision when I understand the movement better, including why it was designed the way it was, what its advantages are, and what trade-offs had to be made. The truth is, there is no other movement that does exactly what the 5001's does, and it was designed specifically for application in the first ground-up modern Portuguese. That's a story. It's a "pure-bred" watch. Hence, despite its temperamental nature, it will likely always retain value and desirability. Like a Ferrari.

For certain other watches, an in-house movement is not as important. Take Panerai, for example. Why? Because Panerai was not originally a manufacture. Until recently, they had always used ebauches from outside sources. So, it really doesn't damage the purity of a Panerai to not be in-house. It's just not part of the story.

However, IWC, along with a handful of others (Patek, JLC, Audemars, Vacheron, Rolex, etc.), were the only manufactures to survive the quartz revolution intact and continuously produce in-house mechanical movements. As such, they hold a certain pedigree other brands don't, and it will always matter to collectors whether their watches have in-house movements. Patek/Audemars/Vacheron famously relied on the very high-grade Lemania chronograph ebauche for decades. Yet, over the past few years, Patek has striven to bring chronograph design in-house. That is a very costly move and no accident. It's a matter of reputation.

Though various versions of the Portuguese have not always used in-house movements, the original Portuguese always did, and was special for the size of the movement it contained. So, it's arguable that for any Portuguese to stand up to collector expectations, it must have an in-house, pocket watch-sized movement. The prices on the secondary market are demonstrative.
post #19338 of 35671
Quote:
Originally Posted by mafoofan View Post

Generally, you would never expect a long power reserve movement, such as the 7-days 5001, to be as precise as a movement with a regular power reserve. Why? Because the long power reserve is driven by an extra-long mainspring, or more than one mainsprings that must be switched between using a transmission. In the first case, isochronism error becomes a big problem, as there is an exaggerated difference in tension when the mainspring is fully wound versus unwound. In the second case, you get "lumpier" results and introduce added mechanical complication and future maintenance challenges. Most modern long power reserve movements use the multiple mainspring solution. The single mainspring solution is mechanically more elegant, but makes regulation very challenging due to isochronism error. In the instance of the 5001, I suspect the single mainspring solution was absolutely necessary since it is an automatic movement (I believe it remains the only automatic long power reserve movement in existence).

Anyway, isochronism error is the problem faced by the 7-days 5001. To regulate the movement optimally, the watchmaker must account for how it is likely to be worn. If worn everyday, it will stay fully-wound and the watchmaker will bias the regulation toward high amplitude. If it will only be worn every few days, and the mainspring stays in a more relaxed state with less tension, he will have to regulate it for more moderate amplitude. Anyway, that's why you can get such wildly variable timekeeping with the 5001 Portuguese. You need to tell your watchmaker how you wear your watch in order for it to be correctly regulated. Also, if you change the way you wear it frequently, it will be near impossible to regulate it that well.

Is this a flaw with the movement? Arguably. However, I like the single long mainstream approach and think it is at least a more innovative and elegant one. Originally it was thought that they could overcome isochronism error by simply never letting the mainspring fully unwind (there is a cutoff point)--that is why you get 7 days as opposed to 8 or 9. Yet, that clearly didn't do the trick.

Bloody spectacular post.

I will add 2 more things to this:

1. another solution which allows for greater power reserve via a longer mainspring and compensates for the isynchonism error as the longer mainspring unwinds is to add a fusee-and-chain system. The fusee-and-chain system is basically a chain wound around the barrel and another pyramidal spindle. The spindle is designed so that it compensates for the reduced pull as the mainspring unwinds. I consider this a particularly elegant solution, but it is technically challenging to implement well, which explains why it is found only in $$$$$ watches. See below image if my terrible explanation has left you more lost than before reading my post (mainspring barrel is on the right):



2. yet another solution is decreasing the beat frequency of the balance wheel, but this brings with it a whole other set of problems - the slow oscillating balance wheel now becomes more susceptible to external shock and changes in position, compromising the accuracy of the watch. A recently released watch has a particularly slow beat rate and a massive balance wheel. In theory this means more inertia, which should negate the aforementioned weaknesses. Whether it is successful or not is still up for debate, but even in this new watch the purpose of implementing the slow beat was not an increased power reserve, but (apparently) more proof of concept that accurate extremely slow beat movements are feasible.
post #19339 of 35671
Quote:
Originally Posted by mafoofan View Post

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
A few things to keep in mind.

Generally, you would never expect a long power reserve movement, such as the 7-days 5001, to be as precise as a movement with a regular power reserve. Why? Because the long power reserve is driven by an extra-long mainspring, or more than one mainsprings that must be switched between using a transmission. In the first case, isochronism error becomes a big problem, as there is an exaggerated difference in tension when the mainspring is fully wound versus unwound. In the second case, you get "lumpier" results and introduce added mechanical complication and future maintenance challenges. Most modern long power reserve movements use the multiple mainspring solution. The single mainspring solution is mechanically more elegant, but makes regulation very challenging due to isochronism error. In the instance of the 5001, I suspect the single mainspring solution was absolutely necessary since it is an automatic movement (I believe it remains the only automatic long power reserve movement in existence).

Anyway, isochronism error is the problem faced by the 7-days 5001. To regulate the movement optimally, the watchmaker must account for how it is likely to be worn. If worn everyday, it will stay fully-wound and the watchmaker will bias the regulation toward high amplitude. If it will only be worn every few days, and the mainspring stays in a more relaxed state with less tension, he will have to regulate it for more moderate amplitude. Anyway, that's why you can get such wildly variable timekeeping with the 5001 Portuguese. You need to tell your watchmaker how you wear your watch in order for it to be correctly regulated. Also, if you change the way you wear it frequently, it will be near impossible to regulate it that well.

Is this a flaw with the movement? Arguably. However, I like the single long mainstream approach and think it is at least a more innovative and elegant one. Originally it was thought that they could overcome isochronism error by simply never letting the mainspring fully unwind (there is a cutoff point)--that is why you get 7 days as opposed to 8 or 9. Yet, that clearly didn't do the trick.

High-end watches like the 5001 are all about heritage, design, and horological interest. I find that I care much less about accuracy/precision when I understand the movement better, including why it was designed the way it was, what its advantages are, and what trade-offs had to be made. The truth is, there is no other movement that does exactly what the 5001's does, and it was designed specifically for application in the first ground-up modern Portuguese. That's a story. It's a "pure-bred" watch. Hence, despite its temperamental nature, it will likely always retain value and desirability. Like a Ferrari. Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
For certain other watches, an in-house movement is not as important. Take Panerai, for example. Why? Because Panerai was not originally a manufacture. Until recently, they had always used ebauches from outside sources. So, it really doesn't damage the purity of a Panerai to not be in-house. It's just not part of the story.

However, IWC, along with a handful of others (Patek, JLC, Audemars, Vacheron, Rolex, etc.), were the only manufactures to survive the quartz revolution intact and continuously produce in-house mechanical movements. As such, they hold a certain pedigree other brands don't, and it will always matter to collectors whether their watches have in-house movements. Patek/Audemars/Vacheron famously relied on the very high-grade Lemania chronograph ebauche for decades. Yet, over the past few years, Patek has striven to bring chronograph design in-house. That is a very costly move and no accident. It's a matter of reputation.

Though various versions of the Portuguese have not always used in-house movements, the original Portuguese always did, and was special for the size of the movement it contained. So, it's arguable that for any Portuguese to stand up to collector expectations, it must have an in-house, pocket watch-sized movement. The prices on the secondary market are demonstrative.
I'm all for sweating the details when it comes to this stuff, but wasn't the goal of using a pocketwatch movement in the original ref. 325 Portuguese to ensure a more accurate/precise watch; something akin to a marine chronometer for the wrist? The watch was supposed to be all about timekeeping performance.

All mechanical movements face the challenge of ensuring isochronism — and most have far less internal volume to work with. Leaving aside the question of what the point of having an extra-long power reserve combined with automatic winding actually is, an oversized-but-erratic movement is inconsistent with the original Portuguese's intent, and seems like a bit of a styling exercise to me. It succeeds in that aspect at least; it's easily the best-looking of IWC's current range and it's a cool watch.
post #19340 of 35671
The fusee-chain solution is not only super-expensive and exotic, but exceptionally difficult to service. It's pretty much relegated to watches with a $100k+ price tag, without any other complications. At least, that is what Lange charged for the fusee-chain Richard Lange.

The original 5001 movement was a classic slow-beat movement, at 18k beats per hour. When they changed to a screwed balance, they sped it up to 21.6k beats per hour--a little bit faster, but still slow compared to the standard 28.8 beats per hour. The magnified effect of beat error is a theoretical issue, but I'm not sure it matters in real-life usage. Precision will be exponentially more influenced by how you keep your watch wound.
post #19341 of 35671
Quote:
Originally Posted by Belligero View Post

All mechanical movements face the challenge of ensuring isochronism — and most have far less internal volume to work with. Leaving aside the question of what the actual point of having an extra-long power reserve combined with automatic winding actually is, an oversized-but-erratic movement is inconsistent with the original Portuguese's intent, and seems like a bit of a styling exercise to me. It succeeds in that aspect at least; it's easily the best-looking of IWC's current range and it's a cool watch.

Yes, all movements must contend with isochronism, but the extra-long mainspring in the 5001 makes it a particularly serious and challenging issue. As for the purpose of combining an automatic winding function and a long power reserve: you can wear the watch one day, let it sit for almost a week, then put it back on again without having to wind it. Hand-winding a long power reserve movement is a pain in the ass. Also, it is arguably a way of contending with isochronism error. Since the rotor keeps the mainspring winding as the watch is worn, it will sustain itself in a narrower range of tension. When I keep my 5001 on a winder, it is extremely precise (+3-5 seconds a day).

So, I think you can rightfully argue that the temperamental precision of the watch is a real issue, but I'm not sure it impeaches the watch's legitimacy. It's a trade-off for added functionality in other areas. And, all in all, it's an interesting engineering story.
post #19342 of 35671
But Foo, Rolex didn't start off as a Manufacture. They didn't even start off as a Swiss company.
post #19343 of 35671
Just remembered a few more innovations with regards to increasing power reserve...

3. use a fundamentally different material for the mainspring, one which can a. be molded in such a way that its thickness tapers from the center of the coil to the outside of the coil to compensate for torque asymmetry as the spring unwinds, and which b. offers better native potential to store energy. I only know of one material which has been found to be a superior material to regular metal spiral springs - fibreglass. eh.gif

4. increase the efficiency of the gear train to reduce extraneous energy loss between barrel and escapement. This is pretty self explanatory, but in the broadest terms one accomplishes it by reducing the friction coefficient. You reduce the friction coefficient through better gear tooth profiles, materials with native lower coefficients of friction (e.g. synthetic diamond as opposed to brass), and better gear train design.

5. the last method I can think of to increase the power reserve is to remove air from a watch. "Remove the air?!" I hear you say? Think about the oscillating balance wheel, the air resistance it encounters as it oscillates, and the energy losses that entails. Pretty self explanatory again.

All of these above innovations were implemented by Cartier (!!) in a concept watch, which has a - wait for it - 32 day power reserve.
post #19344 of 35671
So, just wanted to give a shoutout to Stitchy.

My friend was looking for a Michele watch, and she had nothing but good things to say about working with him. And she can be a bit of a hard ass.

And the obligatory pic...

post #19345 of 35671
Quote:
Originally Posted by mafoofan View Post

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Yes, all movements must contend with isochronism, but the extra-long mainspring in the 5001 makes it a particularly serious and challenging issue. As for the purpose of combining an automatic winding function and a long power reserve: you can wear the watch one day, let it sit for almost a week, then put it back on again without having to wind it.
Hand-winding a long power reserve movement is a pain in the ass. Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Also, it is arguably a way of contending with isochronism error. Since the rotor keeps the mainspring winding as the watch is worn, it will sustain itself in narrower range of tension. When I keep my 5001 on a winder, it is extremely precise (+3-5 seconds a day).

So, i think you can rightfully argue that the temperamental precision of the watch is a real issue, but I'm not sure it impeaches its legitimacy. It's a trade-off for added functionality in other areas. And, all in all, it's an interesting engineering story.
Yes, you need a special key to wind this 31-day-reserve beast:



Though personally, I kinda dig the interaction of hand-winding something like JLC's 8-day Reverso movement, and they've somehow managed to make the winding effort similar to that of a conventional-reserve watch. And that's another interesting engineering story. teacha.gif

post #19346 of 35671
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flake View Post

But Foo, Rolex didn't start off as a Manufacture. They didn't even start off as a Swiss company.

The founders moved the company to Switzerland three years after founding it in London. It wasn't even called "Rolex" until after the move. Ten years after setting up shop in Switzerland, they bought-out their movement supplier, bringing production in-house. These details are so early and marginal in the company's incubation that I don't think you can make any material case that Rolex isn't originally Swiss or fundamentally a manufacture.
post #19347 of 35671
Wasn't aware that they didn't adopt the Rolex name until after the move to Switzerland. I learn something new every time I read this thread. I guess that's why I am enjoying it so much!
post #19348 of 35671
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flake View Post

Wasn't aware that they didn't adopt the Rolex name until after the move to Switzerland. I learn something new every time I read this thread. I guess that's why I am enjoying it so much!

 

Rolex founder, Hans Wilsdorf, and his brother-in-law founded Wilsdorf and Davis around 1905.  Later it became Rolex and the company eventually bought Aegler, the company it was buying movements from.  Over the years they also bought case makers and bracelet makers (such as Gay Freres which used to make bracelets for AP, PP, IWC, Rolex and Tag)....and became an integrated company. 

post #19349 of 35671
Quote:
Originally Posted by Belligero View Post

Though personally, I kinda dig the interaction of hand-winding something like JLC's 8-day Reverso movement, and they've somehow managed to make the winding effort similar to that of a conventional-reserve watch.

 

Any hand-wind JLC that I have tried has been a pleasure to wind - smooth as silk - including the 8 day.  I don't exactly have a hard life, but I can't even conceive of how soft an existence one must live to find hand-winding such an exquisite piece to be a collosal pain.  First world problems indeed.

 

I would add that I don't really get the attraction of such super-long power reserves in the first place - and for much the same reason.  I don't find winding and setting a watch to remotely register as an inconvenience in my life.  In fact I very much enjoy the interaction - as you describe it - in so doing.  My hand-wind Moser has "only" a 3 day power reserve.  I can't say that I have ever found myself thinking post-wind: "Wow that was tough!  If I only had to do this once just once per week instead of twice."  And it isn't as silky as the JLC.

post #19350 of 35671
Quote:
Originally Posted by ahdaeeeee View Post

 

Thanks for that. What you said is true, the reason people prefer in house movement is because it is more exclusive, I mean I can say that for me. Nonetheless, that does not make the Portuguese an inferior watch. What's your take on the Portuguese Chrono? 

I am not sure that I would catagorize the Portuguese chronograph as an inferior watch.  That is a rather broad statement and possibly unfair.  The Portuguese chrono is sort of an entry level IWC chronograph, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.  It exposes the brand to a broader audience of potential consumers, possibly younger consumers, and provides revenue to use toward research and development, and to allows a company to focus on more costly lower production specialty watches.  Even Patek, AP, VC, Rolex etc have their own respective entry level models. 

 

In addition, the cost of designing your own chronograph movement is incredibly high, so many companies opt to use outsourced movements.  As I mentioned previously AP and VC still use F. Piguet 1185s in their RO and Overseas Chronographs.  Patek used a Lemania in their chronographs until recently, while VC continues to use a Lemania in their higher end chronographs.  There is no shame in using outsourced movments, if the movement is of high quality and is finished properly by the company using it. 

 

An inhouse movement provides some level of exclusivity in that it may not be found in other brands.  However,  more importantly collectors should consider whether its significant to a brand or particular model.  However, its not a guarantee of superiority.  Sometimes I hear people brag that their watch has an inhouse caliber, and there are times that for similar money there are watches with an outsourced movement I would prefer (if buying within a certain price range an Omega Speedy Pro with its outsouced manual wind movement is tough to beat).  I think people get too wrapped up in whether a watch has an in house movement, yet they just presume inhouse is better.  In the vintage world its far less relevant...just take a look at the prices of vintage Rolex chronographs, Patek Chronographs, VC Chronos, and AP Chronos. 

 

As long as a person understands that the Portuguese Chrono does not follow in the tradition of the original Portuguese watches, they don't mind that, its within their budget, and it suits their taste and needs, then who are we to call it inferior. 


Edited by Dino944 - 3/26/13 at 11:00am
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