Here are three groundbreaking innovations that are setting the benchmark for tomorrow’s watchmaking.
Zenith Defy El Primero Double Tourbillon
Boasting a long heritage in high-frequency escapements, Zenith has for the first time incorporated two separate tourbillon escapements in a timepiece. The first at 10 o’clock beats at an ultra-high frequency of 50 Hz to keep the chronograph measuring 1/100th of a second, driving the central chronograph hand to perform one full turn of the dial per second, with its carriage executing a complete revolution every five seconds – making it the world’s fastest tourbillon. The second tourbillon at eight o’clock for precision timekeeping operates at 5 Hz with a carriage making one rotation per minute. Mirroring the dual architecture, two dedicated barrels – one for the watch and the other for the chronograph – deliver 60 hours and 50 minutes of power reserve, respectively. The timepiece is powered by the successor to the legendary 1969 El Primero movement – the in-house, 311-component El Primero 9020 caliber with a frequency that’s 10 times faster – which is housed in a case available in two limited editions: 10 pieces in platinum or 50 pieces in carbon.
Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar
Among the biggest headaches of a perpetual calendar is resetting the indications – which may include the day, date, month, year and moonphase – when the power runs down, which could require the services of a watchmaker if the operation is performed incorrectly or manually turning the hands for days when all the calendar indications are set from the crown, if, say, the timepiece hasn’t run in three years. So Vacheron Constantin has invented a watch proposing a four-day power reserve in active mode and a “standby” mode when it isn’t being worn with an incredible power reserve of at least 65 days – that’s over two months of running time! How? By having two balances driven by the same mainspring barrel, each operating at a different frequency – 5 Hertz and 1.2 Hertz – which the user can switch on demand instantly depending on activity level without any interruption to timekeeping, housed in the ultra-compact, 480-component Caliber 3610 QP that is only 32mm in diameter and 6mm thick. Showcasing instantaneous jumping indications for the date, month and leap year, the jumping mechanism has been fully reinterpreted, utilizing a sprung dual-gear compound system that needs four times less torque than a traditional jumping display, so even when all three indications jump simultaneously, there is minimal impact on the amplitude of the active balance.
Roger W. Smith and Manchester Metropolitan University Nanomaterials
Imagine a timepiece that never loses time or requires servicing. Oil has always been the foe of every single watch, but the groundbreaking research into the use of nano-coatings to improve the performance of mechanical timepieces by British independent watchmaker Roger W. Smith and Dr Samuel Rowley-Neale and Dr Michael Down, research associates at Manchester Metropolitan University, could reduce, or possibly replace, traditional oil-based lubricants by applying practically frictionless, advanced 2D nanomaterials directly to components to create a dry lubricated surface. Over time, a liquid lubricant will dry out and gradually even crumble away leaving surface deposits, causing the mechanism to become inaccurate and stop, thus the need for regular, lengthy and expensive servicing. Roger Smith says, “With the advances in efficiency and reduced energy in my latest single wheel co-axial escapement, we’re pushing the mechanical boundaries of current watch performance and service intervals beyond industry standards. However, by rendering the mechanical watch components virtually frictionless, we could be talking about creating a timepiece that can be genuinely passed from generation to generation safe in the knowledge it does not require maintenance.”