In-Depth: A Game Of Tones: The AP Concept Supersonnerie

Seeing the Supersonnerie face to face and really hearing it ring isn’t effortlessly done – review and hearing the completed watch, which is currently underway, included an outing to Le Brassus – and truth be told the Supersonnerie appeared on the scene gradually, through a long term long arrangement of mysteries. The main sign AP gave that they had been dealing with a distinct advantage of a repeater was right back in November of 2014, when they delivered a press picture and data about a watch they were calling the Royal Oak Concept Acoustic Research RD1 , and which, in January of 2015, a few of us got an opportunity to hear, and hear a little about, in a uniquely built kind of multi-media pod AP had developed inside its remain at the SIHH – the thought was to both give an acoustically spotless climate to tuning in to the RD1, and to get inquisitive eyes and ears far from what addressed long term R&D speculation. The sound was great, OK – uproarious, yet in addition warm, clear, and rich – yet at the time there was practically nothing in the method of clarifications about how RD1 did its thing, or how it was in fact unique in relation to different repeaters.

However, this time around, maybe AP was resolved to make it up to us and we got an abundance of data on the improvement cycle. To perceive any reason why AP did what it did as far as designing arrangements, you need to comprehend something about what goes into making a repeater in the customary manner, and why making a wristwatch repeater is as a very remarkable test all things considered. To do that, how about we investigate a few repeaters from the AP Museum’s broad repeater collection.

The two pocket watches above are essential for the AP Museum assortment, and they were best in class for their time. The one on top is a quarter repeater with fabulous strike, and it was made by Jules-Louis Audemars, preceding the association with his beloved companion Edward-Auguste Piguet that prompted the establishing of AP in 1881. The watch appeared beneath is an exceptionally complicated, early AP, endorsed on the development and dial – a rattrapante chronograph minute repeater.

The upper development was made for Dent – the English watchmaking firm that likewise did the clock for the Palace of Westminster, otherwise called Big Ben, and it shows how early, and how worldwide, the exchange was for complicated developments from the Vallée de Joux and from Audemars Piguet. Truth be told, AP spent significant time in repeaters nearly all along and in AP’s files, which start around 1882, you see a ton of them recorded – of the 13 watches on the primary page of the record book, 9 are repeaters, and in the nineteenth century completely a large portion of the watches AP made were repeaters. 

Miniature 8 ligne repeater, Audemars Piguet Museum

So suppose you’re a watchmaker, it’s 1882, you’re up in the Vallée with a huge request in the books for a pocket repeater, and you need it to sound incredible. You can take a gander at a repeater from numerous points of view – as an issue in instrument making; as a physical science/acoustics issue, etc. However, we should attempt to see it from a producer’s perspective.

First of all, the case is significant. Various metals produce distinctive quality sounds, however in 1882 you’d have utilized gold or rose gold. In addition to the fact that gold produces a rich sound, you can likewise make it slim sufficient that it sends sound well. You’re a watchmaker, so you don’t think a lot about the physical science of sound transmission yet you do realize that you need a moderately flimsy, generally unbending gold case to get the best stable out of the watch.

Second, the gongs are significant. In contrast to the case, which acts like a string instrument’s sound board (enhancing and advancing the sound by giving a huge, resounding surface zone) the gongs are liable for accepting energy from the mallets and making the fundamental sound of the watch. Like the case, they should be slender, and generally inflexible – customarily repeater gongs were made of drawn steel wire, and tempered in pony pee (or so says oral practice). To tune the gongs, you’d cautiously document the external finish of each gong down until you got the correct note, and the foot of the gong, where it’s appended to the development, would be ground down to a tightening shape too, to permit the gong to vibrate longer (too unbending an association with the square holding the gongs to the case creates a dead, brief sound, however in the event that the sinks holding the gongs place are too free, stable transmission to the body of the watch additionally suffers).

Third, the speed at which the gongs are struck is significant. To control the beat, each repeater has a managing system that decides how quick the cog wheels turn in the repeater gear train. The most common and indeed, just framework for a long time was a sort of anchor escapement. A progression of cog wheels runs from the spring barrel that controls the repeater train, and finishes in a break haggle. As the getaway wheel turns, the anchor gets and delivers its teeth. The lone issue is it drives a clamor like a crazy honey bee the entire time the tolls are ringing, however as pocket repeaters typically have very great volume going for them, everybody pretty much lived with it.

So what you have toward the finish of a long interaction that includes all that we’ve referenced, in addition to significantly more (there’s a different change you need to do to control how far the sledges pull back in the wake of hitting the gongs, to specify only one) you have something that sounds incredible if the person making it didn’t have an inability to listen and if the casemaker took care of his work right and in the event that you tuned the gongs accurately, unendingly. That is the reason repeaters – great ones, in any case – are concurred such a lot of regard; 1,000 things must be perfect for the sorcery to happen.

Wristwatch Repeaters

The eternally dour Samuel Johnson once mentioned the selfish observable fact, on Boswell disclosing to him that he’d seen a lady evangelist, that something like this resembled a canine strolling on its rear legs: “It isn’t progressed admirably, yet you are shocked to think that its done by any stretch of the imagination.”  Wristwatch repeaters are that way. The wrist is an imbecilic spot, truly, for a watch, where it’s presented to harm, savage movements in temperature, unexpected developments, unendingly; it’s a horrendous spot for a repeater. Also, placing a repeater in a wristwatch case implies removing all that makes a repeater sound great: a large enough case to reverberate appropriately; respectable measured gongs; ground-breaking enough sledges to get a decent solid, unendingly. Which is the reason scaling down repeaters was so intense, and required such extraordinary specialized expertise – and those requests were given to shoppers; in the late nineteenth century, and for a significant part of the twentieth, the more modest a repeater was, the more costly it was.

Just to give you a thought, in 1910 a Grand Complication pocket watch from Audemars Piguet cost 2200 francs. A pendant ringing watch with a scaled down repeater development, 8 lignes in breadth (a ligne is 2.2558 mm, so that is a development 20.464 mm across) cost 2700 francs. Consider that briefly – a woman’s pendant repeater watch cost in excess of a Grand Complication. The main wristwatch repeater was completed for Louis Brandt (the archetype to Omega) in 1892 (with an AP development) and the principal wristwatch repeater endorsed by Audemars Piguet was completed in 1925. As per AP’s chronicles, the 8 ligne repeater development was quite just about as costly as the somewhat bigger, 9 ligne adaptation. You paid a ton, some time ago, for shaving off 2.558 mm from the breadth of a complicated development.

Above is an illustration of the best in class in wristwatch repeaters, from 1932. This is a platinum interesting piece, with a 9 ligne (20.2022 mm) development. The case is just 26 mm x 26 mm. The astonishing thing about it is the manner by which great it sounds. Most importantly, it’s minuscule and also the acoustic properties of platinum can beneficently be portrayed as trying. It’s an extremely thick metal that promptly stifles sound energy and any remaining things being equivalent a platinum repeater’s simply never going to sound as great as one made of gold, however this one, however somewhat quieted comparative with the gold repeaters we heard, was incredibly clear. We really had the chance to hear, during our visit, a bigger number of repeaters in a single day than a great many people will hear in a lifetime; my own life has been honored with a decent measure of openness to repeaters and I think my all out multiplied in one evening. The pocket repeaters (all the ones you find in this story, in addition to a few others we didn’t have the opportunity to shoot, were good to go) were by a long shot the best, with a room-occupying volume and room-filling presence, however even the littlest repeaters from the pre-World War II period had a clearness and quality that a great deal of current repeaters would battle to coordinate. Probably a portion of the more up to date repeaters that I’ve heard that have much-promoted volume, appear to forfeit nature of sound somewhat – sure, they’re uproarious, yet additionally rather fragile and excessively brilliant in tone for their own good.

Production of wristwatch repeaters fundamentally stopped in the years paving the way to World War II, coincidentally, at AP and somewhere else – between the Depression and afterward the war, super sensitive, extravagant tolling watches were very little on individuals’ brains, and the period of the rich wristwatch offered route to the utility watch time, as stun insurance and waterproofing got pervasive. Be that as it may, the Quartz Crisis had the unintended outcome of resuscitating interest in watches, and mechanical horology, as an art, and in 1992 AP drew out its first new rehashing wristwatch in quite a while: the Jump Hour Minute Repeater, with the 9 3/4 ligne type 2865. However awesome as this might have been, a great deal of inquiries stayed open in moment repeater design.

Benchmarking The Minute Repeater

At this point Audemars Piguet Renaud & Papi enters the story. APRP began in 1986 when Dominique Renaud and Giulio Papi, baffled at being informed it would take regarding twenty years for them to move gradually up to complicated watches at AP, chose to take off all alone. Strangely which began as a separation wound up as a commonly valuable marriage; AP purchased 52% of Renaud & Papi in 1992 and today, possesses 80% of the firm – with the seeing still set up that was set up in ’92 that APRP would keep on pursueing outside customers. Today they’re quite possibly the main development experts on the planet. Giulio Papi is as yet running things there (Dominique Renaud left the firm to seek after his own tasks) and he’s a shockingly warm, cordial person for somebody who goes through his working day around little, sensitive machines.

Papi disclosed to us that when they initially chose to assault what he calls, “the repeater issue” nine years prior, the initial step was finding a watch that addressed, sonically, the ideal.

It’s quite huge that the watch they picked was this one, from 1924. It has all the specialized burdens of a watch from the Roaring ’20s; it’s delicate, neither residue nor waterproof, has no stun assurance, etc. What it has – and it’s something you need to hear to accept – is the voice of a holy messenger. I’ve heard this watch do its thing twice now – once on this visit and once, two years prior – and keeping in mind that most vintage wristwatch repeaters do extraordinary as far as sound quality, they’re by and large a lot of a sotto voce crowd. This one will not shake the rafters however it conveys a lot more volume than you may expect that you nearly need to check out the space for the covered up speakers.

HODINKEE recorded this watch during our 2014 visit to the AP Museum, and you can hear it in the video around 3:45 imprint, just as, beginning at 3:00, catch wind of the popular John Shaeffer minute repeater.

With specialized assistance from the école polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (which works widely with the watch business) a chronicle was made (in an anechoic chamber, to kill diverting echoes) and dissected. “We needed to comprehend the entire cycle,” said Papi, “what the sound depends on.” 

Advancements In The Supersonnerie

Armed with an objective recurrence range, APRP at that point felt free to build up a gathering of advancements expected to make the subsequent watch hearty, water safe, and with great volume, yet additionally with extremely high quality sound.

Making sure that the gongs delivered the ideal tones (the Supersonnerie is a customary, two gong repeater) was the initial step. The actual gongs are really conventional; round in cross-segment, roundabout, tempered steel (no word on whether APRP actually utilizes horse pee). Papi discloses to us that a round cross-area and shape are the awesome; points looking like the gongs will in general reason sound energy to be lost, and unfavorably influence sound quality and volume. All the customary parts of creating the gongs are as yet significant, however with benchmark frequencies to pass by, it’s a lot simpler to hit everything objective, and also you can do it reliably without depending such a great amount on human judgement.

One of the most intriguing new parts with regards to the Supersonnerie is the managing gadget. As we’ve referenced, the customary arrangement is an anchor, which as it tackles its work makes an unmistakable humming sound (you can hear it effectively in the video). The fly controller utilized in certain repeaters (fundamentally, a radiating pace lead representative) has a few favorable circumstances. There’s no humming commotion, however it’s not absolutely quiet and as it depends on erosion, the beat of the repeater will change after some time as the greases utilized age. AP has as a rule stayed with the anchor controller, up to this point; this is what one looks like.

The new form of the anchor looks rather different.

In researching the commotion from the anchor, APRP found that the vast majority of it doesn’t really come from the connection between the anchor and the getaway wheel in the repeater train whose revolution it controls; a great deal of it really comes from the turns. What you’re seeing above is fundamentally a conventional anchor controller, yet with a stun retention framework added. The complicated small spring molded like the letter B is the thing that does a large portion of the work, and it’s an incredibly, little part. The entire thing is just 1.5 mm across its longest measurements and at its most slender, the stun spring is 0.08mm thick. The consequence, however, is that you have a controller that is both steady in the rhythm it produces and virtually quiet. Sound is well beneath the discernible edge and we basically couldn’t hear it at all when the Supersonnerie was working, which is really astounding thinking about how obviously you can ordinarily hear it. The framework has been tried for wear to a period equivalent to fifteen years’ utilization, all things considered, so it looks entirely solid as well.

Now we should discuss how solid really escapes the Supersonnerie.

Above, starting from the top, are perspectives on the dial side and back perspective on AP type 2937, the development in the Supersonnerie. This isn’t the first tourbillon, chronograph with minute repeater from AP however it’s adequately unique to justify its own development assignment. You can see the tourbillon, just as a ton of the repeater train, on the dial side up top, and in the lower picture you can see the chronograph framework, with its section haggle grasp, alongside the two sledges for the repeater (lower left). One major distinction, in any case, between this development and a conventional repeater, is that the gongs are not connected to the development plate.

This is a detonated perspective on the Supersonnerie’s case back plan, and as should be obvious, the gongs are not connected to the plate, however to an internal case back that really goes about as a reverberating film. It’s an immense bit of leeway over other current repeaters. The layer is adequately inflexible to resound at the normal recurrence of the gongs and furthermore light sufficient that it doesn’t assimilate an excess of sound energy. This inward layer was the subject, as you can likely envision, of a ton of thought as far as material, and AP took a stab at everything from copper compounds (excessively inclined to oxidation, however they sounded incredible) to, in all honesty, engineered sapphire, which was extraordinary for sound transmission yet too simple to even consider breaking (Papi says the sapphire film was just .01 mm thick and essentially offered us to comprehend it would break in the event that you took a gander at it clever, so sapphire was an off limits). The film has a gasket among it and the principle body of the case, so the watch is pretty water safe for a repeater – 20 meters, which may not seem like much until you recall that for the majority of the historical backdrop of repeaters, water obstruction was zero.

There’s something more we should specify. In a traditional repeater, after the hours strike, if there are no quarters to strike there is a delay in ringing while the system goes through the span where quarter striking would ordinarily happen. In the Supersonnerie, the minutes are struck, in such a condition, following the hour strike is completed; the quiet stretch is as yet present however is precisely moved to the span after the minutes have struck.

Of course, what you truly need to know is, how can it sound? Here’s the place where we would have wanted to put a short video showing the Supersonnerie in real life, however while AP permitted some chronicle during the SIHH they appear to have concluded they could have done without what wound up web based (differing levels of bending and surrounding commotion, which is the thing that you get at a career expo, sadly). We do hope to have the option to do a chronicle of a concluded model under better acoustic conditions and keeping in mind that it’s a touch of disappointing to end with somewhat of a let-down, I comprehend where AP’s coming from. (Update: Audemars Piguet has released an account of the Supersonnerie ).

When we can do a legitimate chronicle, ideally it’ll merit the pause, and meanwhile ideally perusers will not believe I’m savaging them when I say it truly sounds stunning. It’s effectively discernible across a loud room, over the sound of ordinary discussion, which is great, and it really sounds louder on the wrist than off (this is because of an idiosyncrasy of sound wave transmission through layers of various materials – in the event that they’re distinctive enough in composition the sound will be reflected back; when you don’t have the watch on sound scatters pretty much every which way from the watch, yet when you have it on the limit among skin and caseback really reflects sound forward). In addition to the fact that it is noisy, however, it’s additionally flawlessly clear; rather than a boisterous yet cruel sound you get something with loads of satisfying suggestions, and no diverting humming from the controller for sure. In the event that the Supersonnerie were a drama entertainer, you’d say it was in that enchantment period when an artist’s voice is both ground-breaking and graceful, when the voice is experienced, however before age starts to incur significant damage – with the exception old enough is never going to negatively affect the Supersonnerie.

Watches like the Supersonnerie are less about possession, with the exception of an exceptionally little gathering of amazingly well off people who have mid-six figures to spend on a wristwatch. What makes this class of watches fascinating, in any case, is the amount they need to show us essential issues in watchmaking and how to handle them innovatively, and you don’t have to claim a Supersonnerie to gain from it (which is fortunate in light of the fact that a large portion of us must choose between limited options at any rate!)  It’s a standout amongst other level out showing devices for learning a lovely obscure field of watchmaking I’ve found in some time, and it’s additionally a piece of a set of experiences in making this complication that is a profound piece of the account of the Vallée de Joux, and of Audemars Piguet.

The Audemars Piguet Supersonnerie: minute repeater, chronograph, with tourbillon. Case, titanium with artistic crown and pushers, water impervious to 20m, 44 mm in distance across, with inward fixed “sound board” and case back gaps to permit sound to get away. Development, hand-wound type 2937, 29.90 mm x 8.28 mm; 3 hz balance (21,600 vph) with 478 components running in 43 gems. Dark elastic tie with AP collapsing clasp. Cost on solicitation. See it at Audemars Piguet online.