Inside The Manufacture: With Jaeger-LeCoultre In Switzerland, Pt. 4: A 100-Year-Old Ultra Thin Mechanical Masterpiece
The development is somewhat thicker than the caliber 145, however just barely: just 42.86 mm in diameter, it manages to hold its thickness down to a simple 3.55 mm. This is a really astonishing figure – the most slender moment repeater wristwatch development in current creation today is from Bulgari, and that development, BVL 362, is 3.12 mm thick. The JLC 19 RMCCVEP is not exactly half a millimeter thicker, and has a full section wheel chronograph as well, and it was made around 1910, without the advantage of any of the cutting edge processing, fabrication, and measuring gadgets that exist today. What JLC had, obviously, was a gigantic save of skill in complicated watchmaking, as well as the advantage of some extremely sophisticated devices and accuracy measuring instruments that had been part of its heritage since 1844, when Antoine LeCoultre built up the millionometer – the main instrument capable of measuring the micron.
The image above shows the layout of the top plate of the development. In watchmaking, what a layman would call the back of the development – the side inverse the dial – is the highest point of the development to a watchmaker. The balance wheel under its cockerel, with regulator clear (“avance” and “retard” for faster/more slow adjustment, individually) is at the highest point of the image; it’s a standard, bimetallic compensating balance . Just to the lower right is the driving wheel for the chronograph, which sits atop the fourth wheel. The fourth wheel turns once a moment and most standard chronographs draw power from the fourth wheel.
From the driving wheel, you can follow the progression of force from option to left; the wheel in the middle is for the middle chronograph seconds hand, and the wheel with 30 star-shaped teeth at about 8:00 lists the brief counter (a great deal of the time in watchmaking you can sort out what a gear does by checking the quantity of teeth). The section wheel is at about 4:00, under a cap (a traditional development not utilized all the time today; Patek Philippe actually prefers to put a steel cap over its segment wheels). The repeater gongs, as well as the hammers, are also on the top plate (again, the traditional location for them, and where they are as yet discovered today in virtually all repeaters).
Above you can see the reset hammer for the chronograph place seconds hand. Indeed, even at this magnification, where generally speaking even the most all around turned out development starts to look somewhat the more regrettable for the nearby, the quality of the steelwork is fantastic; developments of this quality, from this period, really give you a standard for evaluating development completing in current developments (and sadly that most will endure by comparison).
Column haggle levers.
Repeater hammers, and the foot of the two gongs.
In general the level of preservation of the development is fantastic. There’s almost no consumption at all on the steel components. The baseplate is brass, with an overlaid coating – in 1910 this would have been applied utilizing the purported fire plating procedure, in which gold is broken up in mercury. That “amalgam” as it’s called, would then be applied to the brass plate, and the mercury driven off with heat (a potentially poisonous cycle, coincidentally, which has been abandoned in favor of electroplating).
George Daniels has expressed, “After cleaning and scratch-brushing, the surface (of an overlaid completed watch development) will be a lustrious, matt, lemon-yellow tone [sic] which will oppose stains and oxidation. The contrast of blue screws, cleaned steel, and overlaid plates is generally pleasing and refined and better than any other completion.” Daniels was famously rather attached to ex cathedra pronouncements, however he was generally also right, and in this case I agree with him. In the course of the last 116 years, there has been some gradual oxidation of the basic copper in the brass, however the state of the development overall is really impressive.
Now we should take a gander at the dial side, or base plate.
The mechanism briefly repeater is virtually always found on the top plate, or dial side of the development. The reason for this is straightforward: the repeater works by mechanically detecting the situation of the hands, based on the situation of the movement works; movement works are called that, because they are the gears that put the hands moving. Since the repeater mechanism has no eyes, it has to utilize contact: when you activate a repeater, three racks – switches, basically – are released and, under the tension of blade springs, fall onto snails. The snails are ventured cams, and how far each rack falls is controlled by how shallowly or profoundly the rack falls, which thusly relies upon how profound each progression is. Similarly as with checking chronograph teeth, you can tell which snail is which by tallying the quantity of steps.
Above, you can see a portion of the racks and snails in position. Directly at the top focus of the image is the focal point of the development, and there we have a gear that turns once 60 minutes, and carries the moment hand. The odd-looking, vaguely starfish-like ventured cam on the same axis as that gear is the moment snail. The moment snail has four arms, and each arm has 14 stages. This appears to be somewhat odd until you recall that brief repeater is organized around quarter hours (in fact, the earliest repeaters were quarter repeaters, which sounded just the hours and number of quarters past the hour). As the gear for the moment hand rotates, it carries the hour snail around with it, and when you activate the repeater, the tail of the moment rack falls onto one of the fourteen stages. As the moment rack at that point gets back to its rest position – fueled by a separate mainspring dedicated to running the repeater train – its teeth pass the outing of the hammer that strikes the minutes.
There are just 14 teeth because the maximum number of minutes that are at any point struck is 14, when it’s 14 minutes past the last quarter-hour. From 0 to 59 seconds past the quarter hour, no minutes ought to be struck. To hold 14 minutes back from being struck when none ought to be struck, there’s a cam directly under the moment snail, normally covered up, that hops into position when the following quarter is reached; it’s there to hinder the tail of the moment rack from falling onto the base advance of the snail, which would cause 14 minutes to be struck by mistake. This cam is called the unexpected piece, and is one of the not many watch parts named for its action (“shock!”) rather than for its function.
While the facts confirm that watchmaking is fundamentally a logical art, understanding how ringing watches work can be somewhat of a heavy lift. There’s an essay from 1804 by a gentleman named François Crespe, of Geneva: Essai Sur Les Montres A Répétition, or Essay On Repeating Watches, which is written as a dialog between a master and an understudy. At one point (in a translation by Richard Watkins ) Crespe’s understudy asks, rather plaintively, “Please give me a portrayal of the amazement piece, which few horologists can explain?” The basic rule, be that as it may, is really straightforward and once you understand the relationship between the snails and racks, you’re practically home free, at least as far as the fundamentals go.
Above you can see the opposite minute’s end rack. In the event that you check the teeth, you’ll discover there are exactly 14 of them. Directly close to the teeth you can see the excursion for the moment hammer (recollect, the hammers are on the opposite side of the movement).
As with the chronograph side of the development, it’s almost absurdly all around done, and with all the tranquil fashion awareness and pride of craft that make really top of the line Swiss watchmaking what it is. On the off chance that you take a gander at the cover plate for the hand-setting mechanism (generally in the upper focal point of the image above) you can see that there is no real functional reason for it to have its rather whimsical shape – no reason aside from somebody’s innate and sure eye for what works and what doesn’t.
It’s the point at which you will see a development like this that you understand exactly how incremental an art watchmaking really is. This development is 116 years old, and yet there is a great chance that it’s the most slender moment repeater chronograph anyone has at any point made. It came, also, at a really pivotal crossroads in JLC’s set of experiences: the decade when LeCoultre and Jaeger shaped their first partnership, which was one that transformed the company and made it not only perhaps the main manufacturers in Switzerland, yet additionally one of the superior watch design houses on the planet, and diverted it from a regional force to be reckoned with into a globally aware cosmopolite.
More than anything else, however, it’s a declaration to the hands that made it. The hands and brains that created the caliber 19 RMCCVEP are a distant memory, yet they made something of real beauty, and if there’s some significance to watchmaking in general – and the best Swiss watchmaking in particular – it’s that its achievements are a tangible scaffold across an ideal opportunity to individuals behind the watches.
See Parts 1-3 of our visit to Jaeger-LeCoultre, here , here , and here .
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