I always fantasy about mechanical watch. I think mechanical watch is a more true art form than many other so-called arts, such as meaningless fine arts. Watch making originate from the quest of making an accurate time piece to calculate the longitude in high seas. Today, we can find a better accuracy in quartz watch or even atomic watch, but they can never replace the unique charm of the craftsmanship and clever design in mechanical watch.
The basic design of mechanical watch did not change for the past 500 years. The main spring store the power and push the gears train. The movement of the hands is regulated by the escapement and balance wheel. In 1960s, engineers in Seiko dream up a revolutionary design. But this new design was so advance that the technology is not ready until 21st century. The spring drive mechanism use electromagnetic energy to regulate how fast the spring can unwind. This result of this ground breaking design is second hand not longer jumps from one second to the next second or in a fraction of a second, instead the second hand has a smooth continuous analog gliding motion.
The spring drive design is very clear, but it is really a quartz watch in disguise. The watch steal nano-watts current from the glide wheel to drive an ultra low power quartz control circuit that generate the electromagnetic force to regulate the glide wheel. The watch took half a century from idea to become reality is the wait of a ultra low power silicon design that make this design possible. On the surface, the spring drive seems like an useless idea simply combining a mechanical watch with a quartz. However deep down inside, I really admire this genius solution for the gliding second hand problem. It’s a classic engineering challenge. The ultimate answer to why the second hand of a watch always jumps.