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Watchismo Times

THE WATCHISMO TIMES WATCH BLOG A reliquary of obscure timepieces from bygone eras as well as the cutting-edge watch designs of today.

Urwerk 202 Hammerhead Automatic at 2008 SIHH

From Urwerk's presentation of the new UR-202 Twin Turbine-->Link

UR202 Promotional Video-->Link

The UR-202 is the world’s first watch with the winding rate regulated by fluid dynamics.

As long ago as the 18th century, clockmakers were using air friction to regulate the speed of chiming clocks, and their techniques evolved to become the preferred method of regulating the rate of chimes on minute-repeaters.

With the UR-202, URWERK have taken the traditional idea of using air friction and refined it to control the rate of automatic winding.
The traditional rotating vanes of the past have been replaced by cutting-edge miniature twin turbines - miniature air compressors - which can be seen spinning on the back of the watch.

Urwerk turbines

The UR-202’s twin turbines are coupled with the winding rotor. According to the position of the selector lever, the turbines act as shock absorbers.
In normal activity they cushion sharp movements of the rotor. This reduces wear and increases the lifespan of the movement.
While the selector position is continuously variable, the three principal positions are: normal activity, where the turbines spin freely; vigorous activity, where the air pressure generated by the turbines reduces the winding rate by approximately 35%; and extreme activity, where the turbines and rotor are fully blocked.

The turbine system is totally self-contained within the waterproof case. The air flows from under the turbines and is channeled up past them under a sapphire plate and down through holes leading to a tiny air chamber.

The turbines are controlled by a 3-position selector switch. This functions by adjusting the level of air compression the turbines generate by selectively regulating the amount of air flowing from inside the case.

The spinning turbines force air through holes into a tiny air chamber. The selector switch controls the amount of air escaping from the turbines.
By restricting the airflow, it increases the air pressure and slows down the turbines and the winding rotor.

The UR-202 also features URWERK’s patented Revolving Satellite Complication with telescopic minutes hands.

The Revolving Satellite Complication displays time using telescopic minutes hands operating through the middle of three orbiting and revolving hours satellites. The telescopic minutes hands precisely adjust their length to follow the three sectors marking the minutes: 0-14, 15-44, 45-60.

Extended, they enable the UR-202 to display the time across a large, easy-to-read dial. Retracted, they allow for a very wearable and comfortably sized case.


Related Posts;

See Also;
Urwerk Website->Link
Ian Skellern's (R)Evolution of Urwerk->Link
Horomundi's Complete Urwerk Story->Link

Urwerk's first model, the Nightwatch Wandering Hour

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All Mechanical Digital - The MECCANICO dG by de GRISOGONO

All Mechanical Digital - The MECCANICO dG by de GRISOGONODe GRISOGONO is about to launch the worlds most complicated Mechanical Digital/Analog watch at Basel 2008. The MECCANICO dG has two time-zones with a traditional analog display on top but one of the more amazing digital displays at the bottom. A pure mechanical digital display imitating LED segments but in fact are rolling tubes! Granted this is a CAD rendering but the real watch will be shown in a few days at Baselworld in Switzerland. I'll be in Basel so stay tuned to The Watchismo Times for the first photos...

All Mechanical Digital - The MECCANICO dG by de GRISOGONO
The Meccanico Press Release;

The inventors and designers of Haute Horlogerie enjoy a rare privilege: the luxury of choice. Existing constructional principles and concepts can of course always be revisited and reinterpreted but a design team can also decide to strike out in an entirely new direction. Founder and president of de GRISOGONO, Fawaz Gruosi naturally favors the second approach. With the MECCANICO dG, the Geneva-based house's latest entry, de GRISOGONO is introducing a design that projects hallowed horological traditions far into the future. With its 651 components, the MECCANICO dG's mechanical movement is one of the most intricate made today. A Haute Horlogerie timepiece with two distinct timezones, it is the first to display both analogue and digital time by mechanical means. This world first - and de GRISOGONO patent! - features a highly complex time mechanism inside a particularly contemporary design.

For his company's fifteenth anniversary, Fawaz Gruosi, founder and president of de GRISOGONO, was determined to break new ground and explore an area no watch manufacturer had ever ventured into: a digital display driven by an exclusively mechanical system. Although it took considerable confidence and even a touch of rashness to involve himself with a project of this kind, Fawaz Gruosi never looked back, intent on leading the brand into uncharted and definitely challenging territory.

With its patented double time display, both analogue and digital, the MECCANICO dG design inaugurates a totally novel concept in mechanical Haute Horlogerie. A single mechanical movement, twin timezones, two types of display - the MECCANICO dG embodies a major innovation, combining for the first time in the history of horology a digital time display and a mechanical power supply.


The digital display is a child of the quartz era. At the time, electronics seemed to have won the day and mechanical timekeeping was under threat. Three decades later, magnificently intricate mechanical movements are more in demand than ever and Haute Horlogerie enjoying unprecedented success. The intervening years saw traditional watchmaking recover and reinvent itself. Generating invention after invention, creating ever more stunning, gloriously finished designs, traditional watchmaking has conferred objet d'art status on its most cunningly complex timepieces. Yet up to now, it had never revisited the digital time display. With the MECCANICO dG, this reluctance is now a thing of the past. The design propels horological history forward into a new dimension.

The MECCANICO dG can be described as a dense cluster of microsystems featuring extremely elaborate cam and gear assemblies. Its exclusive de GRISOGONO handwound mechanical movement comprises 651 components. It is composed of an analogue display of the hours and minutes on the upper dial and a digitally displayed second timezone on the lower dial. The mechanically operated digital display of the second timezone shows tens of hours, single hours, tens of minutes and single minutes, all displayed by mobile microsegments driven by an assemblage of 23 cams connected to a set of gears and a triggering and synchronization system.

The time information is displayed by an array of 23 horizontally and vertically positioned microsegments. Vertical segments are 9 mm high and weigh at most 25 milligrams while the horizontal segments measure 2.90 mm in length and weigh only 10 milligrams. The segments have four faces: two opposing visible faces fitted with colored strips and two opposing unmarked faces. Time changes are effected by 90° rotations of the required segment or segments. Involving one to twelve segments, time changes are lightning fast.


The MECCANICO dG's exclusive Haute Horlogerie technical design is matched by striking contemporary styling. Its intricate mechanical systems are visible through its transparent dial plate. Also featuring colored strips, the analogue time display's hour markers seem suspended in thin air so as to reveal the underlying mechanism. Like every de GRISOGONO movement, the MECCANICO dG's own caliber is meticulously finished and its components blackened. The words “de GRISOGONO” and “Swiss Made” are inscribed directly on the movement while the back of the watch features a nameplate bearing the name “MECCANICO dG”.

Despite the power needed to action the double analogue and digital display and the torque required to effect the instantaneous rotation of the digital display's microsegments, the MECCANICO's handwound mechanical movement, exclusive to de GRISOGONO, provides a power reserve of some 35 hours, visible through a cambered sapphire backplate on a 90° sectoral display on the movement's reverse side.

The MECCANICO dG case does justice to its exceptional movement. Notable for generous dimensions (56 x 48 mm) and camberedlines, water-resistant to 30 meters (~ 100 feet), this pioneering design is available in a choice of styles: titanium, titanium and red gold, titanium and rubber and titanium and platinum. In keeping with the design's futuristic allure, its correctors and the crown guard are fashioned from vulcanized rubber. Its analogue display is set by the crown opposite 3 o'clock while the second timezone is set by a pair of correctors - for hours at left, for minutes at right. Also crafted from vulcanized rubber, the strap is fitted with a deployment clasp buckle featuring the de GRISOGONO crest.

Launched to mark an exceptional horological year at de GRISOGONO, the MECCANICO dG is being produced in a limited edition of 177 watches in titanium and 177 in white gold.

  • Reference DG 042
  • Caliber Exclusive to de GRISOGONO
  • Movement thickness 11.45 mm
  • Movement dimensions rectangular: 38.10 x 34.70 mm
  • Number of components 651 for the movement, 70 for the case
  • Jeweling 77 (movement and display)
  • Frequency 28,800 v.p.h. (4 Hz)
  • Power reserve about 35 hours
  • Indications Hours, minutes and second timezone
  • Case titanium; 5N red gold; titanium and gold; titanium and platinum, titanium and rubber
  • Water resistance 30 meters (~ 100 feet) = 30 atm.
  • Hands “dauphine” style in 18K red gold
  • Strap black natural rubber
  • Clasp Double deployment construction in titanium and 5N red gold.

See Also;
All New 2008 Watch Posts-->Link

All Mechanical Digital - The MECCANICO dG by de GRISOGONOvia Horomundi

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"A Rare Mixture of Art, Science & Mechanics" - Greubel Forsey Film

A short film about the dynamic duo watchmaker/inventor team of Greubel Forsey.

"The whole idea was not to accept that everything has already been invented in watchmaking. We do have our page in the history of watchmaking to write."
-Robert Greubel


Or download the higher quality version here-->Greubel Forsey film (70MB)

When you see the video, you'll have a better understanding why about two watches a month are produced...

Greubel Forsey Invention Piece No. 1

Greubel Forsey Website-->Link

See Also;
Greubel Forsey Invention Piece No. 1
Greubel Forsey Multi-Axis Tourbillon Videos
Richard Mille Planetarium Tellurium (developed with GF)

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Clock Wise - Rare Vintage Patek Philippe Solar Clock & A Homemade Etch-A-Sketch Clock

Two 1960s Patek Philippe Solar clocks to be auctioned at the upcoming Antiquorum Important Collectors' Wristwatches, Pocket Watches and Clocks in Geneva. The full catalog here-->Link

Estimate: 3,600 USD - 5,400 USD (2,500 EUR - 3,700 EUR)

Previously auctioned 1960 Patek "Pendulette" Solar Clock
(or the "R2D2" as I like to call it)
Sold for approx $7000 in 2007->Link

From the Timezone history of the Patek light-powered clock-->Link

"By contemporary standards, the Patek light-wound clock is a technological anomaly and peculiarly primitive. It combines what were, in 1950, state-of-the-art electronics (including very expensive photoelectric cells) with a traditional Patek mechanical hand-wound movement.

To place the light-wound clock in historical perspective, 1950 was also the year that Patek introduced the Gyromax balance wheel, which at the time seemed an important development for the future of the wristwatch. It would be only two years later that Patek would introduce a "fully electronic clock, i.e. without moving parts," and still another year--1953--before Patek introduced its first automatic wristwatch. Just a year after the automatic Patek introduced the first "nuclear-powered" timepiece, "deriving its energy from a radio-active isotope." And finally, in 1958, Patek produced its first quartz-controlled clock. This is an interesting history for a company that is, today, so strongly associated with conservative and traditional mechanical wristwatches."

And now for something completely different...

Angela Yuan, a young NYC mechanical engineer has built a fun little clock from an Etch A Sketch toy. Each minute that passes, the machine tilts the toy, shakes it clean, and mechanically draws the correct time.


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“Jos the Finch” in The Netherlands makes extraordinary sterling engines of striking designs. These are only a couple of his amazing machines. It’s shocking that he gets such high efficiency from only a couple of tea candles."


Product page-->Link
via machinethinking

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Ancient Nerds - History of Computing & The Earliest Calculating Devices has a fantastic overview of the history of computing with a special focus of early mechanical calculating devices-->LINK

Some examples from the feature;

Ancient Nerds - History of Computing & The Earliest Calculating DevicesThe 2000 year old Antikythera Mechanism, the worlds oldest computing device (and 1000 years more advanced than comparable mechanisms). Only discovered 100 years ago in a shipwreck.

Ancient Nerds - History of Computing & The Earliest Calculating DevicesWilhelm Schickard’s Calculating Clock (1632) that could add and subtract six-digit numbers (with a bell as an overflow alarm). This invention was used by his friend, astronomer Johannes Kepler, to calculate astronomical tables, which was a big leap for astronomy at the time. For this, Wilhelm Schickard was considered by some to be the "Father of Computer Age."

Ancient Nerds - History of Computing & The Earliest Calculating DevicesBlaise Pascal’s Pascaline (or Arithmetique) from 1645 - The basic mechanism of the Pascaline is a series of gears - when the first gear with ten teeth made one rotation (one to ten), it shifts a second gear until it rotated ten times (one hundred). The second gear shifted a third one (thousands) and so on. This mechanism is still in use today in car odometers, electricity meters and at the gas pumps.

Ancient Nerds - History of Computing & The Earliest Calculating DevicesGerman mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz' Stepped Reckoner of the 17th century was inspired by a steps-counting machine (pedometer) he saw to build his own calculator. Leibniz’s design used a special type of gear called the Stepped Drum or Leibniz wheel, a cylinder with nine bar-shaped teeth along its length.

Ancient Nerds - History of Computing & The Earliest Calculating DevicesCharles Babbage’s Difference Engine from 1822 was considered one of the first mechanical computers. Despite of its unwieldy design, his plan called for a basic architecture very similar to that of a modern computer.

Ancient Nerds - History of Computing & The Earliest Calculating DevicesDuring World War II, Nazi Germany used an electro-mechanical cipher machine called Enigma to encrypt and decrypt coded messages. It used rotors to substitute letters (for example, an "E" might be coded as "T"). The genius of the Enigma was that the machine used polyalphabetic cipher, where the rotation of the rotors allowed each subsequent letters to be encoded in a different manner. (For example, "EEE" might be become "TIF").

See the rest, including the dawn of digital computing here-->Link

via BoingBoing from Neatorama

See also;
All Watchmaking Posts
History of the First Digital Calculator Watches
1960s Juvenia Protractor Watch
Multi-Functional Watches
Slide Rule Wristwatches
Gadget Timepieces

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The AlarMe - Personal Wrist Alarm Concept

The AlarMe - Personal Wrist Alarm ConceptDesigner Nikita Golovlev has created a watch for the hearing impaired. AlarMe has the ability to alert those who cannot hear an audible alarm by vibration on the watch. The watch has two built in multidirectional microphones that measure the surrounding ambient sound levels. Once the sound changes frequency, the vibrating alarm alerts the user that there is a situation going on and they need to leave the area. The LED lights and face alert the user as to what the alarm is, and if it is a serious situation or one where only caution needs to be had.

The AlarMe - Personal Wrist Alarm Concept
via Yanko Design

See Also;
All Gadget Watch Posts
All Concept Watch Posts

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1947 Wrist Lighter from Mechanix Illustrated

1947 Wrist Lighter from Mechanix Illustrated
In addition to the knife watch from Sicura, strangulation watch from James Bond and the self-Defenseband, this antique novelty lighter watch is the perfect gift for that murderous paranoid arsonist in your family!

"Wrist Lighter
is the latest novelty for the smoker. Strapped on the wrist, and outwardly resembling a watch, it lights when the cover is flicked back, as demonstrated above. It is being marketed by Samuel Jones, Ltd., London."

via Modern Mechanix

1947 Wrist Lighter from Mechanix Illustrated1947 Issue of Mechanix Illustrated

Check out my $100-$100,000 holiday gift guide!-->LINK

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More Accurate Than God! Two vintage 60s Bulova Accutron Commercials

1960s Clocktower Video-->Link

Fantastic vintage 1960s television commercials for the Bulova Accutron. The humming transistorized electromagnetic coil tuning fork watches invented by Max Hetzel in the fifties.

Original 60s Accutron Commercial-->Link

Thanks to devout Accutron enthusiasts Horst Knebel and Hummin Georgie Stalzer for digging these out of the dusty vaults.

Max Hetzel - ACCUracy through ElecTRONics

"When the Accutron was introduced in 1960 it was described as the first electronic watch but it also had another revolutionary feature, the time keeping was controlled by a tuning fork. The tuning fork vibrated 360 times per second and the vibrations were maintained at a constant amplitude by means of a transistor, dispensing with the mechanical contact which had been a source of trouble with earlier electric watches. The tuning fork was made of Elinvar, for temperature stability, and Bulova was able to guarantee that it would not gain or loose more than a minute a month thoughout its life. It was designed by a Swiss engineer, Max Hetzel, and manufactured in the USA. It remained in production until 1976, by which time five million watches had been sold." --via Science Museum

"Bulova Accutrons were also subjects of the other famous space era rivalry with Omega Watches for being the first watch on the moon. Ultimately, the Omega Speedmaster Professional chronograph wristwatch (known as the "Moon watch") was designated by NASA for use by the astronauts in all manned space missions, becoming the first watch on the moon on the wrist of Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin.

However, all instrument panel clocks and time-keeping mechanisms in the spacecraft on those missions were Bulova Accutrons with tuning fork movements, because at the time, NASA did not know how well a mechanical movement would work in zero gravity conditions. The Bulova company currently manufactures a limited edition "Astronaut" model under its Accutron line of watches." -via Wikipedia

Other vintage watch commercials-->Link

Accutron enthusiast websites;
Accutron Spaceview
Accutron 214
MS Accutron
Rob's Accutron
Timezone Accutron

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The 1000 Year Forest Clock - The TiWalkMe Escapement

TiWalkMe is a 1000 year clock in the guise of a forest, with annual tree plantings setting the pace of time, and their maturing the clockwork mechanism. TiWalkMe's purpose is to make deep time visible, and thus to help individuals and society focus on those hard, long term problems which determine our success as a species.

Over the next millennia, the TiWalkMe Escapement will constantly move and bow to the winds of time. Sections age, others regrow, and above all, change is embraced. Details must be left to future generations, but this generation will locate the site, etch the overall plan of paths and trees, and set the clock into motion. Never the less, throughout time three principles should guide its evolution:
  • Principle 1: The slow march of trees across the Escapement must always be visible and unobstructed.

  • Principle 2: The Escapement must adapt to future knowledge and needs, yet remain balanced with the past.
  • Principle 3: TiWalkMe's mission is to bring perspective and insight to its visitors.

Bell & Siphon

Rather than a static network of ponds and streams, the Escapement's pools empty periodically into the stream below. Although pumps or other massive infrastructure could be used to force water across each dam, TiWalkMe will adapt a passive, gravity-powered "bell and siphon" to echo nature's grand cycle. Yet the flow will be as dramatic and as willful as nature's own.

The most elegant and efficient pump in the world is a siphon. Containing no moving parts, requiring no forces other than gravity and surface tension for operation, siphons are at work everyday emptying gas tanks, filtering aquariums, and moving drinking water from reservoir to town. More about the Bell & Siphon system-->Link

Overhead view
More on the design-->Link

Conceptualized locations include larger rural or even smaller scale urban settings. The search continues for funding, volunteers, and site selection.

The interesting man behind the TiWalkMe is inventor, physicist, entrepreneur, designer, former Bell Labs chief scientist, and now venture capitalist Greg Blonder of Genuine Ideas. A mad genius of over 70 patents and thousands of other genuine ideas.

After exchanging some emails with Greg, he summed it up nicely for me...

"My main point is captured by Yogi Berra, who famously noted "you can see a lot just by looking". Imagine walking though the forest in the first year, then the second and third. And tenth with your children. Slow down- think- visualize the paths and leaves in your mind.... What will have changed? What risks are a forest like this likely to face from the ravages of nature, visitors, insects? How can one plan and organize to keep the forest safe and a legacy for future generations? Understand the forest, and you will exercise the very same skills we need to develop to solve challenges never before faced in all of human history.

Realistically, as I've searched for an appropriate site and sponsor, they either specify a conventional park, or a conventional business district with mixed use facilities and homes. Short term thinking, of course. A city which embraced the TiWalkMe forest will become a magnet for associated organizations, and then businesses and jobs. Plus, unlike a woollen mill or high tech park, its base will not migrate away. But few visionaries are in power, I'm afraid."

TiWalkMe Website-->Link

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Urwerk 202 Hammerhead Automatic at 2008 SIHHAll Mechanical Digital - The MECCANICO dG by de GRISOGONO"A Rare Mixture of Art, Science & Mechanics" - Greubel Forsey FilmClock Wise - Rare Vintage Patek Philippe Solar Clock & A Homemade Etch-A-Sketch ClockHeteluchtmachinesAncient Nerds - History of Computing & The Earliest Calculating DevicesThe AlarMe - Personal Wrist Alarm Concept1947 Wrist Lighter from Mechanix IllustratedMore Accurate Than God! Two vintage 60s Bulova Accutron CommercialsThe 1000 Year Forest Clock - The TiWalkMe Escapement

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