Horology: The Art of Making Timepieces or of Measuring Time

In view of the lately ended Dubai Watch Week and the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force – Red Arrows; performance on the Corniche, my Husband wanted to share his ideas and asked me to use my website to post his article, He wanted to share with You his perceptions of why people are so excited and enjoy events like the ones recently attended. Why are Wrist Watches so important to a lot of people.

I honestly enjoyed his article and wish the same for you…


Definition of Time:

Time is the indefinite continued progress of existence and events that occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future. Time is a component quantity of various measurements used to sequence events, to compare the duration of events or the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change of quantities in material reality or in the conscious experience. Time is often referred to as the fourth dimension, along with the three spatial dimensions.[1]

With the Dubai Watch Week 2016 having ended just three days ago, I wanted to take the opportunity to capitalize on the topic and share some aspects of horology that over the years I, personally, have come to appreciate.

Most Men are exceptionally excited when it comes to the topic of Watches, Watches as Timepieces, or Status symbols of hierarchy within a given Society, but sometimes appreciated simply for the in-depths work and background that go into the creation of some time pieces.

Quartz

The most popular and least expensive type of watch is actually the most accurate. When properly cut and mounted, quartz will oscillate with the help of an electric current at a frequency of 32,768Hz per second. Once the circuit in the watch has counted this number of oscillations, accuracy is guaranteed.

Automatic

The self-winding watch is typically the most expensive version due to the expertise required to build it. The mechanism consists of a semicircular ‘rotor’ which pivots when the wearer is in motion. This motion is passed through various gears to wind the mainspring. A fully wound mainspring will typically last two days.

Manual

With the advent of the automatic mechanism in 1923, the demand for manual watches has since fallen significantly. What human can actually find time in his life to remember to wind up his watch every day? The mechanism is similar to that of an automatic, only the mainspring is wound by hand.

Tourbillon

Meaning ‘whirlwind’ in French, the tourbillon is essentially a minute rotating cage housing the escapement (which converts rotational motion into watch energy) and balance wheel. It’s said to negate the effect gravity has on a watch’s accuracy, but it’s also mechanically magical to show off the watchmaker’s virtuosity: you can pay into the hundreds of thousands for them.[1]

Now having gotten the basic technicalities explained in the above paragraph, let us go into a deeper decipheration of the intent of any instrument that is used to measure. A Person may visit The Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers in Paris and come to view Foucault’s Pendulum, designed by Léon Foucault, in mistaking it for an instrument used to measure time. Yet, it does not measure neither linear nor Cyclical time. It proves the rotation of the earth. Moving in a Circular Motion.

pendule_de_foucault_au_musee_des_arts_et_metiers

In my personal opinion, since our definition of how we over various cultures measure events, consistent with Past, Present and Future. Then any object in motion, is an instrument used to measure time, since movement automatically denotes movement from position A to Position B through the dimension of space and time.

As individuals, we chose the method in which manner we wish to present to ourselves an instrument connected to our bodies, nominally, wrists used to measure the Time. A person may buy a watch for 10 US Dollars or 200,000.00 US Dollars – The decision is solely his or hers.

I could go on to write an article similar to 99.99% of Watch related articles on-line but that was never my intention. In contrast, I shall try and show the value, the real value behind a certain kind of Timepiece that is not with the mainstream but has great value in my opinion. A lot  of the people who come in contact with another person wearing such a watch will have no idea to the in-depths culture of the watch unless they were to ask the owner about it. I specifically used the word ‘culture’ to denote the characteristic of this kind of watch, such as when ‘culture’ may be used synonymously with the word ‘Synergy’. Because if a Watch has Culture, then a Watch has Synergy. ( Culture = Synergy )

Synergy by definition: The creation of a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts. All the pieces fit together to function in accordance with each other to create something together. 

Yet within this definition of ‘Culture/Synergy’ one must not forget to remember that all the knowledge in the world is useless unless a smaller part is used intently to complete a certain targeted task prerequisitely set out as a ‘goal’ in advance. More simply put: a Watch that knows everything and measure everything seizes to be useful, because a person cannot use it, the information provided, in a methodical manner to gain the results they wished to obtain in the first place; or even more simply put ‘A jack of all trades is the master of none’.

In my personal opinion, Culture/Synergy entails the material the watch is manufactured out of ,personally I prefer Titanium over Stainless Steel. (Of course watches are not made of industrial Stainless Steel, for example: Rolex produces their own variation of steel for their watches, unique in the market).

But back to Titanium, most of the Radio Controlled / Transmitter Titanium Watches are Grade 5 Titanium, it is a Titanium Alloy coded as Ti 6Al-4V (Grade 5). Titanium is lighter than stainless steel so the watch is actually big and looks heavy but very light, so light that it takes time to get used to, yet this Grade 5 Titanium Alloy is 5 times stronger than Stainless Steel. It is used in the manufacturing of Aircraft turbines, Engine components, Aircraft structural components, Aerospace fasteners, High-performance automatic parts, Marine applications and Sports equipment.

The Watch that is an uncrowned Master in the Mainstream Watch Culture is the Pilot’s Watch, and specifically the Radio Controlled and/or contains a Radio Transmitter.

Before I go into specific examples, there is one more point I wish to touch on; being that Radio Controlled/Transmitter Watches would seem extremely modern and advanced at first glance but the fact remains that if one were to look at it in a more objective manner the evidence is clear that if we speak of a Watch containing a Culture/Synergy then this would be a very Traditional and Conservative Choice, one that dates back over 100 years to date.

Radio is the technology of using radio waves to carry information, such as sound, by systematically modulating some property of electromagnetic energy waves transmitted through space, such as their amplitude,  frequency, phase, or pulse width. When radio waves strike an electric conductor, the oscillating fields induce an alternating current in the conductor. The information in the waves can be extracted and transformed back into its original form.[1]

The first use of radio- in conjunction with electromagnetic radiation appears to have been by French physicist Edouard Branly, who in 1890 developed a version of a coherer receiver he called a ’radio-conducteur’ but previously it was already named and used in various forms as early as 1881  by Ernest Mercadier,  Alexander Graham Bell and  Heinrich Hertz.

Radio has been used most of The 20th century, beginning on January 1, 1901

The Aircraft Emergency Frequency (also known as guard) is a frequency used on the aircraft band reserved for emergency communications for aircraft in distress. The frequencies are 121.5 MHz for civilian, also known as International Air Distress (IAD).[1]

To explain it very simply the 121.5 Mhz Signal is the signal that if a person were to crash in a plane and has a transmitter they could send out a sound going ‘beep, beep, beep’ which can be heard on all Radio Receivers even your old Radio at home in the kitchen that plays music while cooking, if it were turned to 121.5 MHz.

Under normal conditions—flat terrain or calm seas—the signal can be picked up at a range of up to 90 nautical miles (167 km) by search aircraft or Emergency Services.

Finally, the most interesting part: The Watches… These are watches that are either Radio Controlled tied to Atomic Time Keeping or have an innate Radio Transmitter device in case someone needs to be rescued they can send out a distress signal from the wrist watch and airplanes and Radio Towers, Radios nearby will pick up – hear – the sound coming from the timepiece and locate the individual for rescue.

The most famous radio transmitter watch is the Breitling Emergency 1. Recently a second variation came out, not to be confused with because that used both analog and digital signals. But our article focuses on Generation 1 Breitling Emergency and others.

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You may see the antenna in the lower left hand side of the watch, a person needs to unscrew the crown and pull out the wire which is an antenna and send a distress signal over the Aircraft Emergency Frequency 121.5 MHz. This is a lovely device and can be purchased even by persons who do not have a Pilot’s License. Except regardless of license, if the antenna is pulled out without a real rescue needed a penalty has to be paid for the false alarm.

The next watch is the Citizen Skyhawk, it is my favorite and much loved watch, as to me it is the epitome of my Culture/Synergy as if it has only functions that are needed in my day to day life, every option in the watch is needed, not one is useless or un needed. Even the materials used to manufacture it are a perfect combination of the richness of the earth that it came out of: Grade 5 Titanium which is 5 times stronger than stainless steel, even the Bezel (the round circle circumventing the face of the watch used for calculations is Titanium) and the Face is Sapphire Crystal which on the Mineral Scale of hardness is 9 out of 10, with 10 being the hardness of a Diamond.

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The Watch is an Eco-Drive which basically means that it does not need a battery, or movement to generate energy. It uses light, Natural (Sun) and Artificial (Indoor lighting), the light is then stored in a special battery which allows the watch anywhere from 2.5 years to months or weeks at a time; even in total darkness.

There is an Antenna located inside the watch at the 9:00 o’clock position which connects to Radio Transmitter Towers to set The Time, the connection to the Radio Tower can be initiated manually at any time, otherwise the automatic time set is at 2:00 am , if failed repeated at 3:00am and if that fails a third attempt at 4:00am. The Watch has a Chronograph built it, stop watch, a calendar and two separate alarms. Also, the time is based on a GMT watch meaning it has a Home Time and a Second World Time, in fact the Universal Standard Time, formerly known as Greenwich mean time is also located in the centre.

There are Antenna towers located on three continents to allow the watch to receive Radio Waves. The United States of American, Japan and Europe. The Transmitter in Europe is Denoted DCF77 and has been operational since 1959 located in Frankfurt, Germany. More Specially called The Mainflingen Transmitter,the Frequency used to set the Skyhawk is 77.5 KHz, in a Radius of 1.500 – 2000 Kilometers from the city of Frankfurt.

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The Skyhawk is also used by The Royal Air Force of The United Kingdom  – Specifically The Red Arrows. It is really a wonderful watch.

The predecessors to the Skyhawk watches were the Navihawk watches of the 1990s. I was given a 1st Generation Navihawk by my Mother when I was 15 years old, it was in Abu Dhabi, and at that time to buy something, we only went to either Hamdan Center or The Old Souk – these were the best days in my opinion. So, my Mother bought me a Navihawk as a gift when I was 15 years old and it was somehow a signal to me, that this was the point in my life, where I have to start to grow up, to become a man. Before as a boy I would wear plastic watches, but with that Navihawk at 15years of age; I started to act differently. Maybe in the old days in Sparta Ancient Greece at age 13 they would throw a boy into the forest to survive for a week and make his transition into manhood. To me, it was the Navihawk Watch. Somehow, it signalled to me that it was time to change to grow up.

That was over 20 years ago, even more, and I have a collection of watches now, expensive Swiss watches, cheap plastic watches, Antique watches and even Divers watches – but the only one that I would take with me, if I was sent to live on a desert island alone would be the Skyhawk. It is a Watch that a person has to understand if they want to own it, to see the richness of the options within the functions, to see the materials it is manufactured out of. The fact that the Watch self-charges on light proves that it is the most grateful Timepiece of all, because it asks nothing in return from the owner, it simply gives.

Any person, with money in hand, can buy an expensive 18K Solid Gold Diamond Encrusted Watch, anyone! But to own a Wrist Watch by choice, when someone could afford even more expensive watches is a choice. It is a Personal Choice, it is Culture. A watch can be a part of a person’s mentality, reflection of their Values as a human being, of their Culture/Synergy because just as a watch needs culture to choose which options it needs to function optimally, so should a person have culture/synergy to function. The old Analog Radio from the 1930s infused in a semi-modern body, but self-preserving, and self-serving able to serve without asking in return, for the joy of being able to progressively move ahead in space and time in a contributing manner, to contribute to their direct environment, to give of the functions available within themselves to make the lives of those around better. The Watch, like the Person who owns it, exists for a reason – the characteristics of the Watch just like a Person contribute to their function in Society.

The Original Version from the 1990s.

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[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aircraft_emergency_frequency#History

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio

[1] http://www.menshealth.co.uk/living/gear/watch-movements-explained#image-4

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time

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