Friday, April 17, 2009


Terdapat jam-jam tangan ditanda dengan :incabloc". Ianya adalah sistem keselamatan gegaran yang digunakan dalam jam-jam mekanikal. Ianya adalah untuk menjaga keselamatan penjajaran komponen kritikal sesuatu jam jika berlaku gegaran fizikal tidak tersangka seperti terjatuh atau digoncang terlalu kuat.

Pivot dan permata (jewels) bagi spring pengimbang adalah mudah rosak dan ianya memerlukan sesuatu untuk melindunginya dari hentakan fizikal, tanpa alat perlindungan incabloc, ianya mudah rosak sekiranya berlakunya hentakan atau gegaran.

Sistem incabloc menggunakan spring berbentuk 'lyre-shaped' untuk membolehkan bearing yang sebenarnya tidak kuat bergerak dari tempat letaknya apabila berlaku hentakan sehingga balace staff menyentuh besi penghujung. selepas gegaraan atau hentakan, sistem incabloc dengan spring tadi akan meletakkan semula balance staff ke tempat asalnya.

Sekiranya jam tangan mempunyai sistem incabloc bermakna jam tersebut adalah tahan gegaran dan tahan hentakan. Jam tangan yang mempunyai sistem ini dapat berfungsi dengan baik walaupun terjatuh atau terhentak tanpa disengaja.

Forum akan datang akan saya ceritakan mengenai jewels, chronometer, ISO 1413 mengenai standards tahan hentakan.

The Incabloc shock protection system is used in mechanical watches to protect the critical alignment of components in the event of an unexpected physical shock, such as being dropped.

The pivots and jewels of the balance are fragile in comparison to the mass they need to support, and without shock protection are the most likely part of the watch to be damaged under impact.

The Incabloc system uses a "lyre-shaped" spring to allow the delicate bearing to shift in their settings under impact, until a stronger shoulder of the staff contacts the strong metal endpiece. When the impact is over, the springs guide the parts back to their original positions. The staff itself does not move relative to the jewel bearing, but the whole bearing is carried in a metal bushing that is free to move in the metal endpiece, under the control of the spring. Some modern balance wheels use a simplified arrangement, where an enlarged jewel (taking advantage of the low cost of modern synthetic rubies) is free to move as its own mobile bushing.

Similar systems areETA's Etachoc, Rolex's Kif, Seikos Diashock, and Citizens Parashock.


With the constant barrage of high-pressure advertising forced on us as we try to go about our everyday lives, we occasionally wistfully think of days gone by, when times were more relaxed and simpler. Nowadays, we poor consumers need to be protected by ever more complex laws to shield us from deceptive and misleading advertising, and even downright fraud. Despite potential fines of millions of dollars, companies try every trick in the book to part us from our hard-earned cash. Oh for those good old days!

Maybe it seems this is something relatively new, a phenomenon born of the 1980's and 90's, but the reality is that the advertisers and marketers have been using techniques of manipulation and deception for a long, long time. What's more - and what is perhaps really shocking to us Watch Enthusiasts and Collectors - is that the Watch Manufacturing industry, whom we collectors tend to hold in the highest esteem, have been using all the same strategies as everyone else to get that all-important sale.

While there are a number of ways they continue to do this, here we will focus on an area which has probably been, certainly until the advent of the cheap quartz watch at least, the single most important factor in indicating the quality of a timepiece - the number of jewels a watch has.

Before we proceed further, let's recap on what jewels in watches are, and what purpose they serve. Long ago in the early days of watch and clock making, it was realized that friction in the moving parts of a clock or watch, in particular the escapement, had a major effect on timekeeping accuracy. It was found that the harder the material was that the bearings were made of, the lesser was the friction of the bearing, enabling better control of timekeeping and as a bonus, the life of the bearing was considerably extended. The hardest known materials at the time which could be cut were sapphires and rubies. The stones used were naturally-occurring and were hand cut on lathes using diamond powder as the cutting agent, into little flat cylinders with a very fine hole drilled in them. Actually, sapphires and rubies (which are simply aluminum oxide in large crystalline form, otherwise known as corundum) are second in hardness only to diamond, the hardest substance know to man. The only difference between a sapphire and a ruby is the color, which is determined by small impurities.

Suitable stones for watch jewels had to be obtained by mining natural mineral deposits. Watches generally only had jewels used where it did the most good, usually in the escapement where friction has a major effect. In a lever watch, a fully-jeweled escapement would contain seven jewels - two each for the upper and lower balance pivots, one for the impulse roller, and the remaining two for the pallets. Only watches of exceptional quality and value would have more. Jewels would generally be set in little brass or gold carriers, known as chatons, which were mounted into the watch plates with small screws, a very labor intensive operation requiring great skill. The example you see here is an English watch of around 12 size, which has eleven sapphire jewels, made in 1877. Perhaps you can see now that jewels in watches once had a real monetary value and significance, related not only to their function, but also due to their origin, rarity and the technical difficulties in working with them.

In 1902, a method was developed for artificially creating synthetic rubies and sapphires (click here for details). Now the watch industry had a source of stones that not only was cheap and plentiful, but was of a far higher purity and without the mechanical flaws found in naturally-occurring stones.

So, here we have any marketing department's dream come true! A highly valued commodity, suddenly being able to be manufactured for only a fraction of the price it used to be. Shall we pass the savings on to the customer? Of course not! And thus the myth of watch jewels was - well not exactly born - but "nurtured" to the benefit of the watch companies.

In October 1965, the Swiss organization NIHS (NIHS Normes de l'industrie Horlogre Suisse), whose function is to develop standards for the Swiss watch industry, published a standard (NIHS 94-10) in an effort to control the manner in which jewels may be referred to in advertising and sales literature of horological and timekeeping instruments. In 1974, NIHS in conjunction with the International Standards Organization (ISO) published the standard ISO 1112, which has been recently updated (1999). The standard mentions that the jewels would usually be ruby. Incidentally, stones of many kinds have been used as watch jewels, including ruby, sapphire, garnet, diamond, and yes, even glass. So you may well ask "what about the period between 1902 and 1965 when there were no official standard". Well, it was "anything goes" when it came to the jewelling of watches, with all kinds of methods used to increase the jewel count of a watch, many of which served no useful purpose. Often, jewels were added in such a way as to make it look like they were useful, but to a watchmaker who looked a little closer, the truth was plain to see.

The ISO standard is written to clearly establish what can be termed a functional or non-functional jewel. It defines a functional jewel as a "jewel which serves to stabilize friction and to reduce the wear rate of contacting surfaces of the components of a timekeeping instrument". It defines a non functional jewel as a "jewel used for purposes other than as defined in 3.2" (ie a Functional Jewel). In addition, the standard contains detailed drawings which clearly define the functionality of various combinations of jewels and pivots. I would like to propose a third category - which I will call "Useless Jewels". That is, jewels which are technically functional according to the ISO standard, but which are used in places which serve no effective purpose other than to increase the jewel count of a watch. We will look at some examples of these later.

The automatic watch movement shown here would very likely be the Granddaddy of all watches when it comes to non-functional jewels. It is the Waltham 100 Jewel watch movement, and takes pride of place along with it's cousin, the Waltham 75 Jewel watch movement as being among the movements with the highest number of non-functional jewels ever made. Looking at this movement now, it is hard to imagine if the Waltham Company was seriously trying to market this watch as being better due to the high jewel count, or whether it was just a huge gag - that ended up being taken seriously. Unfortunately, I don't have any of the advertising material on these watches to get a sense what their ideas were. Nevertheless, history remembers it as a 100 jewel watch.

The edge of the automatic rotor, shown here, is studded with small flat ruby jewels on both sides. There are 83 jewels fitted in the possible 84 locations, and adding them to the 17 jewels of the movement makes a total of 100. Two polished rings, assembled around the rotor, allow clearance for the rotor to move freely, but should the watch receive a shock, the rotor will displace and the jewels will (theoretically at least) rub on the inside of the rings.
Here an unused space can be seen, the jewel being deliberately omitted to bring the total number of jewels to exactly 100, a nice round number for the marketing department to deal with!
The polished inner races of the rings can be seen. There is no evidence on this movement that the rotor jewels have ever actually come into contact with these rings. However, wear marks can be clearly seen on the rotor and movement, where the rotor has contacted the pillar plate of the watch during a shock, the same as you would see on a normal automatic movement.

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