Alpha or Beta, pt 1

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Alpha or Beta!? Yes, welcome to life consulting and learn how to approach and lay every woman...

Hahaaa, joke aside! Lets get horological and lets speak about Project Alpha and Project Beta started in 1960s in Switzerland.

As you know, in horology precision directly depends on frequency and higher frequencies enable higher precision. Mechanically the boundaries are set and not to break, because of physical restraints. Think of it like a pendulum in a clock: you can make it oscillate once every two seconds. Now, speed that up a little -- one oscillation per second, 1 Hertz -- and compare both settings. The way the pendulum has to move is the same, sure. Just the time it has to do so, is just half. Or to put it the other way around: the speed it has to move doubles. And it has to be accelerated in one direction, stopped and accelerated in the other direction in each cycle. The restraints are obvious: the power that has to be applied to the pendulum is not only doubling but exponential.

Hi-beat watches made in the 1970s take this to 5Hz -- Longines Ultra-Chron, Ulysse Nardin 36'000 and of course the legendary El Primero developed in 1969 to name just three. Yes, you get a significant higher precision with these movements, but at the cost of also significant higher maintenance costs and deterioration.

These 5Hz are complicated to achieve and the costs start to out-weight the gains at this rate. There are some movements using even higher rates mechanical but there are reasons why these remain in experimental state.

To be continued.