Speaking of ultra-thin mechanical watches, although I have not personally practiced the development and design of such watch movements, I also understand that the design is more difficult than the classic and complicated ones we often say. technology. In fact, the Swiss watch industry’s long-term pursuit of the highest realm is ‘ultra-thin’. Because for people who wear watches, ultra-thin means elegance, elegance means nobility. Brands specializing in ultra-thin watches happen to be clocks and jewellery brands in Geneva for a long time serving royal families. The diameter of ultra-thin wristwatch movements is generally within 30 mm, while the thickness of ultra-thin automatic winding movements is within 5 mm. The movement is composed of hundreds of tiny parts. It is undoubtedly harder to process these parts as thin as cicadas. However, in the past century, major brands have continuously challenged not the thinnest, only the thinnest peak. .
1. The climax of the ultra-thin competition appeared in the middle of the last century, when Jacques-David Lecourt took over the production of watches, launched a series of ultra-thin movements. One of the movements is less than 1.38 mm thick, which makes Jaeger-LeCoultre famous.
2. Later, Audemars Piguet was not to be outdone, in 1946 launched an ultra-thin manual winding movement with a thickness of only 1.64 mm. On the basis of this movement, Audemars Piguet launched the Cal.2003 skeleton ultra-thin movement in 1953. More than ten years later, Audemars Piguet introduced the improved Cal.2120 self-winding ultra-thin movement, which uses a central rotor design with a thickness of only 2.45mm.
In 3.1960, Piaget introduced a self-winding ultra-thin watch with a movement thickness of only 2.3 mm, which earned it the Guinness World Record. During this period, top watch brands such as Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin also launched their own ultra-thin watches.
Piaget Classic Slim Watch
Piaget has always adhered to the tradition of slim movements. Of the 35 movements independently developed by the brand, 23 are ultra-thin movements, of which 12 have rewritten the thickness record of ultra-thin movements and become the brand. An important part of the existing watch collection.
EmperadorCoussin ultra-thin self-winding tourbillon watch
Piaget’s Emperador Coussin ultra-thin self-winding tourbillon watch sets a new record for the world’s thinnest self-winding tourbillon watch. Its thickness is 5.55mm. What sets this ultra-thin watch apart is the classic, complicated mechanism tourbillon integrated into the ultra-thin movement design.
Piaget Emperador Coussin ultra-thin self-winding tourbillon watch
Altiplano1200S skeleton ultra-thin watch
Piaget’s Altiplano 1200S (S stands for skeleton) skeleton ultra-thin watch, which was released in 2012, has two world records-the world’s thinnest self-winding skeleton watch (5.34 mm) and the world’s thinnest self-winding skeleton movement 2.40 mm). Then performing the engraving art on such a slim automatic winding movement requires several necessary prerequisites to achieve the best results:
First of all, the best craftsmanship is a must, and the top carving craftsmen are a must.
Secondly, the accuracy and smoothness of the movement must be guaranteed. Before performing the engraving, it is necessary to study the composition of the decorative patterns in detail, calculate the range of the engraving hollow, and appropriately adjust the layout design of the movement.
Finally, the high-quality design structure of the movement itself is the best foundation. In particular, the speed control system is designed with a bridge-type splint, which enhances the required solidity and tolerance, so that the movement can ensure accurate operation without too much interference from the outside world.
Piaget Altiplano1200S skeleton ultra-thin watch
To celebrate the 140th anniversary of Piaget, the brand specially launched the new PiagetAltiplano 38mm900P ultra-thin watch, which rewrites the record of ultra-thin high-end watches. This watch has been in development for three years, and its design showcases advanced and innovative technology. It is named 900P-a manual winding movement and case components are integrated with a thickness of only 3.65 mm. To commemorate the first ultra-thin manual winding movement 9P launched by Piaget in 1957. The 9P movement has a thickness of 2 mm, which successfully established Piaget’s position in ultra-thin watchmaking.
Piaget Altiplano 900P ultra-thin watch
1. The technical core of this watch is to break through the traditional design idea-a design scheme that separates the movement from the appearance, and the main splint of the movement is together with the watch bottom case. Then the movement is integrated with the case, and the parts inside the movement will be directly installed on the bottom case. The basic movement of the mechanical watch includes the main drive train-the drive train, the drive train, the speed control system and the auxiliary drive train-the display system, the winding system, and the dial system. If the main splint is integrated with the case as described above, new adjustments are needed in the design of the basic movement. In particular, the winding system usually set on the back of the movement must be set on the front of the movement. And a plywood is needed as the supporting substrate for the upper gear train and the prime mover train.
2. Due to the fusion of the main splint and the case, it is necessary to design a floating barrel structure. The method is to transform the traditional structure of fixedly supporting the box wheel at both ends into one end. Such a suspension structure is generally implemented by a unilateral bearing.
3. As the drivetrain and winding system occupy the right side, at the same time, in order to achieve the design purpose of the ultra-thin movement, the position of the display system will leave the center and move to an eccentric position. Based on the overall layout considerations, the time display of this watch is set at the top left. In addition, the drive train and speed governor are placed in the lower right, and they are carried by separate splints.
Piaget Altiplano 900P ultra-thin structure exploded view
4. When the watch is under great pressure, such as in water, the glass or crystal mirror will deform slightly. For ordinary watches, this physical phenomenon has little effect. However, if the situation occurs on an ultra-thin watch, because the watch’s internal space is extremely small, the glass may be pressed against the pointer when it is deformed under pressure, causing the movement to stop. To prevent this problem from appearing on ultra-thin watches, Piaget deliberately designed the upper plane of the time hand (minute hand and hour hand) to be lower than the highest plane of the movement splint. Then there will be enough space between the top of the highest minute wheel and the crystal mirror. Even if the crystal mirror is deformed under pressure, it will not directly press on the hands, it will only press on the splint and the controlled wheel train, so it will not affect the normal operation of the movement.
Earl Altiplano 900P ultra-thin body exploded view
When I saw the technical parameters and technical characteristics of Piaget’s ultra-thin bracelet wristwatch, I really couldn’t believe that the brand had reached the point where it became superb in terms of ultra-thin technology. Although I have not directly developed a thin mechanical watch movement, I have always been interested in such movements. How to make the watch thinner is a subject. For the designers we research and develop, the plywood of the movement is designed to be as thin as possible, but every 0.01mm is thinner, which will increase the difficulty for processing. In addition, the transmission wheel must be made as thin as possible, 0.12mm is equivalent to the thickness of a human hair, and it is very easy to deform, which is challenging for processing. Thin watches themselves belong to a unique category, and many well-known brands will launch such watches to meet the needs of more consumers. Then Earl, as a brand that claims to be thin or ultra-thin, has embarked on a path that belongs only to him.
Bulgari OctoFinissimo ultra-thin tourbillon watch
At the Baselworld 2014, Bulgari launched a landmark watch in the field of ultra-thin tourbillons. Its thickness is only 5mm, and the thickness of the tourbillon movement is only 1.95mm. Such ultra-thin tourbillon is the thinnest, unique and unprecedented in the existing market.
Bvlgari Ultra-Thin OctoFinissimo Tourbillon Watch
Friends who have some common sense of machinery should have some understanding of ball bearings. Well, I’m afraid there are fewer friends who know about ball bearings used in mechanical watches. Of course, we can still be familiar with watches with automatic winding function, the bearing of the automatic Tuo is a ball bearing. However, I did not know about the ball bearings used in the mechanical watch transmission gear train after seeing some information later. The manufacturing level of a bearing can represent the manufacturing capability of the mechanized industry. Switzerland’s advantages in precision manufacturing are unparalleled. Relying on the benefits of high technology, the Swiss watchmaking industry is even more powerful.
Bulgari’s ultra-thin tourbillon benefits from the use of miniature high-precision bearings. The overall layout characteristics of its movement are:
1. The movement uses only one splint, also known as the main splint. In order to ensure the ultra-thin thickness of the movement, the traditional wheel shaft is not supported by upper and lower jewel bearings, and seven miniature ball bearings are used as the support of the drive train to be fixed on the main plate;
2. In order to serve as a support for the tourbillon frame, a miniature ball bearing is specially designed to be fixed on the main plate in combination with the tourbillon mechanism. In addition, the escape wheel is controlled by a ball bearing.
3. In order to achieve the purpose of ultra-thin tourbillon, and it is a coaxial tourbillon structure, a weight pendulum balance spring system is adopted. The conventional fast and slow needles and the outer pile ring structure of the traditional mechanical watch are cancelled, and the accuracy is adjusted directly by adjusting the weight.
4. Because the main idea of this movement is to eliminate the gemstone bearing support method, the same is true for the prime mover system. The barrel is controlled and fixed on the main splint by three miniature ball bearings. This design can ensure the size of the mainspring as much as possible, making the power reserve nearly 55 hours.
Bvlgari Ultra-thin OctoFinissimo Tourbillon Exploded View
I have been working on a tourbillon mechanical watch movement for ten years. When I heard about such a movement, I was really surprised. After reading the official materials and pictures, I realized how Bulgari did it. High-precision miniature ball bearings can already be achieved with a small outer diameter and a thin thickness, especially its accuracy is calculated in micrometers. It is an unattainable technology that I have been struggling with in recent years. I have seen Swiss and even Japanese watchmakers apply this technology to create various delicate and complicated tourbillon mechanisms. I feel that there is still a lot to be done. (Picture / text watch author Cao Weifeng click to enter Cao Weifeng area)