The angular motion between the lines a c (which represents the lock) is not only absolutely lost—wasted—but during this movement the train has to retrograde; that is, the dynamic force stored in the momentum of the balance has to actually turn the train backward and against the force of the mainspring. True, it is only through a very short arc, but the necessary force to effect this has to be discounted from the power stored in the balance from a former impulse. For this reason we should make the angular motion of unlocking as brief as possible. Grossmann, in his essay, endorses one and a half degrees as the proper lock.
In the description which we employed in describing the large model for illustrating the action of the detached lever escapement, we cut the lock to one degree, and in the description of the up-to-date lever escapement, which we shall hereafter give, we shall cut the lock down to three-quarters of a degree, a perfection easily to be attained by modern tools and appliances. We shall also cut the drop down to three-quarters of a degree. By these two economies we more than make up for the power lost in unlocking. With highly polished ruby or sapphire pallets ten degrees of draw is ample. But such draw must positively be ten degrees from a neutral locking face, not an escapement drawn on paper and called ten degrees, but when actually measured would only show eight and a half or nine degrees.
With ten degrees angular motion of the lever and one and a half degrees lock, we should have eight and a half degrees impulse. The pith of the problem, as regards pallet action, for the practical workman can be embodied in the following question: What proportion of the power derived from the twelve degrees of angular motion of the escape wheel is really conveyed to the fork? The great leak of power as transmitted by the lever escapement to the balance is to be found in the pallet action, and we shall devote special attention to finding and stopping such leaks.
If we use a ratchet-tooth escape wheel we must allow at least one and a half degrees drop to free the back of the tooth; but with a club-tooth escape wheel made as can be constructed by proper skill and care, the drop can be cut down to three-quarters of a degree, or one-half of the loss with the ratchet tooth. We do not wish our readers to imagine that such a condition exists in most of the so-called fine watches, because if we take the trouble to measure the actual drop with one of the little instruments we have described, it will be found that the drop is seldom less than two, or even three degrees.