Watch and Clock Escapements eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 236 pages of information about Watch and Clock Escapements.
contact with the escape wheel, and was what is known as a “recoiling beat,” that is, the contact of the pallets actually caused the escape wheel to recoil or turn back.  Such escapements were too much influenced by the train, and any increase in power caused the timepiece to gain.  The first attempt to correct this imperfection led to the invention and introduction of the fusee, which enabled the watchmaker to obtain from a coiled spring nearly equal power during the entire period of action.  The next step in advance was the “dead-beat escapement,” which included the cylinder and duplex.  In these frictional escapements the balance staff locked the train while the balance performed its arc of vibration.


These frictional escapements held favor with many eminent watchmakers even after the introduction of the detached escapements.  It is no more than natural we should inquire, why?  The idea with the advocates of the frictional rest escapements was, the friction of the tooth acted as a corrective, and led no doubt to the introduction of going-barrel watches.  To illustrate, suppose in a cylinder watch we increase the motive power, such increase of power would not, as in the verge escapement, increase the rapidity of the vibrations; it might, in fact, cause the timepiece to run slower from the increased friction of the escape-wheel tooth on the cylinder; also, in the duplex escapement the friction of the locking tooth on the staff retards the vibrations.

Dr. Hooke, the inventor of the balance spring, soon discovered it could be manipulated to isochronism, i.e., so arcs of different extent would be formed in equal time.  Of course, the friction-rest escapement requiring a spring to possess different properties from one which would be isochronal with a perfectly detached escapement, these two frictional escapements also differing, the duplex requiring other properties from what would isochronize a spring for a cylinder escapement.  Although pocket watches with duplex and cylinder escapements having balances compensated for heat and cold and balance springs adjusted to isochronism gave very good results, careful makers were satisfied that an escapement in which the balance was detached and free to act during the greater proportion of the arc of vibration and uncontrolled by any cause, would do still better, and this led to the detent escapement.


As stated previously, the detent escapement having pronounced faults in positions which held it back, it is probable it would never have been employed in pocket watches to any extent if it had not acquired such a high reputation in marine chronometers.  Let us now analyze the influences which surround the detent escapement in a marine chronometer and take account of the causes which are combined to make it an accurate time measurer, and also take cognizance

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Watch and Clock Escapements from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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