BASELNEWS 2009From Regulator to Singulator
Historically, regulators are extremely high-precision pendulum clocks for scientific applications. Since hours are a unit of minor importance in these applications, they are represented on a subsidiary dial so as to avoid reading errors. This highly balanced dial design was adopted for a number of clocks, such as marine chronometers with power reserve indicator or for chronographs.
From Regulator to Singulator
Today the classic design with subsidiary hour has also been adopted for some wristwatches. The new Singulator from MeisterSinger unites the concept of an extremely precise watch and the company’s philosophy of deceleration. For this reason the hour – as in almost all MeisterSinger watches – has become the focus of events.
In the – we hope – rare moments in the life of the wearers when they depend on knowing the exact minute, they can read the minutes on the subdial at the twelve o’clock position. The subdial at the six o’clock position also shows the seconds. The hour is shown at the center, at the place that is typical for a MeisterSinger watch. This makes the Singulator a logical expansion of the collection of one-hand watches. Its look and feel is very close to that of the MeisterSinger classics – the central hour hand with its striking shape alone ensure that. The special attraction of this new concept is fully realized only when the experience of wearing it is compared with wearing a regulator with its classic arrangement of the hands.
Technical Aspects of the Execution
The position of the hour, minute and second indicators in a watch depends on the construction of its movement. When only one indicator is to be moved to another position, the easiest solution is to copy the number of revolutions of the original shaft to the new position. This is usually done by using a minimum of three cogwheels (to maintain the direction of the revolution). The first wheel (drive wheel) is firmly connected with the original shaft. The second wheel (transfer wheel) engages the drive wheel and revolves freely on a lug in the plate. The third (mobile) wheel meshes with the transfer wheel and rotates in the same direction as the original shaft. The new hand is mounted on the latter. This arrangement is frequently used in conventional wrist regulators with subsidiary hour.
Since the construction of cogwheel meshing requires some cog play, this results in an imprecision for the mobile shaft with the new hand. In the known regulators where the hour is shifted, this error is not noticeable since two neighboring hour indicators are placed at a 30° angle with each other. For this reason the result cannot be misinterpreted if the hand is off by approx. ±3°. When it comes to a minute hand, however, things have to be considerably more precise. The minute lines are arranged at an angle of 6° to each other. Even a small amount of play can therefore result in misreadings.
There are several possible solutions for eliminating the clearance of a hand, e.g., a brake spring at the mobile wheel, pairs of cogwheels braced together, and so forth. Since the height limitation and the mutual movement of the hand when setting the watch eliminate these alternatives as a viable option, we have decided on an enmeshment of the cogwheels without clearance, where the tooth flanks are so thin that they act as springs. Having a height of 0.2 mm, the tooth flanks are only 0.2 mm thin. This trick makes it possible to design the shape of the tooth in such a way that it has no safety clearance. Without any significant loss of force, the angle shown at the hand is exactly the same as that on the original shaft, so the precision of the watch also arrives at the hand.
Conventional methods hardly suffice to produce such thin tooth flanks. Such a part can be manufactured with the relatively new and costly LIGA production method (lithography, Galvano-forming, and plastic forming. In the LIGA method the pretreated glass substrate (a wafer with a diameter of 150 mm) is covered with a layer of SU-8 photoresist. The mask of an arrangement with many MeisterSinger transfer wheels is placed on top of this. When IV rays hit the photoresist through the mask, the photoresist is polymerized at the desired spots. Then the unpolymerized photoresist is removed with a solvent. What remains on the wafer is a hard-edged contour of the cogwheel. Conventional electroplating is applied to deposit nickel particles on the wafer inside the contours produced in this manner. After the parts have been cut to their desired height using the conventional method (all of them together on the wafer), the parts are separated from the substrate. Aside from nickel, nickel-phosphorus or even gold are also suitable materials. To make sure the springy transfer wheel and the drive as well as mobile wheel are perfectly coordinated, all three wheels are manufactured using the same technology.
The cogwheels are placed on a special module plate which is mounted on the Unitas base movement. In accordance with the philosophy of a regulator, the base movement receives a special finish and specially equipped. The back reveals rhodinized train wheel bridges in the classic shape of individual cocks, decorated with a pattern consisting of 19 stripes. The base plate contains gems in the area underneath the balance. The outer edges of the movement are diamond-beveled. The crown and ratchet wheel receive blued screws and a sun pattern. The MeisterSinger script is printed on the ratchet wheel in the blue color of the screws. A Glucydur screw balance in combination with a swan neck regulation ensures that the watch works with precision.
- Mechanical manual winding mechanism Unitas base
- Power reserve after complete winding: 46 h
- Modular structure with decentral minute with non-clearance drive
- Glucydur screw balance
- Swan neck regulation
- Nivarox 1
- 3-part train bridge
- Geneva stripe pattern on beveled movement bridges
- Blued screws
- Sun patterns on crown and ratchet wheel
- Stainless steel case with sapphire glass
- View back made of hardened mineral glass
Peter Jahnke – The Developer
Peter Jahnke learned the watchmaker’s craft in Glashütte. After working for Lang & Heyne in Glashütte for four years, today he develops watches at Synergies Horlogeres SA, a close partner firm of MeisterSinger Uhrwerke. His special interest is in the application of new technologies.