The history of time is entwined with all the different ways of announcing it. The most emotional of all is definitely through music. Therefore, the minute repeater watch, with its crystal rings, is most likely to convey its owner’s power over time.

Minute repeater: express power through music
Ringing a bell or making an announcement in one way or another has always been a way of demonstrating power for princes and other notables. Very early in history, as early as the mid-12th century in the West, cities adapted to mechanical time and succeeded in making bell towers ring to assert their power over the countryside.

The hour was vibrating to be heard from a distance, if it could not be read on a clock dial, and had to be regular, like… well, like clockwork. This new way of dividing the work day is opposed to solar time, that changed with the seasons. Too often, it can be read that minute repeater watches were invented to allow their owners to know the time during the night. However, these instruments were actually created for those who could afford it, to make their inner circle know, in salons or at parties, how powerful they were, through their ability to ring the time, just like the Church and the big cities before them . Do not underestimate the power of announcement!

Genesis of acoustic time
In the 17th century, the watch was still too inaccurate, but often featured high-level functions, such as calendars with astrological and scientific indications. As the craft guilds of Geneva indicated in 1601, obtaining the title of watchmaking master required creating a timepiece displaying astronomical indications and the alarm clock function. Thus, the watch was able, quite early in watchmaking history, to tell the time in sound.

In 1676, Englishman Daniel Quare (1649-1724) came up with a mechanical device that could ring for 15 minutes, thanks to a mechanical part consisting of balance, spiral, spring and lever. However, other publications highlight that the oldest known repeating watch is one made in Friedberg, Germany, around 1710. The British watchmaking industry when that is dominating, so it can be believed that this invention must be British. But word started to spread, and competitors tried to outdo their rivals and came up with mechanical assembly capabilities to go even further. The competition was heated when Thomas Mudge, another Englishman and student of George Graham (who worked from 1738 to 1794), came up with the first watch equipped with a function that allowed its owner to ring rang as required: hours, quarters, but also minutes passed since the strike of the innings. From this date and by convention, the watchmaking world calls this prominent mechanism the minute repeater.

The golden age of chiming watches
The men of the 18th century wasted no time in turning the watch into a symbol of progress. They were aware of how difficult watchmaking was, and they considered the “minute repeater” function to be the “queen” function, which only the best craftsmen could create and, clearly, only the best. Only the wealthiest enthusiasts can afford it. So, John Arnold, a talented English watchmaker, gave King George III a wristwatch with such a miniature repetition that it immediately brought its creator fame. excellent voice.

To know the value of these devices at the time, just remember that minute repeater watches were just as expensive as they are today, and this despite the brands’ ability to mechanize parts of the production process Present. In this competition, the French have no shortage of talent.

Old Antoine Thiout, a watchmaker who wrote a treatise bearing his name, achieved very satisfactory results in 1741. Julien Le Roy later improved the system further. The supplied pieces are thinner and have better hearing quality. Following the development, Jean-Antoine Lepine, born in Chalex, commune of Gex (in the Ain region of France), created in 1720, at the height of his career, a new simplified repetition system for for coil controller and coil control method. hitting mechanism. In 1763, he specialized in the repeating “toc,” a mechanism that involved a hammer striking directly into the center of the shell, rather than a bell or gong, to create vibrations that could only be felt by the person holding the instrument.

Pronounce at the right time
The minute repeater is the sonic realization of an almost ultimate luxury. These works, created by the greatest houses, express the quintessential essence of the watchmaker. Movements equipped with this function ring the hours (bass), quarters (treble and treble) and minutes (treble) from the last quarter. However, due to the very high production costs, many watch manufacturers tried various mechanical developments to provide the public with watches with more economical chronograph mechanisms.

These are the hour and quarter indicators. Clocks with half-quarter repeaters also existed. In particular, these devices, developed by Breguet in the second half of the 19th century, were later pushed aside and replaced by devices equipped with 5-minute repeaters. These rather bourgeois instruments were featured on many gold pocket watches from the late 19th century. They could now be purchased and priced according to the weight of the case, providing an opportunity to purchase a watch repeat at low cost.

But when you are ready to look for them, you can also find some modern offerings, by smaller houses, equipped with calibers that include this function offered by Dubois-Dépraz. For a more complete understanding, note that there are also some brands, such as Credor (Seiko Corporation) that provide vibration times on a decimal basis, in other words 10 minutes x 10 minutes.

It works, but you need to know in advance so you don’t do it wrong.

Because, the purpose of course is to listen to the time just to read it later but simply to listen and know how to translate the music over time… Because in the end, it’s money. So, there are many benefits to having good ears.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *