When passion rules the game:
Paul Gerber's revolutionary new Cal. 33 watch
by Magnus Bosse
March 30th, 2005
for modern mechanical timepieces has reached a remarkable perfection.
The current development of the Swiss lever escapement allows easily
for accuracy within standard Chronometer norms (such as COSC) even by
mundane 'you find me everywhere' calibers, water resistance is not an
issue at all, and service intervals have settled between convenient
3 to 5 years. On the other hand, the role of a modern, mechanical wristwatch
is changed completely: from a technical device that makes you independent
from publicly displayed time (church tower clocks for example) to a
statement of wealth, style and personality. The main technical function
of a watch, displaying the time that is, consequently has vanished into
the background (which does not mean that modern watches do not display
correct time!). If you glimpse on the recent advertising campaigns of
the major watch houses, this observation enjoys utmost support.
Gerber (above) is one of the master watchmakers in the world who is
not interested in the watch as a luxury item or a fashion statement.
He is interested in the watch as a highly demanding technical challenge,
an amazing microcosm and a very rewarding playground. Throughout his
entire career, Paul always was interested to push the limits a step
further and to develop what seems to be impossible. This attitude has
been recognized by many renowned watch producers who rely on Paul's
expertise to develop new complications. One of his most remarkable masterpieces
was the world's most complicated wristwatch, the ultra complicated Piguet/Muller/Gerber
watch, which was presented on this website recently (click here).
to my impressions about
|The concept of new Cal. 33 movement:|
with the fundamental concept of the new Paul Gerber movement: The lack
of compressing forces in action. So why is it so important to avoid
these troublesome forces? Just make an experiment: Imagine you are working
in your garden, just finished with harvesting a huge bunch of spring
potatoes. All your potatoes are now collected in a huge wooden box.
Now, how to get the box into your house? Try to push it - almost impossible!
But, how about pulling the box? Yes, this might work. Now you already
got the difference between compressing forces (push) and diverging forces
sequence can be divided into entrance and exit positions. In the entrance
position (left image), the pallet wheel rests because the entrance
resting-ruby stops the resting wheel. The hairspring is tensed and drives
the balance to swing back. This causes the entrance resting-ruby to release
from the resting wheel. The pallet wheel springs forward with a small jump,
driven by the power of the mainspring, until the resting wheel is stopped
by the exit resting-stone.
Now, the exit position follows (right image) and the balance swings back again, and the exit resting-stone releases the resting wheel. Then the impulse wheel drives the impulse-stone, which in turn drives the pallet and the balance. This movement is manifest with a great jump of the second’s hand. The pallet turns until the entrance resting-stone blocks the pallet wheel again. From here, the whole sequence starts again – 10.800 times/hour, because the movement carries out 21.600 beats/hour.
|But it is not only the escapement which really makes us speechless. Paul Gerber also thought about the display of the moon phase. The moon is, as you all know, one of the very few astronomical companions of mankind with a great influence on our lives: For example, our calendar is adjusted after the moon. Now, moon phase displays are common standard, and you might ask what may be the fuss about it? Well, all good things are three, and here we are: (1) the moon phase is displayed by a globe which spans the movement plane three-dimensionally, (2) it is accurate up to one day in 128 years and (3) it can be set at any time without damaging the movement's mechanism.|
|The movement itself is finely tonneau-shaped in order to perfectly fit the also tonneau-shaped case. This is getting rarer and rarer in today's world of standardized movements. Paul Gerber tried to follow as much as possible established watch making traditions. One central rule says that the case follows the shape of the movement. As perfect example of form follows function (Louis Sullivan, Chicago School).|
Now, after we have discussed the concept, now let us go a step further and take a deep look into Paul Gerber's atelier in Zurich to get an impression of in-house manufacture in the truest sense of the word. Please follow me to part 2!