Frederique Constant, the Monolithic escapement, and what’s up with silicium escapements, anyway

Frederique Constant, the Swiss watch manufacture that together with Alpina is owned by Citizen, have simply introduced that they’re removing the steadiness and hair spring in a brand new motion, and changing it with silicon, referred to as the Monolithic escapement. It’s just a little extra concerned than that.

What is a silicon escapement

A watch works like this:

  • A barrel with gear tooth holds the important spring. It’s principally a hole gear that holds a wound up spring. When all wound up, the mainspring within the barrel holds all of the vitality to run the watch.
  • The gear practice is normally three gears that drive the hours, minutes, and seconds, with some discount wheels to get the ratios all right. The gear practice connects to the escapement.
  • The escapement is a factor that blocks the motion of the mainspring. Without it, the mainspring is free to run as quick as it could actually, and unwind with out stopping. In a conventional escapement, there’s a steadiness wheel and a pallet fork. The mainspring forces rock the pallet fork backwards and forwards, which strikes the steadiness wheel. The steadiness wheel is the place the regulation adjustment occurs, to maintain the watch working as little gradual or quick as potential.

The two issues an escapement has are, they’re prone to temperature modifications, and so they can undergo when shocked, like in a drop. Traditional steadiness spring escapements can use completely different metals to attempt to clear up for these issues, or silicon, however the steadiness wheel pivot factors mount the identical approach and are nonetheless topic to shock. It additionally signifies that the motion is extra proof against magnetism.

What have Frederique Constant made

Frederique Constant introduced a brand new manufacture motion, the FC-810. The FC-810 replaces the steadiness wheel with a way more simplified silicium escapement. Instead of a fragile pinion, it oscillates in an escapement bridge.

To alter it, there are two counter weights which can be simply moved outward to gradual the escapement down, or inward to hurry it up. Frederique Constant calls it the monolithic regulator escapement, as a result of it’s principally three items: the monolithic wafer, two weights, and a silicon gear.

FC runs it at 40Hz. That’s an exceedingly excessive beat. Normally, you’d have to extend the mainspring to have lengthy energy reserve on the quicker beat. Here, FC use the identical mainspring as utilized in each different motion.

In order to deal with the upper frequency motion, they’ve had so as to add a fourth gear to the gear practice. The 80 hour energy reserve is a by-product of the extra environment friendly escapement.

Who else has made the silicon escapement

Rolex (prototype)

Rolex worker Nicolas Dehon got here up with the idea of the fixed drive escapement by flexing a practice ticket, and seeing it oscillate, snapping between the 2 compressed positions. Initially, he used Nivarox (steel) to make the spring whereas at Rolex, however then shifted to silicon when Nivarox proved unworkable. As few as 20 items have been made, prototyping the escapement. This was the prototype escapement caliber 7230, made in 1998 or 1999. It was named Project ELF for echappement, lame (blade), flambage.


G-P had one of many earliest silicon escapements that was fully completely different than the standard steadiness spring. Designed by Nicolas Dehon, the invention was made by flexing a practice ticket card, and seeing it snap between opposing instructions. G-P referred to as it the fixed drive escapement. Dehon began this work at Rolex. When Rolex misplaced curiosity, he continued it at G-P.

How did G-P get to do that when the work was begun at Rolex? Did G-P know of the work earlier than Dehon got here to them? He answered this in an interview to Monochrome:

Déhon: No. You can see the patent. The concept got here to me on the practice. I shared the thought once I noticed the patent was down. Rolex stopped with the patent. I instructed Mr. Macaluso the patent was down; we will restart the mission!”

Zenith Defy Lab

The Zenith Defy Lab motion went a distinct path, making each a part of the motion out of silicon, and attempting to mix as many components as potential, in order that the motion is simplified. Made in restricted numbers, it was a tremendous motion, however hasn’t made it to widespread mass manufacturing.

ETA C07 Powermatic 80 actions

ETA received in on the act, however didn’t make silicon escapements the way in which the others did. Instead of utilizing a substitute for the steadiness wheel and hair spring, they used the standard steadiness wheel with a silicon hairspring. That in all probability sounds previous and caught of their methods. But, that is watchmaking, the place doing one thing dependable means not having to work out the bugs.

This isn’t a shock. The conventional pallet escapement is about 300 years previous. It’s anticipated {that a} new growth would possibly take 10 years to essentially make good.

Why is that this completely different than what’s been finished earlier than?

This escapement is a module that matches instead of the standard steadiness wheel. It’s not a whole silicon motion just like the Zenith, and it follows a way more conventional design as an alternative of the G-P. Basically, it’s the primary time {that a} non-traditional silicon escapement has been within the $5000 greenback value vary, and it’s potential as a result of the motion isn’t radically completely different from conventional actions, though it has the extra wheel.

Hasn’t 80 hours energy reserve been finished, why is that this particular?

The ETA Powermatic 80 has 80 hours energy reserve. How they accomplish it’s fully completely different. ETA does this by the higher effectivity of the silicon spring, but additionally by reducing the beat fee from 28,800 to 21,000 beats per hour.

Let’s put that measurement in Hz. 28800 is 4Hz. 21000 is 3Hz.

This highlights how unbelievable the FC accomplishment is, that they’re in a position to make use of the identical mainspring, enhance the beat to 40Hz, 10x the traditional 38-hour energy reserve ETA, or 13.3 occasions as quick because the Powermatic 80, and nonetheless have 80 hours of reserve.

What’s the FC-810 motion obtainable in?

The FC-810 motion is accessible within the FC-810MCN3S6, stainless-steel with white or blue dial, and FC-810MCN3S9, gold with white dial. The stainless-steel variations are 4,495 EUR. If you’re going for the gold, anticipate to spend 14,495 EUR. The stainless variations will probably be obtainable in 810 items every, and 81 examples of the gold model will probably be produced.

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