Histoire de montres automatiques

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updated
20_08_2014

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Searching for Tlusios
Automatic Watches and the Earliest Important Document?

Richard Watkins (Australia, July 28, 2013)
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The dilemma or… Automatique watches with verge escapement,but without fusée
By Joseph Flores - Translation Richard Watkins
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A new discovery in watchmaking history... Sarton or Perrelet ? by joseph flores
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Tribute to Hubert Sarton
With his fellow citizens, friends of the arts and science

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Abridged Description of Several Pieces of Horology Hubert Sarton
Translated by Richard Watkins

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The origins of self-winding rotor watches
Although the great book of history can never be closed, there are sadly some pages that do not tell the whole truth, whether on purpose or not. On this site, without wishing to be confrontational but desirous of engaging in debate, I want to look again at the history of the rotor mechanism that is used by all modern self-winding watches made by the great names like Rolex, Patek-Philippe etc.
This invention of this rotor mechanism has, since 1952, been credited to Perrelet but I would like to suggest a different attribution, an attribution based on sound evidence and especially a document dated 1778 lodged with the Paris Academy of Sciences.
Background
All the great Masters of Watch Making such as Berthoud, Le Roy, Jaquet-Droz, Sarton etc. and the great biographers such as Salomons, Chapuis Daniels etc. have been interested in the question of the rotor mechanism.

However, all contrary views could and should be made known; this is how history is revised.

Who will say I am wrong?

The type of movement shown left is the one that in 1952 was attributed to Abraham-Louis Perrelet by Alfred Chapuis and Eugène Jaquet and, since then, this is the view that history has taken so, should it be revised?
It is with great conviction,together with the analysis of a document dated 1778 lodged with the Academy of Sciences in Paris and signed by Le Roy and De Fouchy, that I attribute this system called a rotor system to Hubert Sarton.
To prove me wrong would also increase historical knowledge!


flores.joseph@libertysurf.fr

 

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Comparison of the sketch of Sarton and one of these rotor-winding movements attributed to Perrelet.
For more legibility, the sketch has been coloured.
The annotations have also been removed and the pieces have been numbered

1)- Chain-guide assuring the immobilization of the rotor
2)- Wheel of the on the plate pivoting inverter
3)- Ratchet " " " " " (not visible on photo)
4)- Pinion " " " " " (not visible on photo)
5)- Wheel of the inverter fixed under the rotor
6)- Ratchet of " " " " " " (not visible on photo)
7)- Pinion of " " " " " " (not visible on photo)
8)- Pinion of the relay-wheel, moving the ratchet wheel of the fusee
9)- Relay-wheel moving the pinions of the two inverters
10)- Immobilization-circle fixed on the rotor
11)- Rotor

Previously unpublished !
Automatic watch with rotor : its history is still going on …
Addendum to the book "Perpétuelles à roue de rencontre"
(Perpetual watches with verge escapement), by Joseph Flores
2009 edition - AFAHA Besançon

When I published my analysis of an ancient document from the French Science Academy of Paris in 1993, in which the reporters J.B.Leroy and De Fouchy described a watch presented by the Belgian watchmaker Hubert Sarton (1748/1828, from Liège) as :"a watch which winds herself under the action of a copper mass moved by the walk", I failed to convince most of the historians who didn't have an horologic technical background. It did look like a type of Watch we would nowadays call "automatic".
Without any drawing, this report is a technical description of the watch brought by Sarton, and this may seem rather dense for a non-technician, and quite difficult to understand.
Therefore, since my first publication 15 years ago, this invention has been concurrently attributed to two different watchmakers:
- the Swiss Abraham-Louis Perrelet, as said in 1950 by the Swiss historian Alfred Chapuis,
- or the Belgian Hubert Sarton whose automatic Watch was studied and described by the French Science Academy of Paris in 1778.
Such a case is not unique, but it would be necessary to be able to present original documents for both, which as far as I know is not the case concerning the attribution to Perrelet.
The last evidence !
As it has often happened in my historical inquiries, a new document fortunately appeared in september 2009, as I just ended the reprint of my former book "Perpetuals with verge escapement" (AFAHA edition).
On August 17 Mr André Thiry from Liège, a friend of mine was working on his book on the famous clock and watchmaker Hubert Sarton. As part of his research, he wrote to the French Science Academy in Paris, and asked for information on Sartons apprenticeship.
The answer he received on September 2nd mentioned "a drawing (1 p)" that nobody had ever heard about, and that Mr Thiry left me the pleasure to request.
What do this drawing represent ?
On a sheet of approximately 30 x 30 cm is drawn a watch mechanism with a semi-circular mass (named "contrepoix" on the sketch), turning on a central pivot, also known as a pendulum mass, or a "rotor". The author of this sketch, probably Sarton himself, hatched the mass to make it stand out.
Then, some circles represent the wheels of the automatic mechanism. They are accompanied by explanations and even by the number of teeth of certain wheels, which leaves no doubt as to what they represent.
The comparison of the following simplified and coloured sketch with one of the well-known mechanism makes it obvious.
A separate circle of about 39mm diameter, on the left, could represent the actual size of the mechanism.

A new discovery in watchmaking history !
new edition

Perpétuelles à roue de rencontre
ou,
Histoire de montres automatiques
by Joseph Flores
1998 Gaïa Prize for History

One hundred and sixty color pages

40 Euros port included

To buy
Joseph Flores
5 rue des Essarts
F 25130 Villers le Lac
Tél. : 03 81 68 05 66

Contact : flores.joseph@libertysurf.fr

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  The translator would welcome any corrections or suggestion mgabriel@traductions-gabriel.com  
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