Eugene Dupuis 1884 chronograph patent

mosesgodfrey

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Hello all,

I am just learning about complications, and am seeking to learn more about the innovators behind them. I stumbled upon an 1884 design (US307925) for which I can find no information beyond the patent itself. It is from Eugene J. A. Dupuis (A is for Ami), with one half assigned to Paul A. Reymond. Dupuis was a Swiss citizen, working/filing from New York. He had other US patents in 1886 (US343149) and 1909 (US972520), but this 1884 one shows a mechanism that is quite interesting.

Can anyone tell me if this 1884 patent was used by any particular firm? Or any additional info about Dupuis?

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Philip Poniz

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CENTRAL-MINUTE-REGISTER CHRONOGRAPHS

The patent describes a split-second chronograph with a central minute register.

The design has a few problems. The main activating lever K being a combination of a lever and a spring, is not reliable because if pushed hard, more likely than not, it will slip over the column wheel. It is a design suitable for pin-set keyless winding system where the slippage is almost impossible, but not in a chronograph activating mechanism. One might have a similar objection with the activating lever P.
Dupuis was proud of this simplification, stating that they "are made of a single piece … whereas formerly they were made of separate pieces." I might add that they continued being made of separate pieces way after Dupuis.

There is a similar, although less severe, fault with the hammer L.

Additionally, the design is based on a standard watch with the second wheel (carrying the minute hand) in the center of the movement. The watch has five hands in the center. It would make sense to place that wheel off-center to only concentrate on the chronograph in the center (and transfer the motion to the minute and hour hands via standard motion train). Among all the central register split-seconds pocket watches I have seen, I do not recall seeing a single one with the second wheel placed in the center. In single chronographs, I have.

The most objectionable is how Dupuis came up with driving the central register – by placing it on a sleeve that is friction fit via a small spring H with the canon pinion. It is an unstable solution asking for slippage. No wonder that I have never seen such a system employed in a watch.

Split seconds with a central register exist, but with different constructions, for instance, the Patek Philippe No. 90091 made in 1890, which I had in 1993. Now in the Patek Philippe Museum. The museum has four such chronographs. The register is driven from a double wheel, driven from the canon pinion. The other system is made by placing a 60-tooth wheel on the register's arbor and driving it via the chronograph wheel, advancing one tooth every revolution. Finally, there is a vertical system via a double wheel driven from the 4th wheel, which I found only in English chronographs.

The earliest patent with a center minute register is No. 151899 of 1874 by Charles H. Meylan. It was with a simple chronograph.

Interestingly, Bernard Humbert in his book about chronographs as well as his chronograph articles in Journal Suisse d'Horlogerie, wrongly claimed that the first center minute register was patented in 1889.

A central register was first applied to chronographs by the chronograph's inventor, Adolphe Nicole, circa 1865. There are a few of his central register watches known, hallmarked between 1865 and 1874. He did not patent it. Center register pocket watches are rare, but they do exist. They were sold by Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet (No. 4172 from 1892, for instance), Lange (e.g. No. 16010 from 1883), Guinand, and others.

From the middle of the last century, there have been many wristwatch chronographs with central registers. What comes to mind:

Heuer timer, Ref. 332.402 from the mid-1960s
Breitling Ref. P26362
Longines, Ref. 177. Longines also used the system in pocket chronographs ca 1920
Omega Speedmaster 125 from 1973. They also used the center registers in pocket watches.
Breguet Ref 5827
Hublot
Girard Perregaux.

Philip Poniz
 

mosesgodfrey

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Thank you, Mr. Poniz, for this in-depth info, which is all that I hoped and more! It took me a while to digest, but I see now why his other patents go different directions. Structurally problematic design, and likely untenable. Thanks again for continually investing your time and expertise, from me and others who’ve benefitted.
 

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