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English PW Help on setting hands/alarm setting on an English Alarm Pocket Watch

gwynplaine19

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Feb 8, 2014
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Hi Forum,

I just received my very first verge alarm pocket watch yesterday morning. Was taking a trip, but couldn't wait so did a bit of quick examination at the airport and then later spent a good chunk of time at the hotel trying to get to the bottom of things. The watch has a number of minor issues, including a slightly worn click and ratchet for the alarm spring, and these I all managed to temporarily fix at least.

Once everything is done, the alarm function worked beautifully striking against the bell, so I felt all was good and put the dial and hands back. it was there that I realized that there is a problem. As you can see in the picture, the hourwheel really has two parts, an ordinary hour wheel with a click/ratchet system put in, and then on top of that, a kind of cam with an opening that would trigger the alarm. In this picture, I am showing the underside of this cam, which will be closed on top of the hour wheel, so that the click will force it to go in only one direction. The problem that I had was two fold:

1. The top part, to which the alarm hand is fixed, can only move clock-wise, the same direction as the time train. So in this case, if I set the alarm forward for 1 hour away from its previous striking position, instead of striking in 1 hour, it would in fact strike in 11 hours, as the opening on the cam needs 11 hours to come back and trigger the alarm.
2. The alarm holding wheel and thus the alarm hand will move together with the hour hand--this is also to be expected since the CAM is somewhat attached to the hour wheel and thus things will move.

I'm not sure whether I just did it wrong, or these were the wrong parts, or maybe setting alarm was complicated? It would be great if somsone could point to a source of these mechanism.

Thanks!

Alex
 

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gmorse

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Jan 7, 2011
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Hi Alex,

Are you setting the alarm disc to the tail of the hour hand?

Regards,

Graham
 

gwynplaine19

Registered User
Feb 8, 2014
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Hi Graham, I might not have described it clearly. This is a two handed verge, not one ended, and the hour hand does not really have a tail. The alarm is also not set by a disc--there is no disc, but a hand. The alarm hand has a star pointer on one side, and a cresent shaped pointer on the other. This alarm hand is attached to the little disc on the right in the picture, which sits on top of the hour wheel. I'm getting a vague sense that somehow that I need to set the alarm to the "tail" not the head of certain heads--have been busy at work so not yet tried it. But in any event, would it be normal for this alarm hand to be moving together with the hour hand? I'm not sure how that would not happen in this set up as the small disc to which the alarm hand is attached sits on top of the hour wheel, so it will carry it forward.
 

gmorse

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Jan 7, 2011
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Hi Alex,

Ah, I see what you mean, should have looked at the picture more carefully!

I assume that the wheel on the right has a pentagonal top to accept the boss on the hand; that means you have five potential ways to fit that hand relative to the cutout which releases the alarum . . .

Regards,

Graham
 

gwynplaine19

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Feb 8, 2014
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absolutely--it does have a pentagon. If I understand your message correctly, you seem to suggest that one would need to take off the hands and then put it back in based on which of the five positions it is closest to the hour one needs for the alarm? So I should not try to use this as a modern alarm clock :)P like the one on my phone), which one sets differently at will?

But if that's the case, I'm still a bit baffled as to why there is a click/ratchet mechanism to allow the wheel on the right to be manually advanced clockwise? and also why the alarm indicator would move together with the hour hand if left alone--this means that after setting, I would no longer know when it was set for?

Incidentally, despite your sage advice on the other thread about these ancient verges, I couldn't resist the temptation to try to regulate this one to better time precision--I feel somewhat justified in this case, as the hairspring is clearly a replacement (probably from a fusee lever given the shape of the coil and the bluing). I have managed to remodel the hairspring, and now it seems the watch has been improved from about 1 minute too slow in 10 minutes to about less than 1 in an hour :)
 

gmorse

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Jan 7, 2011
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Hi Alex,

Sorry for the delay in responding, but I'm afraid this has me baffled; have you made any progress with it?

Regards,

Graham
 

gwynplaine19

Registered User
Feb 8, 2014
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Hi Graham, I too have been a bit busy and just saw your response. I have indeed figured out now a way to set the alarm. First of all, I place the hand in one of the five positions so that it points nearly to 12 when the alarm would go off--funny that it's not exactly at 12. Once this is done, I will just calculate like the following--say I want it to go off at 8 AM in the morning, and right now the time is 11PM, which means that I need it to go off in 9 hours, so I will just set the pointer at 3, and then in 9 hours it will go off.

It's a bit cumbersome--even if the ancients were better at arithmetic than us :p I had a chance to consult my Britten, and it was very helpful in saying that with a disk, the alarm is set so that the "tail end" of the hour is pointing to the desired alarm time on the disk. So essentially, it does the arithmetic that I was doing by way of the disk of the tail end. With just a pointer, I tried this method too, but I will need to mentally visualize a disk, which is also not easy. And I have tried various ways of utilizing the alarm pointer, both head and tail, and what I described above seems to be the only way working--I reluctantly admit that I have a Ph.D. in mathematics, and this one has me stumped for quite a couple of days...

At the end, I start to suspect that perhaps my watch had a disk in the ancient past as well? It certainly has a sunken circular disk section in the middle, which right now allows the alarm pointer to rotate, but I suppose one could just as easily put in a disk? I was tempted to try to fashion one myself, but haven't had the time.
 

gmorse

NAWCC Member
Jan 7, 2011
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Hi Alex,

A central disc would certainly make more sense, as it was the usual arrangement in conjuction with a tail on the hour hand, so this seems to be a variation, or perhaps an "improvement" on that system. With hindsight, a picture of the dial would have been useful.

Anyway, I'm glad you have it sussed now!

Regards,

Graham
 

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