New Book Notice: The Mechanics of Watches and Clocks, by Du & Xie (2013)

Fortunat Mueller-Maerki

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Submitted by Fortunat Mueller-Maerki

New Book on the Mechanics of Mechanical Watches and Clocks



A comprehensive textbook for written by two Chinese engineering professors for a readership of general purpose mechanical engineers on the mechanics of mechanical clocks and watches. Discusses the details of gear train performance in highly technical and mathematical terms. After an Introductory chapter dealing with 10 different escapements (Verge, Anchor, Graham, Grasshopper, Spring Detent, Cylinder, English Lever, Swiss Lever, Daniel Coaxial, Ulysse-Freak) there a five chapters dealing swith specific issues. All of them examine the subject in highly technical and mathematical terms, often referring to computer modeling of the observed issues:
1. The Mechanics of the Swiss Lever Escapement
2. The Mechanics of the Spiral Spring
3. Automatic Winding Device
4. Gear and power transmission. This is the longest chapter and deals particularly with the effects of ” misalignment of gears errors”, and proposes (based on complex mathematical computerized modeling) a slight modification of tooth forms (from the theoretically perfect cycloidal tooth form) in order to increase error tolerance.
Additional electronic content (animations of many escapements) at http://extra.springer.com/ .
 

beorn

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Apr 25, 2008
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I had high hopes for this book when I first noticed it. I am unfortunately in no position to provide a completely informed review. However, I have browsed the sample text available on Amazon (via the "Look Inside" functionality).


While this book is very nicely illustrated, I found myself taken aback with the writing. Most obviously a lack of basic English editing is apparent (a surprise to me for Springer), but the prose construction feels rather bland and, in my opinion, shallow. A large majority of the references (at least in the extracts available online) are to Wikipedia, so much so that this work seems like a recapitulation of Wikipedia articles. That may be the case, and I suppose that's not necessarily a bad thing (I have found that different topics on Wikipedia have widely differing quality/accessibility and I have not read anything on horology from Wikipedia; yet given the numerous excellent print references available I don't understand this heavy dependence on Wikipedia). A number of direct (in-line) references are made to URLs on the Springer (the publisher) website. I would suppose this is designed to be more of an "E-Book" than for print consumption. From a bibliophile perspective I found this rather disappointing.


The external URL references are (mostly? all?) to animations for various escapements, which might be more informative (I didn't actually look); in fact, it's my impression that the book is almost an appendix to the animation work.


As I am reading only an extract, and this is nominally a technical exposition, perhaps I am being unduly critical. I am hoping for a more expert reviewer to comment; until then, however, I might recommend reviewing the online extracts in order to set expectations for yourself before purchasing.

- Beorn Johnson
 

Fortunat Mueller-Maerki

National Library Chair
NAWCC Star Fellow
NAWCC Life Member
NAWCC Member
Aug 25, 2000
1,488
55
48
Sussex New Jersey USA
www.hsn161.com
Country
Region
.... I would suppose this is designed to be more of an "E-Book" than for print consumption. From a bibliophile perspective I found this rather disappointing.


The external URL references are (mostly? all?) to animations for various escapements, which might be more informative (I didn't actually look); in fact, it's my impression that the book is almost an appendix to the animation work.


As I am reading only an extract, and this is nominally a technical exposition, perhaps I am being unduly critical. I am hoping for a more expert reviewer to comment; until then, however, I might recommend reviewing the online extracts in order to set expectations for yourself before purchasing.

- Beorn Johnson
Your sense of the book is exactly right, which is why I chose not to write a formal review. I believe that this work kind of accidentally became a book. The authors appear to be two professors of mechanical engineering in Hong Kong involved in advising the mechanical watch MAKING (not watch repair) INDUSTRY (not craft or profession) in China. And they seem to have determined that there was no textbook to teach an elective course in horological engineering to mechanical engineers, so they created one.

The preface clearly states that this is a cobbled together from: Three Ph.D. thesis, two Masters thesis, and ' A NUMBER OF' final year termpapers of Bachelor level students.

All the content of substance comes from those quoted papers, and all the 'conecting text' that stiches it together to create a book (notably all of the introductory chapter ) seems to have been cribbed from Wikipedia.

Nevertheless some of the details in the later chapter provide interesting engineerng insights into watch movement mechanics on which thehereto published enineering literature says very little.
 

ocram

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Oct 17, 2011
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The supplementary material entirely consists of few movement animations. It "weights" almost 300 MB, more than 80% of which is one single mpeg file showing Seiko's automatic winding system.
It is something I would call "coffee table animations", in a present world of smart phones and tablet PCs.
As to the book, a generous preview is available of all chapters but the last one. Enough to make me think it is a bit overpriced, especially if compared to classics like "Woodward On Time" or Rawling's "Science of Clocks and Watches".
A comparison with a Swiss textbook for the engineering schools, à la Michel Vermot, would be totally unfair (although it might explain why I am not particularly fond of a certain kind of far eastern watchmaking industry.)
// ocram
 
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