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Patent Regulator Catalog Your Favorite

Ethan Lipsig

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I recognize that the regulator in my Albert Potter probably isn't eligible for this litany of patent US regulators because, Potter, though an American, made this movement after he had relocated to Geneva and I am not aware of any patent protecting it, though I have never looked for one. Still, it is an interesting and unusual regulator, resembling the Mershon regulators shown in Posts 43 and 44. While it is clear how those work (moving the long regulator arm moves the short arm via a rack and pinion interface, it isn't clear how the Potter regulator works since it lacks that interface. I would be a grateful for an explanation. Having no watchmaking skills (or the courage to use them on this Potter if I had any), I cannot disassemble it to find out how it works.
IMG_4961.JPG
 

Clint Geller

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I recognize that the regulator in my Albert Potter probably isn't eligible for this litany of patent US regulators because, Potter, though an American, made this movement after he had relocated to Geneva and I am not aware of any patent protecting it, though I have never looked for one. Still, it is an interesting and unusual regulator, resembling the Mershon regulators shown in Posts 43 and 44. While it is clear how those work (moving the long regulator arm moves the short arm via a rack and pinion interface, it isn't clear how the Potter regulator works since it lacks that interface. I would be a grateful for an explanation. Having no watchmaking skills (or the courage to use them on this Potter if I had any), I cannot disassemble it to find out how it works.
View attachment 663557
Looks like a Mershon's regulator with the rack replaced by a sleeve. The idea of the two designs apparently was the same: reduce the magnitude of curb pin motion for a given arc length of regulator index arm travel, thus in principal allowing finer adjustment of the effective hairspring length. Both designs may have been subject to some degree of backlash between the two parts of the regulator.

They look cool as Hell, though!
 

Rick Hufnagel

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The longer the lever, the easier it is to move the regulator a very small amount. That large scale on the barrel bridge represents a very very small portion of the center of a scale if it were on the balance cock. It allows more precise micro regulation. Easier to achieve than if you were trying to tap a short lever on the balance cock.

Many older american movements use a long lever. Yours is simply split which makes it much longer to get more fine regulation. The fulcrum is that 90 degree fitting that connects both levers.

I'm a visual learner... If this is offends anyone's intelligence I apologize but it's just an illustration showing how longer lever makes for a finer adjustment. Both of these lines are moved an inch, noted by the dotted line and the measurements at the top show how far it moved.
The longer lever offers a larger amount of control in a smaller window of adjustment.
20210718_135936~2.jpg

Thanks for showing that it's really interesting.
 

Ethan Lipsig

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Clint, you said that the Potter regulator "[l]ooks like a Mershon's regulator with the rack replaced by a sleeve." I'd be grateful if you explained this in more detail. Until then, I am guessing that what you mean is this: The sleeve is the little flange covering the top end of the short regulator arm. The sleeve has a channel in its underside in which the short arm fits. As the long arm is moved off center, the sleeve rotates towards fast or slow, pushing the short arm in the same direction. There is enough of the short arm in the sleeve so that it doesn't run out of channel wall even when pushed all the way to fast or slow.

If that's what you mean, the Potter regulator seems a cruder design than the rack & pinion Mershon.
 

Clint Geller

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Clint, you said that the Potter regulator "[l]ooks like a Mershon's regulator with the rack replaced by a sleeve." I'd be grateful if you explained this in more detail. Until then, I am guessing that what you mean is this: The sleeve is the little flange covering the top end of the short regulator arm. The sleeve has a channel in its underside in which the short arm fits. As the long arm is moved off center, the sleeve rotates towards fast or slow, pushing the short arm in the same direction. There is enough of the short arm in the sleeve so that it doesn't run out of channel wall even when pushed all the way to fast or slow.

If that's what you mean, the Potter regulator seems a cruder design than the rack & pinion Mershon.
Yes, that's what I meant, Ethan. I would agree that Mershon's rack and pin arrangement was somewhat more sophisticated than Potter's design. Perhaps your term "flange" is more ideally apposite than "sleeve," for the part in Potter's regulator.
 
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Clint Geller

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Does anyone have a good picture of Fassoldt's regulator? It is very similar to Reed's whip regulator, sufficiently so as to motivate a lawsuit for patent infringement, except that it has no index scale.
 

Clint Geller

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KipW

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Stretching the 'American' theme a bit north - a Tisdall 16s from Canada (but likely a Swiss-made Tavannes). What's interesting is the (presumed) mechanism under the cock that must be required to make this work. I'm not taking it apart to look, however.

IMG_1090.JPG
 
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KipW

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The "Hampden Star" regulator. One of my personal favorites. I believe it was used until Hampden's demise in the US, but never in the Russian watches that came out of that move.

s-l1600 (6)--.jpg
 

Jerry Treiman

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I think my favorite among my own collection is Duane Church’s 1892 patent star regulator (Pat.No.484,176), and in particular in its simplest but highly-finished form in Waltham’s American Watch Co. grade bridge movement.
star regulator.jpg
 

Nathan Moore

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Circa 1880's Illinois 106 - Wheeler's regulator. (Similar to Chalmers. Don't know which is considered "superior" and for what reason(s), but both were used on early Illinois.)

View attachment 663508
This regulator swap may be connected to one of the more unsavory stories in American horology. In 1881, Wheeler was arrested for rape after forcing a young female worker into a nonconsensual relationship. This situation caused Wheeler to essentially be ousted from the company, and the regulator switch would follow shortly thereafter.

The two regulator designs are very similar, and Chalmers even references Wheeler's patent in his own patent application, claiming an improvement on that previous design with a "novel arrangement of parts."
 

KipW

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Nathan - some story! To err is human - to regulate is divine?

Jerry - is this the same patent (Church 1892) with a more elaborate treatment of the wheel - or?

s-l1600 (7)--.jpg
 

Jerry Treiman

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Jerry - is this the same patent (Church 1892) with a more elaborate treatment of the wheel - or?
Yes, same patent, just a little fancier. Waltham used the "embossed gold" patent regulator on most of their higher-grade '92 models and '99 models with a less-expensive flat steel star wheel on lower grades and smaller models. The highly-finished version I showed was used only on the first bridge models and Riverside Maximus, until they switched to a whiplash regulator for those grades. Sometimes the flat steel version received some ornamentation, such as on this '88 model "Diamond Express".
DiamondE_bc.jpg
 

KipW

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In defense of the "better mousetrap" concept - in spite of its near-universal application, it seems to me the Reed regulator (and its variants) is more than a trifle fiddly to adjust. The adjusting screw is not easily accessible and is a bit frail. I would think some of the other patent regulators are better in that regard, especially the later, spring-loaded version of Elgin's "traveling nut" setup. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but the Elgin TN is much easier to adjust, and unless the thread pitch somehow spoils the increments, as finely precise as the Reed - isn't it?

s-l1600 (3)-.jpg
 

Rick Hufnagel

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After trying to adjust a Teske with the Hampden in the case .. the Elgin regulator is a joy. My poor grade 40 Hampden has scratches by the regulator from someone trying to adjust it while cased...

The older Elgin regulators have a slight bit of play to them.. which I realized when doing the gr. 455 that the spring loaded mechanism took care of the problem. Pretty nifty.
 
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Clint Geller

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In defense of the "better mousetrap" concept - in spite of its near-universal application, it seems to me the Reed regulator (and its variants) is more than a trifle fiddly to adjust. The adjusting screw is not easily accessible and is a bit frail. I would think some of the other patent regulators are better in that regard, especially the later, spring-loaded version of Elgin's "traveling nut" setup. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but the Elgin TN is much easier to adjust, and unless the thread pitch somehow spoils the increments, as finely precise as the Reed - isn't it?

View attachment 663696
You could be right, Kip. One thing I wonder about is whether the ratio of curb pin displacement to index arm displacement differs between the two regulator designs. The smaller the ratio, the more precise the regulation ought to be.
 

Ethan Lipsig

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I looked through my collection of about 300 high-grade European pocket watches to see what sorts of regulators they used. Most of them, even the highest-grade and most complicated watches, and even one "observatory" watch, had simple regulators, which implies that fancier regulators weren't essential to high quality time-keeping. Indeed, most of my English watches and a few of my highest grade Swiss watches don't even have regulators; they are free-sprung. I would appreciate your views as to how beneficial fancy regulators really are.

Among my European watches with fancy regulators, by far the most common were Reed's or variants on it. The next most common were Wilmot's or similar cam-type regulators. Here are examples of what I found, including the regulators on a few US watches.

Reed Variant Regulators

IWCs, Gruens, and other watches, such as this Hamilton 923 have "half-Reed" regulators and other variations on Reed's.

Hamilton 923.JPG

Hamilton 400s, South Bend 431s, and some V&Cs had Reed-like regulators but with the screw under the cock, akin to the second version of the Elgin C.H. Hulburd regulator (see post 42) or the un-identified watch in post 6.

Hamilton 400.JPG SB431.JPG V&C.JPG

Elgin-like "Screw" Regulator


We all are familiar with the Elgin 'screw" regulator. See post 65. The regulator on this JJ Badollet looks nearly identical to it.


Badollet 1.JPG

In contrast, this V&C observatory watch regulator, while similar in concept, appears different at least in having a straight or straighter screw than Elgin regulators had. I have 3-4 other V&Cs with this regulator.

BKPL V&C.JPG

Cam Regulator

A number of my Swiss watches had cam regulators. Whether any of them actually is a Wilmot regulator, I do not know. Here are some of them.

Ami LeCoultre Rattrapante with Jump 1/4 Second Diablotine
Ami LeCoultre rattrapante with jump quarter second diablotine.JPG

C.H. Meylan
Meylan extra.JPG

Patek Philippe Bingham & Walk PL "Extra"
PP Bing. Walk Extra.JPG

Patek Philippe Harrington PL
PP Harrington.JPG

Patek Philippe Cronometro Gondolo

PP.JPG

Longines Extra Superior
Longines.JPG

Oliver-Like Regulator


The regulator on this Louis Audemars is Oliver-like. See post 3.

L.Audemars.JPG

Movado Regulator

Movado had its own unique style of regulator, as on this Gubelin PL.
Gubelin Movado.JPG
 
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Clint Geller

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I looked through my collection of about 300 high-grade European pocket watches to see what sorts of regulators they used. Most of them, even the highest-grade and most complicated watches, and even one "observatory" watch, had simple regulators, which implies that fancier regulators weren't essential to high quality time-keeping. Indeed, most of my English watches and a few of my highest grade Swiss watches don't even have regulators; they are free-sprung. I would appreciate your views as to how beneficial fancy regulators really are.

Among my European watches with fancy regulators, by far the most common were Reed's or variants on it. The next most common were Wilmot's or similar cam-type regulators. Here are examples of what I found, including the regulators on a few US watches.

Reed Variant Regulators

IWCs, Gruens, and other watches, such as this Hamilton 923 have "half-Reed" regulators and other variations on Reed's.

View attachment 663718

Hamilton 400s, South Bend 431s, and some V&Cs had Reed-like regulators but with the screw under the cock, akin to the second version of the Elgin C.H. Hulburd regulator (see post 42) or the un-identified watch in post 6.

View attachment 663717 View attachment 663725 View attachment 663726

Elgin-like "Screw" Regulator


We all are familiar with the Elgin 'screw" regulator. See post 65. The regulator on this JJ Badollet looks nearly identical to it.


View attachment 663714

In contrast, this V&C observatory watch regulator, while similar in concept, appears different at least in having a straight or straighter screw than Elgin regulators had. I have 3-4 other V&Cs with this regulator.

View attachment 663715

Cam Regulator

A number of my Swiss watches had cam regulators. Whether any of them actually is a Wilmot regulator, I do not know. Here are some of them.

Ami LeCoultre Rattrapante with Jump 1/4 Second Diablotine
View attachment 663713

C.H. Meylan
View attachment 663721

Patek Philippe Bingham & Walk PL "Extra"
View attachment 663722

Patek Philippe Harrington PL
View attachment 663723

Patek Philippe Cronometro Gondolo

View attachment 663724

Longines Extra Superior
View attachment 663720

Oliver-Like Regulator


The regulator on this Louis Audemars is Oliver-like. See post 3.

View attachment 663719

Movado Regulator

Movado had its own unique style of regulator, as on this Gubelin PL.
View attachment 663716
Ethan, regulators are known to degrade isochronism, that is, the uniformity of timekeeping accuracy over the running period. That is the main reason why many very high grade watches eschew regulators. Mechanical watches may run differently depending on how they are carried. Also, the timekeeping characteristics of a watch may change over time as the mainspring and the lubricants age and the pivot holes wear, etcetera. So a regulator is a highly convenient, even if somewhat problematic way to compensate for these effects without recourse to a skilled watchmaker.
 
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KipW

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Clint, does that explain why many of the latest European pocket watches, fitted with modern Glucidar balances, Nivarox ("Elinvar"-type) hairspring materials, and white metal mainsprings do not have regulators? With isochronism better controlled through improved metallurgy, are traditional regulators obsolete?

On the other hand, what you said might also explain why the Reed regulator took over in our classic watches. NOT messing with the regulator (by laypersons and well-intentioned owners) by virtue of making it difficult, might be better than offering a regulator style that invites it?
 

KipW

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In the spirit of the thing, if not in strict adherence - Here is the so-called "Micro Adjuster" used on the Russian Molnija 3602 for a short time in the '60s. These watches had/have most of the modern updates in metallurgy mentioned in post #70, so any regulator was somewhat superfluous. This one, I'm informed by those who know, was also a horrible design, which made little or no difference in regulation, was hard to use, and broke frequently. Strictly a useless marketing ploy.

Molnija Micro Regulator..jpg
 

Clint Geller

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Clint, does that explain why many of the latest European pocket watches, fitted with modern Glucidar balances, Nivarox ("Elinvar"-type) hairspring materials, and white metal mainsprings do not have regulators? With isochronism better controlled through improved metallurgy, are traditional regulators obsolete?

On the other hand, what you said might also explain why the Reed regulator took over in our classic watches. NOT messing with the regulator (by laypersons and well-intentioned owners) by virtue of making it difficult, might be better than offering a regulator style that invites it?
I don't know, Kip. If the balance wheel is not bisected into two cantilevered arms, that should reduce the effect of changing balance speed on the moment of inertia due to centrifugal forces. But I doubt that the variation in centrifugal forces is the only source of isochronal errors, and maintaining isochronism was not the reason for regulators, anyway. In fact, regulators degrade isochronism.

I don't think Reed's whip was designed to discourage consumers from using the regulator. If that were true, Howard would not have reversed the handedness of Reed's regulator and the hairspring when case styles changed from offset front and back hinges to parallel hinges. The change in the regulator and hairspring handedness was effected so that one could continue to access the regulator without removing the movement from its case.
 
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musicguy

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Lets keep it to American regulators please:).



Rob
 

KipW

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Let me tack a question onto this thread. Can experts out there please comment on something that puzzles me?

For instance: I have some Columbus 18s watches which sport two different patent regulators. One, although called a "Columbus Spring" on another website, is basically a variation of the Reed (US Pat#61867, dated Feb 5, 1867) and the other is a so-called "Owen" (US Pat#336060, dated Feb 9, 1886).
I think it's been reasonably established that the Reed regulator was/is the most successful design of them all. Yet, almost 20-years after it appeared on the horological scene, there was a period when American watch companies seemingly "sprouted" patent regulators of their own...sometimes several! Then, towards the end of pocket watch production, the last of these companies, notably Hamilton, Elgin, and Waltham, all reverted to the Reed type!

So - question 1 - Why should this be so - unless Reed was best in the first place?

Question 2 - Aside from personal opinion, is there factual support for the enduring success of Reed variations, either from a technical or financial perspective? Conversely, were all other patent regulators somehow inferior, in the end?

Question 3 - Back to my Columbus watches (or other manufacturers) where records are scanty, sketchy, and often wrong... can the type of patent regulator in use at the time the watch was made be used reliably to help date it or determine its grade - or at least determine an era? (Greg...HELP?)

I apologize - if this has been covered previously, but Hey - "enquiring minds" y-know? It just seems weird to me that most patent regulators seemed to disappear as RR standards got tighter. Whereas Reed-type variations were the "go-to" type, both in the beginning, along the way, and at the end. 1867-1970 is a pretty good run!

Columbus-Spring-.jpg Owen-.jpg
 

Greg Frauenhoff

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Question 3 - Back to my Columbus watches (or other manufacturers) where records are scanty, sketchy, and often wrong... can the type of patent regulator in use at the time the watch was made be used reliably to help date it or determine its grade - or at least determine an era? (Greg...HELP?)


View attachment 672185 View attachment 672186
For some companies, the regulator is certainly a clue as to the era. The Columbus ones you show are examples: left later, right earlier. Rockford also had a progression of different regulators on their 18s mvts. Early ones use a spring (some round, some heart shaped) similar in idea to Reed's regulator but then several more interesting ones follow. Aurora has a cool early regulator (designed by G. F. Johnson but not patented) followed by Hurd's. I will post pics as time permits (working on another project at present).
 

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