The Guillaume Balance Wheel getting it right

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by TikNo Tok, Jan 31, 2006.

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  1. TikNo Tok

    TikNo Tok Registered User

    May 23, 2011
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    About 10 years ago I became interested in the Guillaume Balance Wheel (GBW). From a number of experts, qualified watchmakers I was asking a simple question. How does a watch collector visually determine or recognize a GBW? I got a number of “mumbo-jumbo” answers, none of which made sense. I decided to do my own scientific research. I spent hours in Libraries and countless hours at watchmakers peering through large stocks of 1000s of loose balance wheels. I also contacted the BHI to see if they had anything on the subject. The BHI were gracious enough to send me a (facsimile) folio of a lengthy correspondence in French between Dr. Guillaume and Mr. Robert Gardner the famed British Chronometer maker. The correspondence revolves around a commercial venture where Dr. Guillaume, through his manufacturing agents Messrs. Ferrier & Vaucher were to supply Mr. Gardner with his Guillaume Balance Wheel granting him exclusivity for Great Britain and Ireland. One of the conditions stipulated in the contract by Dr. Guillaume was that any marine Chronometer produced by Mr. Gardner should have the name "Guillaume Balance" either on the dial, a visible part of the chronometer or in the very least had to appear on Mr. Gardner's final invoice to his client. Though a contract was signed between the two gentlemen, the deal fell through due to Mr. Gardner's (alleged) ill health. Mr. Gardner did however purchase a single sample (probably for evaluation) of the Guillaume Marine Balance Wheel at a cost of Two Pounds Sterling in 1901. The correspondence ends with Dr. Guillaume threatening legal action for breach of contract. Another interesting fact revealed in that correspondence is according to Dr. Guillaume that Mr. Nardin (of Ulysee Nardin) were using his GBW almost exclusively in their pocket watches.

    Through my research and the correspondence above, it became clear that the GBW was a PATENTED geometric design with very specific layouts of the timing screws. In pocket watches the GBW was in use between 1899 and approx. 1925. The GBW was slowly phased out in favor of a balance wheel made of brass and Invar and controlled by a balance spring made of Elinvar.

    Now here is a curved ball that should be of interest to collectors of high grade pocket watches between 1899 and 1925:

    The term "Guillaume Balance Wheel" is only to be associated with a laminated (brass on the outside and Anibal on the inside), cut, compensating balance wheel controlled by a balance spring made of plain STEEL and known to be affected by temperature changes and MAGNETISM. Using the name Invar or Elinvar associated with the GBW is erroneous. If the inside of the balance wheel is made of Invar and/or controlled by an Elinvar balance spring it is no longer a GBW.

    While doing my research I was keeping notes on my computer. Through those notes I was able to compile a full 12 page (easy to understand) technical paper on my findings with diagrams and pictures. Included in the paper were complete details on how to visually recognize the GBW. Ironically I contacted the Editor’s of NAWCC’s Bulletin who were very keen on publishing it. After 2 or 3 years of email correspondence with the Editors an approximate date was set for publication. For reasons unknown, since then my emails have gone unanswered and the paper was never published.
     
  2. TikNo Tok

    TikNo Tok Registered User

    May 23, 2011
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    About 10 years ago I became interested in the Guillaume Balance Wheel (GBW). From a number of experts, qualified watchmakers I was asking a simple question. How does a watch collector visually determine or recognize a GBW? I got a number of “mumbo-jumbo” answers, none of which made sense. I decided to do my own scientific research. I spent hours in Libraries and countless hours at watchmakers peering through large stocks of 1000s of loose balance wheels. I also contacted the BHI to see if they had anything on the subject. The BHI were gracious enough to send me a (facsimile) folio of a lengthy correspondence in French between Dr. Guillaume and Mr. Robert Gardner the famed British Chronometer maker. The correspondence revolves around a commercial venture where Dr. Guillaume, through his manufacturing agents Messrs. Ferrier & Vaucher were to supply Mr. Gardner with his Guillaume Balance Wheel granting him exclusivity for Great Britain and Ireland. One of the conditions stipulated in the contract by Dr. Guillaume was that any marine Chronometer produced by Mr. Gardner should have the name "Guillaume Balance" either on the dial, a visible part of the chronometer or in the very least had to appear on Mr. Gardner's final invoice to his client. Though a contract was signed between the two gentlemen, the deal fell through due to Mr. Gardner's (alleged) ill health. Mr. Gardner did however purchase a single sample (probably for evaluation) of the Guillaume Marine Balance Wheel at a cost of Two Pounds Sterling in 1901. The correspondence ends with Dr. Guillaume threatening legal action for breach of contract. Another interesting fact revealed in that correspondence is according to Dr. Guillaume that Mr. Nardin (of Ulysee Nardin) were using his GBW almost exclusively in their pocket watches.

    Through my research and the correspondence above, it became clear that the GBW was a PATENTED geometric design with very specific layouts of the timing screws. In pocket watches the GBW was in use between 1899 and approx. 1925. The GBW was slowly phased out in favor of a balance wheel made of brass and Invar and controlled by a balance spring made of Elinvar.

    Now here is a curved ball that should be of interest to collectors of high grade pocket watches between 1899 and 1925:

    The term "Guillaume Balance Wheel" is only to be associated with a laminated (brass on the outside and Anibal on the inside), cut, compensating balance wheel controlled by a balance spring made of plain STEEL and known to be affected by temperature changes and MAGNETISM. Using the name Invar or Elinvar associated with the GBW is erroneous. If the inside of the balance wheel is made of Invar and/or controlled by an Elinvar balance spring it is no longer a GBW.

    While doing my research I was keeping notes on my computer. Through those notes I was able to compile a full 12 page (easy to understand) technical paper on my findings with diagrams and pictures. Included in the paper were complete details on how to visually recognize the GBW. Ironically I contacted the Editor’s of NAWCC’s Bulletin who were very keen on publishing it. After 2 or 3 years of email correspondence with the Editors an approximate date was set for publication. For reasons unknown, since then my emails have gone unanswered and the paper was never published.
     
  3. hc3

    hc3 Registered User

    Aug 29, 2000
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    And, what do they look like?
     
  4. ams12358

    ams12358 New Member

    Dec 10, 2008
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    Hi TikNoTok,

    Like you, I've been keenly interested in both identifying and understanding the Guillaume balance. Before being smitten by pocket watches, I was smitten by the pursuit of physics. What better way to combine the two than with the Guillaume balance, which earned Charles Edouard Guillaume the 1920 Nobel prize in physics. Did you ever succeed in publishing your article, and if so, would you be so kind as to direct me to it. If not, would you consider sharing it with me privately?

    thank you,
    -adam
     
  5. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    Aug 24, 2000
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    You found a very old post on the message board from a few generations ago as the Internet goes. The status Guest means that TikNo Tok is no longer registered, nor do we have any record of his registration. He was registered on an earlier incarnation of the board.

    If anyone knows who this was, perhaps the original information can be put on-line.
     
  6. TikNo Tok

    TikNo Tok Registered User

    May 23, 2011
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    To Tom McIntyre
    I am the original author of this post. Please reactivate it. I still have my manuscript on the Guillaume Balance Wheel which the NAWCC had initially agreed to publish. As mentioned, for reasons unknown, the Publishers never returned my calls or had the common courtesy of an explanation or an apology. (Maybe Tom can find out the reason).
    I would be more than happy to share the Guillaume manuscript with Tom or any users of this Forum.
    Regards to all
    Tik_No_Tok
     
  7. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    If you do not mind, I will edit your username to the previous Tikno Tok so that I can attach the old posts to your account.

    I suspect there has been a change in the editorial staff since you submitted your manuscript and it would be worthwhile to resubmit it. I am surprised you received no responses from the staff, they have always been very responsive in my experience.

    On the subject of the thread, do you really think that the Guillaume patent is restricted to a particular geometry and screw placement? That would make the patent very narrow and of little use in protecting his invention.

    The key characteristic in my mind is the behavior of the balance. It causes a standard steel hairspring to form a temperature insensitive oscillator. i.e. the brass/anibal balance has a near linear function of temperature that matches the near linear change in elasticity of the hairspring.

    While actual Guillaume balances are very scarce, those by Ditisheim with his affix are pretty common. Ditisheim added the affix to compensate for the slight residual error that almost always exists when one tries to match the temperature properties of alloys in a fabricated structure.

    I would love to see your manuscript, of course. Middle temperature error has been one of my main interests ever since I first heard of the problem.

    I have heard, but have not seen it in writing, that Elgin used a Guillaume related balance similar to Nardin in the competition that was awarded to Hamilton's Elinvar/Invar/Steel ovalizing balance system. Presumably all the "integral" balances with the 4 short arms use Guillaume's technique.
     
  8. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    TkiNo, I merged your new account with your old one. You can use the drop down on your name to find all your old posts that are still on file.

    I don't think the NAWCC has any rule about being a member to publish in the Watch & Clock Bulletin, but your membership did lapse back in 1997.
     
  9. Clint Geller

    Clint Geller Registered User
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    As a materials physicist who has patented a new metal alloy himself, I too am fascinated with the physics of Guillaume balances. With few exceptions, metals have a general tendency to both expand and weaken as they are heated. However, some metal alloys undergo often complicated magnetic ordering transitions in specfiic temperature ranges which can modify, negate, or even reverse these overall tendencies over certain limited temperature ranges. This is the basic physical principle behind Guillaume's invention per se, as well as that of subsequent related developments (elinvar, and invar, etc.)

    Generally speaking, alloys which manifest such behavior contain socalled transition metal atoms (e.g., Fe, Ni, Co, Mn, Pd, Nb, etc.) characterized by a partly filled "shell" of electrons (usually a d shell or an f shell) in addition to the outermost ("valence") shell. A partly filled inner electron shell - especially one containing an odd number of electrons - often gives an atom a net magnetic moment which can couple in complex ways with the magnetic moments on neighboring atoms. (For instance, pure manganese is a non-colinear antiferromagnet - a very complicated form of magnetic ordering - with a 58 atom unit cell!) Since magnetic moments on neighboring atoms exert forces on one another, the state of magnetic ordering in a material naturally affects both the equilibrium lattice parameter of the crystal and the stiffness of the lattice.

    To produce a useful engineering alloy with a stable, reproducible response over a prescribed temperature range, it is necessary to carefully control both the overall chemical composition of the alloy and its detailed microstructure. Microstructural feautres, such as grain size and grain morphology, phase segregation and precipitate structure, are controlled by thermomechanical processing parameters which are often quite involved. Microstructure and properties can also be strongly affected by trace impurities and ingot sizes. These parameters must all be optimized and reoptimized iteratively to produce a successful engineering alloy. Herein lies the boundary between strict "science" per se, and craft skill. The science is usually well documented - eventually - but much of the craft skill, the "know how," often is not.
     
  10. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    The Elinvar and Invar classes of alloys has been much more extensively developed than the anibal alloy in the Guillaume balance.

    In order to function as described, the alloy must have a non-linear coefficient of expansion. The geometry of the balance is inherently non-linear since the motions change the moment of inertia.

    The change in period due to the changes in a bimetallic balance with temperature is a curve. With the GBW, the change is a straight line (or at least it tries to be). The change in the balance matches the linear change in elasticity taking place in the steel spring.

    As Clint pointed out, it is not sufficient just to mix up the recipe. The process of temperature cycling the material contributes to the anomalous behavior. Those processes have traditionally been closely guarded secrets.
     
  11. Dr. Jon

    Dr. Jon Registered User
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    One more aspaect of the Guillaume balance is that the obtain the fine adjustment of material properties it has to worked. This establishes the distribution of grains sizes and orientations that Clint described.

    In terms of making Guillaume balances it meant that while the composition was public, the working process were carefully guarded secrets. At that a look at the timing trial records shows that the performance of these in temperature varied from no better than brass and steel to very very good performance.

    An added factor is that for any bimetallic balance to work to its best it has to be free of "stiction." This is a tendancey of the balance to get "stuck" in different configurations.

    A lot of work went into a Guillaume balance that was to be serious time trial competitor. They probably made several and tried then to pick the best.
     

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