In 1947 Patek Philippe applied for a patent of a new balance. It was granted in 1948*. The company called the new device the Gyromax balance and began installing it in many watches. The main advantage of it was that a watch could be poised easier and could be adjusted for time without hairspring’s regulator (which does contribute to small irregularities). Watches without a regulator are called free sprung. Almost all marine chronometers are free sprung. The company fitted them into all kinds of models. Here is one of them, a perpetual calendar, Ref. 3940 from 1980’s. The claimed invention was based on small friction-tight discs placed on the periphery of the balance. They were slotted, and therefore springy, and fitted tightly over small pins fixed vertically to the balance. By revolving them it was easy to regulate the poise and the mean time. There is no doubt it was a substantial improvement. A close up of a balance And a close up of its disc Patek Philippe’s add from 1963. It reads: "The Gyromax Balance, developed in the Patek Philippe Laboratory for Advanced Research, is the outstanding horological achievement of modern times. It permits the most precise and enduring regulation of a watch ever achieved, making the old-fashioned index regulator obsolete and eliminating the need for periodic readjustment. The Gyromax is only one of the elements and only one of the exclusive patents which make Patek Philippe the world’s foremost watch. PATEK PHILIPPE CRAFTSMEN OF PERFECTION” As long as the patent lasted Patek Philippe was the only company making watches with the new improved balance. Or was it? Below is a close up of the balance from an American Edward Howard model made circa 1912. And a close up of its regulating organ: Doesn’t it remind you of something? And the device was even patented by one Joseph Alexander Freund of Manhattan, New York, on April 25, 1905.** Free-sprung, Edward Howard with sapphire banking pins and Gyromax-type balance was a remarkable watch, ahead of its time. Unfortunately, only about 300 of them were made. It is a little known fact that an American idea, 40 years later, found its way into complicated Swiss wristwatches. Freund, its inventor, did not live to see his invention reinvented, he died in 1944, four years before. Philip Poniz ____________________________ * The same year (1948) the company applied for an improvement in its design which was granted in 1951. **Two years later Freund obtained a patent (No. 862,465) for an improved “toothed” version of the discs.