The Science of Clocks and Watches

Discussion in 'Horological Books' started by Mike Kearney, Nov 15, 2006.

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  1. Mike Kearney

    Mike Kearney Guest

    The Science of Clocks and Watches, by A. L. Rawlings. I would offer a review, but I haven't read it seriously yet, just thumbed through it. I have the second edition. The math in the pendulum chapter is a bit over my head. I enjoyed the marine chronometer chapter. The chapter 'on the selection of a good watch' made me laugh out loud. The author feels that the use of more than seven jewels in a watch is unjustified and just a passing fad. I don't know if that's in the later editions or not.

    Searching the board for references to Rawlings, I see the clock folks speak well of this book, but I've never heard of it mentioned by watch people. Any opinions on why?

    Maybe someone who likes it could offer a proper review.

    Regards,
    Mike
     
  2. Fortunat Mueller-Maerki

    Fortunat Mueller-Maerki National Library Chair
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    One possible reason that Rawling always has been more popular among clock enthusiasts than whatch enthusiasts may well be that -by my observation- clock folks are much more likely to be interested in "horological science", i.e. to engineering types and physicists and mathematicians who take a functional/cerebral approach to the hobby, who want to understand the timekeeper as a physical machine, who are experimental mechanics at heart; while in watches, due to the dimmensions and tolerances the sheer craft/manual dexterity aspect of working with the artefact becomes the obsession or the limiting factor.
    RAwling takes an engineering/scientific aproach to timekeepers and therefor may appeal more to clockies.

    Just my guess, but an interesting question

    Fortunat
     
  3. Dr. Jon

    Dr. Jon Registered User
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    I recently consulted Rawlings on a watch matter. It was teh best source I found.

    It is a very good aource for watch types.
     
  4. DonCorson

    DonCorson Guest

    Hi !
    As far as I know there is little or none theory for watches available in English. The sources are in French as I mentioned in the this thread:
    old ref::http://nawcc-mb.infopop.cc/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/3936000561/m/8451036452[/url]

    Two new volumes of the Vermot have just been released, on watch movement design and on the theory of the resonator.
    These books are a must for anyone interested in the theory of mechanical watches.

    Don

    PS: I have started work on my second watch, see:
    http://www.corson.ch
     
  5. John Weigel

    John Weigel Registered User

    Apr 17, 2005
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    Dear Corson, The Vermot book is in 4 vols. 160 Swiss Franks per volume. Yikes! Any cheap source in the Suisse that you know of? Thanks, JJW
     
  6. DonCorson

    DonCorson Guest

    #6 DonCorson, Nov 19, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 7, 2017
    I have seen that there are bookstores who are adding something like 30% to that plus S&H.
    This is high quality professional literature being published in very small quantities, they are probably hardly covering their costs. Up to date professional literature is expensive in any field, even the fields that create big quantities. You won't find it any cheaper.
    Sorry I can't help,
    Don
     
  7. Fortunat Mueller-Maerki

    Fortunat Mueller-Maerki National Library Chair
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    Don is obviously right. A big chunck on horological theory on watches was written in French. And the only thing that is new in that field is the ongoing series by Vermot, produced in the French speaking part of Switzerland, where they are still offfering graduate degrees in horological engineering. The Vermot series is written for these students, it is for advanced readers and basically assumes that the student will have allready attended a two or three year full time study course as a watch tecnician and is now studying to be a graduate horologicAL engineer.

    However the standard textbook that a group of teachers in Switzerland created a few years ago for the "technician" level, and that also is the required textbook at the WOSTEP courses around the world HAS been translated into ENGLISH. iT IS

    # Title: Theory of Horology [The…]
    # Author: Charles-Andre Reymondin, Georges Monnier, Didier Jeanneret, Umbe Pellarati
    # Publisher: WOSTEP
    Keywords: textbook
    ISBN: 2 940025 12 6
    Language: ENG
    Notes: Comprehensive Textbook on theory of Horology for Swiss technical colleges (simultaneously published in FRE ENG GER
    Edition: 1999 -- Copyright: 1999
    Kind: Book
    Type: Timekeeper (general)
    Geographic area: Switzerland
    Topic: TheoryGeneral
    Organization: NA/other
    Pages: 368 -- Height in cm: 30
    Print Status: 1 (1 means in print - 2 means out of print)
    BHM ID: 1455

    also available in German and French, maybe also in SPanish.

    DIstruibuted by the leading horological bookseller in Switzerland:

    Tony Simonin (retired founder of WOSTEP) at
    http://www.booksimonin.ch/


    Fortunat,
    who never found a horological book he did not like
     
  8. Richard Watkins

    Richard Watkins Registered User
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    Fortunat, I have to "have a go" at you! Reymondin et al "Theory of Horology" Should not be mentioned in a discussion about theory. To summarize my opinion (from my bibliography):

    "It reminds me of the encyclopedia-style publications for children which have beautiful pictures, a little text and provide an elementary explanation of things technical. It is superbly produced with an attractive, clear layout and not too many words. It also has lots of formulae, some good and some simplistic descriptions, but no theory at all despite its title."

    "From the foreword and the contents I conclude that this luxurious, extremely expensive book is a first-year horology text aimed at school children about 14 years old. Viewed in this context, the book makes some sense and perhaps it does fulfil all the needs of today’s junior trainee."

    "Perhaps the book has to be read in the context of a curriculum and may be the theory and supporting education fills in all the gaps? Perhaps the book is only meant to be a summary of useful formulae, an aide memoire? I don’t know. But I do know that by itself it is very disappointing, inadequate and far too expensive."
     
  9. Fortunat Mueller-Maerki

    Fortunat Mueller-Maerki National Library Chair
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    Richard

    I would not disagree with you on your assesment of Reymondin, although I might not put it in exactly these terms.

    Indeed one of the core constiuencies for this book is the Swiss apprentices in the various watchmaking tardes. In accordance with the Swiss educational systems, these young people are 16 years old when they beginn their appretiswhip, which lasts three years.

    During this time they primarily work in a horological establichment, like a watch factory or a repair company under the tutalage of a master for 3 1/2 days a week and go to tradeschool for 1 1/2 days each week, where they study both academic and trade courses.

    The curriculum is designed to produce employable young workers with a solid foundation at age 20 so they can seek employment, and those who desaire more schooling will go on to technical collages.

    The people then have a solid, although fundamental understanding of physiocs, math, draftsmanship, reading/writing and yes basic horological theory, together with similarly fundamental manual skills in working metals (and other materials) to high tolerances both with hand and maschine tools.

    Similar curricula exist in virtually every other trade.

    My observation is that the American equivalents of these young people in most trades at age 20 have virtually no understanding of what they are doing or the concepts or theory behind whatever their chosen trade is.

    Reymondin was never meant as a textbook on how to design or build a watch, but it is -in my opinion- a very servicable introductory text on that subject matter, and in that category there is virtually nothing else.

    Fortunat
     
  10. John Weigel

    John Weigel Registered User

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    Bravo Mr Watkins! As I recall Reymondin was pushed as a textbook for all of us here not fortunate enough to have a Wostep diploma. By american standards it is a "crammer" and not a textbook , i. e. there is little or no explanation, theoretical or practical.
     
  11. DonCorson

    DonCorson Guest

    Do not put down the Reymondin "Theory of Horology". Fortunat is 100% right in his explaination. If anything, the only fault this book has is the title, which for engineers is overstated.

    This book is a compendium of the "theoretical" knowledge, which in this case means non-manual knowledge, that an apprentice watchmaker should take with him as he starts journymanship. As it is ubitquitous, it is everyones quick reference book and it does that job very well. It is not aimed at someone who is trying to learn watchmaking in self-study, nor to engineers wanting to construct their own watches from scratch. But it includes everything that an apprentice would have heard in his courses at professional school and alot of what a practicing engineer needs to have at hand if he is not interested in rederiving the equations himself that he may not use every day. For more we can reach for Defossez or Vermot. Each has its place.

    I don't know who may have "pushed" it in the sense of an American "text book" which it is not, for sure. But just because the Swiss education system works differently than that in the US does not make it worse.
    Don
     
  12. Richard Watkins

    Richard Watkins Registered User
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    Don (and others),

    As an aside, can you explain your avatar, please? It looks like a top-down photograph of some busty substances with a squiggly bit and a measuring tool (to measure what I am not sure).

    Regarding Reymondin. The book is a NOT a compendium of theoretical knowledge, although that does depend on what you mean by "knowledge".

    Some of the book contains theoretical FACTS, presented without explanation or understanding. For example, 10 formulae relating to main springs are presented on pp 47-48 (1st edition). Nowhere is there any attempt to explain these formulae, and most certainly no attempt to derive them. And so all the student can do is memorise them and, if asked, plug in numbers and calculate results.

    A more extreme example is that of teeth profiles (pp 76 on). After defining basic terminology, formulae are given for the tip and root diameters of a wheel. These introduce magic numbers, addenda factors, without any explanation. The section merely specifies methods for mindless calculation which does nothing to increase understanding, and it is interesting to compare this chapter with Camus/Hawkins “A treatise on the teeth of wheels” and Davis “Gears for small mechanisms”. My point is re-enforced by the exercises at the end of the book which require the ability to substitute values into equations and calculate answers; they are typical early high school exercises which are only related to horology by their context; exactly the same type of exercises could be used for almost any subject area because they test little more than skills in arithmetic.

    My favorite example of this approach is is where circuit diagrams for electronic watches are given without explanation (I hope the reader has completed an electronics course) but then over the page there are detailed instructions on how to handle batteries!

    So the book is a compendium of theoretical facts devoid of theoretical understanding. I completely agree that people do not want to "rederive" equations, but that begs the question: did those people ever derive the equations? That is, did they ever have an understanding as opposed to rote learning? As has been pointed out, this is a beginners' book for 16 year old students. Surely they have (as I had 40+ years ago) studied algebra, geometry, basic integration and differentiation, and hopefully physics. In which case teaching the application of these to horology should be no great problem. Unless, and I suspect this may actually be the case, entrants to horology schools have a much, much lower level of general education and could not cope with any theory.

    To say it includes "a lot of what a practicing engineer needs" is wrong. Horological engineers need comprehensive training in computer systems and computer controlled tools. The only watch makers (as opposed to watch repairers) who need what is in Reymondin are amateurs making watches largely by hand. What apprentices need I am not sure, because I don't know the aims of the horological schools that use the book. My guess they would be to train people for repair and factory assembly/testing jobs. Certainly the course is useless for watch design and manufacture.

    Other parts of the book contain practical facts. So the descriptions of self-winding, calendar, striking and chronograph mechanisms are just detailed explanations of particular mechanical systems.

    Finally, three points.

    First the foreword says “This work lays out all the information used in the industry today - which is everything a student of horology needs to know”. That is utter nonsense.

    Second, I was stunned to read that until 1700 “one (watch) hand was used ...” and be offered a picture of a Breguet souscription watch as illustration. This cannot be excused as a mistake, unless the authors are amazingly ignorant. Indeed it is symptomatic of the whole book. It is sufficiently superficial that the truth can be blurred to avoid having to explain anything.

    The final insult is the bibliography; it says books exist, tells the reader to get copies of horological standards and the reports of chronometry societies, and ends with an advertisement for a book company. Fortunat justifies Reymondin by saying "Reymondin ... is -in my opinion- a very servicable introductory text on that subject matter, and in that category there is virtually nothing else. But this is not true. There may not be a single book that can take the place of Reymondin, but is is easy enough to find a small set of books that cover the same material far, far better. But other books require the student to THINK and Reymondin does not.
     
  13. Jon Hanson

    Jon Hanson Registered User
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    Therefore, BURN THIS ONE!
     
  14. kirklox

    kirklox Registered User

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    We could start a F451 CLUB.
     
  15. Mike Kearney

    Mike Kearney Guest

    Richard, you'll understand Don Corson's avitar if you visit his web site (pointed to in his signature). The images there are, for lack of a better word, enchanting.

    Thank you Don.

    Regards,
    Mike
     
  16. Bill Ward

    Bill Ward Registered User
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    When I read the Reymondin book, I was also surprised at the mixture of advanced topics and simplistic presentations. But when seen as a textbook (and it must be a "crammer") it's not that strange. Courses never follow the text too closely (unless the professor is also the author!) So it's not surprising that some topics might be amplified in class, and others skipped.
    Yes, Richard, your suspician is correct: here in the US at least, students get "tracked" into career paths from an early grade; those who do well academically are expected to enter an academic path to University, while those who don't end up in trade schools (if they're lucky!) Still, I went to a very demanding academic high school, and at 16 years I'd still had no calculus, nor physics (though I'd read some on my own). Many of the US WOSTEP students, I've heard, come from very conservative religious backgrounds, where the Bible is regarded as the only book of consequence, and are unlikely to have had alegebra or geometry. I don't know if those are taught separately as part of the curriculum. The aim of the US program, as I understand it, is to provide "factory authorized service personnel" (since many of the students are girls) to the high end watch companies.
    Yes, the "theory" presented is almost entirely empirical, and isn't explained at all. Presumeably, that's the instructor's job- certainly, he's best equipped to decide at what level the students can approach the material. But I wouldn't say that this information is useless; for the technician at the bench, who's already learned all this, such a compendium is just the thing, in a single volume, to jog his memory. Still, no one's going to learn watchmaking from this book on his own.
    It's most interesting that you zero'ed in on the section on tooth profiles. This is what perfectly exemplifies the empirical nature of this book. It's the very reason I wanted this book. The profiles described are not the cycloidal profiles described in many horological books, because cycloidal profiles are not actually used in manufactured timepieces! This is proven by the referance to the Swiss standards numbers for "cycloidal" cutters, and the British standards numbers are in there somewhere too. In other words, all those outrageously expensive Swiss & English "cycloidal" wheelcutters actually have circular profiles you could easily make yourself- and this book tells you how! That's definitely worth the purchase price.
    And speaking of the price, I was surprised that you thought it high. At around $50 from the publisher, it's a relative bargain, especially in a field where booksellers often feel it's their duty to add a zero or two to the price they've paid. The only trick is to get the book before the students buy it out each term, as only roughly enough are printed to supply them. Perhaps they regard it highly enough to hold onto, so the bookdealers think it's rare.
    So, though it has its place, you're right, an untutored beginner is better off with help from Fried and DeCarle, or one of the "teach yourself" programs.
     
  17. Richard Watkins

    Richard Watkins Registered User
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    Bill, it is hard to disagree with you. But I think you comment on "cycloidal cutters" might be what I am trying to get at. You clearly have some understanding of gearing and so can understand the significance of norms and standard cutters. What worries me is that unless students learn at least the basics of the theory they will not understand. As you say, "for the technician at the bench, who's already learned all this, such a compendium is just the thing". But for the person who hasn't learned? How many students realize that cycloid gearing doesn't work for low tooth counts (which is why, together with the need for play which is ignored by theory, we have seemingly irrational tables of norms and magical addenda factors)? And who can explain why circular addenda are acceptable approximations? I can't. (As an aside, Jacques David points out that one American watch maker, probably Waltham, made epicycloid cutters - most likely the only time ever that a watch maker produced theoretically correct gears!).

    By "understanding" I don't necessarily mean theory. For example, there is no useful theory for the lever escapement (it is interesting to see how the Grossmans' book peters out when the going gets tough!). Indeed, learning the skills to draw it won't help you when it comes to fixing a watch. But if you don't understand the implications and effects of what you do when you move pallets and make other adjustments, you will never succeed - which is why the texts that teach you mindless, rote techniques such as banking to drop cause more damage than good.

    The trouble is, understanding is not popular! Quiz shows on TV a a perfect example. I remember watching one where school kids were asked a lot of questions like "what is the capitol of Tasmania?" and got great scores. Then they were asked to do a quite simple calculation in their heads. No-one could do it. Memorizing facts is high on the list of things to do, but understanding, so that you can create new facts, is a bit hard and so not popular in these politically correct days when failing a student is frowned upon. And, perhaps more importantly, its hard work for the teacher.

    If, and only if, the WOSTEP teachers fill in the hard parts in class then Reymondin's book might be OK. But I suspect they don't because I suspect Reymondin's book tells them what to teach, and it tells them to stick to facts and basic arithmetic. God help us all if that is the case, because I most certainly would not want a Reymondin graduate to fix my watch.
     

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