The main watchmaking inventions have favored the progress of the Watch Manufacturing Industry, allowing movements to be more and more precise. Knowing the patents allows us to know the history of watchmaking, its advances and the path that this industry has followed to offer us watches with exact mechanics, which last for several generations.
This week we analyze the main watchmaking inventions, their milestones and the most famous patents in the history of the sector.
What is a patent in watchmaking
Watchmaking inventions are registered in the form of a patent. When a house develops a new mechanism, it is essential that there be a record of it, the usual method consists of a legal patent, in which it is recognized that it is an original idea, never developed before and therefore, it is the property of the brand.
Obviously, other watchmakers can develop the same mechanisms, today the main watchmaking brands have tourbillon or perpetual calendar models, however, they were patented by the watchmaker who first developed them.
Patents and watchmaking inventions by brand
The main luxury watch brands have their milestones, patents that have marked their history, below we review the most important.
Rolex launched in 1926 the first hermetic watch in history, it was the first Oyster, today one of the main models of the brand. This watch was the first to resist the action of water and dust, without these elements damaging the mechanism.
Another of the fundamental milestones in the history of Rolex was the first mechanical perpetual rotor, in which it was the first completely mechanical watch in history. Today all modern automatic watches start from this patent, registered by Rolex in 1931.
Another curious Rolex patent occurs in 1945, it is the first watch capable of displaying the date exactly in a window included in the dial. The chosen model was the Datejust.
These are Rolex's main milestones, although its patents number in the thousands, including a unique steel called Oystersteel and the only watch capable of withstanding magnetic fields of a thousand Gauss without its mechanism being affected.
Omega's main milestone was the Labrador, the first caliber in the world to be produced in series starting in 1885. This caliber could not only be produced in series, it also incorporated various technological advances that made it one of the most precise chronometers of the moment, but in addition, Omega patented the first minute repeater for the wrist, being able to sound hours and minutes when necessary thanks to its complex striking circuit.
We owe Audemars Piguet the first watch with a perpetual calendar, it was launched in 1950 and was a real revolution. The perpetual calendar not only counts the months, it is also capable of measuring leap years, showing February 29 every 4 years, we owe this technical prodigy to Audemars Piguet.
Another of the innovations that we owe to AP is the realization of the first luxury sports watch made of steel, it was the Royal Oak, a design that we can continue to enjoy today in its many variants.
We owe Breguet the tourbillon, a device that almost completely nullifies the effect of gravity on the watch mechanism. It was Breguet himself, founder of the brand, who developed a system in which the escapement, made up of the balance, the spring, the anchor and the escapement wheel, was located on a mobile carriage that rotates once a minute, this It prevents the effect of gravity itself from decompensating the pace of movement.
Patek Philippe has developed all kinds of inventions and patents in the field of watchmaking, the following are just some of the most relevant.
Panerai is recognized as the brand of Radiomir, a powder obtained from radium that causes luminescence in low-light environments. This patent was, in principle, used by the Italian navy and its main application focused on the visibility of the sphere in the deep sea, thanks to the Panerai patent, divers could for the first time visualize their times without the need for a light assistant.
In 1949 the Radiomir was replaced by the Luminor, also patented by Panerai and obtained from hydrogen hysotopes.
The Schaffhausen brand was the first to design watches with digital indication of both hours and minutes, a system that has been followed to this day. Another of its milestones was the launch in 1980 of the IWC Titan, the first wristwatch with a titanium case, which was designed and developed in collaboration with the automobile Watches Manufacturer F. A. Porsche.
Jaeger Le-Coultre is another of those manufactures to which we owe a large part of what is today Swiss mechanical watchmaking. Among its milestones, it is worth highlighting the invention of the millionometer, an instrument capable of measuring microns, very useful for making artisanal watches, the first watch powered by temperature variation in 1928, the patented reversible case and alarm for diving watches.
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