Inventions and Facts

Here are some cool inventions and their inventors for you to remember:

In the eighteenth century (around 1702), Nicolas Fatio de Duillier and Pierre and Jacob Debraufre invented jewel bearings and pioneered their use in watches, greatly improving the isochronism and longevity of the movement. Initially, real jewels, such as ruby, garnet and diamond (and sometimes, in cheaper watches, glass) were used before the invention of a synthetic alternative in the early 20th century. Jewels reduce friction due to an incredibly low coefficient with steel (0.10-0.15 as opposed to 0.58 steel-on-steel).

In the late 1700s, Abraham Louis Perrelet invented the automatic winding weight for the pocket watch, which operated much in the same way as a pedometer. Although a theoretical improvement, practically it was largely ineffective due to the static nature of a pocket watch. However, in the 1920s, English watchmaker John Harwood patented his design for an automatic winding weight in wristwatches. Harwood’s design meant that the notion of Perrelet could now be applied functionally to wrist watches and thus increase the accuracy of the timepieces by reducing isochronous error caused by a drop in amplitude that can be avoided by the constant winding of the mainspring by an automatic weight.

Rumour has it that a new brand bearing Harwood’s name is on the horizon. How do you feel about new incarnations of defunct companies piggy-backing their forebear’s efforts to immediate heritage? Please let me know!

In the late 19th and early 20th century, Charles Edouard Guillame invented the revolutionary materials, Invar and Elinvar, which would later win him a Nobel prize in 1920 and go on to be used for the manufacture of watch components, most notably hairsprings. In particular, Elinvar (which comes from the words ELasticitie INVARiable) possess a very low temperature coefficient and is almost nonmagnetic. The consistency of timekeeping vastly improved thanks to Guillame’s invention and his original intention – to perfect an alloy to eradicate secondary error – was closer to realisation than ever before.

And one last fact that might come in useful:

The Greenwich Meridian is an axial line drawn from North to South, passing through Greenwich, London, England. This is zero longitude and is the beginning of the first time zone (Western European Time Zone).

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