***From Apprentice Corner
Today, I’d like to share with you a short story of one
Hermann Moebius. Haven’t heard of him? That’s okay – few
have. But despite his relative obscurity, he’s a man whose lifetime
pursuits helped solve one of the greatest issues faced by watchmakers.
These innovations have proved to be of use in a wide range of
micromechanical and electronic applications.
His story ties in to this week’s ‘tool’ of the
week. It isn’t really a tool at all, but rather something you use to
help ward off the devilish force that plagues all things mechanical –
Watchmakers knew of the importance of lubrication early on, but
none had the time nor the necessary background to solve the problems
associated with the oils used. The first oils used were a mixture of
animal, vegetable and mineral oils. Such oils have very good lubrication
properties but suffer from poor oxidisation stability. That is, they tend
to thicken and gum up in a short period of time. Stabilisers were developed
to help prolong the decay process but not enough to be sufficient to be
used in a watch.
large mechanisms, parts tend to operate at a relatively slow speed and high
pressures prevail throughout. The parts are usually bathed in oil
which is replaced at regular intervals. The spread of oil isn’t
usually a problem.
Watches have almost the exact opposite properties: they operate
at extremely fast speeds; low pressures prevail throughout; oil spread
is a problem; they’re serviced at long, irregular
watchmaker himself, Hermann Moebius was acutely aware of the need for a
lubricant specific to micro-mechanisms. In 1855 he founded his company
‘Moebius’ and set about developing the perfect oil,
systematically testing oils with a multitude of different properties and
selling them on to other watchmakers.
His efforts didn’t go unnoticed and he quickly acquired a
strong following. The product of his research solved many of the problems
of classic oils and remains in use to this day. From a chemical point of
view, the ‘oil’ he developed doesn’t have anything in
common with classic oils – it’s a type of synthetic
Today’s ‘tool’ helps solve the problem of
spread. Getting oil to stay put when the surface area is small or
geometrically awkward can be a real challenge. Developed by the company
Hermann Moebius founded over 150 years ago, this liquid is a surface
coating, a type of liquid plastic that acts as a glue for
use it on parts which “work hard”: pallets jewels, auto
rotor wheels and rotor bearings.
Its use is simple: the part need only be dipped in the solution,
leaving an invisible film over the part which helps retain oil at these
And every time we use Fixodrop, we honour the legacy of Hermann
Mobeius, the man who solved one of the most challenging problems of modern