Friday, August 26, 2016

Tool of the Week: Moebius FIXODROP

***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 – friction.

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.

In 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 intervals.

A 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 oil.

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 oil.

We 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 critical points.

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 horology.

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