To be perfectly honest with you, the novelty of making the most perfect regulator gear wore off pretty quickly. While the machining process is painfully slow - and painfully expensive - the end result is predictable: each wheel is identical to the previous one down to a couple of microns. Yes, we are dreaming the dream of every horologist who has lived in the past 500 years. But perfection, without imagination, is simply boring.
On Wednesday Andrew and myself were just about to cut the last spoke, and we started thinking about how to design a recess which will accept a power maintaining spring. Traditionally, the spring itself is just an unattractive steel wire hidden behind the gear.
"I am sure we can do better than that, my boy" was enough to kick the young apprentice’s mind into gear.
"What if we make the spring out of brass? What if we design it to become an integral part of the wheel itself?" He asked.
"Sure - but why stop there?" I replied. "Let’s make it in the shape of a little sea monster who will hold the return pin in his mouth".
We argued a bit whether the sea monster had ears, does our mystical creature look more like a worm or a caterpillar, while Josh poured cold water on the idea by pointing out that brass has a very poor elasticity memory and our spring is not going to work at all.
But it did.
It worked brilliantly: it fired up the most important tool we have - our imagination.
We can all clearly see that every regulator clock we are going to make will have a small, imperfect hand-filed and hand-finished "living" mystical creature in it; a dragon or a rabbit, perhaps a snake or a lizard, which will live inside the perfect mechanism like a little clock guardian.
As crazy as it sounds, I wonder why in 500 years of gear cutting has no-one thought of this?