***The Fundamentals of Horology
have reached a point where I simply have to beg you for
Please bear with me and allow me to
present my case.
Lesson 4 is not only the most important
piece of 'knowledge' I
can share with you but it deals with the very foundation
Everything you will learn about watches and timekeeping
from now on hinges
around it and if you don't understand it properly you
will never be able to
create 'the big picture' - you will wander around,
jumping from watch to
watch, from forum to forum, gathering bits of knowledge
here and there, yet
unable to complete the puzzle.
However, if you
understand the very core, everything else will
fall in place, effortlessly.
will keep it as brief as possible.
Suppose I am a Christian
and I was asked by someone who never
heard about Christianity to explain in one sentence the
3 pivotal, most
important, fundamental parts of my beliefs.
offer this as an answer: An everlasting and omnipotent
God created the
world, sent his son to redeem humans and he will return
to take us all to
heaven. (If you are Christian you would probably agree
with this, and your
answer would be very similar to mine).
Now, if you ask me to
define what horology is all about, and to
present my case in one sentence, then my answer is this:
From the earliest days of
history, humans have been desperately
trying to master time: to measure it and record it as
precisely and as
accurately they can, undertaking one of the most
exciting scientific and
engineering challenges on which they have spent enormous
amount of time and
effort to achieve it.
There are 3 crucial
moments in the history of
Improvement of timekeeping of clocks by the application
was the Dutch scientist, Christiaan Huygens who, in
1656, first attached
the pendulum to a clock mechanism.
By this ingenious
marriage (clock + pendulum) the timekeeping of clocks
was improved from 4-5
minutes per day to 1 second per month. This was an
history-changing event and until the 1930s precision
clocks were the most
accurate timekeepers known to humans.
that clocks had already been around for hundreds of
years, and the pendulum
had been around for thousands of years, but it was
Huygens who put the two
together and enabled humans to master time at an
The second most important horological event was
watchmakers ability to
create a portable clock which would be as accurate as
order to achieve that, a new heart (mechanical
oscillator) had to be
invented and then improved. A number of watchmakers
achieved this almost
simultaneously in the late 1700s / early 1800s with the
creation of the
ship chronometer. This portable marine clock allowed
humans to navigate the
sea, to reach every corner of the world (and return home
The ship chronometer was really the global
(GPS) of the time, a truly revolutionary milestone in
the history of
horology. Your mechanical wrist watch is an indirect
descendant of this
The third crucial achievement happened in 1949 when
humans created the
heart of the atomic clock.
The atomic clock took
timekeeping and precision measurement to an
exponentially new level. With
our ability to measure time at this unprecedented level,
we reached the
moon and started solving mysteries of the Universe. The
atomic clock opened
a new era of human development and, in a way, we've
become masters of our
there you go my watch enthusiasts. From now on,
everything you learn about
horology will relate to these 3 pivotal events. The more
you understand the
importance of these events, and the technical
development and engineering
challenges around them, the less you will focus on a
particular brand of a
watch, the colour of the dial, or a sales-pitch by an
"authorized dealer". Actually, most watch dealers, shop
forum guys and your fellow collectors are not even aware
of the very
foundation of horology or can name a single crucial
above. But you now are, and you can name all 3 of them.
Every wrist watch you look at or consider buying would
either fit in this big picture - or not.
TO DO: visit the exhibition on ships chronometers at the
Australian National Maritime Museum.
This is about the fundamental point 2 on
my list so is absolutely
Once again, I am dead serious: if you want
to put your name down
for my rebelde watch but you cannot name the 3 most
horological events then you are just kidding yourself.
Fill in the blanks:
The first horological pivotal event was
reached when Dutch
scientist Huygens improved timekeeping of clocks by
The second major event
was the invention of the ________________
which enabled navigation at sea.
The final leap in human
ability to measure time precisely was the
invention of the ___________ clock.