Mechanical Watch's Fight Against Magnetism

Mechanical Watch's Fight Against Magnetism

Postby koimaster » August 1st 2017, 12:47pm

Magnetism has been the mechanical timekeeping’s nemesis through the years. It is to the mechanical watch, what Prof. Moriarty is to Sherlock Holmes. Though the watch industry has responded to this threat with many innovations through the years, we’ve always been asked this question by readers and budding watch enthusiasts – just how real is the threat of magnetic fields in our daily lives?

Before we set out to answer that questions, let's examine what happens to a mechanical watch when it is exposed to a magnetic field. The simple truth is that certain parts of the escapement like the balance wheel and hairspring get magnetized on such exposure. For example, the concentric circles of the hairspring may bunch together thus leading to friction. This could ultimately affect the escapement’s amplitude and accuracy. In most cases, once the magnetic field is moved away, the watch might start running as normal again but in the case of a particular strong magnetic field, it may stop working altogether. ... -magnetism


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Re: Mechanical Watch's Fight Against Magnetism

Postby MKTheVintageBloke » August 1st 2017, 5:19pm

The part about the first anti-magnetic pocket watches and wristwatches is quite a popular theory, regurgitated by every article concerning magnetism and watches, but it is also... Well, I'm tempted to say that it's a load of bollocks, but while there is evidence to the contrary, it is not quite common- so, to some extent, I tend to go easy on it every time I see it published on any watch site. Then again, the authors of these articles tend to unknowingly perpetuate misconceptions, so...

First anti-magnetic pocket watches (one-off pieces or fairly small production batches) date to the 1880s-1890s. I've seen some American PWs from that period, marked "anti-magnetic" alright... Certainly I've seen one on WUS- will do a bit of digging in old F11 threads, hope I'll find it, and if I do, I'll post it here.

As to the first anti-magnetic wristwatch, Tissot's claim isn't exactly true- they were surely the first to introduce the first such wristwatch to be mass-made, but there appear to have been such wristwatches from other makers (for example Roamer) made around the same time, but given that no exact date can be placed on these, it's not sure if they predate the Tissot Antimagnetique, or were they launched at the same time as the Tissot. Or, for that matter, were they regular production models...

Also, the term "amagnetic" used to describe the Tissot in the article isn't exactly accurate. Amagnetic means completely immune to magnetism, and while the Tissot Antimagnetique can stand stuff like car doors, fridges, loudspeakers (at least from my experience with three Antimags that I own, they can withstand that), and therefore it indeed has some level of protection against magnetism, it is certainly not amagnetic.
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