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is that an Appeal to Authority I hear?

October 19 2006 at 4:34 PM

ei8htohms  (Login ei8htohms)
AP Discussion Group


Response to Continuous vs. Running Minute Counter Chronos

 
Hi Jeff,

First off, I'm not sure we were discussing "whether continuous running minute counters on chronographs represent a simplified solution when compared to jumping minute counters".

Wait, let me step back. First off, I'm not sure why you insist on incorrectly identifying semi-instantaneous minutes counters as jumping minutes counters. There are already perfectly appropriate and proper names for both semi-instantaneous and jumping minutes counters and your insistence on confusing the point by misusing the terms is completely baffling.

So, I'm not sure we were discussing "whether continuous running minute counters on chronographs represent a simplified solution when compared to [semi-instantaneous] minute counters". Actually, what I was discussing was the assertion that a continuous minutes counter was "cheaper". To tell the truth, I don't even object to the idea so much as how it was phrased and the extent to which it misleads more than informs. Would it be equally fair to condemn the Blancpain in comparison to a Breguet Type XX because it a vertical clutch design is cheaper than a traditional horizontal clutch?

A vertical clutch is undeniably a simpler way to manufacture a chronograph (why do you think Seiko chose a vertical clutch design in 1969 (and met with such great success with the design I might add!)?), but it's also more functional and reliable in a host of other ways, making the statement that it's "cheaper" a little absurd even. This is basically what I was objecting to in the first place.

For some reason I find it a little difficult to engage in a debate with the second-hand comments of anonymous watch gurus. It's even more difficult when their comments are paraphrased out of context, but when they seem seem to make sweeping generalizations about the esteem in which a design detail is held, well, I'm just about stumped. Not completely however, so lets take a look at the comments as relayed.

"Held in lower esteem." Whatever. Let's move on.

"They are vastly easier to build, vastly easier to design." Hmm, I don't generally fault designs that are easy to build or design on that basis alone, and I'm guessing this anonymous "Dean" doesn't/didn't either. We can only assume that he/she was exhibiting the general tendency to believe that more expensive and classical solutions are more appropriate in very expensive watches. It's a position that does have some merit IMHO although it is pretty hard to defend in the specifics and, if taken as a guiding principle in design, results in some very bizarre evolutions and elaborations as far as engineering is concerned.

"Moreover they depart from classic design." Whatever. We are talking about vertical clutch chronographs, so let's not pretend that we're discussing classical watchmaking exactly or that this is a particularly relevant point in context.

I don't suppose you bothered to ask him/her about his/her feelings about the specific movements in question did you? It would be interesting to hear how he/she might've felt about the implication that the Patek Philippe movement is inferior to the Blancpain.

So let's grant that a continuous minutes counter may be less expensive to build than a semi-instantaneous minutes counter (bearing in mind that I believe that this statement is true in some specific instances but not instructive in the least as a generalization). It is also arugably more reliable (simpler designs generally are, you know, as a generalization), less parasitic to the mechanism where running precision/consistency is concerned and much better suited to being run continuously. Patek has made it clear that they intend for many of the wearers to run the chronograph continuously to use the sweep second hand for running seconds, so this makes the continuous minutes counter make a lot more sense for this reason alone.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a big fan of continuous minutes counters, especially when they are housed in a sub-dial. I find them much more difficult to read (excepet when they are centrally located with a much larger minutes track) personally. That said, I applaud the recent trend in movement design towards increased reliability and robustness above all and I think that was the guiding principle behind the continuous minutes counter in the Cal. 28-520. At least I absolutely refuse to allow that saving a few pennies was Patek's major motivator in that design decision in particular.

All by way of saying, I stand by my guns as well.

_john






 
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