F. A.’s Legacy
What do a watch and
A man sits alone at a workbench. Before him lies an array of tweezers and miniature screwdrivers. Gazing through a jeweler’s loupe, he assembles a watch movement and sets it into a casing. This is the classic image of watchmaking that has etched itself into our minds. And this is in fact exactly what happens in many places.
Flexibility in production plays a key role in Zuffenhausen.
The Solothurn-based company might still be young, but
But what should the signature product from Solothurn look like? The young company turned to the studio in Zell am See for inspiration, where Roland Heiler carries on the legacy of F. A.
This was a straightforward matter for the designers but a tricky proposition for the constructors. “A simple axial bearing for the rocker switch was out of the question, because the axis would have intersected with the crown tube,” explains Bergmann. So the casing makers initially suggested a one-sided bearing. But this would have required a designated pressure point, and the rocker switch was also supposed to be flush with the casing and without any play when inactive. That’s not feasible for a one-sided bearing with these dimensions. “In situations like this, I like to pick up the phone and call Weissach,” says Bergmann with a mischievous smile. He was told that engine components subject to high mechanical loads always have double-sided bearings. On his request, Weissach proceeded to come up with an alternative construction. “I took it to our casing maker, and we quickly agreed that this was the better design,” recalls Bergmann. The solution created jointly by the racing and watchmaking specialists has now been patented. It resembles a rocker-arm system for controlling valves, although the rocker switch doesn’t operate valves. Instead, it operates studs that transmit the pressure of the wearer’s finger to the chronograph’s mechanics. A spring mechanism—analogous to a valve spring—returns the rocker switch to its neutral position. Seals on the shafts ensure that no water enters the casing.
The Swiss Chronofiable standard stipulates that chronographs have to survive at least three thousand operations. “But we followed the
The makers of
By Martin Häußermann
Photos by Rafael Krötz