Tagesschau (evening news, with respect to setting your watch)
The Tagesschau is the news program of the ARD (Consortium of German Public Broadcasting Services), which was founded in 1950. It is increasingly broadcast digitally and you cannot set your watch accurately by the time it tells you: For those who were used to setting their watches by the Tagesschau in the old days but who now have the latest digital technology at home, their time will be out by up to five seconds. When the Tagesschau clock on the television screen shows 20:00:00, it is actually already several seconds later. The blame lies with the conversion of television images received digitally in the modern receiving stations. This takes time that the good old analogue television signal didn’t need. The delay is longer with DVB-T (Digital Video Broadcasting-Terrestrial) than with DVB-S (Digital Video Broadcast-Satellite).
The teeter-motion rectifier, is a favorite NOMOS- designed part, visible through the back made out of sapphire crystal. It is not only a good conversation starter when you are waiting for the bus but also ensures that the rotor can wind the main spring in both directions. Thanks to the teeter-motion rectifier, just a few movements are enough to power the watch.
Telling the time
Alarm clocks, wristwatches and kitchen clocks show how much time has passed since 00.00. They do this by means of hands and numerals on the dial. The rotation of day and night is divided into countable parts; hours and minutes. However, the clock only displays twelve, not 24 hours. A clock with the usual two hands for hours and minutes therefore only works in conjunction with the sun. In general, by simply looking out the window you can easily determine whether “nine o’clock” means 9.00 am or 9.00 pm.
However, even this doesn’t work in places like Lapland, Siberia or Alaska in the deepest winter or the height of summer because it is either dark or light for almost the entire day.
Telling the time with the help of bells
Bell clocks state the time by bell chimes. This is what one calls half-hourly strokes of the clock on a ship. Although there have been modern clocks on board for a long time, the “bell strike” has been retained out of love for tradition and for reasons of practicality.
Previously, an hourglass was used, which had to be turned over every half hour. On some ships, candles were also used, which stood in tall glasses to protect them from the wind and to prevent the risk of fire. Small balls were added at regular intervals.
When a ball came into melting range, it fell into the glass and clacked; it clacked every half hour. After every eighth ball (four hours), the candle was burnt down – time to change watch and candle. The bell chimes, which today replace the clacking of the balls, not only signal the time but also the number of half hours that have passed since the watch began.
Three watches were traditionally held on German ships. A four hour-watch was followed by an eight-hour watch below. The watch begins at 0.00, 4.00, 8.00, 12.00, 16.00 and 20.00. Once half an hour has passed, this is signaled by a single strike; a whole hour is signalled by a double strike. Therefore, if you hear two double strikes and a single strike (= five bells) in the afternoon, it is 2.30 pm or 6.30 pm. One can usually use instinct to differentiate between the two. Therefore, you do not need a wristwatch on a ship.
Things that NOMOS customers most frequently complain about
NOMOS watches apparently tick quite accurately. They don’t break down very often and they make their wearers almost perfectly happy. In Glashütte at least, very, very few complaints are received. If there are any complaints, however, these are usually about the straps. These are made of ostrich leather or special Horween Shell Cordovan. The latter in particular is extremely hard-wearing, water resistant and allows the skin to breathe. Some wearers, however, complain that when you sweat heavily, it smells strange. Complaint number two: If the strap is subject to major fluctuations in temperature, it sometimes takes on a quite powdery appearance. This is not a defect, but is only a secretion of fat, which can easily be wiped off with a soft cloth.
The three-quarter plate is one of the structural components of the movement. It was first introduced in 1864 by Ferdinand Adolph Lange and is considered a typical feature of Glashütte watch manufacturers. The three-quarter plate forms the counterpart to the main plate. The train and the winding mechanism run between both these plates. Only the lever and the balance wheel are held by separate frame components. The name “three-quarter plate” indicates that this single piece covers approximately 75 per cent of the movement. Until 2003 this was different at NOMOS. Until then the winding mechanism and train were held by two individual plates.
Although this is easier for watchmakers to assemble, it also reduces the stability of the movement.
Ticking sounds in watches
Good watchmakers not only need good eyes and a steady hand, but they also need above average ears. Only those with good hearing can recognize if a watch isn’t ticking correctly, for example if something is wrong with the balance wheel.
If the ticking sound is far too loud, almost like a kind of clacking, one of the shanks of the balance wheel is hitting the spring stand or the regulator index. Very rarely, in addition to the normal ticking, a tinny, singing sound rings out: this is the case if the balance spring and centre wheel hit one another. If everything is OK, the watch ticks faultlessly and can be adjusted to the strict NOMOS standards on the timing
According to Albert Einstein, time is something you read off the clock. In general, time means the changes from the present to the past and the anticipated future to the present, which are experienced very differently; the continual progress within which all these changes take place. For physicists, time is a physical quantity that (normally) cannot be influenced. The precise investigation into measuring time at different places (simultaneity) led Einstein to his theory of relativity, in which the movement of a body is investigated in a “fourth dimensional space,” which he formally introduced and which includes space and time (space-time continuum). According to the theory, statements about time (time lapse, simultaneity) are relative, i.e. they always depend on the position of the observer and his movement relative to the observed object.
You can learn a lot about time travel. For example, in books (for example Rosendorfer/M. Mitchell: “Briefe in die chinesische Vergangenheit” (Letters Back to Ancient China) or Niffenegger: “The Time Traveler’s Wife”). You can also switch decades in the cinema (“The Time Machine” by H. G. Wells) or in contemporary art (as in the photographic work of Erik Niedling). Or you can simply travel to Glashütte, Saxony. In some respects, the clocks that are built in this town in the Eastern Erzgebirge region seem to stand still: you find relics of the former German Democratic Republic. People celebrate with 80s-themed parties. Pay agreements stipulating a 40-hour, not a 37.5-hour working week generally apply. And otherwise time here also has a different dimension, too. Minutes and hours stretch on and on, and even though it gets dark very early in the valley, the days are longer than in Dresden, Hamburg and Berlin.
It’s a fact: time can be calibrated. The timing machine is a measuring device which can determine from the ticking sound whether a mechanical watch is going fast or slow. A microphone records the ticking and determines the rate variation by comparing it with the reference clock in the timing machine. Modern equipment can reproduce the ticking as a dotted line. If the line is straight, the watch is accurate. If not, it has to be adjusted. The watchmaker can identify almost all inconsistencies from the deviations from the ideal line.
As the name suggests, pocket watches are put in trouser or jacket pockets. Usually they are placed in the same vertical position, which means the Earth’s gravitational force always has the same effect on the parts of the watch that determine the rate. So, depending on where the watch’s centre of gravity is, it goes fast or slow. But it shouldn’t. Therefore, in 1798, Abraham-Louis Breguet invented the tourbillon, which is French for “whirlwind.” In the tourbillon, the escapement, lever and balance wheel – in other words the complete oscillation and escapement system – form a tiny platform in a rotating frame, the “cage” sitting on the staff of the fourth wheel. If the fourth wheel rotates once a minute, the entire tourbillon – including the centre of gravity – rotates too. The influence of the Earth’s gravitational force is equalized and the watch runs more accurately.
Tourbillons have also been integrated into wristwatches for some time now. They are actually superfluous because our wrist is constantly moving. But it is amazing to look at a cage incessantly rotating around itself through a small opening in the dial. And expensive. The “Lange 1 Tourbillon” made from platinum costs around 91,000 euros, while the Patek Philippe “Sky Moon Tourbillon” watch made with 686 parts costs 628,889 euros.
Making a tourbillon whirl means weeks, months, or even years of work for the watchmaker. Almost all parts are made by hand and the finishing is also extremely time-consuming. Polishing the edges, surfaces, and decoration, and every single screw is turned by hand. Often, despite the large number of small parts, the “cage” has a diameter of only one centimeter and weighs less than half a gram. There are not many watchmakers who can have mastered this. But he who has made a tourbillon has reached the pinnacle of watchmaking.
In Glashütte, Alfred Hellwig made the first tourbillon in 1931/32. Today, NOMOS produces its own tourbillons.
Tour of the manufactory – dates and registration
Until further notice, tours of NOMOS will take place once per month, usually on a Monday at 1:00 pm. Information from Ute Fischer-Graf, Ferdinand-Adolph-Lange-Platz 2, D-01768 Glashütte, Tel. +49 3 50 53 4040, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Train station: NOMOS with private siding
The train station in Glashütte is no longer the mousy grey, shuttered up building it was until the beginning of 2005 but now gleams brightly with plenty of glass and artistic construction at the centre of the town: NOMOS renovated the building erected in 1937 and located on an area of about 600 square meters at the city’s main junction. Well over three years was spent in the planning phase, which was interrupted by the ↑ Flood of the Century. Then the construction phase lasted about another year. Now the house is the main fabrication and administration building for NOMOS. Floor space: some 1,200 square meters. Architects and structural engineers only assisted with the renovation; project management was carried out by the Düsseldorf artist Klaus Schmitt, who was a student of Uecker. With a sure sense of space and light, he boldly had the building rotated by 180 degrees without further ado. Today, what was once the station booking hall now houses production facilities.
A staircase to the gallery was built where a big freight elevator once stood. A glassed office is used as a conference room and is, so to speak, the head of NOMOS because this is where ideas come together. This office is located above the new entrance hall, directly across from Glashütte Original and Lange & Söhne. From here, with a view of our competitors, we can also conduct global observation of the competition.
The windows stirred up some upset amongst the historic preservationists who wished to preserve “the Heimatstil (homeland style) of 1937” because instead of the old bourgeois paned windows the new ones only have rails. Schmitt was not looking to preserve the Heimatstil of 1937: “Every period, except that one, deserves respect.” The artist was looking for openness, light and wished to “drive the mustiness out of the building.” Today the Glashütte railway station houses: the CNC, wire spark erosion and laser engraving machines; the service, bookkeeping and sales departments; and management and dispatch. In autumn 2008, NOMOS completed the building by purchasing the former signal tower and the arcade leading towards it. It now houses part of the NOMOS production.
Treaty of Versailles - and the consequences for Glashütte
The Treaty of Versailles stipulates that almost all large naval and trade ships had to be handed over to the allies. As a result, production of marine chronometers in Germany almost collapsed. This also had grave consequences for Glashütte: in 1923, there was 85 percent unemployment. Here, one US dollar cost 4.2 billion Reichsmark.
Tribology is the science that deals with friction and wear and tear. Over 200 years ago, Abraham-Louis Breguet is said to have put it in a nutshell: "Give me the perfect oil and I will give you a perfect watch movement." You see, Breguet had to mess around with natural oils, with oil from plants (olive oil) or from animals (neats-foot oil). Their lubricant properties are in fact outstanding, but they are anything but perfect for watch movements. This is because natural oils oxidize in the air or through contact with metal, and then the good lubrication properties quickly vanish. Synthetic oils have been used and constantly improved since 1950. Nevertheless, the fact that a watch needs to be serviced at least every three of four years is mainly due to lubrication. Even synthetic oil is no longer any good after this length of time and is replaced. Lubrication is just as important for a watch as it is for a bicycle or a car. If you drive the latter without oil, you will go 25 kilometers of you are lucky. Then the motor is ready for the scrap heap. You shouldn't do that to your watch. In the mechanical watch of the future, the movement will be made out of new materials and will work without lubricant. But until then, that's all just pie in the sky.