Project title: New Compliant Oscillator for Wristwatch Timekeeping

Supervisor: Dr Paul HooperJean Arnault

Traditional mechanical movements today use a high amplitude, low frequency escapement mechanism comprising a hairspring and a balance wheel. This Swiss lever escapement design can be traced back to Christiaan Huygens’ invention in 1675 and, although the technology used today has evolved (new materials, more efficient pivots and tighter tolerances) thanks to improvements to manufacturing techniques, the core principles remain unchanged. In this project sponsored by TAG Heuer, research and design was conducted to create a new, accurate and easy to manufacture oscillator for mechanical watches. This design uses flexible beams to oscillate at 40Hz in the horizontal direction resulting in much improved accuracies. Prototypes were developed and tested for potential positional, dimensional and thermal inaccuracies. Through the development of these prototypes, a series of manufacturing methods were tested such as popup folding and laser welding.