From 1910 to 1920, the Swiss industry had hunches on where the market for timekeepers would lead them: pocket watches or the new craze, wristwatches. In what we call the “conversion era” Swiss watchmakers basically rotated their pocket watches by 90 degrees, added lugs and voilà: here is your wristwatch.
But by doing so, watches were now confronted with a new issue: the movement of your wrist. As you move your wrist, due to centrifugal (or inversely centripetal) forces, balance wheels have a tendency to go faster (more precisely have a larger amplitudes) or inversely. Thus affecting the accuracy of the watch.
As usual with François-Paul Journe, this idea had been on his mind for some time. As far back as 1984 he attempted to confront the issue with his 1st resonance watch.
FP attempted to include this system in a wristwatch, inspired by his masters (in this case Antide Janvier and Abraham Louis Breguet who made 6 pendulum clocks using the resonance phenomenon. One Janvier clock is in Mr. Journe’s office, another one is at the Patek Philippe Museum), What is resonance? It is an acoustic principle. Put a watch to your ear and you hear a tick tock. Energy has been released in an acoustic form. It makes the air vibrate until your ear membrane absorbs it and gives your brain the information.
There is an emitter (the watch movement) and a receiver (your ear). So the tick tock is proof of energy being released but not used. In the Chronomètre à Résonance, you have a double movement with 2 balance wheels that are both emitters and receivers. It is a law of physics that when 2 sources produce energy, if they are on the same frequency, they will communicate. Each “talks” and each “listens”. And nature makes it that they balance each other in opposition.
In real life, what happens? If a truck passes nearby creating a lot of noise, or if there is a shock, the vibration will modify the balance of the escapement. As the energy received by both balance wheels are in opposition, one will go faster, one slower. As they “resonate” they will balance each other. THEREFORE NULLIFYING THE SHOCK/PERTUBATION.
To quote Jack Forster in his article “In Plain Sight: Revealing The Secrets Of F.P. Journe’s Chronomètre à Résonance (2014)” the Resonance is constructed along exactly these principles [those explained in George Daniels’ book: The Art of Breguet, P-76]. The balances are free-sprung (with no regulator) and regulation is through the use of weights to vary the inertia of the balances. As with Breguet’s resonance pocket watches, the adjustable masses used for regulation are inside the rim of the balance (in the case of Journe’s watches, on the arms.) Breguet’s notes on pendulum clocks are detailed and he notes that the two oscillators have to be closely regulated to each other for a resonance effect to occur.” How close? If you pay attention to the movement on the left, you have a screw that can be adjusted to bring closer (or further) the two balance wheels.
Note also, that with all F.P. Journe watches the balance wheels have the weights on the outside for ergonomic reasons, but in the case of the Resonance, there was no other way.
Also, when one moves one’s wrist, one balance wheel will go faster while the other one will go slower. As they “resonate”, they will readjust themselves and therefore compensate for the movement. Making the Resonance the only true wristwatch. As Lavoisier said: “In nature nothing is created, nothing is lost, everything changes.”
The second hands (as seen below) will always show the same position.
Because there is a double movement, it allows the user to set two different times on each of the dials. There is much debate on what makes a watch a true world timer. Obviously the resonance offers much more than a GMT (which only partitions time in 1 hour increment over 24 hours). But many countries never adhered the 1884 Washington conference (International Meridian conference). Countries such as Australia have a ½ hour increment. Nepal is UTC +5:45!
Here you may set 2 different times that are totally independent. Except that their seconds will be in sync.
Read also our previous insider’s look: