December 12, 2002
"Eternal" Power Developed by U.S. Watchmaker
U.S. watchmaker Steven Phillips patented a power supply for mechanical watches that requires only small changes in temperature to keep the watch in continual operation.
The first of its kind for mechanical watches, the power system is called "Eternal Winding System," and will be placed in several watches made by Phillips at his company, Budapest Watch Co., Guilford, CT.
Under development since early 2000, and granted a worldwide patent late this year, the watch and the power supply join as the first fully mechanical wristwatch that requires neither winding nor wearing to operate.
While several Japanese manufacturers offer watches that use temperature variations to operate quartz (non-mechanical) movements, Phillips says he is the first to develop the technology for a mechanical watch movement.
Similar to a mechanical thermostat, where a metal coil expands and contracts depending on the air temperature, Phillips developed a metallic coil with proprietary components so sensitive they will expand or contract at the slightest temperature variation. The movement of this coil, whether expanding or contracting, is transferred to a mainspring, the heart of a mechanical watch.
"Since there is no stopping the power, this system is well suited for perpetual watches," says Phillips, who makes the watches by hand. Phillips says the first watches using the new technology will premier at the Basel Show 2003, April 3-10. Details are in current issues of International Wristwatch magazine, a U.S.-based watch publication for consumers, www.internationalwristwatch.com. Later this month, details will be available at www.budapestwatch.com.
by Michael Thompson