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Monday, 14 January 2019 21:28

The 1956 Invention of the Micro-rotor

The advent of the self-winding watch ushered in a new age of design in watches. It also increased the thickness of watches. In most designs, the rotor was concentric with the movement, and stacked below the gears. But there was a way to limit the increase in thickness, as Universal Perret Freres (later Universal Geneve) said eloquently in their 1956 patent application:

According to a primary feature of our invention, the rocking weight has its axis arranged eccentrically with that of the watch and it is arranged in superposition with the winding mechanism above the watch plate within the space left free on the latter by the mainspring, the movement and the balance wheel while the total height of said weight and winding mechanism is at least approximately equal to that of the movement.

This concept, of having the rotor co-planar with (at least part of) the movement, is what we now know as a micro-rotor. This patent (really, this one is worth a read) goes into some depth as the problems with alternative low-height winding mechanisms. 

The micro-rotor is still something of a niche item, but it's very interesting to see a patent describing it as early as the mid 50s.

Published in Patents