Apple Invent The Mechanical Watch

The Apple Watch has been on the market for long enough that its earlier iterations are now unsupported. Where some see little more than e-waste others see an opportunity, as has [NanoRobotGeek] with this mechanical watch conversion on a first-generation model.

What makes this build so special is its attention to detail. Into the Apple Watchcase has gone a Seiko movement, but it hasn’t merely been dropped into place. It uses the original Apple watch stem which is offset, so he’s had to create a linkage and a tiny pulley system to transfer the forces from one to the other. The rotor is custom-machined with am Apple logo, and the new watch face is a piece of laser-cut and heat treated zirconium. Even the watch movement itself needed a small modification to weaken the stem spring and allow the linkage to operate it.

The build is a long one with many steps, and we’re being honest when we say it would put our meager tiny machining skills to an extreme test. Sit down and take your time reading it, it really is a treat. Apple Watches may head to the tip after five years, but not this one!

See more in the video below the break, and of course long-time readers may remember we’ve considered the Apple Watch versus mechanical watches before.

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Watch Winder Keeps Your Timepieces Ticking

Mechanical watches are triumphs of engineering on a tiny scale. Capable of keeping time by capturing the energy of the user’s own movements, they never need batteries changed. Unfortunately, they quickly lose time when not worn for a few days. To solve that problem, [sblantipodi] built a smart watch winder.

The overall build consists of six individual winder units. Each one has an ESP8266EX D1 Mini microcontroller, hooked up to a 28BYJ48 stepper motor with a ULN2003 motor driver. There’s also an OLED screen for status information. When commanded, the stepper motor turns, rotating a watch case to wind the timepieces.¬†Control is via voice command, thanks to a Google Home Mini and a Raspberry Pi running Home Assistant. Watches can be wound individually, or all together, depending on the command given.

It’s a device that would serve any collector well, and could come in handy for watchmakers to wind customer watches waiting for pickup. Other similar builds have used special silent drives to ensure the device doesn’t disturb sleep when used on a bedside table. Video after the break.

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Silent Stepper Drive Makes A Nicer Watch Winder

Mechanical watches are great in that they never need batteries, but they are simultaneously less than great in that they will lose time if not worn or otherwise regularly agitated. The ridiculous solution to this is the watch winder, which automatically rotates your mechanical watches for you, while you’re not wearing them. This is probably the item you’ll miss the least once the apocalypse hits. [Kristopher] wanted a nice quiet watch winder for his bedside table, but existing solutions were either too loud or too expensive. As is often the case, hacking ensued.

[Kristopher] had decided that starting from scratch was too much hassle. The cheaper watch winders on the market had acceptable quality enclosures, but were simply too loud. [Kristopher] sourced a $40 unit from Amazon, and proceeded to gut the drivetrain. This was replaced with a Sparkfun stepper motor and a Trinamic SilentStepStick – an advanced stepper motor driver that uses several techniques to reduce noise during operation.

An Arduino Nano was substituted as the brains of the operation, communicating with the stepper driver and allowing the winder to be configured for different wind rates. [Kristopher] reports that the device operates near-silently, and the total cost came in well below that of a high-end luxury winder.

Mechanical watches don’t always get a lot of attention these days, but we’ve seen one built from the ground up before.¬†As always, with tips – send ’em if you got ’em.

Zenith’s New Watch Oscillator Is Making Waves

Swiss watchmaker Zenith has created what many mechanical watch fanatics are calling the biggest improvement to mechanical watch accuracy since the invention of the balance spring in 1675. The Caliber ZO 342 is a new type of harmonic oscillator that runs at 15 Hz, which is almost four times the speed of most watches. The coolest part? It’s fabricated out of silicon using Deep Reactive Ion Etching (DRIE), and it single-handedly replaces about 30 components.

Before explaining how Zenith’s oscillator works and why this is such exciting news, it’s important to understand why the balance spring and balance wheel were such a big step forward when they were the newest thing. The system was invented by [Christiaan Huygens], a Dutch mathematician and scientist. [Huygens] had previously invented the pendulum clock, which is widely accepted as the first precision timepiece.

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