Swiss luxury watchmaker Patek Philippe has created what it calls a technological advance for mechanical wristwatches: a thinner balance spring of a silicon-based material, which increases the precision of mechanical movements and allows for thinner timepieces. The innovation was unveiled in January and is on display this month at BaselWorld, the international watch, clock, and jewelry fair in Basel, Switzerland.
Basically, Patek Philippe’s new balance spring significantly improves the isochronism (literally, “same time”) of a mechanical wristwatch, that is, its ability to maintain accurate timekeeping whether fully wound or not.
The innovative material, operation, and design of Patek Philippe’s patented Spiromax spring are much different from conventional springs. They also can be made three times thinner than standard springs, allowing for ultrathin mechanical movements.
According to the Swiss reports, the silicon-based material used for the spring was jointly developed by the watchmaker, a Swiss research institute, and others in the Swiss watchmaking industry, under a confidentiality agreement.
The first watch with a Spiromax balance spring (a limited edition) was debuted officially by the Geneva watchmaker at the 2006 BaselWorld.
The new balance spring follows on another patented technical advance Patek Philippe unveiled in 2005: the first anchor escapement wheel of monocrystalline silicon, which is lighter and harder than steel and resists wear. Antimagnetic and corrosive-resistant, it transfers energy more efficiently to the balance and doesn’t need lubrication.