EMC – Close-up on an extraordinary balance
Geneva - January 2014
After breaking the codes of conventional time displays, URWERK is bursting onto the subdued world of chronometry with a bang. Always true to itself, URWERK researches, questions, and innovates, even if it means upsetting the established status quo. And this project, long in the pipeline, has now culminated in the revolutionary EMC – Electro Mechanical Control. Here, EMC – the first mechanical watch that enables the timing to be both measured and adjusted by its owner – reveals some of the secrets of its creation.
Now over to its creators.
Felix Baumgartner – master watchmaker and co-founder of URWERK
"With EMC, we have found a way to decrypt the language of a mechanical watch and make this language understandable to all. To do so, we have integrated a type of optical ‘Big Brother’ inside the watch. On demand and in real time, it monitors the balance frequency and converts this measurement into seconds gained or lost per day.
To achieve this, we had to reinvent the balance wheel to make it ‘readable’ for our optical sensor. We took advantage of this requirement to completely revisit this critical component. The balance wheel, unlike most watch components, has undergone amazing evolution through the ages, to arrive at three arms and timing adjustment screws. We focused our research on the aerodynamics of the balance to harness its full potential. We performed material, profiling and stability tests in order to achieve the optimum result: A linear balance, perfectly poised to minimize power loss."
Dominique – Head of the U-Research Division and engineer trained at the Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (ETHZ)
"We conducted research for nearly three years to optimize the performance of our balance. We focused our work on factors such as fluid dynamics, turbulence and air resistance. All these disrupt the timing rate of a conventional balance wheel.
By eliminating the regulating screws from the balance wheel and working on its aerodynamics, we designed a one-piece component with near-flawless fluidity. We computer modeled our in-house balance and studied its reactions. The results were more than convincing. Once we had our virtual solution, all we had to do was materialize it."
Rolland – URWERK watchmaker in charge of the EMC movement
“Our balance takes the form of a perfectly linear cylinder, crafted to enable its oscillations to be optically captured. This very special component is machined in our own workshops. I admit that when I first saw the initial technical drawings, I was disconcerted. Any traditional watchmaker could not help but be staggered by such a component.
The first difficulty was the lack of regulating screws. Our in-house balance is non-adjustable and so cannot withstand any imprecision. The wheel needs to be hand-finished. You need to remove material to compensate for the optical capture cut-away; but remove too much and it becomes a reject so it takes a lot of time and concentration to fabricate. The second challenge lies in fitting the balance-spring. This is a crucial and delicate stage; not a time for a trembling hand. But when I see the heart of the EMC beating, my eyes savor the reward for a job well done.”
EMC – Technical specifications
Material: Titanium and steel
Dimensions: 43mm width, 51mm length, 15.8mm height
Crystal: Sapphire crystal
Water resistance: Pressure tested to 30m / 3ATM
Finishing: satin finish; shot-blasting
Calibre UR-EMC calibre conceived, developed and manufactured by URWERK
Escapement Swiss lever escapement
Balance wheel in ARCAP P40, linear balance coupled to the optical sensor
Frequency 28,800 vph – 4Hz
Balance spring Flat
Energy source Vertically mounted double mainspring barrels, connected in series
Power reserve 80 hours
Winding Manual winding
Finishing: Côtes de Genève, snailing, micro-bead blasting, polished bevels on screw heads
Generator Maxon® generator with manual winding charging super capacitor
EMC system Optical sensor controlled by an integrated circuit board ; 16'000'000hz reference oscillator
Indications Hours, minutes, seconds; precision delta, power reserve. Timing adjustment screw
Ms Yacine Sar
Direct line: +41 22 900 20 27
Mobile: +41 79 834 46 65