Clock Movement MatsClock-1077

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Clock Movement

What is Clock Movement? This is a question many people ask. In the old times you could buy the clock movement along with the hour, minute and seconds needles separately and the protective case also separately. So you buy the clock movement or machinery of your choice and put it inside a jewel studden decorative outter case with the clock movement or only the clock needles visible outside. The clock movement came in only a few standard sizes and the buyer had the choice of any clock movement he likes and the insert it into the clock case of his choice. Those days the clock or watches were hung around the neck or placed inside your coat pocket. Today, the clock movement is already enclosed inside its case which is fully water resistant along with a strap in case of wrist watches and in case of wallclocks there is no mechanical clock movement because they are fully electronic except the clock needles.


Mechanical Clock Movement

Today, we do not use mechanical clock movement anymore because the clock needles are powered by a small 1.5 volt battery and electronics which rotate the clock needle based on the frequency of a quartz crystal. But the clock movement in its mechanical form before this technolocy was usually made of a number of small and big brass gears with intermeshing tooth. These gears were moved by an oscillator. The oscillator in a grandfather clock could be a pendulum which swings to move the mechanical clock movement needles. When you buy a wallclock, you should look for the specifications where the type of clock movement is mentioned as quartz or machine type clock movement



Clock Movement Power Source

But the pendulum will not swing for ever due to friction and air resistance. So there is a steel spring which is to be wound and may last for over 8 days before it unwinds completely. Some of these grandfather clock used two huge weights which are lifted to a height with a cord and pully arrangement to store gravitational energy instead of a spring. The weight will keep coming down and will keep the pendulum swinging for many days. Today when you buy grandfather clocks they mostly run on battery. This means you need to buy them regularly. The battery power required to keep a huge pendulum swinging and the frictional forces in a mechanical clock movement would have been phenominal if a spring or weight was not used. In some cases sand and even water was used to power the swinging pendulum which inturn powers the clock movement.


Clock Movement - Wrist Watch

As people started wearing watches on their wrists to see time easily rather than keeping the clock movement in a jewel case inside their pockets which was cumbersome to take out open the lid to see time and put it back. Wrist watches were miniature clock movements in a steel case with a hard glass on top instead of the metalic lid. Also, this enclosed clock movement now called wrist watches being seen outside always became a style statement. Thus the earlier wrist watch designs started getting smaller and smaller and manufacturing clock movements for small light weight wrist watches became a full fledge industry that survives even today when people are refering time on their mobile watches. Initially the power source for wrist watch was a spring that could be wound using a small knob on the side of the steel casing that was directly connected to the clock movement. But as small cheap battery lasting for upto 3 years came in, the clock movement spring and winding knobs gave way to electrical power from batteries.


Automatic Clock Movement Watches

Clock movement needs a power source to run. Battery is an excellent idea, but may run out when you do not expect and you can't see time. But mechanical spring and winding knob is a better idea. You just have to wind the watch a few times and the clock movement continues to work. But the problem here was that the small spring needs winding every day and some lazy people forgot to wind it. So the clock movement inside their clock stopped. This made them wake up very late in the morning and got a dressing down in their office. This is when some smart companies started manufacturing a wrist watch that has an automatic winding mechanism which keeps winding the spring just by the user wearing the watch. Every movement of the wrist would wind the watch spring that powers the clock movement.



How Automatic Clock Movement Work

Amazingly, the automatic clock movement was invented very early, probably in 1773 as reported by newspapers. The automatic winding of the main spring that powers the clock movement is mainly a heavy circular half plate mounted in the center of the clock movement which free to point downwards always due to gravity. This weight is connected through some gears to the main spring. Every time the user moves the clock or wrist watch, the heavy half circular plate will reposition itself to point vertically downwards. Thus every movement or even small vibration would wind the spring little by little. But there is a safety mechanism in place that makes the spring lose once it fully wound and will engage once again as the spring starts to unwind. This was the ultimate invention for all lazy people who did not want to wind their wrist watches and spend money buying batteries to power their clock movement.


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