A Guide To The Hairspring, A Crucial Part Of The Movement (Technology, Manufacturing Process, Future Developments)

By rolex
April 5, 2021
7 min read

Sprung to life: who makes Hairsprings? An industry viewpoint on this key component whose creation is as yet covered in mystery – Barely one centimeter in width, the hairspring is the thumping heart of a watch development. It is an essential component in a few regards. Manufacturing hairsprings is a complex cycle and the entire Swiss watch industry has been depending on one provider, Swatch Group’s Nivarox… in any event, until very recently!

Christian Huygens is credited (by common agreement) with the creation of the principal development with an equilibrium haggle in 1675. From that point forward, the standards of the managing organ of the watch have changed practically nothing. The escapement offers driving forces to the equilibrium wheel. Consequently, it is controlled by the equilibrium. The motions of the equilibrium wheel direct the progression of time: each swing of the equilibrium permits the gear train to propel a set sum. Its job is like that of a pendulum in a clock. The very dainty curled hairspring guarantees that the equilibrium swings to and fro at a steady frequency.

The condition of the industry

Nivarox (a company of the Swatch Group) has for some time been the certain provider of hairsprings and arrangements (escapement/controller) for the Swiss watch industry. It stayed the primary provider to a great extent on the grounds that no other firm arose that could offer comparable quality at a competitive cost and with a similar creation limit. This predominant position be that as it may, and the combination sourcing challenges which emerged during the blast of the business in the mid 2000s, prompted the formation of option sources.

To be autonomous from Swatch Group, Rolex was one of the main players to build up a full in-house creation ability for hairsprings. Following over five years of innovative work, the primary Parachrom hairsprings went into creation in the mid 2000s. Parachrom is a composite of niobium and zirconium, with an oxide covering. The name combines “paramagnetic” along with “chrome” (Greek for shading). One of the fundamental preferences of the Parachrom hairspring are its non-attractive properties, in addition to it is more exact when exposed to stuns in comparison to ferromagnetic alloys.

Although completely operational much later, Richemont has likewise fabricated creation ability for hairsprings. Like Rolex, it involved acquiring freedom for the watchmaking force to be reckoned with. The creation was started in Germany with A. Lange & Söhne and Switzerland with Jaeger-LeCoultre. The coordination of Roger Dubuis gave another source. Montblanc-Minerva additionally produces hairsprings albeit not at mechanical scale (essentially for tourbillons and barrel shaped hairsprings). Today, Valfleurier (Richemont’s common modern community) is the principle maker for the gathering. Not all Richemont developments are fitted with exclusive hairsprings however the mastery and limit appear to be adequate to guarantee autonomy.

Atokalpa, a piece of the watchmaking bunch possessed by the Sandoz Family establishment (along with Parmigiani Fleurier and Vaucher specifically), was among the first to start an arrangement to fabricate hairsprings in the mid 2000s. Today, Atokalpa produces more than 200,000 arrangements each year for Vaucher and outsiders, autonomous watchmakers yet in addition enormous players like Tag Heuer. It is today quite possibly the main options in contrast to Nivarox, having both the modern limit and the aptitude/adaptability to create and make complex items in short arrangement (Rolex or Richemont don’t offer to third parties).

Concepto, a development provider situated in La Chaux-de-Fonds, additionally produces hairspring. These are fitted in their own developments despite the fact that they still likewise use Nivarox. They additionally supply to outsider brands. As per CEO Valérien Jaquet, its creation would be some place in the scope of 100,000 units for every year.

Precision Engineering AG, an autonomous auxiliary of H. Moser & Cie. (a piece of the Meylan Group), is the third critical creator of hairsprings for outsiders. Its creation is of 55,000 combinations each year. Precision Engineering AG was established in 2001 as a side project of Straumann SA (the company mastery goes as far back as 1930 with the innovation at that point licensed by Reinhard Straumann). In 2016, Precision Engineering AG introduced another compound; PE500. This amalgam, comprised of niobium and titanium has an incredible liking for oxygen. It is introduced as paramagnetic and stun safe with the upside of permitting adjustments.

The little circle of companies manufacturing (conventional) hairspring additionally includes:

  • The Festina Group that comprises a few watch and adornments marks yet additionally modern exercises, specifically development maker Soprod. Likewise, the Miguel Rodriguez-drove bunch as of late took over Technotime that additionally produces hairsprings, before the company went bankrupt.
  • Bovet makes arrangements in spite of the fact that as far as anyone is concerned uniquely for its own needs.
  • E2O development, the sister company of Schwarz Etienne fits the brand’s developments with exclusive hairsprings and is presently working for third parties.

For more insights concerning the entire directing organ of the watch (balance, materials, tourbillon, change) and furthermore the overcoil of the hairspring – including the popular Breguet type – you can check our specialized article about controlling organs here .

Silicon

For quite a while now, silicon has been genuinely reforming customary watchmaking. Hard-wearing, light, strong, hostile to attractive, thermally steady and with superb flexible properties, silicon presents remarkable properties to fabricate hairsprings. Notwithstanding, this innovation is accessible to a set number of companies just, which isn’t the situation for other silicon components.

The first silicon hairspring was introduced by Ulysse Nardin on account of Sigatec, a joint endeavor with Mimotec, which works in silicon miniature components. The brand has built up a one of a kind skill in the field. Then again, Rolex, Patek Philippe and the Swatch Group worked together in a joint improvement with CSEM. They licensed the innovation which was the explanation of a debate with Sigatec. An understanding between all gatherings was found (in spite of the fact that its terms were not revealed in 2013).

However, the CSEM patent will terminate in 2021 and the innovation will become accessible. Normally, a few companies (for example Atokalpa) are in this manner exploring and assembling skill in the field of silicon hairspring manufacturing. Other high-tech materials have been utilized to fabricate hairsprings, albeit the creation stays restricted starting today. For instance, the Cartier idea watches ID-One and ID-Two are fitted with hairsprings produced using Zerodur©, a innovative glass-clay composite.

At Baselworld 2017, Zenith uncovered its Defy 21, with hairsprings made of a carbon-based composite fortified with carbon nanotubes that has been protected by LVMH, Zenith’s parent company. At LVMH, under the aegis of Jean-Claude Biver, the road to dominate this watch component is that of advancement. The gathering states that it is contributing significantly to build up their creation and that the manufacturing offices are being set up under LVMH Suisse Manufacture.

Unconventional oscillators

Beyond the conventional equilibrium haggle, “eccentric” oscillators have been introduced by watchmakers. Lately, along with the advancement of new escapements and the possibilities offered by silicon, these oscillators have had the option to arrive at higher frequencies to improve precision or to diminish the energy utilization of the development. Among these, the furthest down the line advancements to supplant the conventional twisting spring incorporate the TAG Heuer excitatory edge framework with direct oscillator fit in the Mikrogirder, acoustic resonators for De Bethune and the creative offset with adaptable cutting edges of the Parmigiani-Genequand escapement… and we expect news from Zenith in this regard very soon so stay tuned!