Cho­rus Line

All wAtches show the time, but A min­uterepeAter will tell you the hours And min­utes through chimes And melodic tunes

DA MAN - Caliber - - MECHANISM -

From sim­ple cuckoo clocks at home to iconic clock tow­ers like Lon­don’s Big Ben, there’s a time­less charm to time­pieces that sound the hours with bells, gongs or the call of a bird. Ob­vi­ously, we no longer chim­ing clocks in this day and age, but it’s still nice to, say, hear an old grand­fa­ther clock strike twelve from some­where deep in the house as you drift off to sleep.

The same prin­ci­ple ap­plies to minute re­peater watches—so named be­cause they lit­er­ally re­peat the hours and min­utes to you. No, we don’t nec­es­sar­ily need them; the same way we don’t need com­pli­ca­tions such as tourbil­lons and per­pet­ual cal­en­dars. But there’s some­thing in­her­ently ap­peal­ing to the idea that you can push a but­ton on your watch and have it tell you the time in a se­ries of melo­di­ous chimes.

The Song of Time

So, what does a minute re­peater ac­tu­ally do? Well, a watch with a minute re­peater usu­ally comes with an ex­tra but­ton or lever. When the lever is pushed, it trig­gers a com­plex mech­a­nism that, in turn, pro­duces a se­ries of tones based on the time.

A typ­i­cal minute re­peater uses three dif­fer­ent tones to tell the time: Low (usu­ally ver­bal­ized “dong”) for hours, high (“ding”) for min­utes and a high-low se­quence (“ding-dong”) for quar­ter hours. At 2:36, for ex­am­ple, the watch would pro­duce two low tones for the hour, two high-low se­quences for the two quar­ter hours and fi­nally six high tones for the re­main­ing six min­utes (“dong, dong, ding-dong, ding-dong, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding”).

Minute repeaters are per­haps the most com­mon type of re­peater you’ll come across in the world of mod­ern Other mem­bers of this “fam­ily” in­clude hour repeaters that would give you just the hour (so, 2:00 and 2:36 would sound just the same), fol­lowed by quar­ter repeaters that in­di­cate the hour and com­pleted quar­ter hours (2:30 and 2:36 would give you a “dong, dong, ding, ding” or al­ter­na­tively “dong, dong, ding-dong, ding-dong”).

Things get a bit more com­pli­cated with the half quar­ter re­peater that can sound the time down to half quar­ters of an hour (which is seven min­utes and 30 sec­onds, to be pre­cise). There would be low tones to in­di­cate the hour, a high-low combo for the quar­ter hours and then a high tone to in­di­cate whether a half quar­ter has passed since the last full quar­ter. Tak­ing our ex­am­ple of 2:36, a watch with a half quar­ter re­peater would give two low tones, two high-low com­bos to in­di­cate two full quar­ters and then stop. Push the lever at 2:40, how­ever, and there’ll be an ad­di­tional high tone since more than half a quar­ter has passed since the last full quar­ter.

A lot sim­pler to fig­ure out are the fiveminute repeaters and decimal or ten-minute repeaters, which chime to in­di­cate the hour and how many five or ten minute sec­tions have passed. Fur­ther­more, we also have very spe­cial­ized types, such as the dumb re­peater which vi­brates in­stead of pro­duc­ing an au­di­ble sound—quite use­ful for peo­ple who are hear­ing- or sight-im­paired.

The real di­vas who can sing the most beau­ti­ful songs of time, how­ever, are the car­il­lons: Repeaters with three or more gongs and/or ham­mers. A good ex­am­ple of this type would be the Bul­gari Daniel Roth Car­il­lon Tour­bil­lon Minute-Re­peater. The skele­tonized con­struc­tion of this watch gives us a clear view of two of its ham­mers, and upon closer in­spec­tion you can no­tice a third. What’s most in­ter­est­ing about this re­peater, though, is that while it uses the usual high and low tones to sound off the hour and min­utes, it uses all three notes (E-D-C, for the mu­si­cally cu­ri­ous) to count the quar­ters. To fur­ther demon­strate

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