Now Voy­ager: the Christophe Claret Maestoso

Revolution (Hong Kong) - - WHAT MAKES US TICK - By JACK FORSTER

There is per­haps no more im­por­tant devel­op­ment in the his­tory of por­ta­ble time­keep­ing than the devel­op­ment of the marine chronome­ter, that de­vice with­out which re­li­able nav­i­ga­tion at sea would be but a pleas­ant fan­tasy. Of course, prior to the evo­lu­tion of re­li­able marine time­keep­ers, many sailors went to an un­timely grave, thanks to un­avoid­able er­rors in de­ter­min­ing a ship’s po­si­tion ac­cu­rately. Marine chronome­ters have, there­fore, a cer­tain grav­i­tas that makes them an ap­peal­ing po­ten­tial point of ref­er­ence for wrist­watches, but the tech­ni­cal abil­ity to im­ple­ment a watch that has more in com­mon with a marine chronome­ter than mere aes­thetics is an­other mat­ter. One of the few man­u­fac­tur­ers with that abil­ity is Christophe Claret, and his 2014 Maestoso is not only sin­gu­larly ef­fec­tive in evok­ing the by­gone Age of Nav­i­ga­tion in its aes­thetics, but also in its con­struc­tion — which, let’s face it, if you’re go­ing to do an homage to the marine chronome­ter, is the way to do it. Marine chronome­ters, in­so­far as they were in­tended to keep a very ex­act rate over long pe­ri­ods of time, gen­er­ally had long power re­serves and were of­ten fit­ted with con­stant-force mech­a­nisms of one sort or an­other (fusées or a re­mon­toir d’égal­ité), as a way of main­tain­ing con­stant bal­ance am­pli­tude. Cylin­dri­cal bal­ance springs were of­ten a fea­ture for marine chronome­ters as well, as th­ese were thought to mea­sur­ably im­prove isochro­nism. The word “chronome­ter” to­day means a watch that has been cer­ti­fied by an in­de­pen­dent ex­am­in­ing agency (i.e. the COSC) to run within cer­tain de­fined spec­i­fi­ca­tions. How­ever, the term orig­i­nally re­ferred to the chronome­ter es­cape­ment, or de­tent es­cape­ment. The chief dis­tin­guish­ing fea­ture of the chronome­ter es­cape­ment is its use of a de­tent, or catch, to al­ter­nately hold or re­lease the es­cape wheel, which drives the bal­ance di­rectly. The ad­van­tages of such an es­cape­ment are many — di­rect im­pulse from the es­cape wheel is more ef­fi­cient as no en­ergy is lost through

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