Swiss Pocket Watch

Here is an unmarked Swiss pocket watch from about 1890. The Cylinder escapement was developed by George Graham (1673-1751) of London, in 1726. This escapement made it possible to produce watches much thinner than had been possible with the verge escapement, making these watches very popular on the European Continent, but not in England, where the English Lever replaced the verge. This was before the introduction of the Swiss Lever escapement, which caused the cylinder escapement to be phased out. The escape wheel has almost constant contact with the cylinder, so the balance wheel is not rotating freely and there is a lot more friction. The Swiss Lever escapement allows the balance wheel to rotate freely, except for a few degrees in the middle of the osciallation, making the Swiss Lever superior for timekeeping. The Cylinder escapament behaves somewhat like a deadbeat escapement in that there is no recoil of the escape wheel. The verge escapement, by contrast, has more recoil than any other escapement. If you see a pocket watch with a mechanism that looks like this one and with famous English brand names like Tobias, you know this is not a genuine Tobias, but rather what collectors now call a Swiss fake.












The last photo offers a better view of a cylinder from another watch.

Notice in the photos how the bar style mechanism makes it possible to remove one gear at a time. This makes assembly easier.

Watches with cylinder escapements need to be serviced more frequently and need more replacement parts because of the high level of friction in the escapement. The watch above, however, appears to have defied the odds. Its gold-plated silver case shows a lot of wear, suggesting that it served its owner reliably for many years, probably for decades.

Watches were made with the Cylinder escapement for over 160 years, mostly in France. Some French carriage clocks and other small clocks also had the Cylinder escapement. Considering the historical impact of this escapement in timekeeping, I believe that no watch or clock collection would be complete without one.

  Longines Pocket Watch
  English Lever
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