Meeting Recap: The Evolution of the Chain-and-Fusee Mechanism in the Quest for Constant Force

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Romain Gauthier, Founder & CEO of Manufacture Romain Gauthier SA
October 29, 2018

In the history of horology, one of the holy grails to attain is constant force (or constant torque). As the November speaker at The Horological Society of New York lecture series on October 29, 2018, Romain Gauthier, Founder & CEO of Manufacture Romain Gauthier SA, described the progression of the chain-and-fusee mechanism and how he came to engineer his own chain-and-fusee for his award winning Logical One timepiece.

The Puzzle of Constant Torque

With a lecture titled The Evolution of the Chain-and-Fusee Movement in the Quest for Constant Force, Gauthier gave a historical overview of torque that is delivered by the mainspring and how other mechanisms progressed throughout the years, such as the verge Escapement, stackfreed, stopwork and remontoire. The dawn of the chain-and-fusee was illustrated by a sketch of Leonardo Da Vinci’s fusee gears, a photograph of an astronomical table clock by Jacob Zech that was made around 1525 and a sketch of Thomas Minchin Goodeve’s cord and fuse circa 1897. The marine chronometer was one of the common places where the chain-and-fusee was used; in which Gauthier segued to the Revival period by referencing A. Lange & Söhne’s Pour le Mérite Tourbillon.

“It’s impossible to compensate the infinite” - Romain Gauthier

After Gauthier made his first caliber, the Prestige HM, he came across the challenge of how to make the chain-and-fusee mechanism more effective. For the most part, he had to re-design the chain and re-design the fusee to the patented snail cam in order to produce the Logical One timepiece. Unique aspects of Gauthier's chain-and-fusee include the use of jewels in between links and the shorter chain not needing a tall fusee. 

During the Q&A session there were a handful of questions but Gauthier gave well-explained, generously-filled answers. Although Philippe Dufour considers Gauthier a watchmaker, Gauthier considers himself more as an engineer extending his creativity and expertise to horology. Gauthier’s lecture was a welcome perspective for the watchmakers and the technically-inclined watch enthusiasts in the audience.

HSNY thanks Romain Gauthier for his fascinating lecture! 

Photography by Atom Moore
Submitted by Melody Benloss, HSNY Librarian