The Vibrograph

Any serious watch dealer will have two things, an in-house Master Watchmaker and a Timing Machine.  Without these two vital things you cannot run a successful watch business. The Watchmaker has the expertise to service and restore a watch, and a timing machine, like a Vibrograph, gives him the tool he needs to quickly and efficiently time a watch to factory specifications.  The machine has a sensitive microphone that hears the watch beating and, by comparing the beat with a standard rate, it can determine if the watch is running fast or slow and/or if there is a problem with its performance.  Once the watchmaker has completed an overhaul, he places the watch in the holder on top of the microphone and engages a continuous feed tape that will print out the results.  The pattern of successive dots are printed as representations of each tick the watch produces.  If the overall pattern of dots is a straight line then the watch will keep time.  If the dots drift to the right or the left then the watch is running slow or fast.  If this is the case, and the error is no more than a few minutes, the watchmaker can adjust the regulator on the watch to bring it into compliance.  If, however, the pattern is irregular, wavy, or sporadic then there is some other problem that must be addressed.  The standard beat frequency for most vintage and antique watches is 18,000 beats per hour (5 beats to the second, by 60 seconds per minute, by 60 minutes to the hour).  There are however several other frequencies for some watches such as hi-beat watches which have frequencies of 21,500 beats per hour, or even some that are 36,000 bph. 

     The Vibrograph is also used as a diagnostic tool when a watch is presented to us for evaluation.  The Watchmaker can immediately see what the timing tape reveals about the overall health of a particular watch and he can share the printed information on the tape with the customer for a better overall picture of what needs to be accomplished to bring he watch into compliance.

Here (below) you can see a Bad Timing Pattern on the left, and a Good Timing Record on the right, (produced after we restored this particular watch).

You can see how irregular the pattern on the left is. The pattern is tilting to the right indicating an extremely fast rate.  If it tilted left it would indicate a slow rate.  There are many other indications that the watch is not running correctly (in the tape on the left) such as being "out-of-beat" and a trained eye can detect several other problems such as magnetism, etc.  Suffice it to say that you want your watch to produce a pattern such as we see on the right. Our master watch makers can help you with that!  Simply bring in your watch and let us know that you would like an evaluation of its performance and we will be happy to produce a Vibrograph tape of your own.