FrontRunners: Constant Escapement

An ultrathin ribbon of silicon helps the Girard-Perregaux Constant Escapement (www.girard-perregaux.com) address a problem that has long vexed watchmakers: how to maintain a watch’s accuracy as the mainspring (or barrel) unwinds, loses energy, and produces less power for the timekeeping element (the balance wheel). As the Constant Escapement’s ribbon snaps back and forth, it delivers a consistent supply of energy from the barrel to the balance wheel, enabling the watch to remain accurate regardless of how much it is wound. Watchmakers previously have employed more elaborate devices to maintain accuracy, but this simple design, which became possible only after watchmakers began using silicon parts, is more visually pleasing. The Constant Escapement is priced at $123,500.

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