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Author Topic: Pocket Watches and Data Storage  (Read 1683 times)
SalieriAAX
Zeppelin Captain
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United Kingdom United Kingdom



« on: January 29, 2009, 11:22:59 am »

I don't carry any of my pocket watches at all often at the moment, being a student again and not having the facilities/ready cash to have smart clothes laundered, and so every now and then I like to wind one up and keep it going by my side while I'm working. I did exactly this last night with a particular favourite of mine. After having spent some time polishing it, I placed it down beside me on top of a paper about semiotics in artistic writing and got down to some work.

Moments later I noticed the watch, that had previously always been extremely reliable, was limping slightly and I was immediately concerned. I nudged it. It stopped. I was horrified. I picked it up to take a look at the movement and as soon as I did so it began running again, which wasn't much of a surprise, but it was doing so with perfect regularity. I placed it down on the table and almost immediately it began running unbelievably quickly. I nudged it again. It limped for a few seconds and stopped. Frankly, I was furious and it was only after some considerable time and puzzlement that I realised that underneath the article was my external hard drive that had been fluxing it up, as it were. A mere anecdote of no consequence, the watch continues to run as reliably as it used to.
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« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2009, 12:26:10 pm »

Hard drives use very strong magnets, don't they? Enough, perhaps to attract the hairspring, thereby stopping the balance?
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SalieriAAX
Zeppelin Captain
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United Kingdom United Kingdom



« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2009, 06:13:10 pm »

Oh, yes, well that was my assumption, hence the euphemistic use of 'flux'.
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HAC
Steam Theologian
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HAC_N800
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2009, 06:17:10 pm »

Exactly. Magnetism can affect mechanical watches. Usually its the hairspring that's affected,and what will happen if the problem is severe enough is that one coil of the hairspring will stcik to another. This results in a really dramatic alterantion of rate, usually in the minutes per hour range. Most watchmakers can demagentize a watch quite easily.
In this case, the exposure to the magnetic field was not enough to cause a problem.

I have a railroad wrsitwatch that has an inner shiled of soft iron around the movement, This mitigates the effects of magnetism. This was done in the days of transtioning to diesels. where there were electrical filds to content with.
 Rolex also makes the Milgauss model, which is resistant to 1000 gauss

Cheers
Harold
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Mr. Boltneck
Zeppelin Admiral
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« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2009, 11:40:38 pm »

Somewhere in my reference collection of old horology books, I seem to remember seeing some information on non-magnetic alloys that were used as well, for springs and other parts which could be affected by a strong magnetic field. I am not clear on the extent, if any, to which this practice predominated over shielding such as Harold describes in actual production of timepieces.
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rogue_designer
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United States United States


clockwork gypsy


« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2009, 01:22:23 am »

on a similar "shielding" note - I wonder if the use of a diamagnetic material like bismuth might be used (instead of the iron), and if that would actually help, or if it might induce its own problems.

Experimentation must occur!
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Jake of All Trades
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Brass addict, inventor, and scoundrel with a heart


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« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2009, 01:58:44 am »

Hmm, it shouldn't be the fault of a hard drive.  I'm running a vial of iron filings about a running disk as we speak and I'm seeing no reaction.  They certainly do contain powerful magnets, by they are arranged in such a way that all the fields are entirely contained within the drive ("shielded").  If the disk did cause this, you might want to back up your data post haste Shocked
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HAC
Steam Theologian
Zeppelin Overlord
*******
Canada Canada


HAC_N800
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2009, 02:36:23 am »

Somewhere in my reference collection of old horology books, I seem to remember seeing some information on non-magnetic alloys that were used as well, for springs and other parts which could be affected by a strong magnetic field. I am not clear on the extent, if any, to which this practice predominated over shielding such as Harold describes in actual production of timepieces.

You are correct, there were alloys used for hairsprings that were resistant to magnetism.  Invar and Elinvar alloys about the turn of the 20th century, by Charles Edouard Guillaume, laid the groundwork for a new generation of hairsprings that possessed a near-zero coefficient of thermal expansion, were anti-magnetic, and resistant to corrosion.
  As far as shielding a movement, that was usually only done when there was a chance that the watch would be exposed to strong electrical or magnetic fields, and still be required to run accurately. (again notably in the railroad use.)
In normal day -to-day use by the average person,the alloy hairspring was sufficient.

Cheers
Harold

 
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Mr. Boltneck
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United States United States


« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2009, 11:40:03 pm »

Thank you, Mr. HAC. I can definitely understand why railroad engineers would need the greatest possible level of accuracy, since the alternatives might include smacking into another train.
On a related note, I used to work for a company whose self-regulating soldering iron tips were based on a metallurgical trick which was a sort of conceptual descendant of Invar. It switched crystal structures (and thus magnetic characteristics) at a precisely calibrated temperature. The engineer who developed it was still working there at the time.
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