Do we expect more from our timepieces these days? You bet we do, and thanks to silicon we're getting more. More precision, more longevity and now with the latest development announced by Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier and CSEM, more power reserve - enough in fact to keep a wristworn timekeeper ticking along happily for a month. Or more.
Having spent a lifetime researching, developing and inventing you would think that on his retirement Pierre Genequand would perhaps have relished the opportunity to enjoy a spot of gardening, or fishing maybe. Instead he began working on a project that had often filled his thoughts in the years spent with Centre Suisse d’Electronique et de Microtechnique or CSEM (yes, that CSEM from whose clean-rooms GP's fiddly little industry-changing contant force escapement gained its purple heart...), and that project was the desire to use his expertise in Advanced Mechanisms to develop a watch.
First M. Genequand did what inventors have always done, he made a prototype . It was basic but it was workable. There are no written reports about what exactly happened the day Pierre Genequand presented his 20:1 scale prototype to a delegation of CSEM experts, but I imagine that they gazed upon it with wonderment, immediately realising the possibilities and that they offered up thanks that the man before them was an ex-employee whose loyalty ensured that they were the first to see it.
What Pierre Genequand had realised was that energy dissipation was of paramount importance, so he began with the escapement, then he rewrote the rules. He devised "flexible pallets in permanent contact with the toothed wheel", a concept which he combined with an arrangement in which the pivot, the return spring and the link with the pallets of the balance were all made from Flextech components, a technology originally developed for use in fibre-optic guidance and aerospace engineering. CSEM devoted a team to the project and by 2004 they had managed to miniaturise it to a scale of 5:1, but in order to devise a workable 1:1 scale they would need a watchmaker -enter high-end watch movement innovators, Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier, who signed-up to partner the project in 2007.
The input of the team at Vaucher enabled the development of a watch movement which would integrate and make good use of the new escapement technology. Components like the isochronism compensator the Wittrick oscillator as well as the pallets needed to be refined and redesigned resulting in what has been described as a "three-component system" - a nondescript term for such a dexterous device, but the contraption itself has been named the "Genequand" in honor of its creator, so all is well.
Parmigiani Fleurier, the sister brand of Vaucher will be the first to receive the Genequand technology with the first movements capable of a 30+ day power reserve appearing within a three year timescale.