Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Exploring Horology: A Shocking Shake of Precision

"Bro, what’s the time now? My fellow golfers always ask me when we play golf. Just because I wear a watch while playing, always! The timekeeping device will be off my wrist only when I am sleeping or taking my bath. Being watch enthusiast, not wearing time pieces is just like wearing no underwear! Something missing, feel uncomfortable. Well... time is important to those appreciating every moment in life. It is all about timing and time management. But, how precise the timepiece we own and refer to? Those small pieces of man’s genius creation prevails its accuracy once you observe them. In everyday life, under all the condition I test them all. Shocking precision, I test them with golf." – thetick-thetick

The Precision Timepieces and the Game of Golf
Rolex, the world’s renowned brand with many years of horology credential and superior invention is undisputed a class for precision in production and timekeeping. At Rolex, everything is about precision. The invention of anti-magnetic, shock absorption and the use of advanced material in the watch escapement mechanism are all subject of precision. That is why the manufacture associates the brand with golf – the game of precision.

Golf is a mental game with many shot demanding the ball to be stroked in a precise swing for a precise result. The shot, the distance, the accuracy is the name of the game. Getting precision for all shot is almost impossible! For me, that goes to the watch too. Exposing to various wearing condition is a definite impact to the precise timekeeping. That is why COSC certified timepieces are tolerable to plus and minus. You want precision up to the second? Don’t be crazy, even the quartz driven watches deviate by up to several seconds in a month or year. The world’s atomic time clock, yeah... 1 second late in every 70 years.

Watch making and golfing are synonym, perfection and precision. That is why many major golf tournaments are sponsored by Rolex. Many tour champions sponsored by them too. But, you will see them wearing Rolex only when they received the trophy or attending news conference. It is all about branding and media exposure. Not when the golfers move around the golf course and make their shot. Only one may be - Phil Mickelson and that is just because he is an avid Rolex collector. He wears leather strapped dress watch Rolex while playing. Other than Phil, a Richard Mille (RM) brand ambassador – Bubba Watson. May be RM wants to proof their anti-shock protection can stand continuous blows at the golf course? Or, RM try to propose to the market that the advanced watch composite material they developed in house is so light that the golfer can strap on while playing? Other Swiss elite brand; Audemars Piguet (AP), sponsored mostly world top ranking golf players like Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell. But none of these players wear the APs while playing. TAG Heuer, like RM once produced a golf watch inspired by Tiger Woods. I guess it is all about the weight- lighter watches for golfing. But still, are these famous brands proposing precision? RM’s Bubba Watson is a mechanical and TAG Heuer Tiger Wood is quartz.

TAG Heuer Golf - light construction material, anti-slip rubber strap, unique strap-on method, and powered by Ronda Swiss quartz movement. The design inspired by great golfer Tiger Woods. Now Tiger is no longer TAG Heuer brand ambassador. Have you seen Tiger wearing this watch while playing golf before?

Make the Shot, Whacking, and the Watch
Like most golfers, whether the pros or the amateurs it is all about perfecting the shot. Me, still trying my very level best to make good shot. No matter how ugly my golf swing can be, I will make sure I whack the ball solidly. Impact – that is the word normally used in golf when the golf club hit the ball on the ground. A good impact will produce good ball trajectory so it goes up in the air with intended flight. During impact, the club face will experience a strong shocking vibration. You can feel it in your palm, arm, and sometime your elbow. Imagine what the shocking vibration can do to your wrist watch every time you make a shot! One intended powerful blow to the watch may cause tremendous shock to the movement. But can one small whacking at timely interval really shock the watch movement? Let’s give it a try. All I have in my collection, the mechanical and quartz – those with stainless steel bracelet and rubber strap. Not with the leather strap as it wet when you sweat.

Whack the ball. See my left wrist. I always wear my watch on the golf course.

After 18 Holes...
My field test is simple. It is all about shock, shock, and shock. Gravitation is considered factor but not counted for. Get digital quartz watch to compare the time deviations. Test the automatic mechanical, analogue quartz, and digital quartz watches. Play one round of golf with one watch. A round of golf takes about 5 hours at maximum. Observe the timekeeping.

Rolex Explorer I: Ref. 114270 a lighter production of Rolex stainless steel watch in early 2000 – an automatic watch. Not so heavy so I wear it on the golf course. I am a right-hander and I wear watches on my left hand. Obviously I will hold the golf club with left hand because I am a right-hander. Setting precisely according to my digital quartz, I play one round of golf. After 18 holes, I check on the time-keeping. Wow-wi-zow-wow... the watch gains about 20 seconds.

A truly reliable mechanical timepiece, but still...

Seiko SKX007 Diver, 7S26 Automatic Movement: dubbed as poor man’s submariner and loved by many watch collectors. Quite heavy compared to the Rolex Explorer I. But still, subconsciously I don’t feel the weight when making golf shots. Fuyyooo... the watch gains almost 1 minute and 45 seconds!!! No worry. The ‘James Bond’ is not expensive like the Swiss Rolex anyway. No question between the superiority and inferiority here. Expensive Swiss is not so vulnerable to shock. Well kept timing due to superior technology implies. I bet expensive Seiko’s should do better than that. That makes expensive watches reliable, isn’t it guys?

Beratnyaaa..! Time running very fast la Joe!

Casio Analogue Diver and Digi-Ana Quartz: Japanese plastics, loved by adventurers all over the world. With similar method, I tested them. As I always expected. No lose, no gain, perfectly running. I am more into the analogue movement. Since most analogue quartz watches are fitted with 3 or 5 jewels and minimal train wheels (gears) to drive the timekeeping hands, I wish to see if the vibration could possibly effect the operation. No, the pulsation from the quartz in actual fact drives these wheels in constant revolution in timely fashion. The gears are precisely intact and running smoothly as it pivoted by the jewels. Those purely digital is definitely off the record. The microprocessor keep the timing as it was programmed to do.

Albeit running on wheels, the Casio analogue quartz keeps its accuracy.

Lagi steady bek... computer timer on the wrist!

Shaking the Autos and Winding the Manuals
Shaking the automatic watch and that’s normally we do to power the watch when it stops. We just want to move the rotor plate so the winding mechanism starts. Some autos come with manual winding feature. By winding the crown, it starts powering the watch. But do not over shaking when the watch is running. The watch will definitely gain more seconds. Give it a test, you will observe the timing. But still, no worry dude! The sophistication of the balance wheel and its escapement mechanism will reset the oscillation back to its standard frequency. If 5bps... it goes back to 5bps. Unless the balance wheel hairspring is out of shape or rusted and becoming less elastic.

Between Shaking and Shocking
These are two different conditional effects to the movement – intended and unintended. Precisely designed and produced watch movement are resistant to shocking – anti-shock or anti-vibration. This is to ensure the balance wheel and escapement running smoothly at all time, resistant to unintended shock. Our hands move all the time. That is why the autos come with rotor plate shaped in half or three quarter size so it moves to power the watch when wears on the wrist. Shaking is intended.

The winding rotor moves around the axis in bi-directional. As seen on this ETA2892 variant, the balance wheel is design to hold its revolving state with anti-shock mechanism. Shaking the watch will move the rotor plate. Unintended shock will protect the balance wheel.

Precision... What are you up to?
My honest question to fellow watch enthusiasts and to myself too. Let us be fair. Let the watchmaker compete among them to produce the most precise timepieces. They deserve to make superlative claim on their production. The more the mechanical precision, the more it hits our pocket. Quartz and electronic timepieces, they are precise and predominantly acceptable. A few second time deviations won’t bother you and me – subconsciously. After many years of exploring (horology), my passion tells me that both the mechanicals and quartz are good timepieces. Both serve the same purpose, to tell time in a precise fashion. The difference is all about money. Expensive or cheap, as long as you can afford them – buy! Precision is about the same for quartz. Expensive mechanicals are more precise.

I like this Timex Military. A plastic cased analogue quartz. Black and red, the watch matches my golf glove. A cheap watch keeps time well.

“Ini Q&Q punya jam hah, pakai itu Japanese Citizen Miyota punya injin lahh... tegur Sifu Lee bertahun lama dulu. Dude, this TAG Heuer quartz is using ETA movement lah. Cheap movement, not even 10% from the price you pay for the watch. Casio... a computer embedded in a watch. Wow! Yes, it is true. Hey! Why my genuine Rolex makin hari makin lambat? Send the watch for service la bro... keep the timepieces running precisely. Let us be realistic. Don’t get horological shock!” – thetick-thetick

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Pengetahuan: Gas Helium & Helium Escape Valve (HEV)

"Bek, macam mana sifu ko servis jam Seiko Marine Master tuh? Tak keluar ke dia punya Helium gas? Gitulah ceritanya bila Hassan soal aku pasal Seiko Marine Master 300m yg ada sememangnya takde Helium Escape Valve tak lama dulu. Apa fungsi HEV nih? Gas masuk ke... gas keluar. Keluar masuk – masuk keluar. Yang mana satu? Memandangkan ramai tak tahu, makanya aku buat lah artikel ni untuk pengetahuan bersama. Bahasa sempoi-sempoi supaya mudah paham." - thetick-thetick.

Gas Helium dan Penyelam Skuba
Gas helium (singkatan kimia He) adalah gas yang paling ringan. Ia sering diisikan kedalam belon getah yang boleh terapung di udara. Kita biasa melihat kanak-kanak mahupun orang dewasa memegang belon yang pelbagai bentuk. Belon diikat dengan tali dan terapung. Itu adalah salah satu sifat gas helium. Bagi penyelam skuba (scuba diver); selain gas nitrogen, gas helium adalah salah satu elemen yang perlu diambilkira apabila menyelam pada kedalaman 50 meter atau lebih. Pada tahap kedalaman lebih dari 200 meter terdapat banyak gas helium di dalam air yang berada pada tekanan atau kemampatan yang tinggi (mengikut kiraan ATM atau BAR).

Memandangkan tekanan yang tinggi pada kedalaman tersebut, gas helium yang banyak mudah menyerap dan memasuki saluran darah penyelam skuba. Semakin dalam dan semakin lama penyelam skuba berada di dalam air terutamanya di laut, semakin banyak terdedah kepada gas helium. Oleh yang demikian, penyelam skuba perlu naik (surface-up) pada masa dan tahap (graduation) yang sesuai supaya gas helium dapat disisihkan mengikut tekanan. Semakin hampir di permukaan air, tekanan akan menjadi semakin rendah. Apabila berada di permukaan, tekanan udara adalah pada tahap normal pada bacaan barometer. Ini adalah satu disiplin wajib bagi penyelam skuba bagi mengelakkan DCS Sickness (Decompression Sickness). Kandungan helium yang berlebihan di dalam darah akan menyebabkan DCS dan boleh membahayakan penyelam skuba. Bagaimana pula kesan gas helium pada jam tangan penyelam skuba?
DOXA. Jam tangan penyelam berwarna oren pertama di dunia. Turut dipatenkan, pada scuba bezel terdapat 'depth graduation scale' bersebelahan 'time elapse' pada bezel ring.

Jam Tangan Penyelam Skuba
Sejak majunya pembuatan microprocessor, ramai penyelam skuba menggunakan 'dive-comp' yang kelihatan seperti jam tangan canggih. Selain menunjukkan waktu, dive-comp mempunyai pelbagai fungsi yang boleh membantu penyelam ketika berada di dalam air. Ia adalah merupakan jam tangan digital atau digital-analog dan antara jenama yang popular di kalangan penyelam skuba adalah Suunto dan Casio. Bagi jam tangan analog sepenuhnya, samada mekanikal ataupun quartz pasti mempunyai 'scuba bezel' ataupun 'dive timer scale' untuk membantu penyelam merujuk masa berlalu (time lapse) setiap kali menyelam. Ia juga berfungsi untuk mengagak tahap kandungan 'compressed air' pada tanki 'regulator' mengikut waktu pernafasan.

Kesan Gas Helium Pada Jam Tangan Skuba
Gas helium secara umumnya tidak memberi sebarang kesan pada jam tangan digital yang dipacu oleh movement electronic mahupun quartz. Ini adalah kerana perakam masa dipacu oleh microprosessor ataupun ketetapan pulse pada jam quartz. Untuk jam tangan mekanikal, kandungan gas helium yang terserap secara berlebihan di dalam watch case  akan menyebabkan pergerakan movement terbatas terutamanya balance wheel dan escape mechanisme. Apabila pergerakan balance wheel terganggu (mengikut kiraan BPS/VPS), ia akan menyebabkan perakam waktu menjadi perlahan atau mungkin terhenti terus.

TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Quartz. Tidak perlu HEV kerana perakam waktu dipacu oleh movement quartz.

Seiko Diver 200m Automatic. Tidak perlu HEV. Tapi, siapa yang nyelam takat 200m kena la displin... kena DCS kang naya! Masuk Decompression chamber kang baru tau... he he...

Helium Escape Valve
Helium Escape Valve (HEV) berfungsi untuk mengeluarkan gas helium yang terdapat di dalam jam tangan. Memandangkan sifatnya yang ringan, ia mudah dilepaskan melalui injap (valve) pada jam tangan. Apabila berada dipermukaan air atau pada tahap tekanan udara rendah/normal, penyelam scuba boleh menekan tombol (knob) pada jam tangan untuk membolehkan gas helium dilepaskan. Kebanyakan jam tangan yang mempunyai HEV adalah jam skuba mekanikal yang mampu digunakan pada tahap kedalaman 300m dan/atau lebih. Jam tangan Rolex Sea-Dweller yang dikeluarkan pada awal tahun 70an adalah jam tangan penyelam skuba yang mula-mula mempunyai HEV. Kini HEV menjadi trend untuk pembuat jam tangan skuba yang lain dan terdapat pelbagai rekabentuk dan cara mengoperasikannya. Fungsinya tetap sama, untuk melepaskan gas helium dari dalam jam tangan.

Nota: Seiko MM300m dan MM1000m tidak mempunyai HEV. Mungkin rekabentuknya mampu menghalang kemasukan gas helium? Kedua-duanya direkabentuk tanpa ‘case back cap’. 

Fungsi HEV. Hanya dioperasikan pada tekanan udara rendah/normal di luar air dan setiap kali penyelam menamatkan selaman.

ROLEX SEA-DWELLER. Helium Escape Valve knob (dalam bulatan).

Pelbagai rekabentuk HEV knob. Kebanyakannya di bahagian tepi watch case' 

Selain knob untuk ditekan, jam skuba seperti Omega Seamaster menggunakan crown (dalam bulatan). 'He' pada knob atau crown adalah merujuk kepada gas Helium mengikut singkatan kimia. Bila crown diputar, injap akan terbuka untuk membebaskan gas Helium yang terkandung di dalam jam.

" Gas Argon (Ar) adalah salah satu gas yang digunakan di dalam pembuatan jam tangan. Pembuat jam tangan jenama Sinn dari Frankfurt German menggunakan gas argon di dalam model skuba. Gas argon yang terkandung di antara dial dan crystal membolehkan bacaan di buat dari setiap sudut pandangan ketika berada di dalam air. Biasan cahaya di dalam air secara alami memang mengganggu bacaan pada sudut tertentu ketika di dalam air. Gas argon mampu menghilangkan biasan apabila terdapat di bawah crystal jam tangan skuba yang secara umumnya agak tebal. Ini memang gas yang dimasukkan kat dalam jam untuk memudahkan bacaan di dalam air. Nak servis jam tu? Haaa... kena la hantar kat ejen. Hantar kat apek-apek servis jam kang... he he. Bek, kalau ko nak helium gas ko pegi la kat fun fair... kat orang jual belon. Sedut jeh kat tangki yang kembangkan belon tuuuu... sure suara ko jadi cam Donald Duck! Kalau suara kambing? Bekkkkk...” - thetick-thetick