Dreams sound good, especially if they are true. Four years of development and construction have gone into this masterpiece of mechanical engineering: The first minute repeater in a wristwatch that has ever been developed, constructed and assembled on German soil.
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An incomparable horological master stroke: the design of the minute repeater is the most difficult and demanding single complication in watchmaking. It greatly challenges both movement designers and watchmakers. A highly complicated mechanism comprising several hundred individual components must be synchronized with one another: the case leaves the movement only 5.24 cm3 worth of space. The heart of the minute repeater is made up of two gongs, which are made to chime their sonorous melody by two hammers.
In the 165-year history of Glashütte watchmaking, there have been pocket watches containing quarter and minute repeaters, but never before has there been a repeating mechanism for a wristwatch that was developed, designed and assembled in the city. Connoisseurs can only surmise what sort of artistic accomplishment they are wearing on their wrists. The movement of the Tutima Hommage Minute Repeater comprises more than 550 components, most of which remain hidden from the eye of the beholder.
A song slumbers within
A minute repeater tells the time by means of acoustic signals produced by two gongs, one of which is tuned to a lower tone (concert pitch C), and the other to a higher tone (concert pitch A). A slide on the case activates a repeating mechanism which reads the information on the dial and activates a harmonious striking mechanism, without draining power or affecting the accuracy of the movement. The hours are indicated by the lower tone, the quarter-hours by a combination of the two tones (ding-dong) and finally the minutes are counted by the chiming of the higher tones. The combination of the 550 individual parts come together to operate in perfect accord, maintain a striking rhythm and achieve the ideal tone each and every time – a true musical work of art.
Masterful Technology, Perfect Interplay, Flawless Harmony
Applause where applause is due: alongside timekeeping, music was a passion of Dr. Ernst Kurtz, the founder of Tutima. He placed value on the fact that all his watchmaking apprentices learn an instrument; these music lessons were part of the company. According to his philosophy, musical education also schooled the virtuosity of technology and passion for the fine mechanics of the timepiece. Soon, Tutima’s orchestra was so famous that it performed concerts in the entire region, including Dresden.
Alongside our return to Glashütte, it was Dr. Ernst Kurtz’s passion for music that inspired us to develop the minute repeater. The Hommage is a nod to Dr. Ernst Kurtz, who always saw his post-war career in West Germany as time spent in exile. This watch is dedicated to him in appreciation of his services to Glashütte.
Already during the first planning sessions of the Hommage, it was without a doubt clear that the visual design would be based on the heyday of Glashütte watchmaking at the beginning of the twentieth century. This was especially true for the design of the movement, which is kept consciously traditional and straightforward.
The Hommage – A Technical Wonder
The various components are first manufactured in our milling and drilling center according to the prerequisites of the movement’s design. The raw components are manufactured within a precision of 3 micrometers (0.003 mm) on computer-controlled (CNC) machines.
Just like in large machines, the laws of physics that rule us all are valid within the watch movement. The central theme of mechanics is friction. And it is important to keep this as low as possible, and where needed to optimize. Laborious calculations of spring strengths, friction coefficient and energy needs as well as the use of most modern lubricants and oils are the base prerequisite for the perfect functioning of the watch and its acoustic performance.
Not all master watchmakers have the technical skill and experience that is necessary to complete the multifaceted, demanding work done in our workshop: watch components are not only assembled here, but are partially made here, fitted to measure and geared to each other. Highest precision and experience are necessary to do things like finish the functional surfaces of levers so that they are precise and can perform their functions using the right amount of energy. Even just one one-hundredth of a millimeter decides the fate of the impeccable interplay of several components.
The art of shining work: the finest polished surfaces are especially visible on steel components. Here, the surfaces are ground flat and laboriously polished by hand on a tin plate, which demands much experience and patience. To complete this so-called black polish, the watchmaker finishing the part must anticipate the correct moment after which further polishing of the component would have a detrimental effect. The result is a perfect surface on which – if it were larger – one could see oneself as in a mirror.
In comparison to conventional polishing using polishing paper, tin ensures that the surface of the steel is cohesive and completely flat. A schooled eye recognizes the simpler polishing using paper by the fact that the surface is not completely even, but declines slightly around the edges.
A sign of eternity: hand-engraving lends the plates and bridges a special individuality. Using a fine graver tool, the engraver cuts all contours into the surface of the components, thus lending them an unmistakably aesthetic expression. Here it is important that the graver tool is always led over the surface with an even amount of pressure in order to attain a consistent depth. So that all details can be perfectly worked out, engravers almost always look through a microscope that magnifies the surface up to 16 times.
Relief engraving is particularly time-intensive, such as the clef on the balance cock and the notes on the spring barrel lid of the repeating mechanism. In order to achieve it, the material surrounding the motif being formed is raised. An unforgettable result: every hand engraving is unique and like a personal fingerprint.