V&C's fantastic micrometer regulators

Doc has inspired me with this in-depth and surprising examination of different aspects of V&C timepieces.  In that spirit I'd like to present this vignette smiley

One interesting aspect of V&C chronometery is the evolution of the micro-adjusting fine regulator.  For comparison, I have two Observatory watches seperated by 15 years.  Both obtained a 3rd Prize at the Geneva Observatory so lets assume they fairly represent the evolution of timekeeping over the interval.

In 1912, this swan-neck fine regulator was paired with a revolutionary balance wheel which was characterized by its split bimetallic anibal-brass composition.  Dr. Guillaume referred to this device as his Balancier Integral/Integral Balance until a 1920 Nobel Prize affixed his surname by popular useage.

V&C's fantastic micrometer regulators

In 1922, Vacheron & Constantin registered Swiss Brevet (Patent) #101652 under the classification of Raquetterie de montre, or fine adjustment of watch.  The actual patent was granted a year later, in November of 1923.

 Photo courtesy Antiquorum

Enter this 1927 Observatory movement, still featuring Dr. Guillaume's wonderful balance and also the new micrometer regulator.  Two features allowed for greater precision of adjustment; an eccentric screw to move the regulator in the smallest of increments combined with a vernier scale engraved onto the regulator.  Notice how the two sides do not align in every position; this allowed for more precise indication of the setting.

V&C's fantastic micrometer regulators

Re: V&C's fantastic micrometer regulators
07/20/2011 - 05:50

Hi Dean,

Very interesting post, the tip of the iceberg.

And thanks for showing the Vernier adjustment dial.

I remember it well from university physics classes, before the development of digital technology blush

It was a wonderful tool to add precision to measurement.



the micrometer regulator seems to have been resereved for the more
07/20/2011 - 10:33

exceptional pieces such as the Boisrouvray, Farouk and Fouad... and your watch cheeky

thanks for the info

Georges-Marin Grandjean
07/20/2011 - 19:35

It would be enlightening to learn more about V&C superstars of the past.  It seems Georges-Marin Grandjean came up through the ranks as a regleur, as he is listed as receiving a 1st and 3rd prize for adjustment in 1896 at the Geneva Observatory.

An 1884 Fine Regulator
07/20/2011 - 17:41

I believe we've covered the endless screw-type micrometer regulator before but its worth mentioning here.

The 1884 patent date refers to US Patent #291,780 to Ernest Jacques Roux and Louis Uriel Fatio, assignors to Vacheron & Constantin. There is also a 1904 patent date that refers to Swiss Patent #31052 issued to George Marin Grandjean, Director of the Ancienne Fabrique Vacheron & Constantin SA.

Several of V&C's earliest patents were first filed in the US due to more favorable patent-protection laws and the American market's acceptance of innovation.  Other V&C concepts first tried in the USA were non-magnetic escapements.

Intriguing scales and precision...
07/20/2011 - 18:38
I love those patent drawings, the close-up on the regulators so finely finished so near.
Stunning article, I feel the competition :-)
07/20/2011 - 22:54


IF you don't have all these books,

please get them.

They could really have been written for you!

Pics taken for you, now on sun warm marble floor in the big hall,

just for you my friend.

First book is a must for all aficionados!!

Francois Lecoultre's 'A Guide To Complicated Watches' from mid 1930s,

fantastic clear and explaining illustrations and text. Reprinted.

Of course Osterhausen's Bibel, with facts you can't go on without in your collecting!

This is a magnificent book by von Bertele, also with facts you can't live without. Lovely!

Finally a wonderful, and more, a fantastic and beautiful very intersting book about one of the 'l'enfants terrible', Ditisheim. A must.

Professor Lecoultre's book is small but contains ALL complications,

the other three are 'coffe table' sized.

Buy them, if you haven't them!!

Last the index of the 1919 Vacheron&Constantin hunting pocket watch



Great books Doc!
07/21/2011 - 00:21

I'm waiting for the next reprint of Gould's book due early 2012, apparently with 70 additional photos and revisions.  Small world though, I just emailed Jon Betts, author of Time Restored, another great book I know you highly recommend.  He works at the National Maritime Museum and I wished to pick his brain regarding Kew trials.

Give my regards to John Betts!
07/21/2011 - 01:48

That book is a masterpiece.

It's a historic document, a thrilling story and marvellous written.

Wonderful English, when it's best.

It's also a tragic, true tale that leave no one untouched.

One of my absolute favourites.

I read it twice and will soon read it for the third time!

Please thank him from me,

and please Dean, forward his email address to me so I can thank him personally!


Is this something you thought about at your Shangri La?
07/20/2011 - 23:57

Welcome back, Dean.

Hopefully you managed a safe river crossing and coped with the mountainous countryside. The scenery (thank you for the photographs) looks stunning particularly the vast area where you locate the Big Horn Sheep. No wonder you regard it as your Shangri La!

You certainly haven't wasted any time since your return - thanks for the article, most interesting.

Best wishes,


Since you ask...
07/21/2011 - 00:41

Let me say it was an "interesting" week in the bush.  The crux was crossing a small river in full flood while going in and out.  My friend's adult daughter was along for her first visit to the area and wasn't quite prepared for the force of rushing water so, despite a rope to hang onto, managed to go under and soak all of her belongings.

Over the next few days the lady's boots, which had been in storage for unknown number of years, decided to split the grippy soles from the uppers, eventually falling off entirely.  Oh yes, and she lost a sandal in the river which hampered crossing the numerous smaller streams that littered the area and left her to hobble around camp in the remaining sandal and one sock.

We did manage to see a black bear while hiking a high ridge, and a moose outside our camp in the early morning light.  Despite daily rain storms, we were fortunate to have respite during camp set-up and take-downs, which is a real blessing!

On the way out, at the aforementioned river crossing, "she" felt better about it all until half-way across.  I saw her eyes go wide as she leaned backwards with the force of water and thought "oh no, not again".  Actually, worse...she let go of the rope entirely and was immediately swept downstream on her back like a flipped turtle.  The currents carried her towards my side as I ran down the riverbank so I plunged in but missed the grab.  Steep cliff sides were approaching so a bit of a panic set in.  2nd time I jumped in the current almost got me too, then third time lucky and I managed to hold on to her backpack and hair at the same time surprise.

At least her clothes were secured inside a drybag this time so a quick fire and dry underwear returned us all to normal.  Since I have another canoe trip scheduled in a couple of weeks, lets hope trouble does NOT come in threes!!

Talking about wilderness,
07/21/2011 - 02:10

I remember a pic from the National Geografic Magazine, about 20 years ago,

of some persons on a hike in the wildernes, in the morning inventing their boots.

In one it was a baby rattle snake!

My son missed a baby viper by a foot, walking down to the sea last week.

One person dies each 8 year by viper bites in Sweden, population 9 million.

Several persons dies of wasps or bees every year.

I have seen two patients who were viper bitten over 32 years as doc,

and they was watched over night at hospital.

Both showed less signs than after a wasp stick!

I read that about 1/3 of the viper bites are 'dry' bites, 

meaning they only defence themselves against big animals which they can't eat.

BTW, the viper is more dangerous than the rattlesnake,

something few peolple know or believe, but it's true!

Probably the sound effect cool


Dean gets a soaking and Doc comes in from the wilderness...
07/21/2011 - 23:02

Dean - It's great to hear that you all arrived home safely following the river incident. Hopefully your forthcoming canoe trip will be troublefree......keep us posted please.yes

Doc - I'II have to take your word that vipers are more dangerous than rattlesnakes.smiley I'II also take a little more care when putting on my boots.devil

Have a good weekend guys!


Another variation of Brevet 101652
07/26/2011 - 03:24

This example shows a variation from the drawings but is still marked with the same patent number.  It doesn't appear to have a Guillaume balance as the bimetallic layers are not of equal thickness and the poising screws do not extend past the balance arm.

From Alte-Uhren 5/1986
04/15/2014 - 14:03
Just an addition to this thread.    Kent.   Kent.
Nice addition Kent :-)
04/15/2014 - 16:17
I have not seen some of those regulators on finished watches (although the designs are similar to/patented by other makers) and wonder if some were prototypes or experimental.  Translation of the caption:Pictures of balance cock of the beginnings of the manufactory from 1755 until today. The second row shows models from the year 1880 (approximately), the third row from 1950.
great stuff guys. will put in recommended threads (nt)
04/15/2014 - 17:08