Horological development and industrialization

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,292
Brassicaland
#1
Time keeping is an important part of civilization, and the time keeping devices have come a long way.
The way of timepiece manufacturing can tell quite a bit about industrialization.
The first relatively precise time keeping devices were water clocks, and the first mechanical clocks allegedly came around in the 1400s.
Many people have heard of Nuremberg eggs, and these "single-handed pocket watches" were hardly time keeping.
Earlier handcrafted timepieces suffer from long time of production and inconsistent parts; some argue that certain high end timepieces are still handcrafted.
Then, standardized pieces were developed, and interchangeable parts emerged; current quartz watches have relatively replaceable movements or calibers.
Currently, only a handful of countries produce watch movements: Switzerland, Japan and China are the current leaders; Germany has a few watch brands; Britain is no longer that active in the timepiece industry (Fusee? It is quite historical already).
Timekeeping alone was a major aspect of industrial development.
When did standardized parts for timepieces emerge?
How important was standardized parts?
Why Switzerland, Japan and China lead in timepiece production?
Is horological development a good demonstration of industrial development? If so, how?
 
Dec 2011
1,297
#2
Time keeping is an important part of civilization, and the time keeping devices have come a long way.
The way of timepiece manufacturing can tell quite a bit about industrialization.
The first relatively precise time keeping devices were water clocks, and the first mechanical clocks allegedly came around in the 1400s.
Many people have heard of Nuremberg eggs, and these "single-handed pocket watches" were hardly time keeping.
Earlier handcrafted timepieces suffer from long time of production and inconsistent parts; some argue that certain high end timepieces are still handcrafted.
Then, standardized pieces were developed, and interchangeable parts emerged; current quartz watches have relatively replaceable movements or calibers.
Currently, only a handful of countries produce watch movements: Switzerland, Japan and China are the current leaders; Germany has a few watch brands; Britain is no longer that active in the timepiece industry (Fusee? It is quite historical already).
Timekeeping alone was a major aspect of industrial development.
When did standardized parts for timepieces emerge?
How important was standardized parts?
Why Switzerland, Japan and China lead in timepiece production?
Is horological development a good demonstration of industrial development? If so, how?
Standardized parts for timepieces for developed in 19th century Switzerland and the US, already. Their role was very important, obviously, as they allowed to manufacturers to capture economies of scale and scope and, thus, lower unit costs to a major degree.

Switzerland and Japan lead watchmaking because they succeeded in rationalizing production by concentrating heavily not only on the development of watches and their parts, but even more so, on the development of ever newer production processes and tools, and they were able to do so because both Switzerland and Japan had highly capable precision machinery industries wherein knowledge diffused quite smoothly. China is a mere production outlet, mainly for Japanese companies, but also for Swiss and American ones. Chinese manufacturers do not have the capabilities necessary to seriously compete in any other area than low-end watches.

Mass production of watches certainly indicates a very high level of technological and managerial sophistication as to do so requires very precise machinery, production processes, high skilled labor and businessmen developing sales markets.
 

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,292
Brassicaland
#3
Standardized parts for timepieces for developed in 19th century Switzerland and the US, already. Their role was very important, obviously, as they allowed to manufacturers to capture economies of scale and scope and, thus, lower unit costs to a major degree.

Switzerland and Japan lead watchmaking because they succeeded in rationalizing production by concentrating heavily not only on the development of watches and their parts, but even more so, on the development of ever newer production processes and tools, and they were able to do so because both Switzerland and Japan had highly capable precision machinery industries wherein knowledge diffused quite smoothly. China is a mere production outlet, mainly for Japanese companies, but also for Swiss and American ones. Chinese manufacturers do not have the capabilities necessary to seriously compete in any other area than low-end watches.

Mass production of watches certainly indicates a very high level of technological and managerial sophistication as to do so requires very precise machinery, production processes, high skilled labor and businessmen developing sales markets.
China produces rather sophisticated mechanical calibres today:
Chinese Mechanical Watch Movements

Swiss mechanical calibres (except for old stocks) are known to cost much more than Chinese calibres.
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
25,272
Lago Maggiore, Italy
#4
China produces rather sophisticated mechanical calibres today:
Chinese Mechanical Watch Movements

Swiss mechanical calibres (except for old stocks) are known to cost much more than Chinese calibres.
The difference of cost is a matter of market laws: Western investors and importers find it convenient to import from China [or to invest in China] since there the cost of manpower is well lower than in the West. So that, with the same investments [and the same machinery and automation] you will obtain a cheaper product.

This is what Trump is complaining about: if the capital finds it convenient to go to China or if Chinese products are cheaper, US production system will suffer and jobs will be lost. At least this is the reasoning at the base of the decision to impose customs duties on Chinese products.
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
25,272
Lago Maggiore, Italy
#5
A part this, going back to the topic, the measurement of time has been essential for the industrial development, not only to have a common time of reference [this has been important first of all for transportation: imagine if two trains have to pass in opposite directions along the same railway ... to know exactly what time is it ... well, it would quite important!], but to measure efficiency and performance of machines and workers.

Before of the industrial revolution the measurement of production was approximate and there weren't great calculations ... with the industrial revolution the manager of a firm begun to say "we need to produce 1,000 pieces per hour!". Great, but he needed to measure a hour with accuracy ...
 
Mar 2018
600
UK
#6
ABefore of the industrial revolution the measurement of production was approximate and there weren't great calculations ... with the industrial revolution the manager of a firm begun to say "we need to produce 1,000 pieces per hour!". Great, but he needed to measure a hour with accuracy ...
Do you have a source for that? As far as I know, the principle motivation for the development of accurate time pieces was navigation on ships and synchronising railway timetables. I have literally never heard measuring factory output as a major factor for it.
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
25,272
Lago Maggiore, Italy
#7
Do you have a source for that? As far as I know, the principle motivation for the development of accurate time pieces was navigation on ships and synchronising railway timetables. I have literally never heard measuring factory output as a major factor for it.
It's the other way round. The measurement of time aided also the industrial revolution [to be able to record efficiency and performances with accuracy]. I haven't said that the industrial revolution caused the invention of watch movement.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,860
Sydney
#8
Early navigators had a problem

latitude was really easy to work out , a stick with a cross bar could do it
or the sun shadow on a floating disk on a pail
Longitude was just too much , thanks to astronomers tables , the Jupiter moons could be used
if one stood on firm ground
at sea everybody was lost ,
Admiral Hanson cruise in the south Pacific was a disaster he didn't know if he should go East or West
took the wrong guess and nearly everyone on board died of thirst

moved by such a waste of money , the English admiralty offered a prize to anyone able to solve the longitude problem

john Harrison proposed a very accurate and reliable time piece ,
able to give the time difference between one's location and London
the royal observatory believed they could give tables of occultion of stars by the moon
they deliberately sabotaged Harrison trial test only to find that the moon had a twenty years cycle
eventually , under captain Cook warm recommendation , Harrison mark three Chronometer was accepted
at about the same time the Royal astronomers finally got their tables right
a cheap printed set of tables using the Greenwich meridian became the world shipping standard
while all the fighting ships would have the more practical but massively more expensive sea chronometers


P.S. it was common to have several for even further accuracy
the confederate corsair Raphael Semmes would confiscate time pieces from his prizes ,
by the time he was defeated off Cherbourg he has a collection of forty three , giving him an unrivaled ability to know where he was
 
Aug 2009
5,186
Londinium
#9
It's the other way round. The measurement of time aided also the industrial revolution [to be able to record efficiency and performances with accuracy]. I haven't said that the industrial revolution caused the invention of watch movement.
I think he/she is referring to Marine chronometer - Wikipedia. This allowed shipping to accurate understand their location/time to destination, which wasn't available before this became precise. The use of time to manage factories/shops/etc is nothing new, water clocks fulfill this purpose.
 
Likes: Olleus