28,800 semi-oscillations per hour, i.e. 28,800 vph (vibrations per hour), is considered standard among calibers in high-quality wristwatches today. This number of beats corresponds to a frequency of 4 Hertz (Hz) and again translates to 8 ticks of the second hand per second – or 28,800 per hour.
The next step would typically be watches with a frequency of 36,000 vph (or 5 Hz), which are already referred to as “high-beat watches” in common parlance. Well-known representatives are certainly Grand Seiko’s Hi-Beat models and Zenith’s El Primero chronographs. But what if these watches are actually anything but high-beat?
We have compiled seven watches for you that redefine what “high-beat” truly means, beating away at up to 1000 Hz.
Without digressing too much, a short technical classification is certainly useful at this point. As a general rule of thumb, the choice of frequency is ultimately is a balancing act between duration and stability/precision. The faster the watch ticks, i.e. the more smoothly the second hand glides over the dial, the higher is the accuracy (in theory). However, this feat of strength comes at a price, so that high-beat watches generally boast a shorter power reserve than their “sluggish” counterparts.
However, exceptions also prove the rule in the watch industry, as the following innovative watch brands prove.
The Chopard L.U.C 8HF kicks off this list. Introduced in 2012, it performs at 57,600 vph, i.e. “twice as fast” as for example an ETA 2824, and still has a respectable power reserve of 60 hours. The use of silicon for the escapement wheel and lever counteracts increased wear and tear as a result of excessive friction.
Wherever watches are pushed to their limits, Breguet is usually not far away. With the Classique Chronométrie 7727 model, the traditional brand offers a watch with a high-frequency escapement consisting of a magnetically suspended balance (to minimize friction) and a double balance spring. As with the Chopard L.U.C 8HF, the lever and escapement wheel are manufactured out of silicon. The result is an impressive frequency of 10 Hz (or 72,000 vph) while maintaining a power reserve of 60 hours.
By the way, the formula for converting Hz to vph is: (Hz*2)*3600.
Louis Moinet was not only a close friend of Abraham Louis Breguet, but also an exceptionally gifted watchmaker himself. In 1815, he designed the world’s first chronograph, which he named Compteur de Tierces. This worked with a frequency of mind-blowing 30 Hz. Moinet is therefore rightly regarded – to this day – as the “father of high-frequency timekeeping”.
Did you know that we visited Louis Moinet in Switzerland? For the whole story, please see here: Louis Moinet – The genius behind the world’s first chronograph watch.
When physicist Guy Sémon took over as head of the research and development department of the LVMH Watch Division, he wanted to make TAG Heuer watches faster. Much faster. His ambitions came to fruition in the form of the Mikrograph 100. The handsome chronograph is equipped with a 50 Hz chronograph escapement that allows measurements of 1/100 of a second.
At first glance, you will not believe your eyes when activating the chronograph function of the Mikrotimer Flying 1000: With a frequency of 500 Hz, the stop-second hand makes ten revolutions per seconds, which makes it possible to measure a thousandth of a second. What you can measure with that? Well, in a 1/1000th of a second, an F1 racing car travels about 10 centimeters at top speed, while a supersonic airplane travels a full 33 centimeters at the speed of sound. So you might say quite practical for everyday life then, right?
The higher the frequency, the higher the wear and tear it causes. In order to push the limits of what is physically possible nonetheless, De Bethune has come up with an idea in 2011. By synchronizing an acoustic resonator with a magnetic escapement rotor, the brand was able to design a completely silent system that operates without the use of a balance wheel, hairspring or traditional escapement. Prototypes could thereby achieve an oscillation frequency of 626 Hz.
926 Hz are already exorbitant, but with this technology, the research and development laboratory of De Bethune has paved the way for frequencies that could potentially reach astronomical heights of up to 20,000 Hz.
TAG Heuer now only started this list, but will also top it off, proving why the Swiss brand stands for the modern sports chronograph like no other. After the Mikrograph 100 (50 Hz) and the Mikrotimer 1000 (500 Hz), both of which still operate with more or less conventional-looking balances with lever escapements, Guy Sémon wanted to up the ante once more. The result: the Mikrogirder from 2012.
The hairspring of the watch has an incredible oscillation frequency of 1000 Hertz (or 7.2 million vibrations per hour). This means, in return, that the stop-second hand races over the dial 20 times per second, allowing the measurement of a two-thousandth of a second. Mind-boggling!
Right this way for our huge selection of wristwatches.