Co-Axial Escapement10:11 am
Considered to be one of the most significant achievements in the world of horology, the Co- Axial Escapement is a modern watch mechanism. Invented in 1984 by English watchmaker George Daniels, it transmits energy using tangential forces provided by the watch’s radial movements. In a general lever escapement the friction between the balance wheel and the escapement causes wear and tear and in the long run affects the movement of the watch. On the other hand in a Co-Axial escapement, the short sliding movement of the entry pallet considerably reduces the contact surfaces and, therefore, the friction in the escapement. As a result, the escapement functions similar to that of a gear wheel meshing with a tooth, which means that it is unaffected by lubrication (a mere protective film on the tip of the escapement wheel teeth is sufficient to preclude wear and tear) and thus ensures a stable rate over the long term. The functioning of the Co-Axial calibres differs considerably from that of a conventional lever escapement with index.
The mechanics of this design must be considered in order to fully appreciate the benefits that Co-Axial escapement offers in terms of reduced friction and greater stability of the watch’s rate over time. The Co-Axial escapement consists of an intermediary wheel, a double coaxial wheel consisting of an escapement pinion and an escapement wheel, a lever with three ruby pallet-stones and a roller carrying a ruby impulse stone and a ruby impulse pin.
In any modern watch escapement, energy must be transmitted to the oscillator in both clockwise and anti-clockwise vibrations. In the Co-Axial escapement, the clockwise impulse is provided by the teeth on escape wheel directly engaging the ruby impulse stone. The anti-clockwise impulse is provided by the teeth of escape pinion engaging the lever impulse stone. After each impulse, the escape wheel is made stationary by the locking pallets, allowing the balance to complete its vibration.
The Co-Axial Escapement mechanism took some 250 years for completion and has in a way challenged the traditional lever escapement that been long used in the Swiss industry. Basically, the Co-Axial escapement reduces friction in the movement, resulting in superb long term chronometric performance. Omega is one of the major brands that has taken quite a leap in technology by using this revolutionary movement for their watches which ensure its position in the future as one of the largest watchmakers in the world. Many of the Co-Axial calibre movements also include the Si14 silicon balance spring, which makes the watch shock resistant to a high degree.