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Different Types of Balance Wheel

If you do not know what balance wheel is, you can go through Lesson 3 and Lesson 4 first !

The 5 most common types of balance wheels will be introduced:


There are many different types of design of balance wheel because there is temperature change.

A rise in temperature will cause an increase in the thickness, the height and the length of the balance spring, and a reduction in the "modulus" (elasticity) of the spring. The total effect of increasing temperature on the spring decreases the rate of a watch (run slower) because of the change in modulus (the other three effects tend to cancel each other).

Glucydur Balance
Glucydur Balance

Although it has the simplist shape, it can be found in many C.O.S.C. certified movement.

it is made of beryllium, copper, and iron (berrylium bronze), this new alloy was trade-named Glucydur. It is exceptionally hard and stable, very resistant to deformation, non-magnetic, and non-corrosive.

For other lower grade watches, the similar shape is used but cheaper material is used instead of alloy.

Bimetallic Compensation Screwed Balance
Bimetallic Compensation Screwed Balance

The screws around the perimeter of the balance can be moved in and out, moved to different holes, and small washers can be placed under them to increase their weight. They are used initially to poise the balance, in order words, remove heavy spots and balance the balance.

When the screws near the cut ends of the rim are moved in or out, they effect the amount of temperature compensation the balance provides. This allows matching the compensation effects of the balance to the temperature error of the particular balance spring. Adding weight near the cut end of the rim or moving screws to holes near the cut ends increases the compensating effect of the balance for both heat and cold.

Besides the screws, the balance is made of two different metal in order to compensate the effect of temperature.

Screwed Balance
Screwed Balance

Around 1930, a number of new alloys (cold-worked and heat treated) became available for balance springs. The most famous of these new alloys was a combination of nickel, chromium, berrylium, titanium, aluminum, and iron and was trade-named the Nivarox. The best grade of Nivarox springs (Nivarox I Highest) provides a temperature error of only about ±0.3 seconds per °C per day.

The new alloy allowed the use of monometallic balances because the balance no longer needed to provide compensation for the temperature errors of the spring.

Adjustable Mass Balance
Adjustable Mass Balance Adjustable Mass Balance Adjustment

Because the slot in the weight reduces the mass of the weight at that point, rotation of the weight adjusts the distribution of mass around the balance rim. If a pair of opposing weights are adjusted equally, the daily rate of the watch can be adjusted. More mass towards the outside of the balance (slot towards the center of the balance) increases the effective diameter and slows the daily rate. Weights may also be rotated individually to adjust the poise of the balance.

This design can be found in many Patek Philippe.

Rolex Balance
Rolex Balance Rolex Balance Adjustment Tool This can only be found in Rolex and shoud be adjusted by special Rolex's tools.

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