Striking-watches, repeaters and watches with
a grand-strike mechanism
Historical background :
From Ancient times, people have sought to announce the time
by an audible signal.
Certain more elaborate forms of water clocks or clepsyrdras were
fitted with chimes, gongs or balls which struck a gong.
Latter, the watchman commented the night-time hours struck on
clocks on towers, belfries and cathedrals by calling out: "Ye
people, all is calm, the clock has struck three..."
In Medieval times, monasteries and cathedrals announced the time
by bells that were rung by hand.
In the 14th
century, the invention of the mechanical clock enabled
the inclusion of a striking device. It was sometimes placed behind
the mechanism by equipping it with an independent going-train
and weights. This special going-train activated the hammer, which
struck a gong.
This very simple striking system was used until the 16th century,
when it was modified to make the number of strokes correspond
to the time announced. To achieve this, a large cam known as a
a locking-plate was added.
1676, Englishman Edward Barlow invented a repeater striking
mechanism, meaning it could be sounded on request: to know
the time, one only needed to action a "draw" installed on clocks.
the late 19th century, this mechanism which has been miniaturised,
perfected but never outdated, can be found inside the wristwatches
of most prestige brands (e.g.: see opposite).
In the present day, striking watches can be classified as follows:
alarm watch : it has an audible warning that can be programmed
to go off at a predetermined time set by moving the alarm time-setting
2. Repeater watches :
They indicate the time by a mechanism striking on request.
Quarter repeater : it strikes a low-pitched note every
hour and a high-low double note for every quarter-hour.
Half-quarter repeater: like the above, but also strikes
a high note every time the hands mark 7 1/2 minutes beyond a quarter.
Five-minute repeater : after striking the hours, it strikes
a high-pitched note for every five minutes past the hour.
Minute repeater : It strikes a low-pitched note on the
hour, a high-low note for each quarter and a high-pitched note
Chimes : repeater striking the quarters on three or four
gongs with different pitches. They can thus play tunes, the Westminster
chime being the best-known.
"Grande Strike " :
striking watch. In addition to its automatic mode, meaning the
fact that is strikes the hours and quarters in passing like
a clock (see instructions opposite), it can also, like a repeater
watch, give the time at will by activating a slide on the case-middle.
There are some quarter or even half-quarter repeater grand strike
models, but the most sought-after is undoubtedly the grand strike
Indispensable prior to the invention of modern lighting systems
as well as luminescent dials and hands, the striking watch is
now the queen of complex horological models. It is referred to
as a complex watch, with a correspondingly high cost price.