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Hamilton - Hamilton in zero gravity

Hamilton Hamilton in zero gravity

Hamilton is testing the impact of gravity on the chronometric performance of its mechanical watch movements in a campaign of parabolic flights.

To this day Hamilton has kept this passion for flying, innovation and precision, and continues to develop pilots’ watches supported by its international ambassador Nicolas Ivanoff. For 10 years now the French aerobatics pilot – one of the best in his field – and his Hamilton watches have withstood accelerations of up to 10G on a daily basis.

It has been demonstrated that accelerations from 0G to 10G have an impact on the human body, and that athletes like Nicolas Ivanoff, capable of withstanding accelerations of this order without an anti-G suit, are rare. However, there have been no studies on the impact these accelerations may have on the precision of that indispensable object, dearly beloved of pilots: the mechanical watch. In fact, the chronometric performance of mechanical watches is always tested when the watch is not in motion and is thus subject only to the earth’s gravity (1G).

Hamilton, whose passion for aviation is allied with a passion for innovation, therefore decided to measure the precision of their mechanical watch movements when subjected to various accelerations, participating in the research initiated by ETA at the beginning of 2013. From 11 to 21 May 2015 a first test and validation phase for the measuring equipment marked the start of the study covering the range 0G to 2G.

From 5 to 16 October, at Mérignac in the French region of Aquitaine, this campaign for the testing of Hamilton watches will take place on board the A310 ZERO-G of Novespace in partnership with ETA, and will be realised in the context of the scientific campaigns conducted by the CNES (the French National Centre for Space Studies). A total measuring time of 30 minutes in zero gravity (three flights, each including a ten minute period of zero gravity) will ensure reliable results.

“Since 1919, Hamilton has been the faithful partner of those who believe that the sky is the only limit. This is why the brand has engaged in a campaign of parabolic flights. We share the same passion for pushing back the limits in order to achieve new heights of expertise, performance and emotions. We are proud to take this opportunity of advancing watchmaking research, in partnership with ETA, on the occasion of the parabolic flights which will take place from 5 to 16 October next.”  Sylvain Dolla, CEO Hamilton International Ltd.

Since 2011, Hamilton has integrated into its mechanical watches exclusive movements developed in partnership with ETA. These movements offer extended typical power reserves (60 hours for the chronographs, 80 hours for the 3-handed models) and broad design possibilities (skeleton, regulator, etc.). With the aim of continuously pushing back the frontiers of research and development of Hamilton products, the study will be carried out on 4 different mechanical movements: the H-10, an automatic 3-hand movement with a typical power reserve of 80 hours; the H-21, an automatic chronograph with a typical power reserve of 60 hours; the H-20-S, a skeleton 3-hand movement; and the ETA 2671 movement, ladies’ automatic calibre.

Theoretical models exist for calculating the effects of gravity on precision chronometry in absolute terms: disequilibrium of the spiral, disequilibrium of the balance wheel, friction on the pivots of the balance wheel due to the weight of the balance wheel, compensation for play in the pivots. This campaign will be the first to compare the theory with experimental data gathered under conditions of a total absence of gravity (0 G).

The conclusions will be applied to the development and optimisation of the performance of mechanical watches for two different user categories: users on the ground with weak gravitational variations (1G ±1) and users specifically engaging in extreme sports.


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The history of Hamilton is an exciting journey, spanning over 120 years from its foundation in Lancaster, United States to its present home in Biel, Switzerland – the capital of watchmaking. Today, the pioneering role played by Hamilton in the world of aviation, as well as in digital and electrical technology, is a source of inspiration for its timepieces. With their unique design and personality, Hamilton watches combine the American spirit...

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