The most important property for accurate mechanical time bases is isochronism: the independence of period from oscillation amplitude. This paper develops a new concept in isochronism adjustment for flexure-based watch oscillators. Flexure pivot oscillators, which would advantageously replace the traditional balance wheel-spiral spring oscillator used in mechanical watches due to their significantly lower friction, exhibit nonlinear elastic properties that introduce an isochronism defect. Rather than minimizing this defect, we are interested in controlling it to compensate for external defects such as the one introduced by escapements. We show that this can be done by deriving a formula that expresses the change of frequency of the oscillator with amplitude, i.e., isochronism defect, caused by elastic nonlinearity. To adjust the isochronism, we present a new method that takes advantage of the second-order parasitic motion of flexures and embody it in a new architecture we call the co-RCC flexure pivot oscillator. In this realization, the isochronism defect of the oscillator is controlled by adjusting the stiffness of parallel flexures before fabrication through their length Lp, which has no effect on any other crucial property, including nominal frequency. We show that this method is also compatible with post-fabrication tuning by laser ablation. The advantage of our design is that isochronism tuning is an intrinsic part of the oscillator, whereas previous isochronism correctors were mechanisms added to the oscillator. The results of our previous research are also implemented in this mechanism to achieve gravity insensitivity, which is an essential property for mechanical watch time bases. We derive analytical models for the isochronism and gravity sensitivity of the oscillator and validate them by finite element simulation. We give an example of dimensioning this oscillator to reach typical practical watch specifications and show that we can tune the isochronism defect with a resolution of 1 s/day within an operating range of 10% of amplitude. We present a mock-up of the oscillator serving as a preliminary proof-of-concept.
Source: Journal of Mechanical Design