Internal Balance: This Is How Compensation Works With Mechanical Watches

In the watchmaking sector, compensations are called constructions or metallurgical measures to compensate for environmental influences which disturb the course of the clock. Specifically, the term is used to compensate for the temperature error, which is why temperature compensation is also used. This is caused by changes in the shape of the mold during thermal expansion. In watches, the temperature dependency affects both the balance and the spiral, with the effect on the spiral being greater.

In the 20th century, metal alloys were developed which are temperature-resistant and therefore could replace the bimetal, for example Invar or Glucydur. While Invar consists of 64 percent iron and 36 percent nickel, Glucydur is an alloy of copper, beryllium and iron. Both materials have a very low coefficient of thermal expansion and are therefore suitable as a material for monometallic unrest.

Nowadays, they are commonly paired with a spiral of Nivarox. Nivarox is a metal alloy of nickel, chromium, manganese, titanium, beryllium, silicon and iron, developed around 1933 by Reinhard Straumann, and has properties which are advantageous in the production of balance spirals. Nivarox makes the movement behavior of mechanical watches almost temperature-neutral. While in a simple balance, a change in temperature of one degree Celsius can cause a ten-second variation of the course per day, Nivarox has a temperature coefficient of half a second per degree in twenty-four hours. Nivarox balance springs are now used by numerous manufacturers of mechanical watches in various quality levels. But there are others.

For example, Rolex has developed the Parachrome Spiral, a compound of niobium, zirconium and oxygen. The more and more silicon used reacts relatively strongly to temperature differences. Therefore, a layer of silicon oxide ensures that temperature fluctuations only change the watch’s movement very little. The material provided with the silicon oxide layer is called Patek Philippe Silinvar, Si14 is to be read on the unripe of the Omega Co-axial caliber.