What is a balance wheel in a watch?

Vaer Watches Updated by Vaer Watches

The balance wheel is a critical component of a mechanical watch movement that helps regulate the accuracy of the watch's timekeeping.

The balance wheel is a circular wheel with a small weighted rim, and it is mounted on a pivot or staff that is anchored to the watch movement.

The balance wheel oscillates back and forth at a regular rate, typically several times per second, and the rate of oscillation is determined by the balance spring, which is also known as the hairspring. The balance spring acts as a type of torsion spring that resists the motion of the balance wheel, causing it to oscillate back and forth at a consistent rate.

As the balance wheel oscillates, it interacts with other components of the watch movement, such as the escape wheel and pallet fork, which control the release of the watch's energy to move the hands forward in small increments, creating the ticking sound of the watch.

The rate at which the balance wheel oscillates is critical to the accuracy of the watch's timekeeping. To ensure accurate timekeeping, the balance wheel must oscillate at a precise and consistent rate, which is typically measured in beats per hour. The rate of oscillation can be adjusted by varying the length of the balance spring or by adding or removing small weights from the balance wheel.

Overall, the balance wheel and balance spring work together as a critical regulating system in a mechanical watch movement to ensure accurate and reliable timekeeping.

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