Temperature Adjustment – One of the Marks of a Quality Timepiece

Craig Duling

An experienced engineer and business professional, Craig Duling serves as chief executive officer of Heritage Management Services in San Francisco. In addition, Craig Duling has collected and studied antique pocket watches for four decades. He maintains HeritagePocketWatch.com, a website that explores several different facets of timepieces, including how to judge the quality of a specific watch.

One of the biggest markers of quality remains adjustment for temperature. Simply put, this feature means that the workings of the watch have been positioned so that the watch will remain accurate even when the external temperatures change, which would cause the metal to expand or contract.

Typically, adjustment is achieved through the balance wheel, which has screws that adjust to changes in the hairspring caused by temperature fluctuations. Newer watches use a bi-metallic compensating balance made from steel and brass. Because the balance is cut at two points, it can fluctuate with changes in temperature while keeping the time consistent.

Watch technicians are able to change the positions of the weight screws in the balance to increase or decreases the amount of compensation provided. With some tinkering, the watch should keep time accurately in a wide range of different temperatures.