How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works
 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
 
Question 209

Why are Rolex watches able to spin smoothly or what do jewelry inspectors look at to tell the difference between a fake and a real Rolex watch?
A real Rolex watch has a sweep second hand that appears to move steadily around the watch face. A fake, like most other watches, has a second hand that moves with a jerky motion, advancing a little bit each time the balance ring completes one half of a cycle. However, a reader has informed me that even a real Rolex moves its second hand in tiny steps—they're just very small. If you look closely, he writes, you'll see that the second hand makes 5 tiny steps each second. Evidently, the hand-advancing mechanism steps at a higher frequency (5 Hz) than in most other watches (1 Hz). These tiny steps are hard to see so the hand appears to move smoothly. I was relieved to hear this news because the balance ring mechanism is inherently jerky and it's hard to imagine a balance ring-based watch that avoid the jerkiness.
         

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