Classic watches, watchmaking, antique tools, history, vintage ephemera and more!
Learn about mechanical timepieces and how they work, the history of the American watch industry and especially all about the Elgin National Watch Company! Check back for new content daily.
Although this is technically a blog, the content is not generally in a time-based sequence. You can find interesting items throughout. Down the page some is an alphabetical word cloud of keywords used here. A great way to dig in is to look through those topics and click anything you find interesting. You'll see all the relevant content.
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What Is a Safety Pinion?
Many vintage American watches include the words "Safety Pinion" or "Safety Barrel" on the movement. The safety pinion refers to a pinion on the center shaft of the watch, which engages the mainspring barrel, and which is fitted to the center shaft with course threads. These threads are usually "left handed" meaning they tighten in the opposite direction of a usual screw. By being threaded in this way, the normal force of the wound watch holds the pinion tight and this drives the watch. But if the mainspring barrel moves the other way, the pinion is unscrewed. It will thus move rapidly down the shaft and disengage from the teeth of the mainspring barrel, saving the watch from damage.
The safety pinion is an American invention patented in 1857.
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