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.

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The LeCoutre Futurematic

Here's a a great LeCoutre Futurematic, from the mid 1950s, now freshly serviced.

These are really interesting watches, rare in working condition.  It's what's called a "bumper automatic", using a bumper for power accumulation rather than the usual oscillator. But the unique features of this watch don't stop there...

There is no crown on this watch.  The time is set by a sliding wheel on the bottom.  Sliding the wheel engages a gear inside, to connect the wheel to the dial-side works for setting the time.  It also engages a hacking mechanism to stop the balance wheel so the wheel, allowing setting to the second.

But wait!  There's more! 

Not only does the bumper design avoid the extra wheels that usually allow the weight in an auto to wind in either direction, but this nifty watch also can't stress the mainspring as early autos can - even though it has no clutch.  There is a hook inside that, as the mainspring reaches full wind, catches on a pin that moves with the mainspring coils. When this pin reaches the hook, the bumper is halted.  When a little power is used, and the spring uncoils a bit, the bumper can move again.

Futuristic indeed.  In addition, there is a mechanism that will stop the watch from running before it is fully wound down.  If the watch is left sitting it will run down to this point.  Just picking up the watch will thus give a bit of power and start it ticking immediately - so there is no need for any manual wind capability at all.

A nice watch!  If just a bit over engineered...

There's many other surprising details inside.  But that will have to wait for another post.  I didn't take any internal photos this time.  
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