Antoine Martin Slow Runner 1 Hertz Watch Hands-On

Antoine Martin Slow Runner 1 Hertz Watch Hands-On

Antoine Martin Slow Runner 1 Hertz Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Antoine Martin's Slow Runner is the epitome of what watchmakers make when they are trying to impress watch nerds. Who else would be able to appreciate the technical complexity and sheer whimsy of a mechanical watch with a huge balance wheel that operates at a steady 1 Hz? Visually the Slow Runner is fun, but understanding its real purpose takes not only an understanding of movements, but also an understanding of what other independent watch makers have been doing in this space over the last few years.

We first discussed the Antoine Martin Slow Runner here back in March of 2013. The brand has undergone some significant changes since then. Having lost its CEO, now all managerial and technical roles (for the time being) are the responsibility of co-founder and great watchmaker Martin Braun. I don't really know what that means for Antoine Martin at this time, as the former CEO, Bruno Jufer, has moved over to head the Swiss brand Eterna. Anyhow, let's get back to the watch (even though this industry stuff is good to know).

Antoine Martin Slow Runner 1 Hertz Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The Slow Runner is designed to slow down a watch movement to just one beat per second. That is either a third or a quarter of the operating speed of most other mechanical watches made today, assuming we are talking about 3 and 4 Hz movements. The video shows you exactly what I mean, as you can clearly see the balance wheel oscillating fully one time each second. Martin Braun designed it because it was getting popular for some small watch makers to produce "dead seconds" hand watches with second hands that ticked as they do on quartz watches. Braun explains that none of those are true one hertz watches even though their hands tick. A special gearing system slows down the seconds hand. He wanted to have a true one hertz movement - so that is exactly what he designed.

There is a rhythmic elegance to the slow beating of the large 24mm wide balance wheel. It is very cool to see and in order to ensure maximum stability, Antoine Martin fitted it with a silicon hairspring: probably the largest one made for a wrist watch today. It is very interesting to turn the watch over and look at the movement through the rear sapphire crystal and more or less just see a giant balance wheel in your face that certainly isn't expected if you don't know it is there.

Antoine Martin Slow Runner 1 Hertz Watch Hands-On Hands-On

What do you think?
  • I love it! (2)
  • Interesting (1)
  • Thumbs up (0)
  • Classy (0)
  • I want it! (0)
  • Zeitblom

    ” I love writing about timepieces like this because they get an A+ on story and interest ”

    Yes, exactly. Good-looking *and* interesting. Very cool.

    But…. at 1 Hz…. how well does it keep time?

  • Normally when you tell a non-watch person about a mechanical watch you start with, “the small spring is the hair spring and the large one is the main spring”. Quite the opposite on this one. I agree that  future dial designs might be more appealing. What’s next? A tourbillon which has a cage that rotates one per hour? All fun stuff to see.

  • Alberto123

    Well, im not sure why they call it “1 hertz” if it has 7,200 beats per hour. According to the definition of hertz (cycles per second) thas should be “2 hertz”.
    Am i missing anything?
    Love it though. I wish i could afford it.

  • WimadS

    Now that would be even more awesome! To make this a huge tourbillion :O

  • TimelyOne

    I believe you are correct…7200 beats per hour would be two Hertz. Ariel, don’t slide a timepiece face down on a rough surface during a demonstration! 🙂

  • Fortran

    Love in the video: “Pretty well priced”. Someday I’ll find CHF 19500 as pretty well priced. Someday…

  • DavidJDickson

    TimelyOne  I kind of cringed when I saw that…

  • Albi

    Alberto123  Hi, I believe that the confusion comes from the fact that the balance wheel makes two beats per cycle. So it does have a 1 Hz frequency and it makes 7200 beats per hour.
    Hope this helps

  • Ulysses31

    It’s a good looking “watch”.  That’s in quotes because this device doesn’t actually tell the time, at least not with any degree of accuracy – a third of the dial is missing, and I don’t like guessing the time.  Why bother ensuring it maintains a high degree of accuracy?  Another mechanical hand-wound device that can oscillate at 1Hz and doesn’t tell the time is a metronome.

  • Ivan1998

    DavidJDickson TimelyOneOH my!

  • Abu Rose

    7,200 beats per hour (also referred to as vibrations per
    hour) is 3,600 cycles per hours (also referred to as oscillations per hour).
    Now take the 3,600 by 60 for minutes and another 60 for seconds and
    you get 1 HZ. Verify this by the fact that 28,800 bph amounts to 4 HZ (divide by 2 then 60 then 60).
    Back to the watch itself:
    1.Dial: I like the sunburst feel to parts of the dial but I agree with Ariel that the dial configuration and overall look can be improved.
    First, as Ariel indicated giving the dial deeper dimensions would have
    helped elevate the watch’s level of sophistication. Second, I think having different
    Guilloche patterns on different subdials would also have been a nice luxurious touch, instead repeating the same and leaving the largest subdial plain.
    Third, an all-white dial on this gold case with black accents (not silver) would have
    been definitely the more elegant choice here.
    2.Hands: I guess Martin Braun likes his
    fenestrated hands. While this may work on other dials (dark colors), I agree
    that their use here on a white background is counterintuitive.
    3.Movement: The 24 mm balance wheel is mesmerizing
    to watch, and at the low HZ rate –though not the only factor- helps achieve the
    8-day power reserve. BTW, Hublot MP-05 “LaFerrari” holds the record of power
    reserve war with 50-day power reserve.
    4.Finish: Although I have not seen this particular
    watch in person but rest assured that Martin Braun is obsessed with highly
    finished creations. I own a Selene B in 44 mm SS case and it is absolutely gorgeous
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/39348198@N03/4158418794/

    Finally, I personally believe that
    after leaving the Franck Muller group and giving up the right to use the name
    Martin Braun, and teaming up with Antoine Meier (hence the name Antoine
    Martin), the talented watchmaker’s creations have been very conservative and not as visually audacious
    and “out of the box” compared to his roots. This new movement; however, is one redeeming
    signal in the right direction. Now Martin Braun has to uncover his brilliant vivid imagination for the dials once again.
    Abu Rose

  • Victore

    TimelyOne thanks for pointing it out!!  I felt for the watch.

  • The slow balance wheel is truly mesmerizing, but I wish that more attention were paid to the case.  Are the lugs really screwed on?  It seems to be, at least in the gold case, as a hairline may be noticed between the lug and the case.

    As for the dial, I just do not see the point of advertising technical details of the movement on it, especially using so much of its real-estate.

    I guess that such a long power reserve is achieved with two barrels, but I’d rather it’d have just one barrel and a micro-rotor in the place of the second barrel; an automatic with 46h of reserve would be pretty much in line with the common practice in the industry.

  • emenezes I would not be surprised if this watch has a single barrel. The slow balance spring uses much less energy, so most of the long power reserve comes from that.

  • ZL

    I always thought it would be cool to have a mechanical watch that ticked like a quartz watch to fool other watch nerds and it would just be me and my watch’s little secret.

  • ZL But would they think the power reserve indicator is a battery strength meter?

  • ZL

    MarkCarson ZL  Exactly 😉

  • Fraser Petrick

    Beautiful piece. Does it tell the time?

  • Fraser Petrick Yes but only between the hours of 10 and 4. In order to not tell the time at all, a watch has to cost over a half million bucks (US or Canadian, your choice).  For the price of this watch, it is only allowed to not tell the time some of the time.

  • IvanGopey

    Beats per hour means half of oscillation but hertz is calculate full oscillation in both side.

  • stefanv

    MarkCarson emenezes  I doubt that the slow balance uses much less energy. The reason it is slow is because it is large and heavy, and I think that makes up for the energy saved by beating only once per second.

  • WimadS

    stefanv MarkCarson emenezes  
    The weight in itself does not consume more energy.
    The balance wheel is a very simple system: the weight rotates, and gets stopped by the spring. The energy of the moving weight is transferred to the spring, and once it stops moving, the energy is released from the spring to the weight again, making it rotate in the opposite direction. This process in itself does not consume any energy and could go on for ever. 
    However, there is friction in play as well. The spring itself has friction, the bearing has friction, and there is air friction. This is where energy is lost in the form of heat, and hence the main spring needs to provide additional energy to keep the process running.
    A bigger balance wheel will have more air friction. The additional weight will cause more friction on the bearings. But on the other hand, running slower reduces the air and bearing friction. To what extend each of these variables affects the total friction determines whether it will be more or less energy consuming than a regular balance wheel.
    So just by its size it is impossible to tell if it will consume less energy than a regular balance wheel, but it might be very well possible 😉

  • stefanv

    WimadS stefanv MarkCarson emenezes  Yes, you are of course completely correct. My brain wasn’t completely in gear, and I’d forgotten that the mainspring is there to _keep_ the balance moving, not to _start_ it moving.

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