Editor's Choice

The fascination of movement

March 2024 Editor's Choice Motion Control & Drives

Alexander Merklinger is a passionate unorthodox thinker and inventor. His passion for tricky mechanical tasks pursues him. He is also a keen collector of high-quality mechanical watches. These mostly have automatic movements which wind up the watch as a result of motion by the wearer. Of course, this won’t work if a watch is lying in a cabinet, which is unavoidable if you happen to have several watches in your collection.

Motion instead of setting

Winding up and setting by hand can be quite time-consuming. Merklinger decided to build a watch winder to keep in motion those timepieces that he wasn’t currently wearing. And so began the development of a new type of watch winder that not only keeps the little mechanical works of art in gentle motion but also forms part of an aesthetically appealing all-embracing objet d’art. Sophisticated technology is combined with exquisite details to create a luxurious product in every sense.

The basic mechanical concept of the LumiSidus is characterised by its simplicity. The cylinders in which the watches are attached roll over each other and in this way keep each other in motion. Only the central cylinder has to be driven. “The rollers are in no way linked to one another, they simply touch each other at their outer surfaces,” explains Merklinger. “The motion is transmitted only as a result of the cylinders rolling off each other.”

For the entire device to function, these cylinders and the two outer retaining rings must be made with extreme precision. To assemble the watch winder, nine cylinders made of metal and perspex are placed in the frame around the driven central cylinder; stable connection of all elements in the system is not established until the eleventh cylinder is mounted.

No noise to disturb the calm

Its counter-rotating motion induces a meditative calm as the cylinders appear to float without the aid of gearwheels, belts or other means. Ten cylinders rotate not only about their own axis, but – like planets around their central star – also about the central cylinder. No drive noise is allowed to disturb this majestic performance. “One reason why we opted for the Faulhaber motor was because it doesn’t make a sound when in operation,” says Merklinger. “The extreme quietness of this motor clearly distinguishes it from all other motors available on the market.”

The silent operation was an important factor, but was not the only requirement that Merklinger placed on the motor, recalls Hendrik Stockhaus, sales expert at Faulhaber: It also had to be invisible, that is to say small enough to disappear in the largely transparent structure. In addition, it had to deliver a high torque in order to keep the 11 cylinders in constant motion, while moving at a very low speed; and it had to achieve all this reliably over a long period of time, without maintenance.”

After detailed consultation with the customer, the most suitable gear motor was selected. Thanks to its extreme reduction ratio, it can even operate at one tenth of a revolution per minute. The actual speed of the LumiSidus watch winder is between 1 and 2 rpm. The little powerhouse is made at Faulhaber Minimotor in Switzerland.

The motor is the central element of an all-embracing work of art and is made only from the highest quality components. For example, the stainless steel frame can also be supplied with a gold or platinum coating. The pedestal is made of either black granite or precious crystals (smoky quartz or agate).

App controls light and motion

An integrated lighting system using LEDs that are set in a groove in the stone gives these crystal pedestals a mysterious lustre. Using the LumiSidus app, the owner can have the device light up in every imaginable colour. The interval between changes in rotation direction can also be set using the app.

The LumiSidus watch winders made their début at the Munich Time trade show. “We source all components and materials from Germany and Switzerland,” says Merklinger. Although still new on this exclusive market, the newcomer has already found a number of prospective customers and partners.

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