Beginners Guide to Timegraphers

Written by: Maz P
Updated on:
Timegrapher

When it comes to the world of watches, accuracy and precision is of the utmost importance. Although many now wear watches as a fashion accessory, a symbol of success and for aesthetic appeal, the core purpose of a watch continues to be timekeeping. With a primary purpose of tracking time accurately, it is crucial that your timepiece remains correct. If your watch happens to run too fast or tick too slow, it can cause major challenges for your personal timekeeping.

Although knowing the time is relatively easy in modern society with access to smartphones, computers and other digital time displays, it is still highly important that your watch is a timekeeping device that you can rely on.

If you notice that your watch has started to perform erratically, it is essential to check and correct promptly to restore accurate timekeeping. The most effective way to check the accuracy of your watch is to employ the use of a timegrapher. Whilst a timegrapher can be a costly initial investment, the ROI and benefit you will get from adding one to your watchmaking toolkit is priceless.

What is a Timegrapher?

Weishi 1900 Timegrapher

A timegrapher is an essential tool in the realm of horology and one that watchmakers find extremely valuable. Designed to measure and analyze the accuracy and performance of mechanical watches, it provides insights into a watch’s movement and precision. This allows you as a watchmaker or collector to gain a comprehensive understanding of its timekeeping abilities.

A timegrapher is capable of recording various elements of watch accuracy including the rate at which the watch gains or loses time, the amplitude of its balance wheel oscillations and its beat error. If you feel that the accuracy of your timepiece is off, by connecting the watch to the timegrapher, you can instantly gather crucial data about its timekeeping behavior. This allows you to diagnose potential issues such as irregular beat rates or imbalances in the escapement.

This information is invaluable for watchmakers during the adjustment and regulation process helping you to fine tune the movement for optimal accuracy.

A timegrapher is an indispensable tool that offers real-time insights into a watch’s behavior and helping watchmakers to maintain the highest standards of accuracy and performance in mechanical timepieces.

How Does a Timegrapher Work?

Whilst every timegrapher may work slightly differently or even have different features, the primary function remains the same and works in a specific way. A timegrapher works by capturing and interpreting the subtle movements and vibrations within a watch’s escapement mechanism to provide valuable insights into its accuracy and behavior.

To do this, the timegrapher features either a microphone or sensor that detects the ticking sounds or vibrations produced by the escapement. The escapement is the beating heart of a watch and is responsible for regulating the release of energy to the timekeeping mechanism. These acoustic signals are then translated into visual data on a screen which will display graphs and/or numerical values depending on your timegrapher. This reflects the watch’s performance and shows you as a watchmaker how accurate your timepiece is at present.

Key elements such as the beat rate (the number of oscillations per hour), beat error (the consistency of these oscillations) and amplitude (the extent of the balance wheel’s swing) are precisely measured and illustrated on the timegrapher’s display. By analyzing these values, watchmakers can determine whether the watch is gaining or losing time and diagnose any irregularities.

More sophisticated timegraphers may also offer the option to simulate various positions which mimics how the watch might perform while worn on the wrist. This comprehensive analysis aids is a more detailed approach to checking accuracy and ensures optimal timekeeping performance.

How to Use a Timegrapher

Each timegrapher may work slightly differently so it is essential to consult the user manual and information before use. Your timegrapher may also have more advanced functions that require understanding. However, timegraphers in general are pretty consistent in regards to how to use them and are also relatively simple to use.

Step 1: Setup the timegrapher as per the manufacturer’s guidelines. Then begin by placing the watch on the timegrapher’s platform. Secure the watch in a position similar to how it would be worn, usually dial-up or crown-up is best for achieving the most accurate results. Ensure that the microphone or sensor on the timegrapher is correctly positioned to capture the escapement’s vibrations.

Step 2: Connect the watch to the timegrapher following the manufacturer’s guidelines. Power on the timegrapher and choose the appropriate settings including the beat rate and lift angle of the watch.

Each watch has a unique beat rate but it is usually 18,000, 21,600 or 28,800 vibrations per hour. Some timegraphers allow you you to set this to Auto (which I always do). Make sure to input the correct lift angle using our watch movement lift angles list.

Step 3: Start the measurement process. The timegrapher will begin capturing the ticking sounds or vibrations of the escapement. Allow the measurement to run for a few seconds to gather sufficient data. Time will vary by timegrapher.

Step 4: The timegrapher’s display will show graphs and/or numerical values indicating the watch’s performance. Take note of the beat rate, beat error and amplitude values. A consistent beat error and amplitude within a specific range are indicative of accurate timekeeping.

Step 5: Some timegraphers also offer the option to test the watch’s performance in different positions. Rotate the watch accordingly to observe any variations in accuracy. This can help ensure that the data displayed is consistent and accurate.

Step 6: Once the timegrapher has collected the data, it is time to analyze the results. If the beat rate is off, the watch may be gaining or losing time. Adjustments might be needed to the hairspring, balance wheel or the watch may need to be demagnetized. If the beat error is high, it could signify escapement irregularities.

Step 7: Make the necessary adjustments.

Step 8: After making adjustments, repeat the measurement process to observe the impact on the watch’s accuracy. Complete further adjustments as needed to achieve optimal performance.

Timegrapher 1000 vs 1900

The Timegrapher 1000 and 1900 are two versions of one of the most popular timegraphers. Whilst both are designed to assess the performance of mechanical watches and allow testing in various positions, they feature a few subtle screen differences:

  • Screen Size – The 1900 model has the larger screen.
  • Resolution – The resolution is drastically different between the 1000 and 1900. The best way to describe this is to imagine putting an original Nintendo Gameboy next to a modern smartphone and you’ll get the idea.
  • Screen Color – The 1000 model has a monochrome screen whereas the 1900 model has a color screen.
    • On the 1900 the two traces appear in yellow and light blue to discriminate entrance and exit pings for easier beat error adjustment. For fault resolution it is essential to be able to identify which trace is the entrance and which is the exit which is impossible with the 1000 timegrapher.

Ultimately, the choice between the two would depend on your own needs and preferences. The 1000 works extremely well for the majority of watches and whilst more limited in function, is a great starting timegrapher at a more affordable price tag. As you advance through your watchmaking journey, you may decide you want to explore the more advanced features of a 1900 but in the initial stages, a 1000 model is more than adequate.

Weishi 1000 Timegrapher
Weishi 1000 Timegrapher
Weishi 1900 Timegrapher
Weishi 1900 Timegrapher
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03/07/2024 01:46 pm GMT

Weishi 1000 Timegrapher

The Timegrapher 1000 is equipped with all the essential functions needed to analyze a watch’s accuracy and is more than enough for beginners.  It measures the critical parameters such as beat rate, beat error and amplitude, displaying results both graphically and numerically.  The Timegrapher 1000 is a great option for novice watchmaker’s just getting to grips with timegraphers and watch accuracy.  It is also an affordable solution for watchmaker’s who do not require all the fancy technological advancements.

If the color issue mentioned above is not a concern for you then overall, the Weishi Timegrapher 1000 is a dependable and practical choice that is the top choice for watchmakers.

Weishi 1900 Timegrapher

The Weishi Timegrapher 1900 is undoubtedly one of the most popular timegraphers in the watchmaking community and proves itself as a valuable tool. With its user-friendly interface, backlit screen and essential measurement functions, it offers a convenient way to assess the performance of mechanical watches.

As a model with more technological advancements, you will find that it also has a larger, high resolution color display that makes reading the data and fault finding your movement much easier.

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03/07/2024 02:24 pm GMT

Timegraphers FAQ

The amplitude is the measurement of how far a watch’s balance wheel swings in both directions from its resting position. This is measured on a timegrapher to show the health of your watch’s movement.

The beat rate refers to the number of oscillations (beats) a watch’s balance wheel completes in a given time, usually measured in beats per hour (BPH). This ultimately shows how many seconds fast or slow your watch is running.

The beat error identifies the inaccuracies with the time interval showing that your timepiece is performing erratically.

A good timegrapher reading varies by watch. However, a typically good reading falls within +/- 25 seconds per day and an amplitude of between 270-310.

Weishi is a brand known for producing watchmaking tools including timegraphers. They offer various models designed to measure and analyze the performance of mechanical watches helping watchmakers regulate timepieces for optimal accuracy.

If you think I’ve missed anything or have anything to add, please comment below.

AUTHOR

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I started WatchmakingTools to share my passion and knowledge with those already bitten by the watchmaking bug. I’ve often spent hours searching online for answers on a specific issue, and even though there is a wealth of information out there, it hasn’t always been very useful, hence why I wanted to share my own findings.

6 thoughts on “Beginners Guide to Timegraphers”

  1. Maz good article I’m hoping you can give me some help.l have a problem with my Weishi 3000 timegrapher l don’t think the trouble is with the timegrapher but the watch.Could you tell me where it picks up the signal for the rate or from what part of the watch.It’s driving me crazy if I could find out where the signal comes from I’ll more than happy.lve tried other watches and it’s fine
    Many thanks
    Pete

    Reply
    • Hi Peter, this is not a simple answer but hopefully will point you in the right direction. The beat error is the difference in milliseconds between the the time the escapement lever spends to the left compared to the time the escapement lever spends to the right. In other words it is the time difference between the ‘tick’ and the ‘tock’ of the movement. Ideally it should be 0.0ms meaning that the balance wheel swings exactly as far clockwise as it does counter-(anti-)clockwise. It is common to have a reading that is not quite zero which does not have much effect on the time-keeping. However, a larger number, for example more than 0.4ms, could indicate a poorly regulated watch and anything more than 0.8ms really could indicate a problem with the balance. A higher beat error will increase the difficulty in regulating the watch and will also likely give more positional errors – a big difference between dial up and dial down for example.

      Hope this helps.

      Reply
      • Maz thanks top man great information l couldn’t have explained myself properly its the rate l was really after ie fast or slow l apologies for the mistake if you could give me a answer as comprehensive as the last one l would be happy
        Many thanks
        Pete

        Reply
        • Hi Pete, these types of issues could be caused by a number of factors but I would start by examining the escapement and mainspring closely first, as there may be an issue with either of these that jumps out at you. If this doesn’t help then please contact me via this form – https://watchmakingtools.com/contact-us/.

          Reply
  2. Hello, I’m wondering if you can shed any light on this, I have a centre seconds chronometer which is running ok visually, it’s gaining a couple of minutes a day so I put it on the timegraher, I hear 3 ticks then it misses then starts up again consequently the timegrapher does display the usual information ie +/- seconds a day etc
    I’ve done a slow motion video of the escape wheel & that seems uniform & a slow motion video of the second hand & again that looks ok.
    Thx
    Robert

    Reply
    • Hi Robert,

      If everything looks good in slow motion of the escape wheel and pallet, as well as the second hand moving as it should and the watch is gaining a couple of minutes per day, then I would question the timegrapher output/reading.

      If there are only three ticks and then it misses, then starts again, the timegrapher would show that trace as a broken one and not a continuous one which hasn’t been stated. See this example timegrapher trace:

      Timegrapher Trace - Mislocking

      If the movement is mislocking (skipping several escape wheel teeth) it would clearly be shown in a broken trace, but also be seen in slow motion of the escapement, which would show the missed escape wheel teeth. I’m guessing the timegrapher is giving a false reading, or turn the gain up so the signal is clearer.

      These sorts of issues are hard to remedy without seeing the timegrapher trace. Based on the information you’ve provided i can only assume the issue is either mislocking, but that would be seen on the timegrapher trace, as well as being seen in slow motion, or it’s not and the timegrapher is giving false readings.

      What is the type of timegrapher? Is it a cheap phone type, which are unreliable, or is it something else more reliable like the 1000 or 1900 models?

      Reply

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