My thoughts on the Dead-Beat Seconds Complication

Many watch geeks love mechanical watches because of the smooth sweep of the second hand.
On a quartz watch, the second hand ticks once every second, but on mechanical watches, depending on the vph (vibrations per hour) they might tick anywhere from 5 – 10 times per second.
This causes the movement of second hand to look at lot smoother. Many people associate this smooth sweep of the second hand with “expensive” or “high quality” watches.

Some mechanical watches use a dead-beat seconds complication which cause the second hand to tick once per second, similar to a quartz watch.
To do this in a mechanical watch is actually a huge technical challenge. It would be a lot easier to keep the “sweeping seconds”.
Why would you go through all the trouble to make your watch look (to the non watch geek) like a cheap quartz watch?

Jaeger-LeCoultre and A. Lange & Söhne do it because it is difficult and they want to show off their technical skills.
True watch geeks like myself can appreciate the complexity and extra effort that goes into the construction and assembly of such a movement, but there are a lot of people that don’t agree with me.
Some watch collectors don’t like the dead-beat seconds complication, simply because it makes the watch look like a quartz watch.

It doest matter which side of the fence you are on regarding this issue, I am sure we can all agree that these watch movements are awesome and very interesting.

Here is Hodinkee’s explanation of the dead-beat seconds complication:
Dead seconds indicate the second with discrete jumps between them. This is contrary to the majority of mechanical watches where the second hand moves somewhat smoothly between the seconds. While the functionality seems simple, it is complex mechanically. The second hand usually moves with each vibration of the balance wheel, which would be 5 times per second for a watch running at 18,000 vibrations per hour. The dead-seconds complication requires extra mechanics to slow that rate down to once per second for display on the dial.

Here are 2 watches which use a dead-beat seconds complication.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second
Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second


The ultra high end A. Lange & Söhne Richard Lange Jumping Seconds
The ultra high end A. Lange & Söhne Richard Lange Jumping Seconds


Just look at this sexy movement on the A. Lange & Söhne Richard Lange Jumping Seconds!
Look at the gorgeous movement on the A. Lange & Söhne Richard Lange Jumping Seconds!


Here is a video on A. Lange & Söhne’s Youtube channel showing how this complication works in the Richard Lange Jumping Seconds.

Have a look at their other videos. They have a bunch of interesting videos similar to this one.

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