Instagram macro photography sensation @Horomariobro joins us to explain his most popular posts, starting with Lang & HeyneAndrew McUtchen
There is an endless succession of fads, curiosities and sensations on social media. @horomariobro is not one of them. And if you need to stop now and follow him, we’ll forgive you. His extraordinary macro photography and videography, coupled with insightful commentary on what his lens has captured, has hit Instagram with the force of a revelation. When it comes to dropping the knowledge, Mr Mario speaks in frank layman’s terms that any fan can understand. Sometimes he’s awed. Sometimes he’s disappointed. But always, he’s interesting beyond belief. Every single post is a must-read. It’s not over the top to say he’s become a conscience for the industry, seeing through the hype to the #details that reveal which of your most revered brands are truly obsessive about perfection.
Therefore, in a few short months, he has become legend. And he is in a company of one when it comes to posting eagle-eyed, truth telling vignettes that will make you feel differently about all kinds of brands. Want to know if your Grand Seiko polishes the underside of its hands? Want to watch ultra slo-mo of your flyback chrono returning to zero? @horomariobro is here to help. And sometimes, to harm the reputations of generally unimpeachable brands. Patek? Lange? Journe? All are brutally scrutinised and none comes out with a perfect record.
The twist in the tale is that despite and sometimes because of their flaws, @horomariobro loves all of his watches. Because he owns them all. In the same way that we push our children to be the best they can be, Mr Mario, our macro bro for all time, says he just wants his favourite brands to push harder. Get even closer to perfection.
In our debut post, we are exploring his fascination with the Lang & Heyne Georg movement and its escapement braking mechanism — hacking seconds in simpler terms. Let’s see what he had to say about this interesting devil in the detail.
AM: The focus here is the movement of the Lang & Heyne. Am I correct that this is a close-up of the brake mechanism that clamps down on the escapement?
@Horomariobro: Yes! In this video, the subject is the brake lever component of the movement. It’s a very open design, which I love about the watch. For the horologically curious, the exhibition caseback is a window to the entire unobstructed mechanism. You can really dive deep into the movement without having to disassemble the watch. Makes it a tad easier to film as well.
AM: Horological eye-candy for sure. How does it work?
@Horomariobro: The brake lever provides hacking functionality. Meaning, when you pull the crown out, it stops the second hand. Effectively, this brake lever is going to touch the moving balance wheel and bring the balance wheel to a stop, so you can synchronise to your phone or atomic clock.
AM: What about the brake lever piqued your interest?
@Horomariobro: I like this mechanism on a lot of watches; it is by no means unique to this watch. I find it really cool. This one, however, really stands out from the rest in both technical design and aesthetic finish. From a technical standpoint, the distance between the brake lever and the balance wheel is really close. This matters because it reduces the delay when pulling out the crown to bring the balance to a stop, effectively creating a more quick, and thus accurate, pause.
AM: Wow! Such a small change that makes a big difference. What about its finish stands out?
@Horomariobro: From an aesthetic point of view, if you look at the brake lever itself, it’s very polished, compared to many other brands. This part has allowed impact, so normally I don’t see a lot of polishing for this part. The finishing is kind of rough for this part, but then Lang & Heyne, they didn’t cut corners.
AM: Horology is a game of millimetres after all.
@Horomariobro: Precisely! They dedicated a good amount of time to polish this brake lever. You can see it’s got the brush finish on the surface and exquisite bevelling on the edge of the brake lever. Even the bottom of the brake lever looks to be very polished.
AM: It is beautiful for sure.
@Horomariobro: It’s not just about reaching a high degree of finishing for the eye. It’s also fabricated this way to reduce the friction. The impact, especially when it is a collision of rougher surfaces, can scratch or cause damage to the screws.
AM: What causes it to clamp exactly on those screws or balance without fail? Is that a timing thing?
@Horomariobro: It probably has to do with the length of the brake lever, and the distance between each screw. The watchmaker preforms mathematical calculations to make sure that the brake lever is long enough to be able to at least touch one screw every time it stopped. If the design is not good, the brake lever may get stuck in the middle, or if the brake lever is too short, then there could be a problem. In this case it’s designed very well – very precisely.
AM: Is this a standard mechanism for a hacking seconds watch?
@Horomariobro: Yes. But as I mentioned before, in this instance it is fabricated to a much higher degree of finishing and performance. This is a traditional design, because the screws are on the outer rim of the wheel. Patek Philippe, and their Gyromax balance wheel as an example, have collets that are on top of the outer rim of the wheel versus its side. Both work on similar principles, just in different formats.
AM: And they’re called balance weights, is that right?
@Horomariobro: Balance weights, or weight screws. In the instance of the Patek Philippe Gyromax they are collets.
AM: And the watchmaker adjusts them to regulate the watch?
@Horomariobro: Yes, they adjust them to control the inertia option. A watchmaker can turn an individual collet or screw to adjust the wheel’s balance, referred to as ‘poise’, or pairs of opposing weights to adjust the wheel’s rotation speed. To better visualise, think of a spinning ice skater that can reduce their moment of inertia by pulling in their arms allowing for a greater speed of rotation.
Stay tuned for more in-depth Q&As with the inimitable @horomariobro