It just goes to show what a contrary place Watchworld is. A lot of watchies are sniffy about quartz and the way a quartz second hand ticks precisely once every second. You’ll even hear watch tyros explaining that you can spot a “real” Rolex by the way the second hand sweeps smoothly around the dial.
In fact, even mechanical movements don’t sweep as smoothly as all that. Spring-powered second hands beat between 5-10 times a second depending on the movement. Yet, with the advent of everyday analogue quartz watches in the 1980s, most in the watch fraternity and sorority believe that proper mechanical watches (apparently) glide.
But there’s a mechanical complication that does exactly the opposite. It’s called a dead-beat seconds. It takes a mechanical movement with a conventional hairspring and balance and makes the second hand beat at 1Hz, or one beat a second. It’s one of those wonderful complications that looks so much simpler than it really is.
There’s a rather pleasing sense of history about a dead-beat movement. In the early eighteenth century when British watchmaker George Graham began using Townley’s dead beat escapement in his regulator clocks, the second hand would tick just once a second. This made it far simpler—and more accurate—to use it for setting other clocks.