É hoje lançado o livro The Origins of Self-Winding Watches 1773-1779 (As Origens dos Relógios Automáticos), do investigador australiano Richard Watkins.
Mais uma acha para a fogueira da polémica a que temos dado atenção, nomeadamente aqui, sobre quem inventou a maneira de um relógio de bolso receber corda apenas com o movimento que a caixa, no seu todo, sofra. Geralmente, isso consegue-se através de uma massa oscilante ou rotor.
Ora, essa invenção histórica em relojoaria estava atribuída a Abraham-Louis Perrelet desde que, em 1952, Alfred Chapuis e Eugène Jaquet publicaram La Montre Automatique Ancienne, un Siècle et Demi d’Histoire 1770-1931.
Mas, em 1993, Joseph Flores, citando um documento de 1778, da autoria de Hubert Sarton, de Liège, Description Abrégée de Plusieurs Pièces d’Horlogerie, e onde este relojoeiro fala de um Relógio com Movimento Espontâneo, que terá apresentado à Real Academia de Ciências, de Paris, conclui que é ele o autor do primeiro relógio de bolso automático.
A partir de então, o mundo da historiografia horológica divide-se em campos "pró-Perrelet" e "pró-Sarton".
Em 2012, Jean-Claude Sabrier publica The Self-Winding Watch, 18th - 21st Century, onde volta a defender a primazia de Perrelet.
Agora, Watkins, no estudo mais completo e claro que até hoje nos foi dado conhecer, não apenas defende Flores como reafirma a primazia de Sarton na invenção do rotor.
Agradecemos a outro investigador da história da relojoaria, Fortunat F. Mueller-Maerki, a cópia do livro de Watkins que nos enviou.
De Richard Watkins, citamos:
It seems that by the end of 1779 all five known designs of self-winding watches had been developed. Two obvious designs are missing: (a) There are no early rotor watches with going barrels, and the earliest reference to this design appears to be the 1893 patent of Coviot (see Appendix 4, page 263). However, Sarton’s watch did not have a future. Its description was hidden in the minutes of the Paris Académie Royale des Sciences, not to be read for about 178 years. And very few of these watches were made. (b) There are no center-weight watches with fusees. But if this design was derived from the other mechanisms, why would anyone bother creating an unsatisfactory variant? And so it is not surprising that innovation stopped after these five mechanisms had been created.
At this point the focus changed from innovation to manufacture. Of course the boundary is blurred, but 1780 is a sensible date. By the beginning of that year: (a) Several Swiss people had started making side-weight mechanisms. (b) Breguet had begun making his version of the side-weight watch. (c) And Recordon had arranged for Spencer & Perkins to make these watches in England.
By this date Breguet’s barrel remontoir and Sarton’s rotor design had passed into history. And, for reasons that I do not understand, the center-weight watch had appeared, only to be ignored. Just one design, the side-weight with going barrel, remained. And it dominated from 1780 to the advent of the wrist watch. If dominated is the right word. At no time were large numbers of these watches made. They were always a minor part of watch making supplying a few wealthy people intrigued by the idea of an automatic watch. [...]