Killer movement for your next GTG
Some people put it on their list of the most useless watch complications of all times. What are we talking about this week? The dead beat seconds aka ‘seconde morte’ or also known as jumping seconds aka ‘seconde sautante’.
You look down at the dial and instead of a sweeping, continuous motion, the hand jumps! Sixty precise leaps per minute of the central second hand. To illustrate, imagine a highly possible scenario of your first encounter with this movement in the real, offline world: you just met a collector, taking a quick look at his wrist. You think you are looking at a quartz watch. Basically, you’re not very impressed. That is until the collector tells you there is a mechanical movement behind the ticking. This is exactly how I got into it. My indifference bordering on heavy ignorance sky-rocketed into the highest level of interest within milliseconds. I have to admit it only took me a few days to “rip” the watch off the wrist of its previous owner.
Trying to reproduce the jumping second effect on photographs would be as brutal as eating cake in front of someone and not offering them a piece. So I hope you enjoy the extra mile we went to bring you this amazing trio of macro videos featuring the Tourist Radio-Top with Chézard 7402 caliber. We decided to shoot in a very non-traditional setting to simultaneously highlight and contrast the similarity of this watch with quartz watches.
I don’t know how many times I unscrewed the case back, but it was quite a few. I just can’t get enough of the Chézard 7402 leap-second mechanism. How does it work? The core is created by two gears of the same size hugging the pawl with a pinion in between them. The second wheel on the left rotates at a constant pace. The pinion moves up with the pawl until the pawl disengages. During that micro-moment when the right wheel quickly rotates just to be locked again by the pawl that is pushed back into place. This happens repeatedly and yes, we should re-create it as a GIF.
The Chézard 7402 is a date version of the Chézard 7400. Both are simpler and more durable than its predecessor, the Chezard 115/116/117. Created around the mid 50s, the caliber 7402 hacks only when the crown is pulled, while the older version could hack with the push of the crown. The Chézard 7400 should be more reliable than its earlier more fragile versions, but don’t consider it a daily beater. Bear in mind that the friction between the pawl and the gear is considerable, meaning that the pawl and the gear are easily worn. I even read that you should not be surprised if you spot some metal chips inside the movement due to friction and abrasion.
No metal chips can be found in my Chézard 7402 though – it is jumping happily and precisely in its NOS Tourist Radio-Top I bought on an original strap with a tag. Being a date lover, the day number visible through the cyclops is a nice detail that does not hurt the watch design. Quite on the contrary. I first considered the strap color a bit weird during my early moments with this Tourist, but I started to grow more and more fond of it. I ultimately decided not to change the strap and wear it on the original. Another detail worthy of mentioning is the special inscription on a case back – SUPERCALENDAR. The only thing that makes me unhappy is that I was not able to find a single advert promoting this Tourist watch from back in the 50s.
It’s true that one can find little use for the dead second. But I have to tell you one thing: everything about this watch is just so exciting, different and juicy. I am still positively shocked by the amount of novelty this Tourist Radio-Top provided, sparking interest in a way that few watches have done in the past. If you like to park chronographs or divers on your wrist, you have to get this caliber. Seriously. This tiny watch comes with so many interesting contrasts and brings so many cool new angles that your typical watch experience gets a reality check. It might even get completely disrupted. Let me introduce you to some of those angles.
Super boring dial and hands, typical for ordinary dress watches from the 1950s. Plus, it’s even dressed in gold. But don’t let me discourage you! It’s not love at first sight. Remember that you put it on your wrist because of the dead second movement. It won’t take long until you realize the contrast between the 18.000vph frequency and the jumping second. The constant sweeping motion is so deeply rooted with classical ticking and this contrast is very pleasantly challenging to the ear and mind. What makes it even more addictive is the very audible sound of the movement. It constantly begs for your attention.
I love this one. Think of a typical name for any chronograph or diver watch. All the Chronomasters, Speedmasters, Timemasters or whatever made-up name I could bring to the table – you feel like you already heard it, right? But watch this: Tourist Radio-Top. LUXOR Secondograph. Candino Sprint. OLMA Time-Signal. Arsa Springmaster. Lovary Saltofix. The naming for watches with Chézard dead seconds is totally creative and will definitely cheer up both you and your watch collection.
Now hold on to your seat – there is another name you should be aware of. The Radiomir Independent. Again. Radiomir by Panerai. In 2001, Panerai introduced a limited edition of 160 watches that feature this rare complication. And it doesn’t stop there. The model also known as PAM 80 is powered by a re-worked Chézard caliber 7400. Cased in 42 mm and white gold, with a see-through case back and integrated cyclops magnifying the central pinion. Not a bad upgrade for some old stock calibers being often marked as low cost, ordinary or basic. I don’t think I need to mention the price it was sold for. Take it as just another reason to look around for some decent vintage watch with a Chézard 7400 caliber as it deserves its place in watchmaking history.
If you consider the uniqueness, originality and a price that ranges between USD 700 and USD 1400 – you get one of the most refreshing and affordable complications out there with the Chézard 7400/7402. As locating an Omega Synchro-beat cal. 372 seems like a distant dream and if you are not Rolex Tru-Beat fan (joking), the Chézard is your vintage way out. The dead seconds is a very simple idea at first glance, but deeper research makes one understand it is a difficult complication to get right.
During the day time, Tomas is an entrepreneur in the advertising, automotive and IT software industries. At night he turns into a watch enthusiast searching for quirky movements or vintage pieces with strong stories behind. Tomas was born and bred... read more