Hooke & Huygens

Hooke & Huygens only makes watches with unique complications, starting with two:
a ring-shaped watch, and 8 barrels all around. The elegance of complexity.

For every watch, we make a unique gem for you personally, in addition to the 5 gems included with the watch.
You can ask us or your local jeweler to create more unique personal gemstones or sculptures,
or you choose gems from the existing assortments.

In 2014 we started designing and developing the movements and cases in-house, this took plenty of painstaking puzzling years.
Then it takes half a year for the custom parts to be manufactured by about twenty highly specialised watch part manufacturers around Neuchâtel so 100% Swiss made,
while the (semi-)precious gems come from the deep dark diggings all over the globe.
Finally we assemble all the petite precise parts into a ticking time machine and test it, and deliver directly to you or your retailer.
In 2022 we made 8 watches, in 2023 we'll make some more for the lucky ones.

Our brand name is a tribute to the forefathers in horology and their inquiring and innovative spirit,
which we honour by striving to make only unique complications never created before.

Robert Hooke & Christiaan Huygens

are among the greatest scientists and inventors of all time, and in horology they made three essential inventions:
the pendulum clock,
the anchor escapement,
the balance spring.

Painting of Robert Hooke and Christiaan Huygens

Clock & watch making before H&H

From 1500 BC onwards, time was kept by sundials, water clocks, sandglasses and incense clocks.

In the late AD 1200's the first tower clocks were built, driven by large weights, and unprecisely regulated by a verge (crown wheel) escapement and an oscillating foliot (a bar with weights) or a balance wheel (without spring).

In the early 1400's the spring-driven clock was invented, allowing in the 1500's the clocks to become smaller and portable, notably the 1505 Peter Henlein pomade watch, the oldest surviving watch, and in 1571 for queen Elizabeth I the oldest known wrist watch. These clocks and watches mostly had only an hour hand but no minute hand due to lack of precision.

Clock & watch making of H&H

In 1656 Huygens invented the pendulum clock.

In 1657 Hooke invented the anchor escapement.

In 1665 Hooke and in 1675 Huygens invented the balance spring, independently of eachother.

These were the most important inventions of mechanical watchmaking, they increased the precision from about half an hour down to a minute a day, so a minute hand was added to clocks and watches.

The first pendulum

with a verge escapement, as can be seen in the museum Huygens' Hofwijck where he once lived:

Huygens pendulum at Huygens' Hofwijck

Clock & watch making since H&H

In 1704 Nicolas Fatio de Duillier invented the jewel bearing.
In 1726 John Harrison invented temperature compensation.
In 1755 Thomas Mudge invented the free and self-starting lever escapement.
In 1765 Jean-Antoine Lépine invented the single-plate watch, and the going barrel.
In 1776 Abraham-Louis Perrelet invented the self-winding (automatic) watch.
In 1790 Abraham-Louis Breguet invented the shock absorber, and in 1795 the overcoil balance spring.

All these essential inventions are still used in today's mechanical clocks and watches.

In the 1850's Aaron Dennison started to apply interchangeable parts and division of labour to mass produce watches in the Waltham Watch Company.
In 1927 Marrison and Horton invented the quartz clock.
In 1948 Lyons cum suis invented the atomic clock.
In 1967 CEH and Seiko presented the first quartz watches.

Robert Hooke (1635 – 1703)

was an English architect, inventor and scientist in mechanics, gravitation, horology, microscopy, biology, geology, paleontology and astronomy, and has been characterised as "England's Leonardo".
At one time he was simultaneously the curator of experiments of the Royal Society, a member of its council, Gresham Professor of Geometry, and Surveyor to the City of London after the Great Fire.
He built telescopes and vacuum pumps, discovered the living cell as described in his book Micrographia, proposed biological evolution and species extinction, investigated refraction and deduced the wave theory of light, and investigated gravity, an idea which was developed by Isaac Newton and formed part of their dispute.

Christiaan Huygens (1629- 1695)

was a Dutch scientist, inventor, physicist, mathematician, astronomer, engineer, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest scientists of all time.
Huygens made groundbreaking contributions in optics and mechanics. He built telescopes, discovered Saturn's ring and its moon Titan, developed the wave theory of light and the formulae for the centrifugal force.
In 1656 he invented the freely suspended pendulum to regulate clocks, and in 1673 he wrote his major work on pendulums and horology and other mechanical theories "Horologium Oscillatorium", regarded as one of the three most important works on mechanics in the 17th century.

The phenomenon of simultaneous inventions

Inventions and discoveries are often made simultaneously by multiple inventors and scientists, for example the inventions of calculus (Leibniz, Newton), the polyphase induction motor (Ferraris, Tesla), the telephone (Bell, Gray), and the discovery of natural selection (Wallace, Darwin). In many cases it is actually a series of inventions with incremental improvements until the last inventor gets all the credits, like Edison for the electric light bulb.

The simultaneousness can be explained by inventors needing to have not only the same knowledge (about electricity) and tools (electric battery) and urge to find a solution (electric light) for a problem (oil lamp), but even more the prior inventions.

Simultaneous inventions in horology

Hooke invented the anchor escapement but some historians credit William Clement.

Hooke & Huygens invented independently and practically simultaneously the balance spring.

John Harrison, Pierre Le Roy and Ferdinand Berthoud were simultaneously inventing a precise clock for ships, the marine chronometer.

Hooke & Huygens competition

Hooke & Huygens had a fierce competition who invented the balance spring, and there were even claims from others such as Isaac Thuret and Jean de Hautefeuille. The most juicy detail is that Hooke stole the notes that proved he had the idea first.
Summarised, Hooke and Huygens invented the balance spring indepently of eachother, Hooke being the first with the idea to use for the oscillator a spring instead of a pendulum, and Huygens being the first to use a spiral spring and make a functioning watch. So we give them equal credits as the two forefathers of horology.

© Hooke & Huygens, SwissMeo montres extraordinaires