Watchmaking’s first hybrid movements
our hybrid movements
Beyond their unusual shapes, what makes AK watches unique are their manufactured hybrid movements. Thanks to a clever mix of mechanics and electronics each AK watch comes with a caliber full of surprises.
The time has come to live a totally new experience with your watch. Thanks to the hybrid movement, the best of mechanics and electronics will rest on your wrist. The best of two worlds, which until now were diametrically opposed.
On the one hand, the charm and beauty of the mechanical movement are a true feat of craftsmanship and a living work of art in itself.
On the other hand, the cold precision and logic of electronics demonstrate the strictest application of physics and mathematics.
Ok, this is unheard of, but why is it useful?
Yes, a watch can be accurate even if it isn’t a quart movement
It's been a long time since anyone has bought a luxury watch to tell the time. Mechanical watches seduce us with their sophistication and beauty. When it comes to precision, we trust quartz watches or our smartphones.
A mechanical watch loses its time. This is the price you pay for entrusting the operation of such complicated machinery to a simple spring.
Here at AK, we complement the spring with an electronic boost to guarantee maximum precision.
This is how our first manufactured movement monitored by electronics was born.
The electronics (which are not quartz) are there to monitor the amplitude of the balance wheel, the torque of the barrel, and the cadence. It ensures that the amplitude is always optimal to guarantee the utmost accuracy.
The first watch caliber with a mechanical heart and an electronic brain
What is the difference between our caliber and a quartz movement?
A mechanical movement uses as an oscillator which is the thing that swings in your watch to keep the time. This is called a hairspring balance. The energy is provided by a barrel that contains another spring. You can wind it with the crown or via an automatic winding device driven by an oscillating weight reacting to the movements of your body. The hands are driven by a series of sprockets. The frequency of such a movement is 28,800 vibrations per hour or 4hz.
A quartz movement uses a quartz crystal that oscillates at 36khz, i.e. a rate 9000 times greater than the spiral spring balance. Quartz is much more precise.
We would need a rate of 259,200,000 vibrations per hour to match the performance of a quartz movement. We won't tell you about the wear or the overheating and all the rest...
Moreover, the energy is supplied by a battery or a supercapacitor in a quartz movement. The quartz regulates the rotations of an electric motor, which will drive the hands. Recharging is done either by changing the battery or by an oscillating mass that actuates a micro-alternator that generates the charging current.
For our caliber, we first worked on making an excellent mechanical movement. Because what we were making had very specific requirements, there weren’t suitable components. So we decided to make our own components. For months, we experimented and perfected our manufacturing methods by rethinking traditional parts in quite unexpected ways and with materials we had already chosen.
Once this stage of study and experimentation was completed, the caliber was redesigned and we obtained this beautiful beast. Titanium, ceramic, and carbon are the “holy trinity” of our caliber.
We then started setting up the “beast's” nervous system: the laser that measures the angle of the balance wheel, the accelerometers to record vibrations, the humidity and temperature sensors, and the microphone to listen to the sound of the escapement.
This complex system is powered by a supercapacitor recharged by a wireless system that transforms radio waves into energy.
How are you feeling? Are you holding up? At the same time if you came to this page, you wanted to learn about the tech behind it, right? Otherwise here is a link to our shop where our watches are waiting for you ;-)
For those who stay with us, here's how the rest works.
To improve the functioning of the movement, we optimize the energy supplied to the balance wheel so that it can do its job with the utmost precision. We do not want to replace it but put it in the best conditions to fulfill its mission.
Some general information: The balance wheel has a moment of force calculated according to the desired frequency and therefore its hairspring and the force supplied by the barrel are predefined by the movement engineer. Let's say that your pendulum must have an amplitude of 320° for a frequency of 4hz. The barrel must therefore provide a precalculated force accordingly. We, therefore, need to know what the amplitude of the balance wheel is in real time and what is the force provided by the barrel. If the amplitude drops the torque must be increased or vice versa in the opposite case.
The electronics do not do the work of the balance, but they act as an electronic auxiliary that improves the working conditions of the movement. For this reason, if the electronics don't do their job, the mechanic movement will continue tirelessly to do its job independently.
Hey watch, talk to me
The hybrid movement comes with an app that is compatible with IOS and Android. With it, you will learn more about how the movement works. For watchmaking geeks, you will be able to listen to the heart of the watch and learn its language. This is the way to pretend to be an apprentice watchmaker without taking any risks.
A movement that will never leave you alone in the dark
Since the electronics are already there, you might as well take full advantage of them. We wanted to add a fun and neat feature. A nice little extra feature to amaze our customers: electroluminescence.
What is it?
We’ve replaced the SuperLuminova™ on the hands with an electroluminescent surface coating. Traditional luminescent paints aren’t very reliable or durable.
With our lighting system, you can always know what time it is, even in the darkest hours.
Charging system – Being connected does not mean it will lack energy
The hybridization of the caliber makes it possible to embed a plethora of unexpected sensors in a mechanical movement. Accelerometers, microphones, laser optical sensors for example, or motors…. As you see, it's pretty crowded in there.
Everything is connected to a processor with Bluetooth communication capability. While the mechanism is supplied with energy by its barrel, the electronics are powered by a rechargeable accumulator (Supercap). The accumulator is recharged via a remote radio link. This is another world first.
It is a fast, reliable, and energy-efficient system.
The charger is not a bulky object at risk of being misplaced. The watch case is a wireless charger. Perfectly suited to feed the little world of components inside the movement.
The electronics can switch off while the watch continues working
The hybrid caliber can also operate conventionally. If it were to happen that the electronic brain of the caliber stops, the mechanism would continue to work independently. The heart of the movement is a very finely tuned and reliable manufacrured mechanism.
Frenquently Asked Questions
Well, it really depends on your usage. Your watch needs to be charged for a few hours each week. But the best way to keep it running every day is to let your watch charge while you sleep.
Of course. The mechanical part of the movement is still there and works independently.
No, the charging is wireless which is much more convenient. Simply plug in the transmitter and place your watch within 40cm of it. Your watch will automatically take in the energy it needs to fill its tank. ;-)
Only the luckiest will be able to enjoy our hybrid movement
The hybrid movement is exclusive to AK watches. Truth be told, making watches interactive is too cool... so no, we aren’t going to share our know-how.
It's not that we're greedy, but our manufacture is on a human scale. Because the technology we use does not yet exist on the market, we manufacture the vast majority of the parts ourselves. It is for this reason and because our movements are finished by hand that we have limited production.
Our LAB-ONE model contains the first movement of its kind, the HYB-001. This unique watch was built around the original hybrid caliber. It's the perfect vessel, ready to take off for a new horological dimension.
But beware, only 245 watches will be made. The model with the HYB-001 movement is a very limited edition that will only go to the quickest among you. So it’s time to get yours now!