Outside of a watchmaker’s bench, there are not many tools available for watch aficionados to measure the health of their wristwatches. By and large, when a watch’s timing ability suddenly slows down (requiring service) or suddenly accelerates (magnetism), the owner knows that it’s time to visit the watchmaker. Aside from those obvious manifestations of a watch requiring a doctor visit to the watchmaker, there are no tools available to measure and track watch health, up until recently. Lepsi unveiled a relatively simple watch analyzer that utilizes the same basic technology and methodology as a watchmaker’s timing machine, but in an elegant package that looks perfect in a home office.
The Lepsi watch analyzer comprises of a watch cushion, a stand, and cable. The Lepsi hardware works in tandem with one’s mobilephone or mobile tablet computer (iOS or Android) measures and stores for the watch being measured. Any watchmaker knows that measuring the overall health of a watch requires an accurate timing machine. Timing machines measure the beat of the escape wheel and the amplitude of the balance wheel by listening to the watch with a very sensitive microphone, -very similarly to how a doctor listens with a stethoscope to one’s heart and lungs during a physical exam. Watchmakers do the same thing with a timing machine, listening for the overall arc of the balance wheel (amplitude), the rate of the pallet fork hitting the escape wheel (watch rate and pallet fork knock) in five different positions to measure how the force of gravity affects the timing function of the watch.
Lepsi takes the same timing machine concepts, but puts it in a package for watch collectors use and track the health of their wrist watches over time. Utilizing a microphone tucked inside the watch cushion, held in very solid stand to isolate outside vibrations such that the microphone only hears watch beats, the Lepsi app measures and tracks the ticks and tocks. Lepsi’s approach makes it very easy to understand watch timing without having to attend an AWCI certified watchmaker course.
According to Lepsi’s website, the company formed after a chance meeting among three people. The first was Davy Pillet, a graduate from Ecole Polytechnique in Paris and who has worked with numerous watch manufacturers and was the person who developed the measurement algorithm at the center of Lepsi technology. Stéphane Caregnato is an electronics engineer responsible for developing the ultra-sensitive sensor that listens for the movement beats, and Alexandre Vauchel who is a graduate of Ecole Boulle, a renowned French school of crafts and design and who gave Lepsi the functional design for non-watchmakers to understand.
I used Lepsi to measure both my Sea Dweller 4000 and my wife’s Air King. Lepsi requires a one-time Internet connection to register the software, and to perform a cursory calibration with preselected atomic clocks. Once calibrated, I followed the directions, timing my watch in five positions. Rather than having a stand that rotates like with a traditional watch timer, the user just rotates the cushion in the stand, or rotates the cube shaped stand itself. The cable connection between the watch cushion and my iPhone is very solid, -no cheap headphone cables here. The timing result appeared accurate, especially when compared to my watchmaker’s professional Witchi timing machine.
Unlike a Witchi timing machine, or the hobbyist timing machine that I have stored in the closet, the Lepsi fits very well on my desk. There is no tell tale large 1970’s looking LCD display common on professional timing machines as Lepsi uses a mobile screen, and the Lepsi app keeps historical records unlike a watchmaker’s timing machine. There are other mobile apps that stores a watch’s timing over time, such as TimeTracker reviewed here earlier, but this app in only available on iOS, and it only measures overall time gain/loss and not the function of the balance and escape wheels.
The only difficulty I had with the Lepsi was with my wife’s watch. With her wrist being smaller, I had difficulty getting the bracelet to fit around the Lepsi cushion that holds the microphone. Next time, I’ll remove the bracelet and rubber band the watch to the cushion.
Lepsi can be purchased directly from their website at www.lepsi.ch, or less expensively at Orbita here in the United States at http://store.orbita.com/Watch_Tester_s/92.htm I see Lepsi tracking my watches and taking a permanent spot on my desk for many years to come.
– Sheldon Smith