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Editing Milestones talk:Pioneering Work on the Quartz Electronic Wristwatch, 1962-1967

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Milestone Manipulations118:16, 18 August 2011

Milestone Manipulations

This note relates to the 2002 IEEE Milestone in Electrical Engineering and Computing on: "Pioneering Work on the Quartz Electronic Wristwatch, 1962-1967". As an RSM of the CEH from 1963-1967 and co-inventor of the first quartz wristwatch I do confirm that this milestone nomination per se is valid, however the text is in error and/or has been manipulated in a number of ways, and as such does not qualify to transmit the correct picture on the processes involved and achievements reached.


First, the time period indicated is simply wrong, "pioneering work on the quartz wrist watch" did not start in 1962.

The pioneering work on quartz wristwatches started in 1965, not in 1962.

Before that time, the CEH investigated in Accutron type tuning fork watches and not in quartz. All other sayings are incorrect.


Second, the "foundation of the centre in 1962" can not be qualified as a major milestone, because it was a starting point of a laboratory only and not a major technical milestone. This saying is in violation with the by-laws of the milestone program contextually. Instead:
The major milestone was the world first quartz wrist watch Beta 1, July 1967, not any foundation. 
This work was initialized by two engineers May 1965. The major components were a miniaturized quartz oscillator, a temperature control module, low power BIP IC's and a stepping motor. Without the change in strategy 1965 by the laboratory director, the CEH would have come out 1967 with an improoved electronic tuning fork wrist watch at best and by that loose the competition against Seiko's quartz wristwatch. This achievement was remarkable in that a small group of technical staff prevailed against the powerfull Swiss watch industry, the governing board and the department head, all of them were against the quartz watch project.
 
One can identify at least 8 historic errors on the plate and the accompanying text. For details and background of the manipulations see: http://homepage.swissonline.ch/ahfrei/Homepage_of_A._H._Frei/Milestone.html
I like to propose the following text for the plate:

                               PIONEERING WORK ON THE QUARTZ WRISTWATCH, 1965 – 1967
A major milestone in the development of the electronic wristwatch was the demonstration of Beta 1, the world first quartz wristwatch in July, 1967 at the Centre Electronique Horloger (CEH) in Neuchâtel. The centre produced the first prototypes of quartz wristwatches incorporating a miniaturized quartz oscillator and temperature compensation module that set new timekeeping performance records at the International Chronometric Competition held at the observatory of Neuchâtel in 1967. Beta 1 operated at 8192 Hz and  divided this frequency by 14 binary stages to drive a the second hand by a step motor.  After 1969 when the first quartz wristwatches by Seiko, Japan appeared on the market, quartz wristwatches became a status symbol for people with technical appreciation, sense for precision time and financial background. Later on with the introduction of mass production technologies (e.g. Swatch) hundreds of millions quartz wristwatches were produced each year.


The critique on the milestone nomination has been escalated to the IEEE History Committee as of Oct. 2009 by Milestone Administration.


Armin H. Frei
ahfrei@swissonline.ch

Ahfrei15:01, 5 December 2009