The number of oscillations per second of a balance wheel defines the frequency of a timepiece, which is directly proportional to the precision and accuracy of the watch. What that means is that the higher the frequency, the higher will be the watch's accuracy and smoother the motion of the seconds hand. Apart from aforementioned factors, the 36,000 vph or high-beat watches are also less susceptible to external shocks. While watch movements with 2.5Hz, 3Hz, and 4Hz frequency occupy a larger ground in the industry, it’s the 5Hz frequency, or 36,000 vph (vibrations per hour) which few brands have achieved, that sets a watch apart.
Below are the 7 timepieces that has mastered the 5Hz frequency -
1. Longines Ultra-Chron
Taking inspiration from the original high frequency professional dive watch, the Longines Ultra-Chron Diver, released in 1968, which was also the world’s first high-frequency divers’ watch, the latest Longines Ultra-Chron, launched in February 2023, is equipped with a new high-frequency calibre L836. The high-beat self winding mechanical movement beats at a frequency of 36,000 vph and comes with a monocrystalline silicon balance-spring, boasting about 52 hours of power reserve. To be titled as Ultra-Chronometer, Longines tests the timepiece under three different temperatures (46.4 degrees, at 73.4 degrees, and at 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) for 15 consecutive days and passing of the test marked only if the watch comes out with -4 and +6 seconds time variation.
Highly resistant to shocks and water pressure, the contemporary model measures 43mm in diameter and has the design codes just like the original Ultra-Chron Diver—a cushion shaped case and a unidirectional bezel. On the dial, there are the Super-LumiNova applied hour-markers (while it was tritium in the original model) and hands are also inspired by the foremost reference; however, the date window at 3 o’clock has been omitted from the dial. Complementing the watch is a stainless steel bracelet. The timepiece is water resistant up to 300 metres.
2. Zenith Chronomaster Open
Zenith first incorporated the high-beat frequency in 1969 with the introduction of El Primero, the world’s first automatic high-frequency chronograph calibre. The legendary movement was a massive hit and in demand by Rolex - the El Primero beat inside the very first automatic Daytona. Zenith, eventually, in 1994, launched its sporty El Primero chronographs, and the movement was capable of measuring 1/10th of a second. It was in 2003 that the brand revealed the movement on the dial side by showcasing the beauty of the escapement.
With the 2022 Zenith Chronomaster Open (03.3300.3604/51.M3300), the timepiece was equipped with El Primero 3604 1/10 of a second automatic chronograph movement beating at 36,000 vph and providing 60-hours autonomy; the movement is a modified version of El Primero 3600 that appeared in the Chronomaster Sport. The 39.5mm steel watch which features a blue-toned sunray-patterned dial displaying different coloured counters—60-second counter at 3 o'clock, 60-minute counter at 6 o'clock, small seconds at 9 o'clock, and finally the aperture showcasing the escape wheel in lubricant-free silicon. There is the 1/10th of a second central chronograph hand as well. A steel bracelet flanks the case of the watch.
3. Grand Seiko Tentagraph
Achieving a high frequency along with long power reserve is the Grand Seiko Tentagraph’s Calibre 9SC5, the brand’s first and highest precision mechanical chronograph movement, which beats at a frequency of 36,000 vph, and boasts a power reserve of about 72 hours; the mean daily precision rate is +5 to -3 seconds. The movement is incorporated with dual impulse escapement, a mechanism that accomplishes the energy transfer to the free sprung balance wheel indirectly through the pallet fork, as well as directly from the escape wheel. Also, the brand has introduced a Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS), a fabrication technology in the movement to make it more precise, durable, and lightweight—testing the movement involves a 20 days process in which for 17 days the accuracy of time is measured in six different positions at three different temperatures, and the remaining three days the accuracy is checked in three different positions with the running chronograph movement.
Crafted with high-intensity titanium, the 43.2mm timepiece has a curved profile with wide lugs enhanced with Zaratsu and hairline polishing. The model is incorporated with a ceramic bezel and a brand’s signature ‘Mt. Iwate pattern’ deep blue dial featuring small seconds counter at 3 o’clock, 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock, and a 30-minute counter at 9 o’clock—all blue with white marking. There is also a date window positioned between 4 and 5 o’clock and the hour markers and hand coated with LumiBrite, a brighter and long-lasting green luminescence. The watch is finished with a titanium bracelet. Read full details of the watch here.
4. Parmigiani Tonda PF Sport Chronograph
The Tonda PF Sport Chronograph is equipped with a COSC-certified automatic manufacture movement Calibre PF070/6710, which beats at the frequency of 36,000 vph, and boasts 65 hours of power reserve. The winding rotor of the timepiece is crafted in 18K gold and is inspired by the Ferrari 250 GTO. The movement has an integrated chronograph construction with a column wheel, along with the 22K rose gold skeletonized oscillating weight, satin-finished open worked bridges, and hand-bevelled edges.
Part of Parmigiani’s currently most popular line, the 42mm sporty timepiece is crafted with stainless-steel and features a knurled bezel with 160 incisions - on a regular Tonda PF, the bezel comprises 225 incisions - making it more detailed and striking. The silvered Clou triangulaire guilloché dial incorporates black chronograph counters, delta-shaped hands, and baton hour markers coated with black Super-Luminova. Also, there is a date window popping between 4 and 5 o’clock. The timepiece is finished with a black textile strap with stainless steel folding clasp and is water resistant up to 100 metres.
6. Breguet Type XX Chronographe 2067
Housed inside the Breguet Type XX is the all-new self-winding calibre 728 that boasts a 5Hz frequency and provides an autonomy of 60 hours; the movement has a silicon-made balance spring, escape wheel, and palette-lever horns, along with black DLC-treated column wheel, vertical clutch, zero-setting activation system, and flyback function.
The Civilian Version Breguet Type XX Chronographe 2067 takes inspiration from the civilian Type XX from the 1950s and 60s. The 42mm timepiece has a fluted bidirectional graduated bezel, and features three counters of different diameter: larger 15-minute counter, the bit smaller 60 seconds counter, and the smallest one, the 12-hour counter placed at 3, 9, and 6 o’clock respectively. The triangle on the bezel, Arabic hour-markers and hands are filled with ivory-coloured luminescene. The watch comes with interchangeable straps: Nato fabric and calfskin leather and it is water resistant up to 100m. Read all the details of the watch here.
6. Omega Speedmaster Chrono Chime
The Omega Speedmaster Chrono Chime is equipped with the Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer Calibre 1932, a technical marvel and the brand’s most complicated movement as it offers fully integrated chronograph and minute repeater complications; the movement was six years in the making, and created in collaboration with sister company Blancpain. It is designed to chime the elapsed times recorded by the chronograph, and not the current hours and minutes like in a classic repeater. The movement required up to 17 patents and can withstand magnetic fields of up to 15,000 gauss, beats at the frequency of 5Hz, and displays 1/10th of a second.
The 45mm timepiece takes its design cues from the 2nd generation Speedmaster — the CK 2998, which was the first watch to be worn in space — and has been crafted in 18K Sedna gold. Apart from the bezel and crown, the case consists of a chime pusher at eight o’clock and a split-seconds pusher at 2 o’clock. The Omega watch also features a blue aventurine “Grand Feu” enamel dial along with two sub-dials at 6 and 9 o’clock positions.
7. Blancpain Air Command
Introduced in 2021, the Blancpain Air Command is powered by the Manufacture F388B movement, boasting around 50-hour power reserve. The movement is distinguished by a silicon balance spring to ensure that the movement is insensitive to magnetic fields and delivers great precision oscillating at a frequency of 5Hz, that promises fine adjustments and increased shock resistance.
The 42.5mm model available in red gold or Grade 23 titanium case, features a flyback chronograph and a countdown-type rotating bezel and a fine sunburst-patterned sporty blue dial with a tachymeter scale indicating ground speeds. Further, the dial displays a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock with three elongated markers marking three-minute increments, a 12-hour counter at 9 o’clock, and Super-LumiNova coated hands and hour markers. The timepiece is paired with a blue calfskin strap featuring white stitching.
Images: Courtesy brands