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Watch 101: The Open Heart Display

For Fall/Winter 2017, you may have noticed a recurring theme from our newly released watch collections: most of them feature an open heart display. From the Envoy to the Bambino and Sun and Moon Open Heart, there’s no shortage of watches that show off our newly minted in-house made mechanical movements. In fact, Orient Watch has one of the largest open heart and semi-skeleton watch collections in the industry. But what exactly is an open heart, and where did it come from?

For starters, an open heart display allows the wearer to view the “beating heart” of the watch. This is visualized by the back and forth swinging of the balance wheel and hairspring. In essence, this is what causes the watch to physically tick. For more details on how a mechanical watch runs, click here.

To fully understand the history behind this revealing design feature, you have to understand that it was derived from the skeletonized pocket watch (also referred to as “open-worked”). The idea for this kind of design was conceived out of necessity: during the French Enlightenment in the mid-18th century, watchmakers Jean-Antoine Le?pine and Andre?-Charles Caron developed it as a unique selling point to push their pocket watches. The manufacture of the skeletonized pocket watch continued through the early 20th century.

The first skeletonized wristwatches emerged in small batches in the 1960s, while the first open heart examples came a decade later in the ’70s. However, the Quartz Revolution’s effect on the entire mechanical watch industry nearly ceased the production of skeletonized and open heart watches. It wasn’t until the late ‘90s and early 2000s that they became prevalent once more.

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