The Accutron Paradigm Shift
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There is no mistaking an Accutron 214 with any other watch ever made. Put one to your ear, and you will hear the distinctive hum of an electronically driven tuning fork and you will see that, on your wrist, the conversion from vibratory to rotary motion is so smooth that the second hand appears to move continuously.
The 214 was the first of its kind and the fact that they are the only mass market electronic devices of their era that are still in every day use, raises it to the status of an American icon. Within a decade of Accutrons' introduction in 1960, the 214 changed our method of time-keeping from mid-16th century tick-tock's to electric powered watches that are the forerunner of today's timepieces.
To add perspective to that achievement, it's useful to consider a modern paradigm shift. The analogy that springs to mind is our current shift to electric vehicles.
Tuning fork driven Accutrons evolved into quartz crystal watches by the 70's but the old hummers are so robust that when given reasonable care, they run as well today as they did when new, and the number of qualified 214 repairers is growing rapidly.
New York Times article: For Collectors, a Race for a Space-Age Heirloom
© 2002 by Martin Marcus. All rights reserved. These pages may not be copied without written consent.