Concept

Foliot

Résumé
The verge (or crown wheel) escapement is the earliest known type of mechanical escapement, the mechanism in a mechanical clock that controls its rate by allowing the gear train to advance at regular intervals or 'ticks'. Verge escapements were used from the late 13th century until the mid 19th century in clocks and pocketwatches. The name verge comes from the Latin virga, meaning stick or rod. Its invention is important in the history of technology, because it made possible the development of all-mechanical clocks. This caused a shift from measuring time by continuous processes, such as the flow of liquid in water clocks, to repetitive, oscillatory processes, such as the swing of pendulums, which had the potential to be more accurate. Oscillating timekeepers are used in all modern timepieces. The verge escapement dates from 13th-century Europe, where its invention led to the development of the first all-mechanical clocks. Starting in the 13th century, large tower clocks were built in European town squares, cathedrals, and monasteries. They kept time by using the verge escapement to drive a foliot, a primitive type of balance wheel. The foliot was a horizontal bar with weights near its ends affixed to a vertical bar called the verge which was suspended free to rotate. The verge escapement caused the foliot to oscillate back and forth about its vertical axis. The rate of the clock could be adjusted by moving the weights in or out on the foliot. The verge escapement probably evolved from an alarm mechanism to ring a bell which had appeared centuries earlier. There has been speculation that Villard de Honnecourt invented the verge escapement in 1237 with an illustration of a strange mechanism to turn an angel statue to follow the sun with its finger, but the consensus is that this was not an escapement. It is believed that sometime in the late 13th century the verge escapement mechanism was applied to tower clocks, creating the first mechanical escapement clock.
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