Postdoctoral Research Associate (Mechanical Watch Movement)

Imperial College London


Optimisation of frictional performance of co-axial escapement of mechanical watch movement

Project background:

This project is a collaboration between Manchester Metropolitan University and Roger W. Smith Ltd to explore methods of reducing the frictional performance of the co-axial watch escapement.

One of the greatest challenges within the field of mechanical engineering and Horology (mechanical watch making) is reducing the friction between interfacial contacts, as friction largely defines the operational efficiency of a mechanical system.  The challenge is particularly prevalent with horology as there is limited space for a power reserve, in the form of a coiled spring, to drive the watch’s mechanism. In the mid-1970s, however, the British horologist, Dr George Daniels invented the Co-axial escapement which deploys a pushing motion, resulting in a significant reduction in mechanical friction. The Daniels Co-axial escapement was eventually industrialised by Omega in 1995. Roger Smith has further evolved this Co-axial design since 2010 to create a new single-wheel version which achieves significant energy efficiencies over the original Daniels design.

The current state-of-the-art methodology for reducing friction within watches is using specialised oil-based lubricants however these dry-out over time meaning that mechanical watches need to undergo, often very expensive, services at regular intervals (3-5 years). Given this, if the need for oil-based lubricants was removed then the requirement for costly serving would also be removed.

Project Brief:

This project will explore electrochemical techniques to deposit advanced dry-lubricating materials onto horological components (namely that of the co-axial movement produced by Roger W. Smith Ltd.), thus eliminating the need for oil-based lubricants

If successful this initial 4-month project will represent the first time such technology has been applied within the field of horology and is thus likely to result in high impact academic and non-academic publications, new exploitable IP, and further funding for research to explore the application of the developed deposition technique on holistic watch mechanisms. 


The proposed project is 4 months in duration and requires a post-doctoral research associate.

  • We are seeking a suitably qualified candidate, PhD and post-doc experience in Chemistry, electrochemistry, surface engineering, tribology or another related subject.
  • We expect some experience of analytical equipment and analysis (ICP, XRD, XPS, Raman etc).
  • Ideally a candidate would have experience specifically with the applications of advanced nanomaterials as dry lubricants and in the determination of coefficient of friction values.
  • The candidate must be comfortable and capable of travelling to the Isle of Man in support and dissemination of the project.

Applicants ideally would have a PhD and postdoctoral experience in electrochemistry, surface engineering and materials science.

Contact details:

For informal enquiries, please contact) Dr Samuel James Rowley-Neale([email protected] ) and Dr Michael Down ([email protected] )

This is a fixed-term opportunity for 4 months

To Apply:

Please submit your CV and Cover Letter via the Apply now button.

Please note: Previous candidates need not apply.

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