Moritz Grossmann was an excellent watchmaker and a manufacturer of note. He was also one of the few nineteenth century horologists who was a thoughtful and competent writer. His main work "Prize essay on the free lever escapement" is a classic. Grossmann, who was fluent in several languages, originally wrote it in English for the British Horological Society and then translated it himself into French and German.
"On the construction of a simple and mechanically perfect watch" is a superb analysis of watch design in the latter half of the nineteenth century. It was written in French in 1869, and later Grossmann revised this original essay, translated it into German and published it in 1880 together with "Über das reguliren der uhren mit tabellen". There were later printings in 1890, 1897 and 1903. The 1880 edition was reprinted in 1981.
In 1871 he was asked to translate the essay into English for the American Horological Journal, but I don't know if that translation was ever published. An English translation was produced in 1891 by Hazlitt and Walker in Chicago and this may be Grossmann's own 1871 translation, but it is extremely rare and I have not seen it. As a result, it almost impossible for English language readers to access this significant contribution to horological literature.
My translation is of Grossmann's 1880 revision. I was more concerned with expressing Grossmann's ideas than producing a literal translation and where I felt that the original could be advantageously re-expressed I have done so. Although Grossmann's writing is very clear, he sometimes used long and convoluted sentences. Consequently there were a few instances where I was not sure of his meaning and I have added some footnotes to his two original ones. However, most of the changes were simply to replace German technical terms by the corresponding English ones.
I am happy to receive feedback and suggestions for improvements. At the time of writing my contact address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would like to thank my brother Andrew who gave up part of a holiday to help me interpret the obscure passages, Systran which produced a rough draft and my Macintosh computer which successfully pretended to be a Windows 98 machine.
Kingston, January 2001.