An Overview of the Different Types of Watch Escapements|

As a watch enthusiast, I am fascinated by the inner workings of a timepiece. Specifically the escapement. The escapement is a mechanism. It controls the timekeeping function of a watch. It regulates the movement of the gears, allowing the watch to keep accurate time. 

I have come across several types of watch escapements in my journey. Such as the lever escapement, the duplex escapement,  the Co-Axial escapement, and so on.

Each type of escapement has its own set of pros and cons. The choice of escapement will depend on the specific needs of the watch and its intended use.

As a watch lover, you do not need to know the mechanism of the escapement. But It’s important to note that the escapement is a crucial component of a watch. Also understanding its pros and cons can help you make a more informed decision when purchasing a timepiece. 

So, keep reading to know more about the different types of watch escapements. Their features, and how they affect the overall performance of a watch. It will give you a deeper understanding of how a watch works. As well as help you to appreciate the art of watchmaking.

You may check Different Types of Watch Indices.

The Escapement: What It Does

The escapement is a critical component of a watch. It regulates the movement of gears, controlling the release of energy from the mainspring to the balance wheel. It ensures the watch keeps accurate time by allowing the gears to move forward at a steady rate. 

How watch escapement work

The escapement is responsible for controlling the movement of the gears by taking small increments of energy from the mainspring. Which is the source of power for the watch, and releasing it to the balance wheel in a controlled manner. The balance wheel is the oscillating component of the watch that is responsible for keeping time.

The escapement is comprised of several parts, including the pallets. These small, triangular-shaped components control the release of energy from the mainspring to the balance wheel. Besides, the escape wheel is locked and unlocked by the pallets.

Overall, the escapement is responsible for controlling the movement of the gears. Also, regulate the release of energy from the mainspring to the balance wheel. Moreover, ensuring that the watch keeps accurate time.

Types of watch escapement:

The most commonly used types of escapements in watches are lever escapement, duplex escapement, co-axial escapement, Cylinder, Detent, Duplex, English Lever, Swiss Lever, and Verge. Each type has its own unique characteristics and advantages. 

Rest of the article you will know more about each type of escapement. Also, try to answer the most commonly asked question about watch escapement. 

Co-Axial Escapement


Co-Axial escapement is a type of mechanical watch escapement developed by George Daniels in the 1974s. It is an alternative to the traditional lever escapement and is considered to be more efficient and precise. 

The co-axial escapement uses three pallets and a co-axial wheel. The pallets are responsible for locking and unlocking the escape wheel, while the co-axial wheel controls the timing of the release of energy. The co-axial wheel is positioned in such a way that it is always in contact with one of the pallets.

This design reduces the amount of friction in the movement. Which in turn reduces the need for lubrication. Besides, increases the overall accuracy of the watch. 

It is widely used by the watch brand Omega and it’s considered an innovation in the watchmaking industry.

Cylinder Escapement

cylinder escapement

The cylinder escapement is another old watch escapement. Firstly invented by Tompion and then improved by George Graham. It was widely accepted in pocket watches after 1700 because of its slim design. 

The cylinder escapement utilizes a cutaway cylinder on the balance wheel shaft instead of pallets. As well as impulses the balance wheel by pressure on the cylinder edge as it enters and leaves.

Though cylinder escapement replaced verge escapement, it is less accurate than other modern escapements. Because it has high friction forces and needs to clean frequently.

Detent Escapement

Detent Escapemnet

A detent escapement is also known as a “free-spring” escapement because it does not use a hairspring to control the balance wheel. The escapement consists of a detent, or locking mechanism, which holds the balance wheel in place, and a pallet, which releases the balance wheel at regular intervals.

The detent escapement is considered to be a very accurate escapement, with a high level of timekeeping precision. It was first invented in the 18th century and was used in his marine chronometers. The escapement is also known for its durability and resistance to wear, making it a popular choice for use in marine and scientific instruments.

The detent escapement is a “detached” escapement, meaning that the locking mechanism and pallet do not come into contact with the balance wheel during its rotation. This reduces friction and wear, and allows for greater accuracy and stability. Furthermore, detent escapement does not need lubricating.

However, it requires a high level of skill and precision to manufacture and adjust, making it less common in commercial watches.

Duplex Escapement

Next comes the duplex escapement. t is a hybrid of the lever escapement and the cylinder escapement. 

The duplex escapement consists of a balance wheel and two pallets, one for locking and one for impulse. The balance wheel is held in place by the locking pallet until it is released by the impulse pallet, allowing the balance wheel to oscillate. The impulse pallet has a unique design, with a curved shape that allows for smooth and efficient transfer of energy from the escape wheel to the balance wheel.

Duplex escapement has less friction and wear. Which allows for greater accuracy and stability. 

Once it was widely used in high-end watches, pocket watches, and marine chronometers. But today it has lost its popularity and is less common in commercial watches.

English Lever

The lever escapement is the most widely used type of escapement in modern watches. It is a balance wheel-controlled escapement that uses a lever to convert the rotational motion of the balance wheel into a back-and-forth motion. This back-and-forth motion is then used to drive the hands of the watch or clock.

The lever escapement consists of three main components: the escape wheel, the lever, and the balance wheel. The escape wheel is a toothed wheel that rotates in a clockwise direction. The lever is a pivoted lever that is positioned between the escape wheel and the balance wheel. The balance wheel is a weighted wheel that oscillates back and forth at a consistent rate, driven by the force of a hairspring.

As the escape wheel rotates, it pushes the lever in one direction, which in turn pushes the balance wheel in the opposite direction. The balance wheel then oscillates back and forth, driving the hands of the watch or clock. As the balance wheel oscillates, the lever is released and the escape wheel rotates again, starting the cycle over.

This is an ideal choice for watches that need to be highly accurate and reliable. Additionally, the lever escapement is relatively simple to manufacture. Which makes it a cost-effective option for watches.

Swiss lever escapement

Swiss lever escapement

The Swiss lever escapement is a variation of the traditional lever escapement. It is widely used in Swiss-made watches.

The Swiss lever escapement is similar to the traditional lever escapement in that it also consists of an escape wheel, a lever, and a balance wheel. However, the Swiss lever escapement features several design improvements that make it more efficient and accurate than the traditional lever escapement.

One of the main differences between the Swiss lever escapement and the traditional lever escapement is that the Swiss lever escapement features a pallet fork that is positioned closer to the balance wheel. This allows for a shorter impulse time and a higher number of impulses per second. Which results in more accurate timekeeping.

Another difference is that the Swiss lever escapement uses a smaller and lighter balance wheel. Which reduces the energy required to drive the escapement. This also allows for a more consistent rate of motion. Even in the face of slight variations in temperature or humidity.


This type of escapement is considered to be the earliest form of mechanical escapement. The verge escapement is a type of clock escapement that uses a verge, a thin metal rod, as the escape wheel. 

The verge is located between the two pallets and rotates on a vertical axis. The pallets are located on the same axis as the verge and have a crescent shape. They engage with the teeth on the verge, which are located on the perimeter of the verge.

The verge escapement is relatively simple in design and easy to manufacture. Which made it popular in early clockmaking. However, it is also less accurate and less stable than other types of escapements. Then it was eventually replaced by more advanced escapements such as the anchor and deadbeat escapements.

In summary, escapements play a crucial role in the functioning of mechanical watches. By controlling the timing and accuracy of the watch. Different types of escapements such as lever, Swiss lever, cylinder, duplex, and Co-Axial escapement. These escapements have their unique characteristics and advantages. 

The more time passed, the more updated design came and replaced the previous ones. Understanding these different types of escapements can enhance one’s appreciation of intricate mechanics. That makes a mechanical watch function.

What escapement does Rolex use?

Rolex uses the Chronergy escapement, developed and patented by Rolex. 

The Chronergy escapement is a type of Swiss lever escapement. That features a number of modifications and improvements over the traditional Swiss lever escapement. By including an optimized geometry for the escape wheel and pallets. Which reduces the amount of energy required to operate the escapement. This in turn increases the power reserve of the watch and improves its overall performance.