Balance spring – Definition & Meaning

A balance spring is a crucial component of a mechanical watch, serving as the regulator of its timekeeping. It is a delicate, coiled spring that oscillates back and forth, controlling the motion of the watch’s balance wheel. In this article, we will explore the definition and meaning of a balance spring, its origin, associations, synonyms, antonyms, and example sentences.


A balance spring is a tiny, spiral-shaped spring that is used in mechanical watches to regulate the movement of the balance wheel. It is also known as a hairspring, due to its fine, hair-like appearance. The balance spring is made of a special alloy that is resistant to temperature changes and magnetism, ensuring accurate timekeeping.


The balance spring was first invented by the Dutch physicist and mathematician Christiaan Huygens in the 17th century. He discovered that a coiled spring could be used to regulate the motion of a pendulum, leading to the development of the balance spring in watches. Since then, the balance spring has undergone numerous improvements and advancements, leading to its widespread use in modern mechanical watches.

Meaning in different dictionaries

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a balance spring is “a spiral spring that regulates the movement of the balance wheel in a watch or clock.” The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “a fine spiral spring that controls the oscillations of the balance wheel of a watch or clock.”


The balance spring is associated with precision, accuracy, and reliability in mechanical watches. It is often regarded as the heart of the watch, as it plays a crucial role in regulating its timekeeping. The balance spring is also associated with craftsmanship and engineering, as it requires a high level of skill and precision to manufacture and install.


The balance spring is also known as a hairspring, due to its fine, hair-like appearance. Other synonyms include regulating spring, balance wheel spring, and oscillator spring.


There are no direct antonyms for balance spring, as it is a unique component of mechanical watches. However, it can be contrasted with quartz watches, which use a different type of oscillator to regulate their timekeeping.

The same root words

The root words of balance spring are balance and spring. Balance refers to the equilibrium or stability of an object, while spring refers to a flexible, coiled object that can store and release energy.

Example Sentences

  1. The watchmaker carefully adjusted the balance spring to ensure accurate timekeeping.
  2. The balance spring is a critical component of mechanical watches, regulating the movement of the balance wheel.
  3. The hairspring, or balance spring, is made of a special alloy that resists temperature changes and magnetism.
  4. Without a properly functioning balance spring, a mechanical watch will not keep accurate time.
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