I have always believed that Bessler’s wheel was genuine and it was enabled to turn by the action of gravity upon the weights inside. This is not a dramatic revelation nor something that is against what Bessler said about his machine. I think that Herman von Helmholtz was incorrect to say that because no perpetual motion machines had ever been invented it was safe to make it an axiom that they were impossible. The definition of Perpetual Motion has changed somewhat since 1847 when he wrote his treatise on the conservation of energy, and more so since Bessler’s claims in 1712. But I believe Helmholtz was wrong to say such a machine had never been invented, he ignored Bessler’s, so his axiom was indisputably incorrect, which throws into doubt everything he deduced from the axiom
The difference is clear; Helmholtz was referring to an isolated machine with no external source of energy which might spin for short time if given a push but would stop once that initial energy was used up. Bessler was referring to a machine which had a continuous external source of energy. The energy came from the falling of certain weights which were moved by the force of gravity. These were two different machines even though we refer to both as PM machines.
Here we come up against the belief that this cannot be a perpetual motion machine because the weights have to be lifted once they have fallen and the energy available was used in the fall of each weight. Clearly Bessler found a way to lift each weight using certain attributes of his configuration of the internal mechanisms. One clue lies in the witness statements which informed us that the first wheels were self starters, beginning to rotate as soon the brake was released; they were in a permanent state of imbalance.