So what is the big deal with watchmaking and clockmaking, you may ask? In one word: it’s all about workmanship. For hundreds of years makers not only made timepieces but worked insanely hard to 'outdo' each other. Finishes, shapes, metal work, design, functionality all intertwined together with one goal: to impress and showcase the maker’s genius.
My approach is less pompous - but there is no room for improvisation and cutting corners. Here is just one example.
Yesterday the plan was to turn four brass pillars for regulator mainplates. Since this is still a prototype the focus was on construction rather than beauty. However, it soon became obvious that the inexpensive Chinese die for thread forming was outputting a rather inferior thread. Surely, once the nut is fastened, no-one would see it - except, of course, me. And that would bug me. So I pulled out a German die - and what a difference! Judge it for yourself: The first 5 turns were formed by a quality precision die, and the last 5 with an inferior one.
If you now wonder why I didn’t use 'the proper' die in the first place the answer is - Hahnreiter dies are expensive and should not be used on prototyping – and, further, the die holder for our Schaublin has not arrived yet. So I made one myself - which turned the 20 minute pillar job into a whole afternoon tool making project. Time wasted? Absolutely not.
And while we are on Hahnreiter: the German precision toolmaking company dates back to the mid 1800's. After the second World War the factory was flattened to dust but in 1947 the firm restarted its tool manufacturing business with just one employee. Today, Hahnreiter is the leader in German tap and die engineering. They have 2600 different die sizes in stock and an order placed by 3:30pm is shipped the same day. Talk about the power of one!