Thursday, August 30, 2018

Australian made watch project update

A major milestone. Happy to report that the first Australian-made CNC watch mechanism has been mounted into a case and, as of today, we have a fully working prototype.
So what is the big deal? Three points: 
- We have understood and mapped the 'watch genome'. We know what makes the watch tick from both a physical, functional and engineering point. 
- We are capable of manipulating and cloning the 'watch DNA'. Not just replicating the existing design but designing and manufacturing original components.
- First in Australia: milestone achieved by kids who are born in Australia, working in Brookvale, using materials sourced in Brookvale. 
If you wonder what percentage of the mechanism was manufactured in-house: the main plate, top bridge, balance cock, winding stem and screws. The main plate and bridges are core 'unifying' components which combine and house all other parts. Assigning a single percentage number would be impossible, but if we are to try: we reached 80% of the overall design and well over 50% of machining operations with 95% of integration, accuracy and performance. 
At this stage we made no effort to 'beautify' the mechanism so the main plates are straight out of the mill. No plating, hardening or engraving of any kind. 
What's next? More testing, refining, more machining. Our next milestone is to produce a batch of 20 movements and have them up and running, hopefully by Christmas.
A big 'congrats and thank you' goes to Josh and Andrew who spent the past 6 months making tooling, fixtures, learning how to operate machinery and making individual watch components. Without them we wouldn't be where we are now. Long hours and hard work are paying off and, quite frankly, this is a major achievement by two young kids who jumped into the project with no previous experience in CNC machining. Two of them are still on a $35,000 annual salary - but will be from now known as the first true Australian watchmakers. 
Right now, we have no name for this prototype movement but we believe that it deserves an indigenous name. Happy to take suggestions. The movement is cased in a Titanium 45mm case - a leftover of Ti A production batch, marked Ti M 1/1.
Some of you may ask - would it be possible to have an Australian-made watch case? The answer is simple: yes. The case itself is far less demanding than the mechanism. It can be produced on a single CNC mill/lathe machine. Taking into account already gained know-how, it would take 12 months of prototyping. The Swiss machine itself cost $800,000. Unfortunately, the case making is not going to be our priority until the new workshop is built in 2020. In one word: possible, will happen, but not just now. 
To all existing rebelde owners: this is a day you should be proud of yourselves too - without your trust and investment in our project, we wouldn't make it. Thank you.
Nick Hacko (Watchmaker - finally!)

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