Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Put your sunscreen on Australia

As Master George Daniels famously said, watchmaking is all about finishes. Even in his case, this statement is more a cry of desperation than proclamation of victory. Attractive and artistic metal finishes are simply hard to master, which is why you will never see a Rolex with a transparent case back, and why you should respect every bit of a new Omega movement.

Last night we dipped our toes into the murky waters of engraving. We began by creating sunburst patterns, and some well-hidden text on the reverse side of the main plate, underneath the watch dial. We are even contemplating signing our watch in a hidden location where only fellow watchmakers can find it. It's probably a catastrophic marketing move, but it's also a clever way of saying 'we don't care'.  The sunburst is here to stay, and maybe the stars of Southern Cross. Only time will tell.

So far, consider this another small victory for the smallest watch brand in the world.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Machined in Australia

Watch main plates, bridges and balance cocks slowly coming out of 'production line' with first movements being completely assembled and adjusted. The plan is to assemble 20 prototype-batch mechanisms, test them for a few months, then pull them apart, decorate, engrave and gold plate.


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Like no other

First things first: the (still unnamed) Australian made watch survived its first week . Very pleased to report that its daily error is less than 3 seconds per day. As you would imagine, I am wearing it myself with a great sense of achievement and pride. It’s a conversational piece to say the least.  Encouraged by prototype production, we are cautiously steaming ahead. One more set of plates was machined, jewelled and assembled over the weekend and today I am assembling the first numbered mechanism.
The plan is simple: to machine and assemble 20 mechanisms by Christmas, have them running, test them, and learn as much as possible about the repeatability of the manufacturing process.  This process cannot be rushed. There are countless unknowns yet to be figured out. For example: how many parts can we machine with one cutting tool? To answer that question you need to know acceptable part tolerances.  Which in itself is a critical piece of information no-one can tell you. There is no such a thing as a book titled "How To Make A Watch?" You can spend your entire life working for Rolex or Patek and you would be good in making one component while being practically clueless about the big picture. And, quite frankly, no-one in Switzerland will want to share their best guarded secrets with you.
That means we have to rely on ourselves. It also means taking countless measurements, gathering data, comparing and analysing. For example, my rule is to reject any parts coming from Brookvale which are not accompanied with a drawing and critical measurements.  Here is just one example of the escapement section of the main plate. The first column is design values, the second the actual machining result. The difference is 1 to 4 microns. The distance between the centre wheel and pallets bridge pin is 11535 microns and we are just 3 microns off.  You don't have to be an engineer to appreciate this level of precision.

So one day, the NH watch will not only come with the marking on the dial “Machined in Australia" but you, the owner and guardian, will have a technical drawing and measurements of its heart. Each component we make in our workshop will be individually numbered and signed, hand finished and fine-tuned. Your watch will be truly unique, with a story you will be proud to share. A story like no other.

Possible?  Sure it is - I am wearing such a watch right now.