Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Watchmaking 1.0: the basics

Last night's class was like going through a mincer.

The planned 1.5 hour session went for 3 hours. A small group of five students got their first taste of the decasing of a watch mechanism; they learned what makes a watch tick, and even undertook some minor repairs.  Andrew, Michael, Gemma and myself were at their disposal;  we allowed the students to sit behind our workbenches and even use our own tools. In one word: we have created a very unique atmosphere - turning our workshop and office into an educational facility - like no other in this city of five million.

For those of you who are unable to join us: some basics about watchmaking.

1. Ability to see

A watchmaker’s bench/work space should be located in well lit room, ideally with plenty of natural light. In addition, a bench lamp is essential.  Since you are going to deal with very small and expensive components machined to perfection, you should be able to see them properly.

- bench lamp
- at least two loupes, one with medium magnification and one with higher ( #3 and #1 )

2. Ability to disassemble

A set of quality screwdrivers is absolutely essential.  Go for the best you can afford.  A basic set of 5 screwdrivers is sufficient for a student.  Even more importantly, shaping and sharpening screwdrivers is the first task a student must master.

- set of screwdrivers
- sharpening tool
- sharpening board with abrasives
- movement holder

3. Ability to handle

Quality professional grade tweezers are other essential bench tools. Tweezers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. A student of horology would need at least 3 pairs: medium, fine and sturdy tip. Again, with medium and fine tweezers the only option is to invest in high quality Swiss tools.

4. Practice, practice, practice! 

Get yourself a junk pocket watch movement, or a wrist watch, and start disassembling,  observing and figuring out what each component does and how it is related to others.  Don’t worry about breaking or destroying parts - just practice as much as you can and in a few months you will be ready to take it to the next level.
In order to make your life easier, I have put together the Watchmaker's Tool Kit 1.0.  

It consists of the essential quality watchmaker’s tools . It is a fully 'upgradeable and expandable' set.  Most importantly, it represents value for money, and - unlike cheap tools found on eBay - the Kit 1.0 has even resellable value. Finally, each tool is available individually as a replacement so your kit will remain complete - forever.

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