Monday, April 29, 2019

check your inbox!

Yes, the assembly of MK1 is well under way.  All components are now in stock and watches are assembled in order of payment received.  So please check your inbox and follow the instructions. As always is the case: some emails are bouncing so if you believe you are on a waiting list but haven't received a MK1 email then please get in touch.

If you are newly subscribed: MK1 is a 40mm automatic watch with calendar, and stainless steel case. Designed and completely assembled in our Sydney workshop .

It is our direct challenge to the IWC Mark 18. Our watch is fitted with a better Swiss-made movement than IWC and, based on feedback received so far, it simply looks better.  Yet our watch only costs $2800.

We have no doubt that in the not so distant future MK1 will become the most popular Australian brand watch in its price range.  But, most importantly, together with our already proven rebelde range, this project will allow us to grow and train young Australians in the art of watchmaking. Robust, reliable and repairable.  Your orders are welcome - and the next time you visit us, request an inspection in person.

To place your order email



And while we are sharing the excitement

This weekend we have made first steps in the creation of the new "manufactured in Australia" watch mechanism.  You will be surprised.  More details in a month or two.                       

Simply amazing: engraving the human hair

A massive congratulations to Kern Microtechnik, Germany: using a custom made 10 micron endmill fitted in a Pyramid Nano 5 axis mill, they've managed to engrave a hair! The hair is around 80 microns thick. A true miracle of mechanical engineering.

The only other Pyramid Nano in the Southern hemisphere is located in Brookvale...
By the way, if you are wondering who made the 10 micron end mill: it's Zecha. In 1964 Erwin Zecha started his own tool making business, in his house. The entire workshop consisted of one 12 square meters bedroom. And he trained his first toolmaking apprentice 24 years later, in 1985! Talking about taking it easy... Anyhow, today Zecha is one of the leading German precision tool manufacturers still holding onto his original motto:  "Start small, grow steadily and never lose sight of the horizon".  

Friday, April 26, 2019

Hand pushers in stock

Bergeon assortment of three watch hand setting tools with stand Ref. 7404-S03

Bergeon stand with three tools for hand setting.


Bergeon assortment of hand setting tools with rotating head and base

Hand setting tools with tips in synthetic material.  Rotating head for an easy indexing of the hands.

Tool sizes:  0.60/1.20/1.50/1.60mm


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Exciting new tools just added to our store

Bergeon crystal lift for unbreakable round watch crystals Ref. 4266

Removes and inserts crystals immediately without disassembling the watch.  Will not damage the crystal. For any unbreakable crystal without tension ring.  Useful for immediately removing a watch glass for replacing the glass, steam removal or getting at the hands.


Bergeon crystal lift for oval & round watch crystals Ref. 6400


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Shaping prestige, tooth by tooth

You can spend your entire working life behind the watchmaker’s bench - and even call yourself a watchmaker - without the need to ever use a metal file. Indeed, most watchmakers don't make watches but repair them by pulling them apart, solving problems, replacing worn out or broken parts and then putting them back together.  It’s only once you start making individual components by hand that you realise that your most essential tool is no longer a screwdriver or tweezers but files, drills and polishing stones, which is now clearly obvious to me.

What is less obvious is the following:  What type of file is a true watchmaker’s file?  One which will allow you to craft a precision component, a file made to last for many years, even when used daily?

If there is one thing intrinsically more Swiss than Milka chocolate it has to be the custom of naming a product by the name of the village it was manufactured in.  Then - a few decades later thanks to the product's quality and longevity - that geographical place becomes a synonym for the product itself…or even an entire industry.

Here are a few examples:  To most watchmakers, Marvin, Cortebert, Tavannes, Orvin, Peseux and Fleurier are watch brand names but, for everyone else, they are just names of some tiny picturesque Swiss villages. Just like when you say: "I left my Montblanc on the desk", you are obviously referring to your pen, not the Mont Blanc; the highest mountain in Switzerland and Europe.

To me, Vallorbe always means just one thing: a watchmaker’s file. Well, as you've guessed, I was wrong…partially, at least.  Vallorbe is not a village but a tiny municipality near the Swiss-French border where, since the late 1890's, the Vallorbe file factory is located.  In their vast range of precision files for various industries, watchmakers’ files are branded under the name Glardon.  

So which glardon would be best suited for a job?

The answer would depend on a number of factors, all to be carefully taken into consideration. Firstly, which metal you are working on: steel, brass, titanium or some other exotic alloy? Next, the file profile, which should correspond to the shape of the component you are making, with many dozens to choose from. Then comes the grade selection which ranges from very coarse to extra fine (000, 00, 0, 1, 2 ,etc, up to 10).  There are different types of files for different stages of part production:  from roughing to precision work, polishing to shaping, down to very specific operations like escape-wheel teeth work. Then there are high-speed steel and coated glardons, diamond embedded ones, carbon fibre files; down to special shaped files designed to reach unreachable spots.

Vallorbe claims to manufacture "the hardest files in the world" with a coating of 72 on the Rockwell Hardness Table.  Since I am not an expert in hardness I had to look up this value only to find that 72 is the highest value on the list.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised... sometimes you do get what you pay for. 

While a modest set of Vallorbe watchmaker’s files could easily cost over $500 this investment is worth every cent.  Yes, there is something magical about shaping the metal - and if you prefer to do it by hand in style - then do it with glardons.

On today's offer we have two sets of glardons:  the escapement G10 set of 6 and a buff ste of 6 fies.

Price:  $390 for the set.

A new addition to the tool shop: Bergeon Ref. 30209 screw extractor

Extracting broken screws can be a pain in the bum. Unless, of course, you have a 30209 in your tool box.  This is an absolutely brilliant tool - designed primarily for the extraction of medium to large watch screws. 

Price:  $165

TIP: If you are not in a hurry, or need to remove steel screws too small to be 'clamped'- leave the brass plate in vinegar for a day or two. Vinegar will eat them away without leaving marks on brass plate or affect gold/nickel plating.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Watchmaking schools in Japan

Here is something you may not be aware of: in 40 years from now, Japan will lose 40 million of its people! Right now, the Japanese are the fastest ageing demographic on the planet.  One could wonder what consequences such a rapid depopulation will have on their society, economy and even on the mere existence of the Japanese as a nation.  As someone who has nothing but admiration for the Japanese work ethic, honesty, integrity, politeness and sophistication, I often wonder if we haven’t already seen the best of Japanese watchmaking? Is there any 'oomph' and desire left to compete with Swiss watchmaking? Do the Japanese really care? 

The answer to this question is complex. When it comes to industry and technology, Japan is losing its traditional 'fine engineering' capabilities to China. Also, it seems to me that manufacturing watches for export is not a priority. And it almost feels that the Japanese are happy with the status quo: when was the last time you've seen a Japanese watch not targeting the senior citizens market?

Then, there is another typical Japanese problem: its obsession with being just a small cog in Mega Corporation. Not only small: ideally - invisible. One man start-ups, micro operations and self-employed people are traditionally seen as inferior and unnecessary business models. Keep a low profile - from the first day in kindergarten to retirement - and beyond. Which means you can count the number of true independent Japanese watchmakers on one hand. Couple the shyness with the language barrier on the one side with aggressive Swiss branding on the other - and you can see why even in a country the size of Japan, home grown watchmaking is struggling.  

If you are a young Japanese keen to study watchmaking then you can consider one of 6 watchmaking schools in Japan. 

1. Citizen 

In the watchmaking business since 1918, Citizen just celebrated 100 years. Nowadays the big chunk of activity of the Citizen Corporation is the manufacture of precision lathes (we have one in Brookvale!) but Citizen still makes plenty of watches. The website is in Japanese, of course:

2. Nagano Matsumoto Technical school  

Operated by Nagano Prefecture.  No website.

2. Oumi Tokei school is located in Ohtsu, Shiga  

The website is  and appears to be more of a TAFE-style facility where students are trained for a wide range of trades, from blacksmithing and machining to watchmaking.

Very proper!

4. Osaka “Watches Expert Employment Training School” 

The Osaka school of watchmaking offers a 1 year course ‘to students who wish to become a professional watchmaker”.

The graduating ceremony looks like this:

5. Hiko Mizuno College of  Jewellery     

Hiko Mizuno (Tokyo campus) offers 2 years and 3 years specialised watchmakers’ courses. The website is in English and it appears that the school attracts a decent number of non-Japanese students.

6. Tokyo Watch Technicum 

Tokyo Watch Technicum was established in April 2003 and is run by Rolex Japan. Basically, it is a WOSTEP (Swiss) training program housed in a large, modern building belonging to the Rolex Japan Service Centre.  Despite sharing the same building, Tokyo Watch Technicum is independent from the Rolex Japan Service Centre and students cannot visit other floors except their training rooms. Students complete the 3,000-hour WOSTEP curriculum in two years
Tutoring: the equivalent of AUD$18,000 per year plus AUD$5000  for tools.

So far only 30 or so students have completed the course, and all of them now work for Rolex, Richemont, Breitling and Audemars in Japan.

Finally, it would be a sin to talk about Japanese watchmaking without mentioning Seiko - the most famous Japanese watch brand. Check out the brand's history page for some amazing details:

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Bergeon Jewelling Tool Seitz Ref. 30300

Set includes:

1 jewelling tool
12 flat pushers
4 stakes
12 pump pushers
11 concave pushers
15 reamers with spindle
4 tools for reducing holes in plate
3 tools for setting levers
1 platform stake
1 micrometer needle with stake
1 bush for nut
1 pusher and stake for lanterning cannon pinions
4 tools for reducing holes in plates
4 tools for reducing hour hand holes
1 bakelite base in Swiss pine wooden case

Supplied with complete operating instructions

Price: $2,200

A bold request

A couple of weeks ago I got a letter from Jim with a bold request.  He needed help replacing a chipped jewel in a 1940's Omega wristwatch.  I was puzzled by a couple of things.  First, the jewel was so small that it would take a great deal of skill to even notice the tiny chip.  Second, an amateur requesting this kind of service from a professional shows a fair bit of guts.  In particular, to complete the job Jim would need a specialist tool - a jewelling press.  As he puts it, "I cannot afford a jewelling tool yet and I cannot find any replacement jewel". 

I'll keep it short.  It was a challenge.  You can't just put any jewel that would fit.  It would have to be an Omega jewel from the 1940's.  I pulled some strings and - thanks to the kindness of a fellow Sydney watchmaker - the jewel was supplied.  Fitting it and adjusting it into Jim's mechanism was a rather straightforward job.  The total cost to Jim?  $35.  

And here is a twist:  What I didn't know at the time was that Jim was one of the first people in 2011 to complete my online Seiko DIY course.  From humble beginnings, using cheap eBay tools, to a rather impressive workbench setup in just a few years.  He also said that if he were 50 years younger he would fly up to Sydney.  Jim would make a great apprentice! 

Below is a photo of his workbench - Jim is clearly a credit to himself but he is also a credit to all of us.  This is a stark reminder of what people in a small country, far away from the epicentre of watchmaking, can achieve. Australia is no longer a remote colony in the far reaches of the planet but the home of passionate watch enthusiasts who are keenly developing skills to undertake complex and sophisticated repairs.

The second photo shows the replaced jewel.

And, for a bit of fun, I've threaded a human hair through the jewel hole so you can get some idea of its size.

Yes, it can be done.  If you have a bit of patience and a bit of determination everything else can be taught.  

By the way, to my fellow watchmakers, you will find a link to a Bergeon jewelling set that we sell online.  Even if you use it once every 10 years the tool will pay for itself on just three repairs and will last you forever.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

17/25 Manufactured in Australia

The assembly of the first batch of NH watches containing Australian manufactured parts has been completed and the watches have been delivered to their owners.  All except number 17.  Lucky last!   If you missed out on placing your order then here is your last chance.  45mm, titanium case, fitted on Trevor Jones' hand made Queensland alligator strap.

$6,900.  Inspection in person most welcome.

We will be commencing production of the next 25 pieces in a couple of months from now, with delivery anticipated somewhere in September.  If you wish to place your order and pay up front then the pre-order price is $5,500.

My apologies for really average quality images. 

The only watchmaker's apprentice in the state of Victoria

"I love working with my hands. I love fixing things, bringing things back from the dead" - said Tim Stewart, who is not just the only official watchmaker’s apprentice in Victoria,  but also the only one Victoria had in 4 years.

The ABC article, published today, explains: "Watchmakers say there is no shortage of work, but the number of independent repairers is shrinking, as big-name Swiss companies become more powerful by restricting access to spare parts and fixing more watches themselves.  Currently, there is only one way to enter the watchmaking trade in Australia. Hopefuls must sign up to a part-time TAFE course in Sydney and balance travel, study and apprentice work, if they can find an employer willing to take them on."

Graham Baker, the Victorian President of the Watch & Clockmakers of Australia, is working hard to convince government to adopt the Swiss model: an intensive, full time training.  But even with proper training in place, Graham also points out the obvious problem for independent Australian watch businesses: to hold onto staff when the Swiss mega brands come calling, offering in-house jobs for higher pay. "We might spend three or four years training them, then they're gone."

It seems that independent watchmakers stand no chance.  No spare parts, no capital to grow, no new blood entering the trade - and even when they train and pass on decades of 'behind the bench knowledge'  to apprentices, they are unable to retrain them: for an enthusiastic youngster the lure of working for Rolex, Omega or Richemont is simply irresistible.

So what is the answer and how are we going to stay in business?  By doing exactly what I have been preaching for the past 5 years: a full frontal attack.  And by “attack” I mean squeezing the last cent, the last drop of sweat and blood, and fighting back by simply being BETTER than Swiss brands. Providing a better workmanship, better customer service, faster turnaround. Undertaking complex repairs on watches rendered by their own makers as 'not worth repairing'.  Investing in new tools and machinery.  Starting the watch brand. Working long hours, studying, teaching, writing, lobbying, sharing and inspiring unselfishly, constantly and persistently.

Because that's what winners do.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Our range of watchmaker's tweezers continues to expand

We now have 23 different models in stock.  If you are a hobbyist and need just one good set of tweezers then my pick would be number 3 from Dumont.  Of course, professionals would not need my recommendation.  Call us on (02) 9232-0500 to place your order or shop online:

Watchmaking 2.0B - what a day to be proud of

Of course I was nervous - we had raised our students’ expectations so high that five of them had travelled thousands of kilometres just to spend 10 hours with us. Would we be able to meet and perhaps even exceed their expectations?  Would it be possible to teach a novice how to use professional tools, disassemble and reassemble an automatic wrist watch in one day- and would the watch even keep time and be waterproof for years to come after reassembly?

The answer to all of these questions is a resounding yes!  Our students were simply amazing. They followed instructions, and got into it with great enthusiasm.  By 7pm yesterday they were completely worn out - but over the moon. Together, we had managed to get all 5 Seikos disassembled, reassembled and up and running.  Each student had learned a great deal and their appreciation for fine mechanical watches had simply skyrocketed. 

What really impressed me the most: all five had such a refined attention to detail - the quality most prized in horology. No doubt each one of our students would make a good watchmaker.  

A big 'thank you' goes out to my small team who made W2.0B possible.  Andrew, Gemma and Michael were my three right hands.

Of course, there is plenty of room for improvement and fine tuning but with each class we are raising our ability to teach, share and transfer knowledge.  Our next W2.0B all day Seiko 7S26 course is not scheduled yet but most likely it will be held one Sunday in mid-May.  If you wish to attend, please, get in touch with us as soon as possible because seats are limited to 5 students only. Call Karin on (02) 9232-0500 and she will tell you more.

I for one can't wait to move our workshop to Mittagong: we are already excited about setting up a proper classroom with a number of dedicated benches, each tooled up, with plenty of natural light and in a quiet rural setting.   In perhaps the not too distant future - in a couple of years from now - we will be able to run not daily but weekly watchmaking courses.

And every time you spend a few dollars on a screwdriver, tweezers, loupes or even polishing cloths you are making this dream a reality. On behalf of all future students and my apprentices:  thank you.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Bergeon 7027-15A

What an amazing tool!  Bergeon calls it hair spring tweezers, which is a rather clumsy translation from the French to English.  This Master's tool is a cutter designed for cutting hair springs.  We have only got two and since this is a new addition to our workshop I will be keeping one for myself.  Therefore, only one is available.  

I would love to sell this Bergeon tool to a fellow watchmaker but this is highly unlikely.  So if you have a fetish for Swiss perfection then it's yours.

Bergeon "boutique" tool

Because you only want the best: this is a Swiss pin bar pusher worthy of your vintage Rolex. 1mm, featuring a replaceable blade, a perfect fit.

For high quality Swiss-made watch tools visit our online shop:

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Just in - a full range of watchmaker's oils and lubricants

We are very pleased to let you know that we now stock a full range of watchmaker's oils and lubricants.

Whether you are a professional watchmaker or a hobbyist you will love our range.  It is a selection based on decades of behind the bench experience.  These are the very lubricants that we use in our workshop daily, as well as every other Swiss high-end watch manufacturer.

If you need any assistance or have any questions feel free to get in touch.

To keep it simple we will refer to lubricants as per their code number.

(1) 8300 - Grease for mainsprings

Very firm grease with very good adhesion, recommended for the springs and winding mechanism.

Price:  $28

(2) Novostar - Grease for mainsprings 

The same properties as 8300.  Novostar grease is highly recommended for Seiko students

Price: Only $18

(3) - 9104 - Also known as HP1300

A general watch oil suitable for most points of lubrication except for escapement components. 

Price: $36

(4) 9010 - Escapement Oil

Ideal for lubrication of escape wheel jewels, pallets, balance staff, incabloc jewels.

Price: $36

(5) 9415 - Pallets Stone Oil

Exclusively designed for pallet jewels.

Price: $39

(6) Lubeta V105 - Auto Reverse Wheel Lubricant

Watchmaker's lubricant designed for auto reverse wheels.

Price: $19

(7) Lubeta V106 - Ball Bearings Lubricant

Watchmaker's lubricant designed for lubricating ball bearings.

Price: $19

(8) Novostar - Pocket Watch Oil

Perfectly suitable for pocket watches and small alarm clocks.  Novostar grease is highly recommended for Seiko students.

Price: $25

(9) Novostar - Type B General Oil

 A perfect choice for a novice watch enthusiast where "one fits all" is the way to go.  Novostar oil is highly recommended for Seiko DIY students.

Price: $12

(10) 8500 - Lubricant Kit

This is a set of 5 watch lubricants specifically recommended by Bergeon.

Price: $250
All lubricants are Swiss made.

Your reputation is priceless - join the rebellion

Long time subscribers will remember well how the war started and what triggered the rebellion.  Small, independent, Australian watchmakers were ridiculed in what could be summed up as three points:  We're too dumb and too old to be trained, and disinterested in investing in quality specialist tools which will allow us to undertake complex repairs at big Swiss brand standards.  

Clearly "too dumb" is difficult to disprove, and being "too old" is not really our fault, but the third point does stand:  Most watchmakers are lethargic to invest in tools, and who could blame them?  What would be the point in investing in expensive tools when access to spare parts is restricted anyway?  And yet there are a few who will do anything to defend and advance their trade and skills - and we are on their side.  

The Bergeon tool Ref. 6820 is simply called The Bezel Extraction Tool.

It is one of those expensive tools which serves a unique purpose.  When it comes to bezel replacement on Rolex, Omega, and Tag watches (as well as many other brands) it is an irreplaceable tool.  The 6820 is a piece of art.  It's a special chuck so finely and precisely machined that it will leave any engineer speechless.  It's a tool that not only separates Mister Minit from a professional watchmaker, but from a professional watchmaker and a Master.

The next time you are in the city I'll be more than happy to show you the tool, and if you are a watchmaker, demonstrate how it works.

Directly from Switzerland, yours for only $780.  (By special order with a delivery time of 6 to 8 weeks).

Click here to visit our watchmaker's tool shop online:

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Omega bracelet adjustment DIY

For almost 30 years almost every Omega bracelet contained links joined together with a simple pin and sleeve arrangement.  Speedmasters, Seamasters, Constellations - the principle was the same - and if you do have an Omega watch produced from the 1980's to 2015 it would be a shame not to be able to remove or add bracelet links by yourself.  

You really need just a couple of tools.  AF 189.810 is a simple vice designed for pin extraction.  It comes with two pads and a spare blade.  Set it up as per the photo, then turn the extractor screw to drive the bracelet pin out.  Tip:  Hold the bracelet down firmly with one hand while turning the screw with the other.  Drive it all the way in.

Some links are held together with one pin and one sleeve while other Omega links contain two sleeves.  To re-assemble, reverse the process and drive the pin.
In the case of really stubborn pins, use AF 189.820 bracelet pin punch. 
This little set comes with three pins - size 0.7, 0.8 and 1mm.
 Use the largest diameter that will fit into your bracelet and then simply hammer the pin out. 
The beauty of pin punches is that their blades too can be replaced.

As for the hammer, I recommend an 80mm head.
Pinscrew removal tool

Pin extractors

Watchmaker's hammer