|Traditionally in horology, gear and pinion manufacturing are the most difficult tasks. |
For even accomplished watchmakers, the ability to cut a gear in-house has been always been undisputed proof of a Master’s craftsmanship. However, the technical challenge with gear cutting has remained the same for the past 500 years: gear cutting and hobbing machinery and tools are not only very expensive but also very limited: one tool can cut just a few different 'profiles'. This meant a watchmaker was only capable of making a very limited number of gear train combinations and rarely any complicated clocks or watches beyond his 'standard' set.
This challenge presented itself in yet another form: the gear repair and restoration limits. Chances that a Swiss watchmaker in the 1970’s would be able to make a replacement gear for an English pocket watch from 1870 were slim. The problem was not in skills, but lack of variety of gear cutters and hobbers at his disposal.
Over the past 100 years, only a handful of Australian watchmakers were brave enough to tackle the gear making problems and undertake such repairs in-house. Almost in all cases, the new gears were repaired by hand, employing basic techniques rather than made from scratch. And in the cases where gears were damaged beyond repair or missing completely, the end result was always just a fairly crude compromise. In rare cases, when money was not an issue, fabrication was outsourced by sending the drawing to better setup shops and gear specialists in England.
The repair to a pocket watch which required a new gear - as shown below - is our solution to this centuries’ old watchmaking challenge.
1. We started with taking measurements of a broken gear