Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Timascus Update

For the past week our focus was entirely on redesigning, remeasuring and re-machining of the pallets bridge, which is the last titanium component for the NH2 movement. The main challenge was to optimise the locking action, completely eliminate flutter and improve the amplitude. The drawing of the pallets is shown below as well as anodised bridges. The parts consistency is every bit as per our expectation, which means that a component out of the mill can be installed directly into a watch without any manual tuning or adjustment. For those of you who are involved in machining and engineering, it is clear how much of a challenge this project is.

For better resolution images and project updates, visit our Instagram:
NH2 titanium pallets bridge designed and manufactured in Brookvale

One man's trash is another man’s treasure

Recently at the Watchmakers AGM auction there was a lot consisting of four Seiko spare parts catalogues. Since Seiko's spare parts policy is to keep the parts in stock for 20 years and since the catalogues were from 1971, I was the only bidder. Quite frankly the bid was just a courtesy because a fellow watchmaker who dragged them in would pay five dollars to get rid of them. Yet to any student of horology, watch spare parts catalogues are often of more interest than the parts themselves. And there it was, a data sheet of Calibre 9119A. A 15 jewel movement in production from 1961 to 1971, used exclusively in Japanese railway watches. Every single component, with catalogue numbers and full descriptions. Absolutely priceless.
It’s been ages since we’ve talked about railway pocket watches. Which is a good reason to feature quite a rare Seiko railway watch today. It is a rather strange watch because the case back comes with no description except for a symbol and an issue number. It was clear that it would take a fair bit of effort to identify the railway that issued this Seiko pocket watch and even Japanese railway enthusiasts struggle to provide more information. Eventually we got the answer. Hanshin electric railway company that operates a 48.9km line, linking Osaka and Kobe. The name Hanshin comes from the second character for Osaka (大阪) and the first character for Kobe (神戸) combine to form the company name, 阪神, which can be read Han-shin.
Needless to say, a little historical gem like this is something that is worth preserving for generations to come. Sixty years old and still in perfect working order.

Taps & Dies

Question: what is the smallest taps and dies set that you use in your workshop?

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky to acquire a Bergeon watchmakers tap and die set which goes down to 0.3mm. What an amazing find! The set is ref. 30010 and unfortunately has been discontinued for decades.

Clearly, there is simply no demand for such specialist hand tools and the assumption is that every watchmaker who wanted a set has already got one. Yes, quality Swiss made precision hand tools are disappearing. The perfect example are tweezers. We stock a wonderful range of Dumont, Bergeon and AF tweezers which are regarded as the best in the world. Even if you do not have an immediate need for one, they are practically a work of art themselves and for that reason alone they are worth investing in. If you need any help choosing the right tweezers, do not hesitate to call us!

For all tweezers available, please visit:

Friday, September 20, 2019

Speedy Friday

This doesn't happen too often, but today we have completed servicing four Speedmasters. All four are customer repair jobs and in each and every case, the reason why we are trusted with the servicing is not because we are cheaper than Omega but because we would do absolutely anything humanly possible to preserve the original dial and hands and the originality and integrity of these watches.

To see all 4 ticking, visit our Instagram:

NH2 Timascus Update!

Before we go any further, a very humbling thank you to all subscribers who have put their name down for NH2 Timascus and those who took time to visit us and inspect the watch in person - we really appreciate it. Judging by the amount of interest Timascus in generating, we will be busy machining, hand finishing and assembling for months to come. 

In a way that reminds me of that classic Irish joke: Jimmy was selling his potatoes so cheap that he couldn't even cover his production costs. When a friend pointed out that perhaps there is a flaw in his business model, he cheerfully replied: Yes I know, I need a bigger truck!  

The very core of NH2 is "be prepared for the unexpected". From the front the watch it looks like any other but when you flip it to the back, it looks like no other. There are 3 fundamental pillars of that "like no other" experience. The Timascus itself, an alloy like no other. The unique pattern means no two watches will ever be the same and the splash of colour which again makes every single piece completely unique. This week we took the NH2 to the next level by removing as much Timascus possible from the three quarter bridge while retaining it's structural strength. This technique is called skeletonisation, or what horologists call: exposing the bare bones of a timepiece. Skeletonised watches are not for everyone's taste, but those who appreciate that extra effort would surely be impressed.

Again the images provided are not even a close representation. For high resolution go to:

The Endless supply

Very often you will hear a veteran watchmaker bragging about the good old days. The golden era when every Swiss watch spare parts supplier was competing and chasing his business.  A time where Swiss watch brands where busy making watches and had no interest repairing them.

In the late 60's and early 70's, the demand for mechanical watches was diminishing fast. Inexpensive yet highly accurate battery operated watches became the new cool thing. I clearly remember the days in the 1970's where Swiss spare part reps where knocking on the doors of even the smallest watch repair shops and begging for business. It was quite an amusing sight for a 12 year old kid. Watchmakers were buying stems, mainsprings, winding crowns, spring loaded bars, crystals and plexi glasses in the dozens per size at a time. Here is just one example of a typical order containing over 500 winding crowns, most of them still in sealed bags. No Swiss supplier would ever dare to say - not even to the smallest independent watchmaker – ‘no spare parts for you’.  

The plexi glass supply business was brutally competitive, with countless numbers of generic brands supplying watch crystals. Again, not being able to source a replacement plexi of any dimension, height, thickness, waterproof or not, was absolutely unheard of. Even today, our stock pile contains crystals not only made in Switzerland and Germany but also Australian made glass by J W Handley from Melbourne, Dean plexi, Beta, and G Jenssen from Sydney. One thing that they all had in common: they all called their product unbreakable! 

The good old days! 


The best watch in the world (for money)

James McLeod was a qualified jeweller and optometrist who established his business in Bundaberg, Queensland in 1889. At one point in time, he was a Secretary of Optometrist Association which speaks volume about his professional and business reputation. However, MacLeod was also a proper watchmaker who appreciated quality and workmanship. He was passionate about importing English and Swiss pocket watches of railway quality. It was of little surprise that MacLeod was a major supplier to Queensland Government Railways supplying in excess of 500 Moeris pocket watches.

Here are two advertisements from 1911:   

Honest Watches.

There is no Present so Popular either for a Lady or Gentleman as a GOOD WATCH. I CARRY A VERY LARGE STOCK.

Being a Practical Watchmaker, I do not Stock Watches which I know cannot possibly give satisfaction. The duty on English watches is 20 per cent on Swiss and American 30 per cent. That means you cannot get a watch which will keep time under a fair price.

This cut shows my Ladies’ Watch, which I supply in silver for 85/, 42/, and 50/. In gold they cost £3/3/, £4/4/, £5/5/, up to £12/13/. All Good. All Guaranteed.

GENTS’ WATCHES. – Railway Levers, £1/1/; Do. Silver levers, £3/10/, £3/10/, £4/10/. Gents’ Gold from £4/10/ to £25.

NOTE.---My Railway Levers are used on all the Government Lines, £1/1/, post free.

Supplied ONLY by J. MACLEOD,


Phone 116.
The other day we have unearthed an original Macleod Railway Lever pocket watch. While it was not an official numbered Queensland Government Rail timepiece, it was signed ‘ D P White, 22 May 1918 Gayndah‘ as well as Gootchie, 15 May 2019. Gootchie is nowadays described as a ‘locality’ with a population of 96, fifty kilometres south east of Gayndah. However, as you Queenslanders know, Gayndah is the oldest town in Queensland – and was a major railway destination. It is quite possible that DP White was a railway man himself, and most definitely in a need of an accurate timekeeper.                 

The watch itself is an early 1900's Moeris Cal. 19 movement, stem wound and pin set, 50mm nickel case and porcelain dial.

It is interesting that Macleod refers to Railway lever in his later advertisements as “Burnett lever”. Burnett river flows generally south past Eidsvold and Mundubbera before heading east, adjacent to the townships of Gayndah and Wallaville before entering the city of Bundaberg – which is general direction of railway line.

James McLeod's optometry, jewellery and watch business thrived for the next 40 years. Upon his retirement, the shop was taken over by his apprentices, who to this day serve the good people of the Bundaberg region. 

Was the Moeris 'railway lever' the best watch in the world? Of course not, but it was surely better than many 'railway' watches sold by other jewellers. A timepiece designed to run for 20 or so years, it survived to this day - a testimony to McLeod's conviction that Moeris is worthwhile investment. 

Overhaul of the Gayndah Railway Lever pocket watch was assigned to Bobby, our young apprentice. He spent the whole day working on it and this is his final verdict: 

When first starting on a watch like this it’s hard to foresee what the outcome will be. A 100 year old watch that isn’t ticking is an indication that any number of things could be wrong with it, or maybe it just needs a good clean and oil. You have to be mindful that it’s been through years of abuse and the end result may just be the same as when you started. It gets to a point in the repair where you have invested so much time into the watch that it becomes a personal vendetta to get the watch to tick no matter how much time you spend adjusting. Even though there were many challenges, we took a once desolate watch and gave back its heartbeat. 100 years old and only losing a minute after 24 hours, that’s a win in my book. 
Gayndah Railway Station

Colombian Railway Watch... (well whats left of it)

And while we are still on the subject of railway horology (which is like, everyday) here is another amazing find. A porcelain pocket watch dial signed Ferrocarril de Antioquia. Unfortunately this is the only thing that is left of this 1930’s railroad pocket watch. Nevertheless it is the first piece of South American railway horology I have found which now completes all the continents.

I am not going to spoil your enjoyment by re-telling the story of the Colombian railway that took 40 years to complete and was 50km in length. Of course this is still faster and cheaper than the Sydney light rail project. But here is one detail worth sharing: The main opposition to the railway in Antioquia was based on the superstition of the local population and the fear that a roaring locomotive will bring an unfathomable curse upon them. So when locomotive no. 1 derailed and disappeared into the abyss, the replacement locomotive, no. 2, had to be repainted and renumbered to look exactly like no. 1 to prevent mass hysteria.

Ferrocarril went out of business in the 1960’s. To find a complete original Colombian railway watch is now on top of my priority list!     

OMG! I have always wanted one of those

A 1970’s desk alarm clock with flip over digits.

I am sure you had one like it but tell me; what happened to it? Just died? Been thrown away? First wife took it? Most importantly - would you like me to start looking for a replacement?

So, what makes this baby special? It was made for the Japanese National Rail by Copalco Ltd. The alarm is a buzzer and sounds exactly like most stereotypical alarm sounding clocks from cheap American movies - just love it. 

How accurate is accurate?

We live in funny times.

Never in the history of humanity has access to accurate time been so readily, cheaply and easily available to us. We take it for granted. 65% of the world’s population has at least one mobile phone.  Actually, there are 8.7 billion mobile connections on the planet compared with a population of 7.6 billion people!

Yet strangely enough, while our mobile phone delivers atomic clock time accurate down to a nano second, we are more than happy to read it at accuracy within a minute. The time displayed on the majority of mobile phones is in hour and minutes format and we are not really fussed about seconds. 10:49 on a mobile phone could mean anything from 10:49:00 at the best or 10:49:59 at the worst. For practical purpose that is close enough. But the scary part is that inaccuracy is negative – which means that if we are to catch a train departing at 10.49, we are already late.

In 1978, Seiko developed and released a railway grade quartz pocket watch with calibre ref. 7550A. This was a second generation of quartz pocket watches (with the first one being ref. 38RW cal. 3870A in development from 1976 -1978). For the next seven years, 75RW was known as the most accurate quartz pocket watch in the world. I have an example on my bench which has been running for 2 months and has been keeping time better than +1 second per week. Here is the fascinating detail in a way: This 1978 pocket watch tells the time more "accurately" than your latest phone. Why? The Seiko pocket watch allows you to read time in old fashion analogue format with a glimpse of an eye. The sweep seconds hand is always spot on to the second!

Of course I could not resist but to fire up the old Citizen quartz time tester especially designed for timing battery operated quartz watches. Like the Seiko pocket watch, this machine dates back to the same era - mid 1970's. After an hour of warm up time it was able to tell us the actual accuracy of the pocket watch. It was +0.12 seconds per day which is even less than 1 second per week! To put things into perspective, this has 3 times better accuracy than a standard modern Swiss made quartz watch and 50 times better than COSC certification of a mechanical watch.

Should you invest in one? If seconds matter, then the answer is yes.     

Australian lavender on a breezy Friday morning

You know your getting attached to your parts when you start calling them by name. When the three quarter timascus bridge was completed just after midnight, its colour scheme looked incredibly familiar, however we had to wait until morning to name it. Australian lavender on a breezy Friday morning. A splash of purple, indigo blue, orange and gold.

By 3pm it was jewelled and ready for its first heartbeat...         

For better high resolution photos, visit our Instagram:                          

Back in Time

Vintage electronics is simply cool. Here is our latest arrival - a mechanical watch timing machine from the 70's made by Elma. My dad had one almost identical in his workshop and this one takes me back to my apprentice days; the good old clinker. But make no mistake, back in the 70’s this was cutting edge technology - a piece of equipment which was designed for timing mechanical watches worth thousands of dollars in today’s money.

This particular Elma Star comes from a watch and clock makers annual auction which was held on Tuesday night. I was the only bidder and got it for $10 - what a bargain!   

Thursday, September 12, 2019

NH2 Timascus Taking Orders Now!

In a couple of weeks from now we will be introducing the NH2 Timascus project to readers of Time and Tide magazine announcing it to watch enthusiasts not only around Australia but around the world. Indeed there is a reason for excitement. We believe that NH2 Timascus is the worlds only watch where the main components are machined and then hand finished in Timascus. 

The price for the NH2 Timascus is $8,000 (plus GST). Our order book is now open. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Show me the parts!

We have just completed the major restoration of a 1950’s Italian railway pocket watch. My goodness, what a mess! The watch arrived with a number of broken parts and yes, it took us weeks to source them. However the watch is not only cosmetically restored but is now in perfect working order. Clearly, while we are proud of our skills, the restoration was only possible because somebody seventy years ago made an effort to stock spare parts, keep them for years, and make them available to restorers.

A broken watch without spare parts is a useless piece of junk. 


Today, a long awaited delivery of spare parts for NH Mark 1 arrived from Switzerland and we are excited. At this stage we really have no idea which components for our watch will wear before the others and which ones could potentially break during disassembly. So we stocked up on almost every part that could possibly be required in decades to come. In addition to spare parts we also stock complete mechanisms. For example, if the Mark 1 is a complete write off, seriously damaged by being run over by a car or severely water damaged, we will be able to fix it!

The majority of these parts will not be required for decades, and some will never be installed at all. But this investment in our brand is absolutely essential. Tens of thousands of dollars invested now are not wasted. This is simply the price we have to pay so that the Mark 1 will remain repairable in the next century. This is the kind of commitment that only a watchmaker would pledge.

Your Mark 1 is not a startup or crowd funded project. We are not here to grab your cash and run away.

Of course if you decide to invest in any other watch, that will be your call. However, before you part with your hard earned cash, ask the brand the most important question: What is your long term commitment in relation to spare parts and servicing? Would you be able to repair this watch in fifty or a hundred years from now? Then listen carefully. 


Drilling Timascus

Jig for drilling side tapped holes for dial fastening screws and the winding stem. Six tools, nice and slow, one main plate at the time.

Timascus / titanium, jig NH2 1-6 on Kern Pyramid Nano.

Watch parts made in Australia

Probably the most commonly asked question is "Do you actually make watch parts in Australia?" Quite frankly, machining a high precision part is not nearly as difficult as understanding how to hold the raw material, understand the process itself and then design and make jigs and fixtures. 3 and 5 axis, vacuum clamping, single and multiple watch parts jigs- and much more- all design and in house, in our own workshop by two young kids: Josh and Andrew. Barely twenty years of age yet in full control and in charge of the entire process, from design to manufacturing. Very proud of you kids!

Engraving Timascus

Inserting locating pins into timascus bridge. This is done after engraving and second anodizing . The gold colour of the engraving text is result of quick etching then reanodizing at very specific voltage. The pins are of our own design, made on Citizen R04 lathe. Size 1x1 mm. Pressing them in is an absolute joy!
Background: map of USA, a small tribute to Chuck Bybee and friends from Alpha Knife Supply who made this project possible by providing such an exciting alloy to play with.

Hot off the press... Engraving looking good! Different colour combo, purple and blue, but the colours dance in the light, so it's impossible to nail down.

Pricing details and availability information coming very soon!

Timascus caseback

Did anyone say "caseback"? Each and every piece we do from Timascus will be unique. No two watches will ever be the same. Colours, finishes, patterns, all individual.
We will also not be keeping these watches in stock. These will be made to order pieces.
Simply astounded by the response you guys had on the last post, it seems you love the final result!
Timascus dial? - yes. But I have to make one first to see if it looks good!

Stay tuned, more to come.