Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Making do

We’ve written articles before about doing some watchmaking work at home for the humble hobbyist. Strap and cell replacements, maybe a 7S26 DIY (hint hint for those with nothing to do). Well now it’s time for your humble apprentice to get a slice of the at-home watchmaker pie. It’s easy enough to just tell someone to set up at home and get started. Here are three tips and tricks (without repeating tool selection and so on from previous articles) I have recently discovered that will hopefully make your setup a little smoother. I obviously have it very good in the city and one thing that comes with living a life of luxury is that when you no longer do, it’s easy to see what you’ve taken for granted.

First up. A desk/bench. You may remember from a couple of days ago my quest to acquire a desk (Thursday delivery can’t come soon enough). It is absolutely crucial to have one for the safety of your watch components and your trapezius muscles. My suggestions for a desk; Best case scenario, you’ll get a fully fitted Bergeon, Boley, or Crevoisier. Some can be fitted with a dust extraction hood, fully enclosed, vacuum pump for handling parts without tweezers, lockable drawers, electronic height adjustment, and the list goes on. You can even get an inert gas assembly chamber (obviously so once the watch is sealed, no oxygen is trapped inside which prevents corrosion). Don’t be surprised if you have to sell all the watches you were going to work on just to get it. Sane person’s scenario, IKEA’s Skarsta.


There is a cult following for the Skarsta amongst sit/stand desk forums. Yes such forums exist and they are a plenty. It is one of the best value for money desks and the one that I purchased. Why sit/stand? Well you can use it as a desk normally or raise it up to height for watchmaking (I’d say around 90cm for a human of average height sitting with correct office posture). Unfortunately you may have a hard time getting one. Whilst IKEA is business as usual, I am pretty sure I bought the last one in the state. Soz not soz. Pro tip, I’ve seen people use wide duct tape by putting the tape around the sides and back of the desk half on the edge and half free above the desk. This will stop most parts flying off.
Secondly, I would suggest some proper storage. For parts and for tools. Whatever you get, make sure you can close it well enough so that little pet animals (that includes humans) can’t get their grubby prying fingers all over your birth year red sub dial and hands whilst you aren’t looking. You probably won’t need much so a small arts and crafts type chest of drawers to go under your desk is a good bet. For on top, usually your tools are spread out all over the desk. Personally, I hate that. Only my currently being used screwdrivers, lubricant, and rodico are around me as I work. If I need anything else, it gets used and then promptly put back exactly where it goes, away from me. When parts flick out of tweezers, they’ll be much easier to find. Again, little paintbrush storage type boxes are usually a light, cheap, and organised solution. Having to box up an entire workstation and put it in the second bedroom makes it difficult to find the motivation to unbox everything again tomorrow.
Third, distraction control. Really with these three things you’re good to go. But poor distraction control will negate even the best desk and storage. Lock yourself up, lock everyone else up, or live on your own. Those are your options. You don’t want nefarious, degenerate creatures (that includes humans), to start climbing on things, asking annoying questions, meowing. They will make your life difficult and you risk component damage. By them or indeed by you. However it is nice to have someone to bring you snacks and coffee every now and again. Please in the name of Saint Eligius (patron saint of watchmaking although most believe it should be Breguet and rightfully so), do not eat near your work.


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