After releasing photos of five sets of
timascus parts earlier this week, Josh has been approached by two major
players in the Swiss watch industry with a request for a meeting. The
main focus of their interest cannot be disclosed, but we are talking
about a very specific colour and very specific machining processes.
Right now we can only speculate where we are heading, but whatever the
offer may be: we are not interested.
>From the way I see it: our timascus project is getting too hot, too
soon, generating premature and unwanted interest. Our time is yet to
come so no need to rush. However, from now on there will be no more
Instagram photos of coloured timascus parts and processes - completed
Our timascus supplier has told us that we are not the first watchmaker
who has ordered titanium alloy, and that they are getting enquiries from
the watch industry all the time. "You are the only one crazy enough to
actually machine watch parts out of it" - they say laughing. Which is a
fantastic position to be in: if the timascus takes off and a major watch
brand enters the market, we can always claim that important bit of the
fame: we've been there first. And if timascus remains obscure, then our
watch owners will be the winners- the only one with a unique and very
And when it comes to who do you know in Switzerland, then our man is François-Maxime Greub or as he prefers to be called: Max.
Max is a second hand watchmaking machinery dealer, located in the town
of La Chaux-de-Fonds, the very heart of Swiss watchmaking.
Last night, Josh and myself spent an hour talking to Max about the
museum he is building, why old watchmaking lathes are better than new,
and how to find that very special tool or machine that will help you
‘get your name on a watch dial’.
If you like watches, you’ll enjoy this unique interview and amazing showroom tour.
Today's video is slightly different than the
others: I am pulling apart and servicing my own watch. It is a 1974
Daytona Ref. 6263, which was sitting unused for a decade in a storage
box. The mechanism is a Valjoux 72 which Rolex modified in the 1960s and
renamed Rolex 727. What makes this movement special: Valjoux designed
it back in 1939! If you are a Daytona collector, then you know that back
in the 70s no one really wanted a manual chronograph. The truth is that
Daytonas were so unpopular that Rolex could not give them away! Zenith,
Omega and Breitling already had their own auto chronographs. A few
years later, in the 1980s, Rolex started fitting Zenith movements in
Daytona models. Nowadays, prices of vintage Daytonas are going through
My watch has been serviced four times in the past: March 1985, January
1990, May 1997, November 2007, and this was its fifth time.
I hope you'll enjoy it - and no, your comments won't break my heart.
One thing is certain - no more videos featuring customers' watches.
As strange as it sounds, for some, watching their watch being pulled
apart could be an emotional issue. It's like watching your favourite pet
on the surgical table.
The real issue is that the vast majority of viewers don't really
understand the nature of the repair or servicing process. Some
'manoeuvres' are just not pretty to watch. If you are a vegetarian, you
may find a video of an abattoir somehow disturbing. For example: a
common complaint is that I don't use finger cots. I do - but during
assembly only. While cots prevent fingerprints on metal, the side-effect
is enormous desensitisation of the fingers. When manipulating extremely
fine parts with very fine tools, there is no other option but to take
them off. George Daniels had monster fingers - and never used finger
cots in his entire life. Daniels was the most famous restorer of Breguet
pocket watches. There is a reason why he worked 'naked' and most
likely, an average watch forum follower who thrives on perpetuated myths
and stereotypes, won't get it.
"Why are you using such and such cleaning solution or lubricant?" is
another commonly asked question. Yes, I am reluctant to provide more
details. For two reasons: some are just my trade secrets, while others
are too complex to apply by a novice watchmaker or enthusiast. What is
shown in the video is a tiny snapshot of a more elaborate 'behind the
scenes' process, so what you see is not necessary what you get.
Chemistry is tricky.
But the final reason why customers' watches won't be shown any more is
this: watch owners simply can't take public criticism. Take for example a
recent restoration video - which by the way has been watched over
100,000 times and received hundreds of comments. Most comments are
praises for a fantastic restoration job but there are some viewers who
were 'not happy' with the way the owner took care of the watch in the
past. "If this was my watch I would look better after it!". Maybe you
would, maybe you wouldn't. Others directly blamed the owner for the
watch being neglected and left in a rather poor condition. For reasons
only known to him, the watch owner felt compelled to respond, and
unfortunately, in a rather undiplomatic manner - by calling other
viewers names and using very inappropriate language. Then hell broke
loose, and I watched the drama unfold in real time, at 11pm. One moment I
was praised (by the owner) for a fantastic job - only to be called
names hours later - for no fault of mine. As they say - you can't please
For the past two months Josh has been
working on the next batch of NH2.1 timascus movements. Here is a rare
shot of the mainplates and bridges before being cut out. Measuring each
part multiple times during various production stages is absolutely
crucial - timascus is expensive material, but the marching time and
tools are even more so - no room for mistake.
At the moment, we have no NH2 Timascus watches for sale. If you are
interested in getting your name on the list for the next available
watch, send us an email.
Citizen as we know it today was birthed in
1918. They are currently one of the very few manufacturers who possess
the ability to make every watch component in house, the machines used to
make them (Our Citizen R04), as well as electronic components and
lubricants. However it was only formally named as such some six years
after in 1924 when they produced their first timepiece. The mayor of
Tokyo, Mr Shimpei Goto, wanted a watch available to the general citizen
and loved by citizens of the world, so he named this first time piece as
such. ‘Citizen’ was then taken on as the company’s namesake - whether
they liked the name or it was taken on out of respect, I was unable to
Of course, Seiko was already making watches and pocket watches for the
everyday wear of its Japanese and even international customers having
been in business for about forty years at this point. However that did
not stop Citizen from making rapid growth in the manufacturing and
development of horological technologies. The two would battle it out for
horological glory for the century to come.
Fast forward to the quartz era beginning in the late 60s. Seiko, leading
the charge, had just released the Astron; the very first production
quartz watch, in 1969. As they were already the official timekeeper for
Japanese railways, it was soon after that the quartz movement was
adopted and issued over its longstanding mechanical predecessor due to
its higher accuracy in timekeeping standard. However this did not happen
immediately as the Astron release price was about the price of a mid
size car. From this point on for competitor horological companies across
the globe, it was quite literally adapt or die. Enter citizen.
The first quartz rail pocket watches were plagued with not having a
large enough amount of torque to turn those classic thick and heavy
‘Seiko style’ hands that were a requirement by the Japanese government
to have on an issued pocket watch. Stepper motor technology was very
much in its infancy. So the hands generally were made as thin as they
were allowed. Citizen however, ever developing their pieces, had already
produced in 1967 the first ever transistorised quartz clock - the
Crystron. This movement had a larger amount of torque produced and
supplied to the gear train than the currently produced quartz movements
of Seiko. The technology was later miniaturised so that in 1973, the
Crystron Pocket watch was born. Competitor to the Astron and a
powerhouse movement in its own right, Citizen took the Cold War-esq arms
race to the next level. In 1976 there were three world firsts. Seiko
produced the first rail issued quartz pocket watch with an accuracy of
within 10 seconds per month with their 38RW based on the 3870a movement.
Citizen produced a Crystron movement with an accuracy of within 3
seconds...per year, and they also released the first solar powered
quartz analogue watch. Since then citizen has been at the forefront of
extremely high accuracy Quartz movements, and it all started with the
What we can see from the comparison photo of the Crystron and Seiko
pocket watch of the same decade can only be described as either an
homage to a Japanese design so ingrained in the country's industry and
persona they simply had to use it, or a plain and simple dial grab to
bump sales. I’d like to think the former. What is interesting to note
however is the hands on the Crystron. A little thinner, and inversely
skeletonised to remove as much weight as possible to assist that power
consumption. Irrespective of the size of their massive coil!
The Crystron is certainly a timepiece with a rich history not only in
the tit for tat race between two Japanese giants, but horological
development on a global scale. Your average modern Swiss quartz watch, a
Seamaster or Cartier, even with an additional fifty years of
multi-industrial development, is accurate to about 3 seconds per month.
A quick polishing job - the removal of a rather nasty chip on the plexi
glass. The goal of this project is to preserve the original glass, clean
the case and bezel externally before removing the caseback and
assessing the movement.