Thursday, July 20, 2017

The summer break is coming

Summer break is coming. We are glad that we all finished the exam finally. Some of us are happy some are not because there is some predictable accident that could happen as we talked before. Anyway, we will leave the town for three weeks and let our mind and muscle relax for the future challenge.

Today is our last day before the summer break, so we spend almost the whole day to clean our workshop and common area. So when we come back the school is still shiny and tidy.

It's a necessary pain to break the winding stem while bending it straight and that's how we learn the skill. If the straightness is not good, we fail the exam immediately. So, don't be afraid just try over and over again.

Checking the straigthness!

Our gravers need to be sharp for the exam.

Still, sharpening the gravers.

Cleaning the Lathe before the summer holiday. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Hardening is hard

   We had three trial exams this week and felt more fimiliar with going through the whole process of making a winding stem. Beside the trial exams we just keep practicing the skill and sharpening our tools during the day.
   But still, there are some tricky processes we need to be more confident to deal with, such as hardening, tempering and bending winding stems straight. So today, we spend some time to discuss and align our approach for hardening and hope we can make the result more consistant and stable.
   This week we also upload a tempering video on our watchmaking channel, please feel free to check it out. Bluing Video.

Stan preparing basket for hardening process, but today we decide not to use basket for hardening.

Sharpening graver everyday makes turning more efficient. 

Discussing a better approach for hardening.

Heat the winding stem with required temperature for at least three minutes and quench it within salt water let us get a more stable and consistant result of hardening.

Look at the nice blue color after tepmering. This is the right color we pursued.

This week are also Shuai and Eddie's final exam, good luck guys.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Preparing for the coming (probably frustrating) week.

Time flies by, next week we are going to have three days trial exam of the winding stem. We are sure it must be a tough and exhausting week. We have to finish the winding stem within eight hours, it's hard to imagine we have to turn cylinders, corners, bevels, slots, filing a square with nice bevels and to make threads. Wait a minute, there is more! also hardening, tempering and surface finish. Besides, after quenching we may have 50% chance to bend our stem like a banana and we still also have 50% chance to break it while bending it straight. That's why we think we'll need eight days to finish a complete winding stem! Wish us best luck and fingers crossed. :)

Recently, Henrik start shooting some high-speed videos from our daily work and also movement analysis. That's really exciting, it helps us have a better understanding about the motion of the movement. By the way, if you want to see more videos, we also have a Youtube channel now. Please refer to the link and subscribe now. The Watchmaker Channel.


Pre-excercise of making slot on blue steel.

Making a nice thread is time consuming especially when dealing with steel. Be patient.

Practicing for winding stem. Day one.

There is a lot work to do before making winding stem. Stan is making protection ring so that he can file a beautiful square without damaging the shoulder.

Turning turning turning. Day two.

Next week is also a big week for Shuai and Eddie, because it's the final exam and it goes through the whole week. Look at the picture below, see how Shuai dressed formally today, he has his oral and theory exam today. Wish them (and us) all the best next week.

Shuai is preparing for the theory test. Very concentrated.

Friday, June 30, 2017


This week we have been learning to cut slots in blue steel which is the last set of  skills to learn before the winding stem exam is upon us. It has thrown up some interesting challenges and many frustrations!

The Agathon machine earned its keep this week as we all were grinding our slot gravers to the required dimensions and shape.
Reshaping broken hard metal drills into slot cutters. Knowing the rake and clearance angle is key to make a good cutter.

To complete a winding stem we have a lot of pre-excercises to do, like square filing and slot cutting.  There is no secret for us, just practice and practice. 
Practice makes perfect.

It's our first time to see cows chewing leafs on the tree. Haha~~
While the weather this week in Le Locle has been tumultous and the cows have run for shelter we are glad for the cool air streaming through the workshop
Thank you Svenja! She made a delicious cake for us to celebrate CJ's birthday. The cake is really GOOD.

Friday, June 23, 2017

More filing and turning plus a visit to EPHJ

This week we continue doing our pre-excercise for winding stem. The second thing we learn is that we use a file to file a cylinder piece into a square. As usual, we start with a brass piece which is an easier one and then a steel one. At first , we learn some unique techniques from Henrik and then use the techniques to hand file a cylinder piece. It is really difficult to finish the square piece with great   flatness, finishing, and to dimension. However, it just need more practice to accopplish it, and it feels really great when you conquer all the issues to know now we can also do it. 

In addition, there is a huge exhibition in Geneva this week, and it's all about watchmaking tools, machines and watch conponents. This is the first big exhibition we went to,and everything is new for us. We went to the exhibition on Thursday, and it's a great chance to meet some people and do some social networking. We saw lots of cool automatic machines which are for big companies for mass production, but it's still interesting to get the idea how the big companies make their watches now. The more attractive things for us is to see some special supplier which provide nice movements, cases, and small conponents. We met some of them and talk to them to know their designs and their vision for their companies. We may have a chance to cooperate with them in a near future for our school project. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Turning over a new leaf

This week we were all very exited to begin turning on the 8mm lathes. so much so that grinding the gravers was almost a pleasure. the pain in our hands has mostly gone and it is now second nature to keep our gravers razor sharp.

we began learning the 8mm lathe by turning the most fundemental cuts on it, male, female cones, shoulders, cylinders etc.

we also learned proper maintenence and disasembly of the lathes, all of us treat our lathes as if they were our own babies.

We are lucky to have Brad and Charles come back to share their work and bench test experience with us. They are in Switzerland doing research for their own watch brand. 
One of Felix's favorite part of the courses, hand turning. He is really enjoying it, here he is preparing the gravers before turning.

Before we start turning, we have to do some exercises, grinding our own gravers. 
It's the best time to have conversation with ourselves. 
A good watchmaker not only take good care of the watches, but also his own tools. Flatness, straightness, and keep the true diamond shape of the graver is also very important. Good job, guys.

Felix servicing his lathe.

Lathe disassembled for inspection cleaning and oiling.

Friday, June 9, 2017

New Stuff, Jig Boring not Boring

   This week the weather is really bouncy in Le Locle. The temperature goes up and down and sun also plays hide and seek. We learned our last large machine - Jig Boring machine (important machine in watchmaking) for tool making. The machine also called pointing machine is known for its precision and  fullfils most of the needs for professional watchmaking. If you want to become a professional, you shouldn't miss it ;)
   As usual, Henrik showed us general introduction and safety requirements when operating the machine. After that, each of us has to perform required mission including centering, scribing, drilling and so on  under Henrik's supervision to show our basic understanding of it.
Learning how to read the vernier correctly

Stan practices scribing a square. 

Felix drilling holes in required location.
Sif used jid borer to locate the points according to drawing.
Yiting double check the drilled hole with microscope to confirm the exact location of it. 

CJ used lathe to perform milling. He makes the screw according to his own design.
Shuai and Eddie start preparing for their final exam with repairing moden movements. The final exam is pretty tough with Henrik's high standard. We must be well prepared before the exam.

Next week is the deadline for our hand-made tools, and only finishing them remains. It would be better if we could finish them because there are lots new stuff to learn after next week..