It‘s Friday ! TGIF ! The last day of the school week ! And this is also the end of our first week for our new student, Thomas.
Thomas started his 4,500 hour Fullskill course on Monday and he has started out by making tools during the course of the week, utilizing different types of files and techniques of filing. Unfortunately, it was very warm in Le Locle this week so there was a lot of sweat but thankfully no blood or tears.
Anyway, let us introduce Thomas !
Thomas is British-American but he lived most of his life in Switzerland. He is currently 30 years of age, very intelligent and very good looking. Unfortunately, girls beware ! He is taken. Before coming to the school, Thomas held a part time job in Patek Philippe several years ago in the after sales service department. It was in that department which stoked his interest in watches and watchmaking. It has now become his passion ever since. So, some time ago he started looking around for watchmaking schools and programs but he ultimately decided on coming to the school to enroll in the Fullskill course. We asked him why he chose the school and he said it was the personal attention paid to students and the flexibility which attracted him to our course.
So here it is ! We wish Thomas all the best. We are confident that he will enjoy his stay in K&H and we look forward to see his skills and passion grow every day.
Ok. STOP. Thomas is now in our grasp and he cannot escape. Ha ha ...
Now that the formalities are done, the torture begins !!! Filing hell !!!!! . Ha ha. Just kidding ...
Back to the real deal, so, before the students start their study of micro mechanics, it is important to posses the right gear. Blue coats are standard-issue in the industry for micromechanics and later in the course, students will switch to white lab coats once they embark on work with actual watches and other forms of "clean" work.
Anyway, here are some pictures of Thomas in his first few days into the undiscovered expanse that is watchmaking ......
At first Thomas seemed perplexed, hmm.. Is this the right way?...
Look at that ! He's looking all smart ...
This is how student benches look like when they first arrive in the school. Teaching assistant Robert prepared Thomas's bench with the most commonly used tools for micro mechanics. Each student has the opportunity to choose which tools he wants to privately own and which tools to loan. They do not have to buy all tools. Later in the course, and in Thomas's case, upon completion of the micromechanics module, he will be required to purchase another set of tools for the watch adjustment module.
Thomas checks his tools meticulously. He seems pleased with his files! The school enjoys a good relationship with Vallorbe who are file-makers. They have given the school and our students a massive 35% discount. Furthermore, another watchmaking tool supplier, Schurch in Neuchatel provides students of the school a generous 38% discount on tweezers and eyeglasses! We also want to mention that Horotec, another tool supply company gives students a discount of 20% on their tools. Many thanks to Schurch, Vallorbe and Horotec!
For Schurch's website, click here.
For Horotec's website, click here.
For Vallorbe's website, click here.
One of the first things which new students have to do is to make their own tools. However, before the students embark on that journey to make their own watchmaking tools, they would first have to prepare the raw materials needed. This is an important part of a student's watchmaking education because they need to understand the materials which they are working on and to develop a sense of respect towards these materials. Without the knowledge and knowhow of where to obtain and size raw materials, the manufacture of tools and watches would be difficult.
In this picture we see Assistant Teacher Robert instructing Thomas how and where to cut this monstrously gigantic piece of brass. It weighs over 80 kg, is 3 meters long, 40 centimetre wide and 8 millimetre thick.
For added torture and maximum pain, because we are sadistic and we love it, we decided to buy the smallest hack-saw available ... ;)
This is how we do it in K & H .... slowly ... painfully ... all the way ... Hoorah ! Like we said before, this is like Navy Seals training ...... Its Hell Week for Thomas !
Command Master Chief Robert showing Ensign Thomas how its done Watchmaking S.E.A.L style. ( with the smallest hacksaw and blade known to watchmaking men .... we have expressed our warning already .. ) .. By the way, 3/4 pants, pulled up black socks and black shoes are the in-things in watchmaker fashion, for references, check out those sexy Icelandic legs of Robert .... And the blue looks good on him too .. Accentuates the sexy and icy depths of Icelandic maleness ...
Once the materials are prepared, Thomas embarks on some hardcore filing. He is seen here, attempting to file his tools to shape with a technique called cork-filing. During the micromechanics course, students will eventually develop and learn at least 5 different filing techniques and how to use the techniques in the cleverest way. Filing is very a personal skill and so are the files ! Once a student is comfortable with their own set of files, they also develop a respect for the tool. Eventually, they will safeguard their personal files and tools with their life! Girlfriends/boyfriends beware ! Files will overrun your relationship .... Don't be jealous ... Files are loyal partners. They don't whine, they are reliable, you can count on them and you totally own them ...
Thomas checking the flatness of his work piece. Acceptable tolerances of the larger tools vary in the range of +- 0.05mm. As for the smaller tools, acceptable tolerances range in the value of +- 0.01mm.