Monday, December 22, 2014

Want to become a watchmaker?

We have a slot open for a FullSkill class that starts in April. More information on our school homepage or send an email to and we will be happy to answer your questions.

Friday, December 19, 2014

"Little Christmas"

On Monday evening we had our little Christmas party in school to celebrate the end of the year just in time before everyone went home for a Christmas break. Unhealthy snacks, drinks, traditional cheese fondue and some ice cream for everyone to enjoy was a nice and simple way for everyone to have a good time before we watched a Christmas film.

Svenja our administrator preparing the snacks.

The school's film expert Robert selected Jingle All the Way with Arnold Schwarzenegger as this year's Christmas film which is without a doubt one of Arnold's all-time masterpieces.

Possibly the best Christmas film of all time, thanks to Arnold.

We are a huge fan of Arnold in the school and one of the conditions for a student to be accepted to the school is of course that he loves Arnold so we came up with three simple rules: 1) That the student can do at least 20 bicep curls with 15 kg dumbbells, 2) The student can name at least 15 Arnold films, and 3) He can do a believable Arnold impression because every Friday everyone in school have to talk with Arnold accent.

We are (maybe) not being very serious. Christmas is coming up, we have been working extremely hard this year and we are looking forward to a well deserved break so we are in a very good mood. We have found our Christmas spirit, have you? We hope so!

Us here at K&H Watchmaking Competence Centre would like to wish all our readers a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. See you in 2015!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Workshop activities

With the last school week of the year coming up, we are going to show you what the students have been up to and what is the plan for this week.

The workshop 1 students studied battery and quartz watches last week. Quartz watches are not a big subject in our school since we emphasize on mechanical watches but it's still fun to teach it and for the students to get familiar with quartz watches since it's totally different approach to watchmaking.

Henrik is demonstrating to the students how to measure the
electrical currents and the consumption. 

This is a rare movement from the 1960's when Swiss manufacturers were experimenting with batteries and different regulating organs. This is a semi-mechanical watch that has battery and an oscillator, but no quartz.

Charles is working on a hand setting on a quartz watch.

The students in workshop 2 have been going through the balance, hairspring and timing course lately and this week they will have their intermediate exam on that subject, just in time before the Christmas break.

Static poising of a balance wheel, the purpose is to equalize the weight of the balance all around.

Tryggvi truing a balance wheel.

Germán vibrating a hairspring.

And this timing result is from Stefano; this movement has a balance and a hairspring that Stefano made from raw material to its final stage. Pretty good job.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Workshop 1 encasing demonstrations

With the final exams coming up, the students in workshop 1 have been busy with movement repairs lately. But they have also been learning some new stuff that has to do with encasing which consists of putting the dial on the movement, hand setting (and aligning the hands with the date change), repairing dials and hands, fitting a new winding stem and a crown, polishing the watch case and pressure testing.

Here are some photos of the demonstrations.

Friday, December 5, 2014


Workshop 1 students were introduced recently to chronograph watches. We teach here in the school both classical chronographs such as the Valjoux 23 and the El Primero from Zenith and more modern chronographs such as ETA 7750 and Dupois Depraz 2020. Therefore we are able to cover quite a big range of chronographs which have different designs. The Valjoux and El Primero are classically designed with horizontal engagement of wheels and a column wheel which controls all the commands, while the ETA 7750 has a much more simplified mechanism with an oscillating pinion and a cam system. And then the Dubois Depraz is a modular chronograph with a vertical clutch which is yet another system.

The students were extremely fascinated but also quite overwhelmed by the chronograph mechanism since there was a lot of new components and new mechanisms to learn. One thing is certain though, which happens to almost all students/watchmakers that work with chronographs, they fell in love with them.

The legendary Valjoux 23.

Another legendary chronograph, but for very different reasons, the Zenith El Primero.

 Have a nice weekend!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

aBlogtoWatch interview with Robert

Photo courtesy of aBlogtoWatch

Our Instructor Robert Michelsen was interviewed recently at 'aBlogtoWatch' where he discussed a bit his background but mainly about a watch that he is lusting after. aBlogtoWatch is the biggest and most popular watch blog on the internet with excellent reviews of new watches and often very interesting editorial articles about industry related things so if you don't happen to know aBlogtoWatch, we recommend that you bookmark it.

So, do you know what watch Robert is lusting after? No? It's a piece of art, a real beauty from a watchmaker that is considered one of the all time greats in the watchmaking history. Check out the interview and see what Robert has to say about the watch.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Mainspring bridle

Brad had a vintage watch for repair that needed a new mainspring but instead of ordering a mainspring we decided to try to use what we had at hand  so he found the correct size mainspring but with a regular bridle, took some mainspring material shaped as a slipping bridle and drilled the hole for the rivet through both the rivet and the bridle at the same time.
Drilling the mainspring and bridle

Turning the rivet

Bridle riveted together with mainspring

New mainspring on top and old on the bottom

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Cool vibrations

The students in Workshop 2 have been for the last few weeks been working on balances and hairsprings. The students learn how to make a complete hairspring from a rough material and until it can be fitted in to a running watch. There are several different steps that have to be made and many considerations to think about when making a hairspring and it is quite a complicated procedure which requires a lot of practice and skills. In the video below, a hairspring being vibrated can be seen. This is a true classical method of finding the frequency of the hairspring and therefore the correct "speed" of the balance. One of our students has the new iPhone 6 and he recorded this video, using a pretty cool slow-motion feature on his phone.

In our school we accept hairsprings if the two balances are in sync for 30 seconds or more, for a higher precision of the vibrating point and this exact balance stayed in sync with the master balance for more than a minute! It can take several hours to find the correct vibrating point so this procedure can be rather time consuming and often tricky to achieve since it's not that easy to see if your balance is going too fast or too slow compared to the master balance.

Monday, November 3, 2014

A great article about after-sales service in watchmaking.

We read a great article last week, made by Watces by SJX. If you haven‘t read it yet, we strongly recommend that you do. We liked especially this part of the article, so we are going to highlight it here:
The typical wait [for a service of a watch] is a few weeks, or more likely several months. Even though that’s an absurdly long time, watch collectors meekly acquiesce since the elves who craft fine timepieces do things at their own pace. 
The consequences are easy to predict: servicing will get more expensive because the labour situation in watchmaking is tight, and lead times will get longer. As it is most watch companies are dedicating far more resources – both in terms of manpower and investment – to production than after-sales service. 
Watch brands often proclaim large investments in production capacity (so as to do things “in-house”) and also precious retail space in the poshest parts of town. Business has slowed recently so these pronouncements are admittedly less frequent. 
But rarely does after-sales merit a mention. In fact, visit a watch factory today and the after-sales service department (or SAV, for service après-vente, in the lingo of the Francophone watch industry), and it will pale in comparison to the size of the production floor, or floors.
The mismatch of production and after-sales capacity is a problem that is being pushed into the near future. More high-end watches were sold in the last decade than ever before, and in the next 10 to 20 years they will need to be overhauled.
This is sadly very true. Unfortunately the Swiss manufacturers have put nearly all their resources and manpower into production of new watches and meanwhile the after-sales service has suffered. The problems the Swiss companies are facing with the after-sales service have been ignored for way too long, hoping by turning the blind eye to the problems that they will magically disappear. Since this is a real life and not a fantasy, the problems have only grown bigger and bigger and they will not disappear until the companies acknowledge the problems and take necessary steps. The delays are only going to become longer and longer and prices go higher if nothing will be done. There are solutions; invest in education to create more watchmakers and supply spare parts to third parties. Sure, it will cost money but can the industry afford to ignore this much longer? For how long can the industry go on like this, when will the consumer say stop?

Friday, October 31, 2014

Student Interview with Stefano Magagni

Next up in our student interview is our Italian godfather, don Magagni. A man of great passion, he has made a legendary reputation within the school walls as a micro-mechanical/part-making wizard.

Name: Stefano Magagni
Nationality/Origin: Italy

What attracted you to watchmaking?

Different reasons attracted me to watchmaking, after 21 years of night shifts in different fields I needed a change. I've always been attracted by mechanical parts and how they work together, I've always been amazed how, in such a limited space like a timepiece, you can fit in so many delicate and small components and how they can work in so great harmony and with such great precision. I also grew up surrounded by all sort of clocks, both alarm clocks and chime clocks along with pocket watches.

What did you do before you started studying watchmaking?

I have a diploma in technical dentistry and worked 6 years in the field. I have worked as a waiter and a bartender, as well as a professional casino dealer and international poker dealer.

What has been your favorite part/subject of your time at school so far?

All subjects have been extremely interesting but the component making I think has been the one which attracted me the most.

What is your favorite watch brand and why?

I don't have a favorite brand, I keep an open mind and admire what different brands do and the innovations that they come up with and bring to the industry.

A sliding pinion that Stefano made for his restoration school watch project,
entirely made by hand, using traditional Schaublin lathe.
What was your first watch? How old were you when you got it?

My first watch was a quartz Seiko with digital display, I must have been around 12 or 14 years old.

How many watches do you own?

Right now I only own once watch, an old Perseo pocket watch.

What do you plan on doing after school?

Well I'm planning to find a job in the industry hopefully in after sales service or restoration and gain experience. Maybe one day I'll go independent and open up my very own after sales service shop and restore old antiques watches.

What do you like/dislike about the watchmaking industry?

I don't know much about watchmaking industry to have an opinion yet but I've worked in many different fields in the past and more or less industries are much alike, just a few different technical aspects.

What types of watches do you like (classical, sporty, extreme)?

Classical watches, some sporty watches are interesting mostly for the materials used, extreme are definitely not my cup of tea.

How do you like living in Switzerland?

Switzerland in my opinion is a good save country to live in, civilized and friendly.

What do you like to do in your free time here?

I don't have much free time but when I do I like biking around the mountains, go to the swimming pool, go jogging and visiting new places.

What is your favorite tool you have made or used, do you often buy second hand tools?

I have made some tools either planned by the school program or created for special needs, I don't have a favorite tool I think that every tool has its special way of being used and the secret is to learn how to use it in order to get the best out of it. I do visit often second hand tool shops and tool flea markets and I buy all sorts of tools which hopefully will be useful to me in the near future.

Balance staffs that Stefano made in the 8 mm lathe and the Jacot tool.

Us here at K&H Watchmaking Competence Centre would like to thank Stefano for taking his time and answer few of our questions.

Disclaimer: The opinions of the students of K&H Watchmaking Competence Centre do not necessarily represent the opinions of the school.

Monday, October 27, 2014

When art meets craftsmanship

In 2014, Patek Philippe watch manufacture in Geneva celebrated their 175th anniversary. To celebrate this milestone, the manufacture launched a watch which is their most complicated wristwatch to date. Only 6 watches will be made and they will sell for $2.5 million.
Patek Philippe made a video about the making of the anniversary watch. Instead of writing a big article about how beautifully crafted this watch is, we will let the video speak for itself. It is a must see for all watch lovers and for people who would like to understand what high-end watchmaking is all about. That is exactly the reason why we would like to show you this video, because we believe the fundamental principles of our school harmonies with this excellent timepiece.
Enjoy art combined with amazing craftsmanship from one of the most beloved Swiss watchmaking companies.
If you are interested to read more about this watch, we recommend that you head over to Hodinkee and read their take on the watch, it's a great article, very detailed and thorough.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Student Interview with Charles Birchall

The second student we introduce to the watchmaking world is the school 'comedian' (every school has at least one, even a small school like ours), Charles Birchall from Toronto, Canada who sees the positive and humor in all things possible but is also quite serious when it comes to watchmaking and the future of the industry.

Name: Charles Birchall
Age: 23
Nationality/Origin: Canadian

What attracted you to watchmaking?

I think what first attracted me to watchmaking was the sort of purist nature of the movement. Here is an instrument that has not fundamentally changed in hundreds of years and yet it still commands the interest and wealth of so many people because of its complexity and the romantic, seemingly mysterious profession that surrounds it.  I always had an inclination toward working with my hands which took me from modifying paintball guns to building computers and so on and so forth until I stumbled upon what I thought, and still think, is the trade with the highest level of craftsmanship around today; watchmaking.

What did you do before you started studying watchmaking?

Before I started at K&H I was studying Political science and Sociology at a University in Toronto called Ryerson. A massive beast of a University where I found myself really quite frustrated. I was stagnating, I wasn't into my major so I thought I would take that hobby I had been pursuing so intensively on my free time and see if there was a place for me in any of the watchmaking schools around the world.

What has been your favorite part/subject of your time at school so far?

I think my favorite subject so far has been the pivot gauges. It was a subject that you could really throw yourself into and spend lots of time focusing on because it was such a simple and streamlined task but took so much skill to accomplish. I found myself really absorbed in the subject and everything else seemed to just fade into the background.

[Note from K&H admin: A pivot gauge is a small and highly accurate measuring tool, tolerance only 0.002mm, that is pivot shaped and used to measure small holes or to calibrate measurement tools such as a micrometer for instance.]

What is your favorite watch brand and why?

That's a difficult question as the more you learn about the industry the more the lines become blurred. It's tough to think of a brand that has a lot of integrity these days and produces a product that truly embodies the real craftsmanship involved in watchmaking. I'm going to have to state the obvious here and go with A. Lange & Söhne because they do put the most handwork and thought into their products and it's by far and away the biggest 'bang for the buck' in the industry.

What was your first watch? How old were you when you got it?

A Keith Haring Swatch watch I was probably around 8 or something. It was nothing special, no feelings of curiosity or anything, I just wore it and probably broke it soon after I got it.

How many watches do you own?

At the moment I own about three watches; A SWATCH watch, a Shanghai Special (Chinese brand) and lastly, meine liebe, my IWC Mk11. I have a particular obsession with the Mark elevens which were produced for the RAF and RAAF just after the Second World War. One day I hope to own a nice JLC MK11 with the original radium dial!

What do you plan on doing after school?

I plan on working as a watchmaker of course! Hopefully in a capacity which allows me to really use the special skills I have learned here but I don't mind paying my dues early if I have to. I have a few places I would ideally like to end up, namely a really well established repair shop in Zurich where I could repair a wide range of both watches and clocks and do lots of restoration which is my main focus at the moment.
Two of Charles's restoration pieces he has been
 working on during his time at the school.

What do you like/dislike about the watchmaking industry?

I understand the perspectives of the big brands and their approach to after sales service but think that parts should be made more easily available to the watchmaker. I also believe that the industry needs to make a serious commitment to education and to taking a more sustainable view on management.  

What types of watches do you like (classical, sporty, extreme)?

I like classical watches most of all. Early into our time at school we visited Philippe Dufour's workshop and needless to say we were all gob smacked and now I have the site of fine lines, small case sizes, and hand finished bridges ingrained deep within my philosophies and opinions on watch design. I do also like a good military watch though. A rugged watch designed for the elements without any sporty technology though something really simple.

How do you like in Switzerland?

We're truly living in a paradise here and would love to make a life for myself in this country if given the opportunity. 

What do you like to do in your free time here?

I think an interest in sports is easily supported here as everyone seems to get into seasonal sports and exercise. I also enjoy the galleries and museums in the German part of Switzerland as many of the private collections of some of the biggest names in the industry are open to the public along with lots of small galleries, especially in Basel.

What is your favorite tool you have made or use, do you often buy second hand tools?

I think my favorite tool which I had to make is the support we had to construct that is designed to rest a balance wheel on when doing poising. It's in the shape of a stick man and took a long time to file by hand. I rarely buy second hand tools but will start to buy more and more as my ambition to eventually have my own workshop keeps growing.

Charles had to re-make the stopwork finger and the Maltese cross for this barrel by hand for one of the two restoration watches he has been restoring.

Us here at K&H Watchmaking Competence Centre would like to thank Charles for taking his time and answer few of our questions. Charles's blogpage is:, please check it out.

Disclaimer: The opinions of the students of K&H Watchmaking Competence Centre do not necessarily represent the opinions of the school.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Random Class Action

Tryggvis hairspring being checked for flatness and centering at the collet in the lyre tool

We got a donation of watchmaking tools and parts 2 boxes full! we are very happy that there are people out there who are willing to promote education of watchmakers, we can use a lot of this in education. Thank you so much.

Brad was not happy with the paint he had on this tool from before so he decided to re-paint it, this is how it came out.

Stefano doing a side project, restoring an old Longines watch.

Showing here the center wheel that is in need of attention.

Kevin working on a ETA 2000-1 for a private client, very tricky movement due to its small size.