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?