Friday, February 27, 2015

Photos of the week.

It's Friday afternoon here in Le Locle and this has been a long but very productive week. Here are some photos of what we did this week.

Workshop 2 students continued with chronographs and they did dis-assembling, cleaning, assembling and oiling of a modular chronograph from Dubois-Depraz which can be a bit tricky to service.

Service manual.

The students were also introduced to the world's most common chronograph, the 7750 which is made by ETA. Good and solid chronograph, but not the most exciting or the most beautiful compared to more traditional chronographs.
Germán assembling and servicing the ETA 7750 chronograph.

Assembled but missing the oscillating weight.

Then we had some students that wanted to do electroplating for their special projects so Instructor Robert demonstrated how to utilize the plating machine and the basic steps of plating.

The palladium plating liquid being heated up to desired temperature.

A component being plated.

That's it for this week!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Article about bluing.

In January, we blogged about an article that Henrik Korpela, the director of K&H Watchmaking Competence Center, wrote exclusively for Watches by SJX. The subject of that article was a thorough step-by-step explanation how to flat polish a screw head, bevel the slot and round polish the thread end. If you missed it, here's the link.

Henrik wrote another article for Watches by SJX that was published a few days ago. This time it's about bluing (or tempering) and is an extremely interesting subject. If you are into fine watchmaking and want to know a little bit how things are done the 'hand made' way, why don't you take a look? We promise it's worth it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Visit to Renaud & Papi manufacture

Last Friday, February the 13th, we were fortunate enough to be allowed to go for a visit to Renaud & Papi manufacture that is located only 250 meters away from the school.

At the modest Renaud & Papi facilities many of the world's most exclusive and expensive watches are made for some of the most prestigious watchmaking houses, most notably Audemars Piguet which owns majority of the manufacture. We felt extremely lucky and privileged to go there and see how they make watches and to witness their talented watchmakers work on pieces that cost more than most cars and even more than some houses. We saw their training workshop and had a nice talk with the in-house teacher there. After that we walked over to the part making department where highly sophisticated CNC machines mill and turn the components from blocks of brass and rods of steel. Then we visited the surface finishing department which finalizes the rough components made by the CNC machines by polishing the parts and decorating them before the watchmakers receive the "movement kits" to clean, assemble, oil and adjust. That was the most interesting part of the visit, to see the watchmakers work on their benches with those complicated and highly decorated movements. The main challenge for the watchmakers is to make all the components, in some cases over 500 separate components, work in perfect harmony without leaving any traces such as scratches or dust. Very impressive stuff.

As said before, some of the most exclusive and expensive watches in the world are built at Renaud & Papi. For instance, we saw this amazing watch being assembled and tested.

This particular watch from Richard Mille costs more than $1.5 million. The movement is very special with some exotic materials and mechanism such as tourbillon and bridges made from sapphire. The case itself is made from a solid block of sapphire and is extremely challenging to make. It completely blew us away to see this watch live, it's intimidating and fascinating at the same time.

 We thank Renaud & Papi very much for inviting us for a visit, and what a nice visit that was!

The teachers and students happy with the visit.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Balance staff!

Now when the program is coming to an end, the students are working on some private repairs, some of them are extremely interesting.

Brad Taylor is for instance servicing a vintage Bucherer chronograph, which has the legendary Valjoux 72 chronograph movement.

Quite a lot of components there, lets hope Brad doesn't forget how to assembly it again.

Charles Birchall went back to micro-mechanics this week when he started making a balance staff. Making of a balance staff is a dying skill but our student of course learn how to make one since we find it an absolute must skill to have.


Cleaning and checking the pivot.

Balance staff back in the Jacot tool for more burnishing.

And voilá, a balance staff!

Tomorrow afternoon we will be visiting Renaud et Papi manufacture which happens to be in a walking distance from the school. That will be an exciting visit since at Renaud et Papi they make some of the most exclusive and exotic watches on the planet for many prestigious brands.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Winding stem in the making ...

Our Mexican student Germán Franco, is restoring an old cylinder escapement pendant watch. The watch is not in a good shape and needs to be thoroughly inspected and carefully repaired. Today Germán is making a winding stem for it using one of our trusty Schaublin 70 lathes.

Germán precisely adjusting the end mill to the winding stem.

Next step: Milling the square!

The old pendant movement and its components.

Making of winding stems is a big part of the micro-mechanical module of our FullSkill course. It actually is one of the intermediate exams and the reason for that is that making a winding stem by hand is not an easy task at all and is an extremely good indication of your skills if you can make one. There are several different diameters that has to be precisely turned down, in many different lengths, and therefore several corners are to be made that have to be sharp. Then there is a square that is hand filed, plus thread making and also heat treatment operation which is always risky. Lastly, there is the slot. It takes weeks of practice and endless amount of patience to make your first winding stem (to acceptable quality and respecting the tolerances of course).

Hand made winding stems by a FullSkill student.

We wish Germán the best of luck in making his winding stem!

Monday, February 2, 2015

White Switzerland

It's been snowing like crazy in Switzerland for the last 2 weeks. And since Le Locle is located in the Jura mountains, we usually get more snow than majority of the towns and cities spread around the country. Le Locle is quite beautiful like this, looking romantic and nice. But we still hope it's not going to snow much more because more than this and it will be difficult to travel around the town. Thankfully the city and inhabitants in this area of Switzerland are used to dealing with snow so they have proper equipment and experience to make things run smoothly.

We went for a 15 minute walk during the afternoon break and took some photos around the school.

Lets end this post with SNOW by Red Hot Chili Peppers. Amazing song, amazing band.