Thursday, December 15, 2016

The week before Christmas Holidays

Experimental sandblasted snailed blue ratchet wheel
Sandblased blue center with snailed outer rim

Sunray center with snailed outer rim
The students continued with their finishing exercises this week.  Many students experimented with different styles of finishing such as chamfering, black polishing, beveling (internal corner), frosting, sandblasting, straight graining, sun-ray, circluar graining, snailing, blueing and mixtures of these finishing techniques.  The students really had a lot of fun with these exercises although it took them many hours to finish to their satisfaction.  We will let the pictures do the talking.


beveled and chamfered then polished

Completely redecorated bridge with bevels made with internal corners

Black polish screw exercise (Big boss included)

The process from start to finish of making the bevels and circular graining a setting lever 
A close up of the frosted finish

The piece of the left sandblasted by Shuai compared with the original sandblasted ratchet wheel on the right

Before the holidays, the school took the students out to visit the Caillers chocolate factory in Broc.  It is a nice change from the watchmaking side of Switzerland.  The students learned a little about the history behind Swiss chocolate making and even learned a bit about how to be chocolate tasters.  At the end of the visit, they were able to do some shopping to bring gifts home, where ever that may be, to their family and friends.  After the chocolate factory, they travelled to the neighboring city, Gruyere, where they are famous for their cheeses.  They had fondue for lunch and visited the Chateau Gruyere to end the day.  It was a beautiful castle from the 1500s, and just for a bit, the students felt they travelled back in time.
A view from the castle

Group photo

The beautiful town of Gruyere

Chocolate factory

CNC chocolate maker

This will be our last post before the Christmas holidays, so, we wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!  Enjoy, as we will!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Twinkle twinkle little screws

Shuai flat polishing with the tripod
Exercise one
It was all about finishing this week.  Henrik planned a full week exercises about decorating and finishing of different watch components.  The students started off by black polishing 17 assortments of screws, starting from the smallest and easier to eventually, the big boss, a ginormous screw.  In no particular order, the students had to accomplish several types of finishing on parts such as ratchet wheel, setting lever springs, bridges, and other wheels.   They learned how to bevel steel and brass components, along with polishig them afterwards.  They cut chamfers and polished the chamfers using the bow and pegwood.  They tested circular graining, snailing, and straight graining on the wheels.  All in all, the students were extremely excited to learn about finishing, afterall in today's industry the finishing is one of the biggest parts of the value in a watch.
Tomas checking condition of his polish

Theren trying out some snailing patterns

Simone making bevels
Eddie checking his beveled bridges

Friday, December 2, 2016


Simone assembling his chronograph

Tomas disassembling the 7750

The 7750 cam system

The classical column wheel chronograph

The Dubois-Depraz chronograph module
It has been an intense week of chronographs for our students. The students not only learn about the theory behind how a chronograph works but also get to practice on three different styles of chronographs!  They start off by learning the classical column wheel chronographs, the more logical of the bunch.  Besides the basic assembly and disassembly, they also learned how to make adjustments to the engagements of levers and hammers, where sometimes modifications to their shape are required.  They then moved on to the more modern chronographs, starting with the most common Valjoux/ETA 7750.  It was very interesting for them to compare the two systems.  To top it off, Henrik also showed the students a modular chronograph.  Modular chronographs are chronograph modules that connect to a basic movement which converts it into a chronograph.  It was a lot of work, but the students loved every minute of it!
Eddie making adjustments to his chronograph

Shuai making fine oiling to his chronograph

Theren making a 4th wheel pinion for his school watch

This week the school had two visitors.  The first coming directly from Bangladesh.  Hasan is a former student of Henrik's back when he was teaching in WOSTEP.  Hasan is now owner of his own workshop where he services watches from over 40 stores.  The students can see the appreciation in Hasan's eyes of having Henrik as his mentor.
Hasan's visit

Tom and Melissa visiting the school

The second visitors were Mr. Tom Schomaker and his wife Melissa.  Tom is a well known watchmaker/instructor in America, teaching in the AWCI.  Tom and Melissa are visiting countless watchmaking related establishments and were able to also make time to visit us at the school.  Tom shared many stories and tips from his 30 plus years of watchmaking experience.  It was quite informative for the students to hear the watchmaking ways of America.

Friday, November 25, 2016

On the same page

The Automatic reverser

The auto

A version of the calendar mechanism with quick set and safety features for forbidden hours
It is probably the first time all five of our students are in the same portion of the course.  This week Henrik taught the students about the automatic/self-winding mechanism and the calendar mechanism.  There is a large variation in the types of mechanism for both complications, but the general theory behind them are more or less the same.  The students get to finally put some of their movements together in whole for once!  The students not only get to assemble the mechanisms and learn how they work, but also learned how to oil the different parts of these mechanisms.
Theren doing some written exercises

Eddie finishing some timing

Simone assembling the automatic and calendar mechanisms on the 7750

Tomas working on his school watch

Next week they will start on Chronographs!  Everyone is super psyched! because, who doesn't like chronographs!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Watchmaker's tools


The students have been trying to increase their collection of tools for the past year and a half.  Second hand tools don't always come in perfect conditions, therefore, this past weekend the students made them perfect by powder coating them.  Powder coating is a layer of special paint is extremely rust and scratch resistant.  Because powder coating takes a lot of prep work, it took the students the whole Saturday to finish coating all of their tools.  The results were amazing and everyone ended the day happy and exhausted.
In the oven

Theren's repainted lathe

During the week Shuai and Eddie continue to practice for their hairspring exam.  This is their last exam before the Final, so they are extremely happy to be finished with them now.  All the students will be starting the Calendar and Automatic movements next week, and they are all looking forward to it.
Simone making a column wheel for his repairs

Theren centering his school watch mainplate

Tomas milling out the winding pinion slot in his school watch mainplate

Theren, Simone, and Tomas continue to work on the school project where they made another break through.  They seem to be really close to getting it to work.  All that would be left is decorating it and making it pretty for the jury!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Patrimoine d'Horlogerie

Grattage specialist at Swiss Machines

The Hauser M1, fully restored by Swiss Machines

Bergeon designing their own tools with 3D printed prototypes
Last weekend was the biannual Patrimoine d'Horlogerie day where factories in Le Locle and La Chaux-de-Fonds open their doors to the public for tours of the facilities.  It was extremely interesting for the students to see how the production works in the industry.  The students visited a case and dial making factory where they were surprised to see that not only were CNCs used, but all parts were hand adjusted by real craftsmen in their field and finished by hand.  It was also a great chance for them to create connections with both factories and the visitors on the tour.  Other places that the students visited were a diamond setting atelier, a machine restorer and a couple tool makers.  All in all, it was a great experience for the students and a big eye opener for them to see in person how the stuff they use everyday are actually made.

Tomas working on the school watch

Theren turning pivots for the project

Simone milling special parts for the project
In school, Tomas, Simone, and Theren continue to work on the secret project.  This week they made major breakthroughs, having much more faith in the success of the whole creation.  There is still a lot of fine adjusting left, but we believe the major obstacles have been overcome.

Eddie focused on hairspring adjusting

Shuai adjusting for the best timing
Shuai and Eddie have started preparing for their hairspring exams, which is the final exam before the final exam.  They completed 2 practice exams this week, and must complete 2 more next week before the big day.  Wish them luck!