Friday, February 26, 2016

Tests in the past and future

Burnishing away

It's exam week, so everyone has been busy preparing for today.  Shuai's  winding stem exam is done with and Eddie has finished his Pivot gauge exam.  The other boys had their first practice escapement exam today.

Turning like a pro
Shuai's technique to prevent winding stems from bending was a great success.  He has made more than 5 winding stems without a single bend.  He may be onto something!
Tomas turning the setting lever screw

Theren working hard on his escape wheel

Tomas has pocket watch with missing swan neck and a broken winding and setting mechanism.  He has a lot of restoration work to do.  He has made a new setting lever screw already and is working now on a prototype of the swan neck for the regulator.
Setting lever screw: The original vs The new

Friday, February 19, 2016


The quarter repeater in all it's glory

Henrik's new toys
Henrik purchased a Billodes (aka Zenith) quarter repeater pocket watch and a Cyma full calendar wrist watch for the students to repair in the near future.  The quarter repeater was built in Le Locle where the Billodes factory used to be located.  The watches are in working conditions, but still need a lot of work done to make them perfect.

Theren milling the prototype escape wheel.

Lining up the cutter to the correct angle for the escape wheel

Hand filing the spokes of the wheels
Theren continues to work on his escape wheel.  He was able to finish the brass prototyping this week and has started on the real steel piece.  He has to do some minor modifications to the cutters he made, and now things look to be promising.

Shuai trying out different techniques to prevent bending
Shuai is working on the winding stem and as we all know, the bending from the heat treatment has caused the students the most trouble in the past.  Shuai has developed a new technique to try and overcome this obstacle.  He made a special tool to hold the stem and avoid bending.  The experimentation is still in progress.
Eddie working on burnishing pivot gauge pivots

Tomas disassembling his Russian watch

Tomas has finished his escapement exercises and has started working on his own watch repairs.  He started with a Russian Slava watch and from the design of it, it is nothing like the Swiss counter part.  He has another Swiss pocket watch which he need to make a swan neck for.  The original is gone forever, so he will need to do some research and design a new "original".
Simone finishing up his escapement exercises

Felix trying out assembling and disassembling different movements

This week we also hosted a new bench tester coming in from Oxford, England.  His name is Felix and he has already fell in love with watchmaking, and the school!

Friday, February 12, 2016

New tools

An assortment of tools Shuai purchased this weekend

Simone's flashy new escape meter
The students had some free time last weekend and they thought it would be great if they went for more watchmaking!  They went on a shopping spree in a tool shop and got some useful tools (and some not so useful).
Eddie turning pivots

Eddie continues on making his pivot gauges.  Starting with making cylinders and pivots, and most likely starting with the burnishing next week.
Shuai starts turning winding stems
Shuai's impeccably finished slots 

Shuai has finished all the prep work for the winding stem this week, and so will  be starting on making a complete winding stem starting next week.  Exciting things coming in the future for these two students.
Tomas doing the final cleaning

Simone adjusting his pallet forks with his new escape meter

The other students have been finishing the escapement exercises, adjusting the pallet jewels and doing the final cleaning of the pallet fork.
Theren making prototype spokes for the escape wheel

Planning is 90% of watchmaking

Making fly cutters for the escape wheel cutting

Theren started a restoration project, making an escape wheel for a Patek Philippe wrist watch.  The process consists of multiple steps, making many tools for making tools to make the part.  We hope he succeeds!

Tomas made a new type of finishing on the milling machine

Henrik found a solution to remove tungsten carbide (hardmetal). If a drill breaks in a brass piece made from hardmetal we can now dissolve it.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Lost and Found

Simone checking out the set up for adjusting the guard pin length
After finishing the theory on escapements Henrik showed the students a bonus lesson on vintage pallet fork guard pins and how they can be adjusted.  Special pushers are needed for this operation which is irreversible.  So don't try this at home!!!
Tomas adjusting the escapement 
Theren cleaning the pallet fork

Shuai started turning on the 8mm lathe this week.  Beginning with the turning of different sized cylinders out of brass, and later in steel.  Shuai also learned how to sharpen gravers by hand.  He also started filing squares in preparation for the winding stem.
Shuai starting on the 8mm lathe and enjoying it

Eddie started turning between centers

Due to massive amounts of assembling and disassembling the escapement for adjustments, the  students sometimes lose parts due to sudden gusts of winds (or maybe blunted tweezer, or just bad luck).  Therefore the students spent some time on the big table this week.
Sweeping the big table looking for a lost pallet fork

Tomas praying to the watchmaking gods to help him find his pallet fork

There's a flu going around in Switzerland and some of the students caught the virus.  It was a tough week all around.
Theren upgraded his screwdrivers with newly added leather grips