Watch from scratch

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  • #48349
    david pierce
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    • Topics Started: 90
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    Bob,
    Have your ever had the desire to make a watch from scratch? There is a great video on youtube from a watch school showing someone cutting out the pilar plates with a jewelers saw and finishing the plates on a lathe with a face plate. There are also a couple of others like Steffan Pahlow and an English watch builder who studied under George Daniels.
    David Pierce

    #52133
    Bob Tascione
    Moderator
    • Topics Started: 38
    • Total Posts: 1559

    Hi David,
    Yes, absolutely!
    Roger Smith may be the person you’re referring to. He spent a lot of time working with George Daniels.
    Also for anyone interested in digging deeper into the subject, the book “Watchmaking” by George Daniels is a must have.

    Enjoy!
    Bob

    #52134
    randy
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 39
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    I just bought a copy of George Daniel’s book “Watchmaking”. Wow..what an extensive work…prepare to be challenged if you decide to build one from scratch.

    #52135
    david pierce
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 90
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    Randy,
    I do not have the book but I plan to get a copy. Did George Daniels make his own hairsprings? After viewing some old videos on the Hamilton watch company and the Elgin watch company on Youtube, I feel that this particular part is way beyond the capabilities of a small operation.
    David

    #52136
    arutha
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 85
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    Nothing is impossible but finding the tool to wind the steel into might be a bit tricky. I was at a BHI meeting a while ago given by a gentleman who had trained at one of the swiss watch schools, the first Englishman to do so. During his time there he was required to make every single component of a pocket watch including the case, dial etc. It can be done but finding the correct steel and the winding tool would be a problem I think.
    I found this link which might be of some use, it gives you a brief description of the method.

    http://chestofbooks.com/crafts/mechanics/Cyclopaedia/How-To-Make-Watch-Hairsprings.html

    Paul.

    #52137
    david pierce
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 90
    • Total Posts: 1360

    Arutha,
    There are a few videos available on Youtube that cover the production of hairsprings. The ones that come to mind are for the Hamilton, Elgin and Rolex companies. The Hamilton and Elgin videos are old but the process is the same. It is obvious to me that this was a multimillion dollar issue for these companies. Just working out recipie for the metal and actually producing it requires a team of highly skilled and educated experts. After smelting and pouring the metal into ingots, the metal was rolled and drawn through incredibly expensive machinery in order to get the wire to the proper size and geometry. The actual winding of the wire into a hairspring coil could be done in a small one man operation. The winding tool is an arbor suporting a couple of guide plates and could easily be made in a small machine shop. Once wound the springs could be set by tempering in a toaster oven.
    After reading a blog about Roger Smith last night, I found out that he does not make all of his parts in his shop. I do not know if George Daniels also outsourced some of his parts or not. In any case, watch the videos on Youtube and see some operations that manufactured every single screw, spring, gear, dial etc. in house.
    David Pierce

    #52138
    arutha
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    • Topics Started: 85
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    David,
    With the companies you have stated I understand it would be essential to get this part of the watch right and so invest the time and money but, according to Saunier a watch appeared in London around 1675 with a balance spring, I am sure they wouldnt have sourced their hairspring from meadows and passmore, are you saying in this day and age it cant be done? Saunier in his book (Saunier’s Treatise on Modern Horology) also goes on to describe how a hairspring can be made and also tells you what equations to use for the correct strength and oscillation etc. As I stated earlier, It can be done but would require some research and possibly the making of some tools, which, in the way of time and money might not be practical. I have spoken to a real living person that was producing his own hairsprings at a BHI meeting. As a Swiss watchmaker you would be taught to make your own hairsprings, they could be purchased but the skills were taught so you could do it. At the end of the day it all depends on how much you want to do it.
    Paul(Arutha).

    #52139
    david pierce
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    • Topics Started: 90
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    Arutha,
    What on earth is meadows and passmore? In any case the heart of the timekeeping process is the hairspring. The entire rest of the movement process moves in relation to the beat provided by the hairspring. I have never had the opportunity to examine a watch made in the 1700s but everything I read about the early watches says that they were manufactured to mainly be an impressive piece of jewelry for royalty and were notoriously bad time keeping devices. The reason the Hamilton, Elgin, Gruen and other companies put so much effort into the design and production of hairsprings was mainly due to the fact that modern navigational, and transporation requirements demanded it. The chronometers made by the Hamilton watch company during World War II were the finest in the world at that time and were an extremely crutial element in the war effort for the allies.
    David Pierce

    #52140
    arutha
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 85
    • Total Posts: 1536

    You raise a good point about timekeeping but you can still make a mainspring. It would of course have a large impact on time keeping but I dont belive that was the question that was asked, the question was could one be made.
    Paul.

    #52141
    david pierce
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 90
    • Total Posts: 1360

    Aruthra,
    The mainspring is something that I feel I can do. I have a small shop with metal fabricating equipment which includes a 52″ and 36″ metal shear and hole punching presses and dies. The spring steel can be purchased from a metal supply house such as MSC in small sheets and sheared to width. This type of equipment is affordable to a small shop like mine. I feel that the hairsprings are a whole other matter and after watching the documentaries on Youtube are probably out of reach for me. After watching several other documentaries I think that I can handle most of the other parts with the equipment I have.
    David

    #52142
    arutha
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 85
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    Good luck with it David,
    I will be interested to see how you get on with this project.
    paul.

    #52143
    david pierce
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 90
    • Total Posts: 1360

    Bob,
    I did some more internet research and found out a few things that I did not know before:
    1). Both George Daniels and Roger Smith produced watches that were a mix of ordered parts (Eubache) and parts made in house.
    2). There is a watchmaker named Don W. Corson who took the plunge a few years ago and now has a line of watches made from a
    combination of ordered and in house parts.
    Corson has several websites and one of them has a photo collection showing how he did it.
    David Pierce

    #52144
    Bob Tascione
    Moderator
    • Topics Started: 38
    • Total Posts: 1559

    Thanks for posting that David!
    I’ve been following Corson for a while now. The fact that he’s documented and made public so much of what he’s gone through right from the beginning to where he is now has been a big help to many aspiring to make a watch. He’s an interesting and generous guy. I know that he has sold one or possibly some of his watches through the Purists website but not sure if he’s selling through any other venue. Do you have any info on that?

    Bob

    #52145
    david pierce
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 90
    • Total Posts: 1360

    Bob,
    I probably only know what you know from the internet information. He has a page that shows his line of watches and they look nice but he did not even list the prices for them. On my end of things I acquired a 4″ rotary table with dividing plates and a tailstock for the mill that I described to you previously. Roger Smith cuts his gears with a Schaublin lathe and a miling attachment attachment (there is one up for sale on Ebay for a starting bid of $1200.00) made for that lathe. His gears are really nice looking but I think I can make some decent gears with the equipment I have. I just bought a staging microscope off of the internet and am in the process of unpacking it today. There seems to be a lot more interest in repair than manufacturing as I have only found a small number of people interested in this line of interest. It will be slow going but it is going.
    David

    #52146
    Bob Tascione
    Moderator
    • Topics Started: 38
    • Total Posts: 1559

    Hi David,
    Sounds like you’re really gonna do it! That’s great! You definitely have to keep us posted on your progress. I’m curious about the microscope you got. Which one is it? I’d like to hear more about the one you got. I’m in the market for one.

    Oh also I think Corson is selling his Tourbillons for $28,000 Swiss.

    Bob

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david pierceWatch from scratch