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Watch workshop?


#1

I’ve made some watch bands from time to time (so to speak), but I’m
very unhappy working with what is available for the watch head
itself. I sometimes see artists who have created the case and face as
well, or have at least figured out how to customize them.

If anyone teaches a workshop about doing that, or knows a book on
the subject, I’d be very interested. I cannot, and don’t want to,
learn how to build watches. I just want to control/create that most
central part of the watch/band assembly. It will never be the heart
of my opus, if you will, but I hate wearing an ugly watch, or one
created by someone else.

Anyone willing/able teach that?

Noel


#2

Noel,

I have made a watch cases and bands over the years, and played with a
number more damned fancy watches. No work on the watch guts but
everything else was my game. No workshop or book advice from me
other than no tolerance. As machinists say it is dead nuts type work.
A thou here and there sure do add up. A lathe can really help on
round cases, good bench skills are useful too :slight_smile: I think that you
have those skills.

jeffD
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#3
A lathe can really help on round cases, good bench skills are
useful too :-) I think that you have those skills. 

What I may lack in bench skills I make up in attention and
determination… but no lathe, no lathe skills, and no desire to get
that deeply into it. I guess I was looking for ways to take an
existing watch head and re-work it, or a place that will do it for
me. Guess I’ll have to figure it out myself.

The dilemma is, good watches are expensive; don’t want to waste my
efforts on crappy ones. Well, start cheap and figure it out, I guess.
But I keep thinking about it, so I pretty much have to try.

Noel


#4
I just want to control/create that most central part of the
watch/band assembly. 

Well, Noel, that’s pretty ambitious. Like Jeff, I’ve done a lot of
work on cases - I barely understand how watches work (in detail) at
all. Ultimately a watch case is just a box with a window (crystal)
on top. The thing is, it has to fit the movement with great
precision. Movements are held in place by the very design of the
case… You could do it in other ways, I suppose, like screwing it
in - pretty funky… Just the back presents a problem - if it snaps
on like many cases do, then the two parts need to be precisely sized
for that. If it screws on, then you need a lathe to cut the threads
inside and out. Or come up with some other solution, which, again,
will be outside the usual watch stuff.

Making a watchcase by yourself could be any sort of box, and if
you’re happy with it and it functions well then there ya go. Making
a real, modern watch case is machine shop stuff. Lathe,
tool-and-die… Get some body’s dead watch, take out the movement
and try to make a new case for it…


#5
What I may lack in bench skills I make up in attention and
determination... but no lathe, no lathe skills, and no desire to
get that deeply into it. 

Sometimes attention and determination is not enough. There was a time
when I wanted to get into it. While doing research, I came across a
book “Watchmaking” by George Daniels. After reading this book, I
realized that without specialized training and equipment, it will be
a huge waste of time. Read this book and than decide if that is
something you want to get into.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#6

I just happen to see this thread and wanted to point out that you
can simply make ‘shells’ to fit over an existing watch case. Nugget
style watches have been done this way for years. The design
possibilities are endless. First choose a watch style/size that is
very common (round crystals and cases are most universal) in whatever
grade that fits your budget. Use common sizes so that if damage
occurs then a new watch can be replaced in the shell that you make.
Simply carve a wax model that fits down over the case and cut out an
opening that exposes the crystal/dial. Make a notch that fits around
the stem on the sidewalls of the shell. Then weld on tabs that can be
folded over on the back side of the lugs( where the pins are) that
hold the band on. I’ve made several over the years, sometimes
furnishing the watch, others using the watch the customer brings in.
And if you really want to get involved, make the band just like a
bracelet that attaches with watchpins/springbars thru tubes, just
like a normal watchband.

Ed


#7
I just want to control/create that most central part of the
watch/band assembly. 

Ignore all the naysayers.

It is quite doable.

You have to buy the movement and various odds and ends, Learn some
skills, which is the enjoyable part. Learn some unseemly language as
well:) But in the end, if you persist, you will make something nice.

http://preview.tinyurl.com/2e6l6qb

Not easy, but quite achievable. The one in the link is not a starting
point. Making one out of silver or gold is much easier. But if you
want to make money out of it, forget it. Much to labour intensive.

Cheers, Hans
http://www.meevis.com
http://hansmeevis.blogspot.com


#8

John,

Well, Noel, that's pretty ambitious. Like Jeff, I've done a lot of
work on cases - I barely understand how watches work (in detail)
at all. 

I have done some work on cases and bracelets, maybe not as many as
you. And there was always a real watch guy 2 benches away or at
worst across the street. Good gold ones are not too bad, limited
surprises. Cheap plated stuff not a good idea, stainless can be a
real joy to solder or re-plate, other exotics best avoided :slight_smile: As for
the guts, batteries and maybe special tricks good for a few months
out of a disposable. Real watch guys are there for a reason. Be nice
to them.

Working on watches is like inviting an alligator or 3 over for a
dinner party, some days are better than others :slight_smile:

jeffD
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#9
It is quite doable. 

This is spectacular, Hans. More elaborate than what I have in mind,
but shows it can be done. I’m sorry you thought it would be “boring
to photograph” the details of the watch itself-- just the part I need
the most help with!

If you want a solid color, why heat color? Why not anodize?

Thanks for the encouragement,
Noel


#10
 I just happen to see this thread and wanted to point out that you
can simply make 'shells' to fit over an existing watch case. 

This is pretty much what I have been thinking about trying. Do you
have any pictures of the back of what you’ve done? I really pretty
much want to do it for my own use, but I want it to look clean and
classy on the back. I also want to replace the face, probably with
titanium, but I can get a “watch guy” to help with that, if need be.

Thanks!
Noel


#11

Hi Noel,

I'm sorry you thought it would be "boring to photograph" the
details of the watch itself-- just the part I need the most help
with! If you want a solid colour, why heat colour? Why not anodize? 

The best way to learn is to purchase old and modern watches and take
them apart.

For me to describe the stem alignment, crown seals, movement
positioning etc is a very large tutorial that I simply don’t have
the time for and is very well covered in the watch maker forums.

But it is a process that can be learnt and trust me, contrary to
those who say that one needs expensive and complicated machinery, or
that one needs to read heavy technical manuals, all this is untrue
when all you want to do is make some fashionable watches for
yourself.

An example of this fashion, is a 18ct watch I made for my wife Anne
in 2000 She has worn this watch everyday, with care, I might add, but
is has only needed new batteries since then.
http://www.meevis.com/hand-made-watch.htm

As ‘ED’ pointed out, making a shell is the easiest way to go, and
one that allows for a large amount of creativity. I have bought
several watches at the $200 range and cut them up and made shells for
them, and worn them for a few months as Hans’ current " look at what
I made" thing.

The reason I use heat to colour all my titanium is because I have
never been able to achieve an anodized finish that is highly
polished. It always comes out matt. I don’t for a minute say it can’t
be done, but success in having a highly polished surface after
anodizing has eluded me so far.

Cheers, Hans


#12
Do you have any pictures of the back of what you've done?..... 

Sorry no pics currently, but I’ll see if I have a something around
that I can get a shot of. Or maybe you’ll get lucky and I’ll give a
shot at drawing, or photoshopping a reasonable facsimile.

but I can get a "watch guy" to help with that, if need be. 

No promises but if business would slow down a little at my store,
I’ll try to put together a little something on the basics for you.
Maybe some pics with descriptions, simple tools needed, etc. If you
are in need of the tools I can help you there also.

Ed


#13
As 'ED' pointed out, making a shell is the easiest way to go, and
one that allows for a large amount of creativity. 

Search Google for “nugget watch” and you’ll find it, though they
don’t show the backs. Those are shells made for a certain watch,
whatever the mode l is. There’s just a hole in the top that matches
the crystal and a cutout on the side so you can get to the crown.
They’re usually mounted with four wires (like prongs, sort of). Put
the watch in, bend the wires over the lugs (where the spring bars go,
usually) and you have an instant watch… That’s
different from actually making a whole watch, of course


#14
But it is a process that can be learnt and trust me, contrary to
those who say that one needs expensive and complicated machinery,
or that one needs to read heavy technical manuals, all this is
untrue when all you want to do is make some fashionable watches for
yourself. 

Albert Einstein said that things must be made as simple as possible,
but no simpler, so the first step in any enterprise is understanding
the level of simplicity.

The second question is what kind of watch would fulfill our urge for
originality. My view is that making custom case for battery operating
watch is akin to affixing a Rolls Royce grill to a Volkswagen
beetle. Who is kidding whom?

So we must be talking of mechanical movements with several
complications. In this case, before we let our creative self to roam
freely, certain technical issues must be solved, or one is going to
wind up with a watch telling correct time only twice a day.

Can the necessary knowledge be acquired by the seat of one’s pants? I
suppose it can if money is no object. The question is how many
movements one is willing to kill in this intellectual pursuit.

Before posting, I checked current pricing for movements. For example:
Valjoux 7733, which is probably the entry level for this type of a
project, is about $700.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#15

Hans,

But it is a process that can be learnt and trust me, contrary to
those who say that one needs expensive and complicated machinery,
or that one needs to read heavy technical manuals, all this is
untrue when all you want to do is make some fashionable watches for
yourself. 

I never meant to imply that fancy watchmaker tools were required. A
few can make life easier but only a few are really handy. The bench
work is exacting still.

Chop up old watches, buy a few movements with plastic carriers, a
long stem or three, hands for samples and the gears for accommodating
a thicker dial (I forget the proper names) Read the catalogues to
learn the proper right names, and if lucky walk into a company which
sells watch parts. Pretend to be a total idiot (not often too hard
for me) and explain what you want to do. More often than not they
will help you.

Still fussy work but quite within the realm of possibility with a
certain amount of tenacity and determination. Covering a crap watch
just feels wrong to me. (lots of decades but a few ethics still
remain :slight_smile:

jeffD
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#16
Search Google for "nugget watch" and you'll find it 

Hah! A lot of stuff about the Denver nuggets…


#17
Before posting, I checked current pricing for movements. For
example: Valjoux 7733, which is probably the entry level for this
type of a project, is about $700. 

And an extremely reliable Miyota 2035 quartz movement (battery
powered) can be purchased for as little as $4-5 apiece. I am
wondering, are we looking to make a high end horological wonder, or a
beautiful statement in design and fashion? And who is the target
market for the finished product? Is this for the purpose of
satisfying the maker or the customer? These issues do matter.


#18
Albert Einstein said that things must be made as simple as
possible, but no simpler, so the first step in any enterprise is
understanding the level of simplicity. 

This is the third time in a month I’ve heard someone use that quote
about jewelry design! Interesting.

Elaine
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com


#19

Leonid,

Before posting, I checked current pricing for movements. For
example: Valjoux 7733, which is probably the entry level for this
type of a project, is about $700. 

Not having had a need, before, for fine watch movements, I’m not
familiar with sources other than Otto Frei, which I happen to know
more by accident than anything else. Where would a jeweler interested
in such higher quality movements obtain them? (I suppose I could
Google it, but suspect I’d be wading through a lot of junk leads, so
I’m hoping your experience can save me a bunch of wasted web search
time…)

cheers
Peter Rowe


#20
And an extremely reliable Miyota 2035 quartz movement (battery
powered) can be purchased for as little as $4-5 apiece. I am
wondering, are we looking to make a high end horological wonder,
or a beautiful statement in design and fashion 

This is a question of philosophy of design. I subscribe to the view
that function is the overriding factor and decorating for the sake of
decorating is always in bad taste.

Mechanical movement is the finest example of engineering bar none.
To celebrate this achievement, the case is constructed using the same
time honored technique. It creates a continuity of design. Such watch
becomes truly an art object.

Cheap movement in fine case is nothing but a fraud. It is like a man
who is wearing expensive suit, but having no underwear beneath it,
because he could not afford one. The intention is to create
appearance of something that does not exist. That is how I look at
it.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com