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Prototypes - The Next Generation


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Hi All,

Its good to be back, and I have missed you all tremendously. I haven't posted on the forum since earlier in the year. Since I was last on a lot has happened. Lots of life changes have taken place spurred on by various health issues (bl**dy covid!). I have given up my day job and focused entirely on making watches. Not for profit I might add, but really as a type of happiness therapy. I won't go into details here, but will happily discuss if anyone is interested. Ive learnt a lot of new skills and techniques in the last few months, and now look back at my earlier creations with a certain embarrassment.

Anyway, these are a few of my latest creations. As always all feedback is appreciated. Constructive or otherwise.

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Wow this is awesome great job I absolutely love those dials, can you share the process if possible?

Also just out of sheer curiosity you don't have to answer this question but how are you going to survive after quitting your day job? 

 

 

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Thanks guys, Its taken about a year of working 4-5 hours a day to perfect the process for making the dials. Ive made over 100 dials now, most of which have gone in the bin!

Most of the dials start with very precise detailed designs done in a vector graphics program and a sheet of 0.25mm German Silver. I print all the components to make the dials out of on transfer paper and fix this to the German Silver. Each component is cut out with a jewellers saw, following the lines on the transfer paper, filed and polished.

The Guilloche type patterns are printed onto acetate to create a photo resist for etching. Once the pattern is etched they are filed and polished. Then any electroplating that needs doing is done. Eg, if im after a white colour I will gold plate the dial, then silver plate, and then heat bleach and pickle (usually multiple times as any mistakes here are costly) the silver to a pure white. The dial will then be lacquered for protection and to prevent tarnishing. 

Black colours are either oxidised to the correct shade, or black nickel plated.

A similar method is used to etch markings and finish chapter rings, sub second dial rings etc. All numerals and markings are infilled with Indian ink and the the component is either repolished or brushed to create the finish im after. The part is then lacquered.

Once I have the dial components finished, everything is put together to complete the dial.

Individual components completed, and testing the fit. 

C9A1022E-1581-456F-9E66-76576C919BEF.jpeg

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Guilloche style pattern ready for plating. 

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Various components being prepared. 

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 Checking the contrast between front and rear of dial. Is the white bright enough? Is the black dark enough? Etc

2226D0D6-522C-4671-8859-5429EDA4AFF3.jpeg

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12 minutes ago, Angrybear said:

Thanks guys, Its taken about a year of working 4-5 hours a day to perfect the process for making the dials. Ive made over 100 dials now, most of which have gone in the bin!

Most of the dials start with very precise detailed designs done in a vector graphics program and a sheet of 0.25mm German Silver. I print all the components to make the dials out of on transfer paper and fix this to the German Silver. Each component is cut out with a jewellers saw, following the lines on the transfer paper, filed and polished.

The Guilloche type patterns are printed onto acetate to create a photo resist for etching. Once the pattern is etched they are filed and polished. Then any electroplating that needs doing is done. Eg, if im after a white colour I will gold plate the dial, then silver plate, and then heat bleach and pickle (usually multiple times as any mistakes here are costly) the silver to a pure white. The dial will then be lacquered for protection and to prevent tarnishing. 

Black colours are either oxidised to the correct shade, or black nickel plated.

A similar method is used to etch markings and finish chapter rings, sub second dial rings etc. All numerals and markings are infilled with Indian ink and the the component is either repolished or brushed to create the finish im after. The part is then lacquered.

Once I have the dial components finished, everything is put together to complete the dial.

Very nice work, I'm thinking you are more of an extremely patient articulate sloth than an angrybear. What was your day job ? 

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20 minutes ago, Angrybear said:

Thanks guys, Its taken about a year of working 4-5 hours a day to perfect the process for making the dials. Ive made over 100 dials now, most of which have gone in the bin!

Most of the dials start with very precise detailed designs done in a vector graphics program and a sheet of 0.25mm German Silver. I print all the components to make the dials out of on transfer paper and fix this to the German Silver. Each component is cut out with a jewellers saw, following the lines on the transfer paper, filed and polished.

The Guilloche type patterns are printed onto acetate to create a photo resist for etching. Once the pattern is etched they are filed and polished. Then any electroplating that needs doing is done. Eg, if im after a white colour I will gold plate the dial, then silver plate, and then heat bleach and pickle (usually multiple times as any mistakes here are costly) the silver to a pure white. The dial will then be lacquered for protection and to prevent tarnishing. 

Black colours are either oxidised to the correct shade, or black nickel plated.

A similar method is used to etch markings and finish chapter rings, sub second dial rings etc. All numerals and markings are infilled with Indian ink and the the component is either repolished or brushed to create the finish im after. The part is then lacquered.

Once I have the dial components finished, everything is put together to complete the dial.

Individual components completed, and testing the fit. 

C9A1022E-1581-456F-9E66-76576C919BEF.jpeg

F38AA9BE-FD8D-4C56-AD0F-867617E17DC8.jpeg

Guilloche style pattern ready for plating. 

FE909BC9-8515-4CFF-8360-5A4E1B82487F.jpeg

Various components being prepared. 

0C75A4D0-6B76-4F2D-99AD-314B017C28BD.jpeg

FCADEC15-3519-4F59-BD58-A2172EBC0A0F.jpeg

 Checking the contrast between front and rear of dial. Is the white bright enough? Is the black dark enough? Etc

2226D0D6-522C-4671-8859-5429EDA4AFF3.jpeg

Brilliant! 

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3 minutes ago, Neverenoughwatches said:

Very nice work, I'm thinking you are more of an extremely patient articulate sloth than an angrybear. What was your day job ? 

Thank you! I had a classic car restoration business. It got too much physically, so I sold it to sit at home and make watches! I also make custom guitars as a hobby. This has helped pay the bills too. 

1 hour ago, Ammar said:

Wow this is awesome great job I absolutely love those dials, can you share the process if possible?

Also just out of sheer curiosity you don't have to answer this question but how are you going to survive after quitting your day job? 

 

 

With some difficulty! I sold my business which gave me a small amount of money to buy equipment and pay the bills. I sold my cars and luxury watches too. I have a very supportive partner that helps a great deal, and I also repair and build guitars that brings in some petty cash. Sooner or later I will have to find a way of making some real money tho. I have had a few people want to buy watches, but I don’t think they are good enough for that yet. And I’m wary about turning a loved hobby into a day job. 

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9 minutes ago, Angrybear said:

Thank you! I had a classic car restoration business. It got too much physically, so I sold it to sit at home and make watches! I also make custom guitars as a hobby. This has helped pay the bills too. 

With some difficulty! I sold my business which gave me a small amount of money to buy equipment and pay the bills. I sold my cars and luxury watches too. I have a very supportive partner that helps a great deal, and I also repair and build guitars that brings in some petty cash. Sooner or later I will have to find a way of making some real money tho. I have had a few people want to buy watches, but I don’t think they are good enough for that yet. And I’m wary about turning a loved hobby into a day job. 

I see, I hope you all the best, I have to say you must very brave to do that and pursue your hobbies, much respect I wouldnt dare to do that.

I don't 100% agree with you regarding turning a hobby into a day job, I believe if you can make living out of your hobby you'd be really happy BUT it can make you hate the hobby if things become stressful so you have to balance thing.

 

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Its a tough decision. The business started affecting my health quite badly. I was working 14 hour days most days of the week. No holidays or weekends as this time was spent catching up on paperwork.No breaks for food, it was hard even to stop for toilet breaks! Money was getting tighter as I was being squeezed financially like most small businesses, and I started to hate working on cars. Over the last 5 years I damaged my back and shoulders and started having lung problems from years of fumes and dust. Add to this chest pain and dizzy spells. I was in constant pain. Then about 2 years ago I started having blackouts. I would be working under a car and then wake up laying on the floor. Doctors think my body just said enough was enough. After discussion with my partner I decided to sell up and focus on recovery.

The watches became my recovery. I do believe watchmaking literally saved my life. And Mark really started this for me with his amazing lessons. So Thank you Mark! If I ever meet you the drinks are on me.

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Hi Bear deeply sorry over the heath issues, the watches you produce are way above the standard of those so called "fashion watches" and I am sure keeping up    that quality you could make a go of it.  I always like to see what you do and marvel at the quality of the hand bildt dials are works of art.   wish you good health and keep well.  

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 Hi There Bear,      Keeping ok  so far so good   managing to avoiding the dreaded Covid although the aches and pains of old age catch me at times I can't complain.  If you concentrate on what you do and it is brilliant work I am sure you will succeed, about what price do they sell at in the competative market we have now, just interested. Look after your self and keep us all posted I for one am interested although too old now to follow your lead. wishing you all the best.

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Those are stunning watches! I was impressed with your first prototypes, but these are a different level, spectacular! Thanks for giving an insight into your methods, and I don't blame you for not rushing to start a business, though I've no doubt you could. I agree 100% you shouldn't sell what you are not satisfied with yourself, no matter what anyone else thinks (and I think you would have no problem finding customers), but don't forget that perfection is the enemy of success, either. Having seen your "prototypes" and how your workshop is kitted out, I'm going to hazard a guess that what you are aiming for is a lot closer to perfection than it is to adequate.

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19 hours ago, watchweasol said:

 Hi There Bear,      Keeping ok  so far so good   managing to avoiding the dreaded Covid although the aches and pains of old age catch me at times I can't complain.  If you concentrate on what you do and it is brilliant work I am sure you will succeed, about what price do they sell at in the competative market we have now, just interested. Look after your self and keep us all posted I for one am interested although too old now to follow your lead. wishing you all the best.

Im glad to hear you are managing to keep well and have managed to avoid COVID. Since my ongoing health problems ive pretty much become a hermit trying to avoid it!

I don't know what sort of money I could sell them for. I really haven't thought about it. Im also struggling to find many other English watchmakers that make one-off handmade watches that don't produce their own movements and charge the earth.

16 hours ago, grsnovi said:

If that's so, it's fantastic. You're doing beautiful work.

Thanks for the info on etching. I had been wondering if you were using a rose engine.

I dream about Rose Engines every night. Unfortunately I think it will stay a dream for the foreseeable future.

16 hours ago, Klassiker said:

Those are stunning watches! I was impressed with your first prototypes, but these are a different level, spectacular! Thanks for giving an insight into your methods, and I don't blame you for not rushing to start a business, though I've no doubt you could. I agree 100% you shouldn't sell what you are not satisfied with yourself, no matter what anyone else thinks (and I think you would have no problem finding customers), but don't forget that perfection is the enemy of success, either. Having seen your "prototypes" and how your workshop is kitted out, I'm going to hazard a guess that what you are aiming for is a lot closer to perfection than it is to adequate.

Its so nice to hear from you Klassiker, your words are very kind. What you say makes perfect sense. I know you have lots of experience at finishing watch parts, so you know how hard it is to be completely happy with something. The polish could always be better, the edges sharper, the curves smoother. I do have a tendency to always think my work could be better. But I also think that the pursuit of perfection is especially important in watchmaking. Ill keep working on things until im happy, then who knows what the future holds? 

1 hour ago, KarlvonKoln said:

Those dials are incredible!  I love the guilloche and the contrasting colors of dial and chapter ring.  May I ask, @Angrybear, what movements do you use?
 

Thank you. The movements are ETA/Unitas 6498s. Im currently reworking the bridges so make them I bit more individual. Ill post some images of the CAD drawings ive done so you can see what im aiming for.

35 minutes ago, tomh207 said:

Great to see you back with your projects, amazing work and so accomplished. Would you mind doing a rundown on making hands too please?

 

Tom

Thanks Tom. Ill put together a rundown of the hand making process and post it as soon as I can.

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So you are chemically etching these turned dials on acetate? I always thought it was a machining process... How are you getting the clean gradients? How are you plating it? I thought getting metal to adhere to plastic was a PVD process that's not very friendly for home gamers. Admittedly, I've never etched acetate, done PVD, etc. so maybe that's just how it etches and it's not as complicated as I though, but there is a lot to unpack there!

On 11/3/2022 at 7:29 AM, Angrybear said:

Thank you! I had a classic car restoration business. It got too much physically, so I sold it to sit at home and make watches! I also make custom guitars as a hobby. This has helped pay the bills too. 

Wow! Another luthier/car enthusiast that's also into watchmaking! I too had to drop the cars for health issues (severe wreck in a classic car) and have been playing with more modern fare lately. I hope to have my woodworking shop up this winter, and I have an enormous backlog of guitars I've been collecting materials for. I'm also going to great lengths to dodge covid for health reasons, but it's my daughter's health I'm trying to preserve. It sounds like you're in the UK, so nowhere nearby or we'd have to figure out a way to have a beer and talk shops.

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Hi Bear  I think if you look at most producers of "watches" other than Daniels and Roger Smith (Isle of Man) they buy in the movements as producing their own is costly I saw the post regarding a company The Cheshire watch company using a piece of Spitfire wing to make the dials but I should think the movements are high end bought in. watches wholly produced by Smith and Daniels  cost thousands as they are literally hand made. Looking at the work you produce cost in the High hundreds as its hand finished to a high degree, and as I said before way above many Fashion watches on the market at the moment. Keep well and keep on trucking my friend  always good to hear from you on the forum.       cheers 

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22 minutes ago, spectre6000 said:

So you are chemically etching these turned dials on acetate? I always thought it was a machining process... How are you getting the clean gradients? How are you plating it? I thought getting metal to adhere to plastic was a PVD process that's not very friendly for home gamers. Admittedly, I've never etched acetate, done PVD, etc. so maybe that's just how it etches and it's not as complicated as I though, but there is a lot to unpack there!

Wow! Another luthier/car enthusiast that's also into watchmaking! I too had to drop the cars for health issues (severe wreck in a classic car) and have been playing with more modern fare lately. I hope to have my woodworking shop up this winter, and I have an enormous backlog of guitars I've been collecting materials for. I'm also going to great lengths to dodge covid for health reasons, but it's my daughter's health I'm trying to preserve. It sounds like you're in the UK, so nowhere nearby or we'd have to figure out a way to have a beer and talk shops.

Hi Spectre, apologies. I don't think I explained the process very well. I print the designs onto acetate to create a photo resist. The photo resist is used to etch the designs into German (Nickel) Silver. The German Silver dial is filed and polished to get the gradients I want. This can then be relatively easily electroplated. I clean the dial ultrasonically in benzine, and then in a soapy bath. Then I electro clean and activate the dial. I electroplate a gold strike layer so the silver plating adheres properly. It took me about 6 months and a lot of money and practice to start getting satisfactory results.

Very interested to hear more about your woodwork and luthiery. I had a fully kitted out wood workshop until I had to get rid of it a couple of years ago. Ill hunt out some photos for you. If you ever visit the UK a beer would be great, im sure we could chat for hours about watches, cars and guitars.

12 minutes ago, watchweasol said:

Hi Bear  I think if you look at most producers of "watches" other than Daniels and Roger Smith (Isle of Man) they buy in the movements as producing their own is costly I saw the post regarding a company The Cheshire watch company using a piece of Spitfire wing to make the dials but I should think the movements are high end bought in. watches wholly produced by Smith and Daniels  cost thousands as they are literally hand made. Looking at the work you produce cost in the High hundreds as its hand finished to a high degree, and as I said before way above many Fashion watches on the market at the moment. Keep well and keep on trucking my friend  always good to hear from you on the forum.       cheers 

Ive done some research since you mentioned this. Garrick watchmakers appear to be doing something similar to myself using bought in movements. Their cheapest watch starts at £6000!!!!! I can understand why. It takes me upto about 200 hours to make a watch start to finish, and about £700 in materials. They seem to have quite a long waiting list as well, so maybe there is a demand for it. 

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