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I'm new to watchmaking, but loving it.  My hobbies have slowly migrated from wood (chisel, saw, and plane level joinery) to metals (lathe, mill, but mostly reworking, scraping, improving the former).  So now I'm down sizing to the tiny stuff!  I've built some fine scientific gear - laser interferometer stage, ~10 microgram balance, polarimeter, telescope.  Lots of closed loop control systems.  Not sure why watch movements have eluded my gaze until now.

I've worked for Fossil and now for Google as an engineer on smartwatches.  Frankly I really dislike the idea of "connected" on my wrist.  I turn my phone face down often...

I've put together a frankenlathe and have been acquiring tools - poiser, depther, Jacot, timegrapher, lots of hand tools.  I've also bought a few Elgin/Waltham pocket watches and a couple non-working automatics (junk really).  Also an ST36 movement clone (Easwel 6497).  Planning on a ST1902 buy soon - smaller, chrono.

The first I disassembled was an Akribos skeleton that had taken a fall.  A capital had come loose and I could see it had made its way into the escape wheel - skeletons have a moribund side...  I relieved the mainspring, removed the automatics.  When I lifted the barrel bridge, the spring ejected itself.  Apparently the barrel cover had also been jarred out.  As it turns out an escape wheel pivot was sheared as well, which 'splains why the balance wasn't moving it along.  So some of the hardest parts are what's in need of repair.  The watch is worthless even in great condition and parts are not something I would buy for it anyway even if I could.  But as a cannonball into the deep end I get to mangle it more as I learn.

One of the pocket watches had been repaired.  A jewel (third wheel?  escape wheel? which one escapes me..). had been replaced with a simple brass bearing.  The hack had filed it down flush so the beautiful cote de geneve was worn down to the brass.  Planning on seating a new jewel in an oversized <what's the word for that ring> and pressing that into the bridge.  Maybe I can nickel plate the hack so it doesn't suck so much...

I'm thinking of slowly making replacement parts for all of a movement until none of it is original.  I figure that would be a good way to learn my way around these awesome tools.  Maybe even pierce a jewel from scratch ala Daniels.  Insipring book that.


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10 hours ago, oldhippy said:

You will need a lot of specialised machinery to make many of the parts for watches. Very expensive stuff

Right?  I'm prolly $2500 in already and I know that's nothing.

Bought a poising tool cheap.  Took a while to tune it parallel, the design for fine adjustment is not great.  Bought a staking set cheap.  Almost all the stakes are clean, just a few with too much corrosion.  Looking forward to polishing them all up, getting the faces truly flat or domed as needed.

Still need a jeweling rig.  I understand Seitz has a lot more functionality than a Horia clone, cheap as those are.  A gauge like the Feintaster would be nice, but then maybe I could make something using the Mohr Supremax I already own.

I am handy with machining precision parts, so I fantasize about creating much on my own.  So for example I've laid out a plan to make a set of jewel hole gauges by turning a set of them.  Thought that would be good hands-on experience for making pivots.  Also to make a pivot gauge plate (expensive on ebay) from a jewel assortment (cheap on ebay) in which I learn about setting jewels.  Even thought that making a stack of those to sell might help alleviate the $$ for what I won't build.

About the most adventurous I'm considering at the moment is to add a spindle to the milling attachment I have. I bought an ER16 on a 1/2" shank ($24, and I measure *no* runout with a tenths indicator on a surface plate!  Try toolots dot com for crazy low prices on excellent parts) I'm planning to machine a bearing housing for that.  I already have a set of ER16 collets.  But then of course it's a short mental step to cutting teeth.  But topping them?  I like the idea of those cylindrical tools over the common spiral cutters.

One thing that really draws me to watchmaking is the precision.  It's *very* expensive to work in tolerances of some tenths on a 10x28 lathe.  But a loupe and graver can handily get there.  Hobby grade machining turns a surface finish of a couple thou then relies on files and sandpaper to get it clean, but good luck landing on 0.0005".  My Jacot is missing some parts unfortunately.  Another thing to fashion...

On the actual watchmaking side, I've been studious with several YT producers, including Mark.  My favorite is Kalle Slaap at Chronoglide - such love for the craft!  At some point i'll drop $ for an actual course.  I like being able to support the hard work they've all put in!  Then Daniels' book puts the lust in me to make all the parts...

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