Watch-Making

Posted 2005.10.12 11.13 in Hobbies

Introduction

Signal Mechanical Alarm, ca 1960s, 1st Moscow Watch Factory, USSR

Signal Mechanical Alarm, ca 1960s, 1st Moscow Watch Factory, USSR

In early 2005, for the first time in five or six years, I was in the market for a time piece. I wanted something interesting, with character, something a little unique. Definately not digital. No plastic.

My search initially led me to a very nice Citizen Eco-Drive. But it was out of my price-range — about $500. I then turned my eye towards mechanical watches. No quartz, no battery, no solar. My budget was too tight for anything new and current — fashionable new mechanical watches are very costly — so my attention turned to the vintage section on eBay.

There, I came across an inexpensive ‘vintage’ watch from the 1980s – that happened to have been made in the U.S.S.R. That began my love and fascination of Soviet timepieces – which would be a webpage all its own – so for more info on Soviet/Russian watches, just see the links below.

Quickly I found myself with a small collection of Soviet watches. I then realized they would need service sooner or later (like cars, mechanical watches need to be properly maintained). When the watches themselves are so inexpensive, it didn’t make sense to pay high prices for professional service – yet the watches are good quality and will need service. So there was only one logical solution.

I proceeded to start teaching myself watchmaking.


Learning & Research

Movement Caliber 10BT, 1951, Bulova Watch Co., Swiss

Movement Caliber 10BT, 1951, Bulova Watch Co., Swiss

The internet can be a great resource, if you know how to search and where to look. Suffering from chronic insomnia helps too. Insomnia, and an obsessive-compulsive need to always learn new stuff.

I started finding websites of watch enthusiasts, amateur watchmakers, and watch manufacturers. I started reading everything I could find on the subject. I would read and re-read things, memorizing parts, draw sketches of wheel trains and motion works. I found a few horological forums, and read all the posts and articles I could find about watch making and repair.

Along the way I came across the TimeZone Tool Shop, an online store that sold watch parts and watchmakers’ tools. They sell the kits that are used in the TimeZone Watch School. I immediately ordered the Level 1 kit, along with some other watch parts, and got to work. I must admit, although I have heard a lot of good things about the TimeZone Watch School, I have not yet enrolled. I keep planning to, but then I keep thinking I’d rather spend the money on another Soviet watch, or some more tools or watch parts. I will definately do it sooner or later though. If not the Level 1 class, then certainly the Level 2.

Without taking any courses, or buying any books, I have managed to teach myself enough just by reading (and reading, and reading) as well as getting helpful advice from some very kind people in the forums. So far I have repaired a faulty day-date mechanism in a Soviet watch, replaced a broken mainspring and bridge in a 1950’s era Bulova, and started designing & building my own watches.


My Home-Made Watches

These are my home-made, custom designed watches. Watches in this section are ones I have designed and made entirely by myself. Either for my own enjoyment, or as gifts for friends or family.

My first self-made watchSM #1

Movement:
Swiss Automatic ETA 2836-2
Indications:
Hour, Minute, Seconds, Day, Date
Luminous:
Hour & Minute hands; Pink (Orange Glow)
Case Specs:
36mm diameter (excluding crown) x 42mm long; 11mm thick; 18mm lug width; all stainless steel, mineral glass crystal and display back. Crown 5.5mm. Water resistant to 3 atmospheres.
Details:
My first watch project. A fairly simple assembly of off-the-shelf parts, but a good learning experience and fun to make. Plus, nothing beats wearing your own watch!

 

My one-handed watchSM #2

Movement:
Swiss Mechanical ST-96
Indications:
Hour only
Luminous:
None
Case Specs:
36mm diameter (excluding crown) x 42mm long; 11mm thick; 18mm lug width; all stainless steel, mineral glass crystal and display back. Crown 5.5mm. Water resistant to 3 atmospheres.
Details:
I’ve seen a couple one-handed watches elsewhere on the internet, and I thought they were really unique and interesting, so I decided to have a go at it myself. My interpretation makes the watch as simple as it can get – it tells you nothing but the time.

Resources / Links

Vostok Amphibia Mechanical Watch, ca. 1980s, Chistopol Watch Factory, USSR

Vostok Amphibia Mechanical Watch, ca. 1980s, Chistopol Watch Factory, USSR

General Information Links
Alan’s Vintage Watches
Christophs Watch World
Time4Watches
TimeZone
TimeZone Watch FAQ
The Watch Guy
WatchUSeek Articles
Educational / Watchmaking Links
Horlogerie-Suisse
Per’s Horology
TZ Watch School
Soviet / Russian Links
Andreas Ulbrich’s Komandirskie site
Mark Gordon’s Russian Watches Collection
Michele Cuoccio’s Russian Watches Website
Russian Watch Forum at WUS
Forums Links
Poor Man’s Watch Forum
TimeZone Forums
WatchUSeek Watch Forums
Commercial / Shopping Links
Dashto Horological Supplies
Jules Borel & Company
Mark II Watches
Otto Frei
RLT Watches
Somal Canada
Time Zone Tool Shop