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It’s the Big Time

Posted 2012.01.18 22.16 in Computers/Internet/Technology

I just put together this simple fun kit from Sparkfun – it’s a great big chunky watch, with retro LED display!

 

The digits are much brighter and easier to read in person. I have not yet mastered the art of taking photographs of illuminated LEDs… either the LEDs are clear and everything else is dim, or the LEDs are dim and everything else is properly exposed.

Shakey Hands

Posted 2010.02.23 9.37 in Hobbies

After about 2 1/2 years, I finally got around to fixing my wristwatch.

Way back when, I accidentally dropped it and when it hit the floor, the second hand popped off, and was rattling around under the crystal. Second hands are so incredibly thin and fragile that I was worried if I kept using it, the second hand might get trapped between the other hands and get bent or jammed up.

So for about 30 months, the watch has been sitting on my workbench, waiting for attention.

Then I found myself going into my watchmaking toolkit as I needed one of the micro screwdrivers, and that’s when I found myself looking at the watch. So as soon as I finished the other project, I got the watch, case wrench, tweezers and loupe, and went to work.

It really didn’t take much time – most of the time I spent was trying to remember how to release the stem. Some of them you have to unscrew a set screw slightly, other ones have a push-release. This one is a push-release.

Then it was pretty straightforward to get the second-hand with the tweezers and press it back onto the spindle thing.

I forget the correct terms. It’s been 5 years since I was into watchmaking, I’ve forgot all the terminology.

But now my watch works again!

Now I’m the sort of person who wears a watch.

Sometimes.

No Coincidence

Posted 2009.11.29 14.18 in Life On Drugs, Pointless Blather

I better be more careful. You know it was no “coincidence” that minutes after posting the warning about wearing hats, an ambambulance pulled up and stopped infront of my house, right infront of my livingroom window, so they could check in on me at my computer.

ambambulance

Sure they pretended to be “lost”, they took turns rooting through maps, but I noticed that only one was looking at maps at the time. That meant the other was free to spy on me…

The Stephanie Maks Office Adventure Kit

Posted 2006.07.25 0.00 in Computers/Internet/Technology

I was just getting ready to head out to work and had some of my ‘important gear’ sitting on my desk ready to, when I noticed that my bit of kit was arranged somewhat photogenically.

That’s right, it’s the Stephanie Maks Action Adventure Kit!

The kit consists of the following:
A Pentacle necklace, properly cleansed and blessed.
A mechanical, home-made wristwatch. Today it’s the one-handed model, accurate to within 5 or 10 minutes.
An antique PDA, circa 1996. Hey, just because stuff is new, does not mean it is better.

And now, I must be off! Duty calls!

Stephanie Maks Action Adventure Kit

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