Keep Improving, Common Movement Retouching In Advanced Watchmaking

Since the advent of mechanical watchmaking, talented watchmakers have transformed exquisite timepieces from ideas into reality with their dexterous hands. In addition to the intricate time mechanism, the manufacturer’s relentless pursuit of perfection is the hallmark of Haute Horlogerie. According to the concept of fine watchmaking, watchmakers use different techniques to retouch the movement.

   The term ‘Finish’ covers a series of technical treatments of timepiece parts from production to the finished product. In the end, all processing marks were erased, and various parts were carefully polished and decorated by hand. The raw material becomes a work of art, which is called watchmaking alchemy.

A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Up / Down watch is equipped with a sophisticated movement L951.6. As always, the movement can be clearly identified by unique details. Its technical features and retouching include gold sleeves and blue steel screws.
   In some cases, retouching may be useful. In addition to aesthetic considerations, the coating prevents corrosion. Geneva pattern can capture dust and protect the movement mechanism. Heating steel screws not only makes them dark blue, but also makes them harder in texture. In any case, retouching symbolizes the meticulous attention to small details when making the movement, which is also a strong guarantee for achieving perfect technicality.

Superb movement created by Finnish independent watchmaker Kari Voutilainen. At first glance, this movement is unpretentious, but in all aspects it reflects extraordinary craftsmanship. The flawless luster of a single balance wheel plywood requires hours of patient polishing.
   Although modern CNC machine tools have also been used to produce and ‘roughly finish’ timepiece parts, carefully crafted movements are another matter, the latter can be considered real works of art. On the one hand, it is a programmed, high-volume industrial retouching; on the other hand, it has been passed down from generation to generation, and the skilled craftsmen add charm to the parts little by little, stroke by stroke. The two are different. Some operations, such as the handling of specific angles (inner or sharp corners), can only be done manually. Finally, hand retouching makes each piece unique, and ‘imperfect’ instead becomes the most authentic gift. You know, even trained watchmakers can’t make two identical works.
Chamfering (Anglage / Bevelling / Chamfering)

 
Chamfer of Audemars Piguet movement bridge.
   Chamfering involves treating the edges of the part to the same angle (usually 45 °) and width, and is generally used for bridge and floor finishing. Carefully polished edges accentuate the shape of the part. The chamfer must be neat and smooth. This is one of the finest retouching techniques.

Use grinding tools to chamfer the movement bridge.
   Nowadays, machines can shape sharp-cut chamfers, which not only makes industrialized large-scale retouching possible, but also makes the second stage of work in high-end manufacturing easy. Watchmakers can manually control the machine tool, guide parts and tools, and further Optimize chamfers.

The file is used to manually chamfer the Vacheron Constantin skeleton movement, and the finishing of complex shaped parts can only be done by hand.
   Manual chamfering with traditional tools such as files, dowels, and abrasive slurries is unmatched by modern machining and is still essential in the internal processing of parts. Different abrasive pulps have different degrees of fineness and can be used continuously to obtain a flawless gloss. This project requires dexterous hands and superb skills. There is a type of angle that can only be done by hand, that is, rounded corners. It is regarded by the industry as the holy grail of fine watch finishing, and Romain Gauthier and Philippe Dufour are exemplary models. The rounded surface is not flat, but convex, and only a very small number of highly trained watchmakers can achieve this level of detail.
Black / Mirror Polish
   Black polishing, also known as mirror polishing, is a very time-consuming retouching process and a major feature in fine watchmaking. This process is used to obtain a perfectly smooth surface of a steel part, making its surface glow like a mirror, and staring at black from a specific angle. Black / mirror polishing requires a completely flat surface, no irregularities (the edges of the part must also be completely flat), and the reflection of light must be in the same direction. Depending on the light, the reflection can appear black (when the light is perpendicular to the part), metallic gray, or white. Black / mirror polishing can reduce the risk of oxidation, but of course it is mainly used as a decoration.

Movement parts before and after black polishing (left); gentle polishing of movement parts for mirror polishing (right).
   In order to achieve this effect, the surface of the part must first be regular and flat. The rougher the surface, the more dull the surface. After the formation is flat, wipe the surface of the part against the zinc plate. With diamond abrasive pastes (these pastes will become thinner and thinner until the process is complete), the watchmaker will make circular movements of the part to remove surface imperfections until a perfect black / mirror finish is achieved. This process is very time consuming and is usually only used for high-end watchmaking. For example, only black / mirror polishing of the top surface of the tourbillon splint can take up to 3 hours.
Geneva Stripes

 
The use of a rotating abrasive to remove excess metal creates parallel lines that form a Geneva pattern, a part of a Christophe Claret movement.
   The Geneva pattern is one of the most traditional retouching types, and usually refers to the regular, parallel wavy pattern on the surface of the movement parts (such as the floor, bridge and oscillating weight). The Geneva pattern can also be straight or round and perfectly aligned across different parts.

Laurent Ferrier tourbillon watch, striking ribbing across the bridge.
   This retouching is mainly applied to the flat and visible part of the bridge (the bottom plate usually uses fish scales). The decoration of the Geneva pattern can have a variety of techniques, the most commonly used being semi-automatic machines guided by human hands. The parts are fixed on a moving tray, and the surface of the parts is scraped by means of a grinding tool. A more modern (and even more affordable) technology is the use of CNC machine tools without the need for human labor. Finally, there are all manual solutions, which are very time consuming and less regular, but look more beautiful. Need to use wooden grinding tools to mark the parts with the same distance, size and style.
Fish scale (Perlage / Circular-graining / Stippling)

 
Fish scale decoration on bridge or bottom plate (left); movement parts undergoing fish scale decoration (right).
   Fish scale pattern is another traditional retouching process, also known as rotary circular pattern or stippling. It refers to the use of rotating wooden nails to decorate overlapping small circle patterns on the bottom plate or bridge surface. Such patterns are often found on hidden surfaces, such as the back of the floor (under the dial) or recesses. This is one of the few processes that cannot be fully automated and usually requires manual work.
Engraving
   Engraving movements are usually used to display brand logos or various information. This process can also be used to personalize the parts and make them real works of art.

Vacheron Constantin’s movement bridges are hand-carved, wax bridges are used to fix the bridges, and simple traditional tools and superb craftsmanship are used. The finest part of the bridge is only about one-fifth of a millimeter and is not pre-designed.
   There are several ways to engrave the movement. Large-scale production, usually using CNC machine tools, lasers or chemicals. Hand engraving is an extremely complex, time-consuming and delicate process. Hand-carved parts will make people feel very different. Under the microscope, you will find rough lines and subtle flaws, which also adds a unique luster to it.
Sinks

 

Philippe Dufour Simplicity watch movement with flawless Geneva prints, chamfers and finishes. Philippe Dufour is one of the most respected and talented independent watchmakers in the fine watchmaking industry and is highly regarded by connoisseurs for his uncompromising pursuit of perfect hand-made watchmaking.
   This is a process of engraving and polishing the concave surface around a screw head or gem. Drill holes in advance, and irregular edges of the holes can be polished by hand.
Screws
   Even the smallest parts, such as screws, must be beautifully polished to add brilliance to the movement. Screws are usually polished and burnt blue, the latter is a traditional process with attractive colors.

GP Girard Perregaux Esmeralda tourbillon watch, the three gold bridges are fixed with very small screws.
   Today, some brands choose to switch to process polishing or chemical blue technology, but high-end manufacturers still insist on inheriting the century-old skills. Using a polishing agent, patiently rub the screw head, polish it, and burn it blue. During the blue burning process, the screws must be heated at a very precise temperature to obtain the proper and the same color.

A. Lange & Söhne movement, polished blue steel screws, holding the gold sleeve.
gear
   In high-end watches, especially those with the Geneva Seal, the gears are often retouched to carefully remove processing marks.

The Patek Philippe 5016R Tourbillon Minute Repeater watch, the curved spokes on the gears are completely decorated by hand chamfering.
   The upper and lower sides of the gear spokes are chamfered, the concave surface is polished, and the surface is rounded with satin. Pinion ridges and other moving parts are polished while ensuring that these operations do not affect their functional shape.

Power At A Glance Five Precision Dynamic Watch Recommended

The power reserve watch is to display the power directly on the dial, also called the energy display window. It has a set of moving display gears than ordinary automatic mechanical watches, which reminds the owner of the watch at any time. ‘It’s time to wind up.’ With this moving display gear system, the watch will not be allowed to stop and stop because it forgot to wind. Today I will recommend several watches with power display to everyone, I hope you like it.

Panerai Radiomir8Days PAM00384 watch

Watch Series: Historical Classics
Movement type: manual mechanical
Gender: Men
Case material: Ceramic
Strap material: cowhide
Table diameter: 45 mm
Domestic public price: 107,200
Watch details: panerai / 6548 /
Comment: The watch has an all-black look, whether it is the iconic sandwich sandwich dial of its pillow-shaped ceramic case, or the leather strap with a DLC (diamond-like carbon) coated titanium buckle, all in black design. The design of the dial chassis is in harmony with the overall design. Through the sapphire crystal glass window, you can see the exquisite movement details. All iconic elements on the dial, including large numbers and hours, hands and small seconds at 9 o’clock, date window and linear power reserve display, are covered with a special layer of light brown Super-LumiNova®.

IWC Eight Days Power Reserve PortofinoHand-WoundEightDays Series IW510103 watch

Watch Series: Portofino
Movement type: manual winding
Gender: Men
Case material: Stainless steel
Strap material: crocodile leather
Table diameter: 45 mm
Domestic public price: ¥ 83,000
Watch details: iwc / 6198 /
Comment: This watch uses the newly developed 59210 caliber developed by Portofino for manual manual winding on the 8th Power Watch. It inherits the fine tradition of the 50000 caliber. It is atmospheric, accurate and reliable. It is also the first to have IWC’s self-winding movement with an eight-day power reserve. In fact, the movement can run for nine days. Because with the slackness of the mainspring, its moment is weakened, and the movement of the movement is stopped mechanically before the tension of the mainspring is completely exhausted, which can avoid the adverse effects caused by this weak moment. This ensures that the watch travels more accurately during the entire operation. The wearer only needs to wind the watch once a week to ensure its perfect operation. The dial is equipped with a small seconds at 6 o’clock, and the date is displayed at 3 o’clock. The overall layout is decent and pleasing.

Kunlun TI-BRIDGEPOWERRESERVE series 107.101.04 / F3710000 watch

Watch Series: Kunlun Bridge
Movement type: manual mechanical
Gender: Men
Case material: Titanium
Strap Material: Rubber
Table diameter: 42.5×52.5 mm
Watch details: corum / 17248 /
Comment: The titanium bridge power reserve watch made of titanium for the first time, combining aesthetic design and top watchmaking technology, has become the industry leader. This watch also has a number of unique settings. One of the three gears is an eccentric planetary gear that can rotate on its axis or around other gear axes. This system can connect the mainspring and the power reserve at the same time with less space. Upper shaft of the display. Another unique setting is that the power reserve display is inlaid on the toothed sliding parts made of nickel phosphate, making the time prediction more accurate by the traditional mechanical method, which can ensure the accuracy of the power reserve display, fully reflecting the uniqueness of Kunlun Watch. Superb watchmaking skills.

Plum MASTERSERIES 94888R-ST-296 watch

Watch Series: Men’s
Movement Type: Automatic
Gender: Men
Case material: 18K rose gold
Strap material: leather strap
Table diameter: 39.2 mm
Domestic public price: ¥ 88,000
Watch details: titoni / 123 /
Comment: As one of the few 18k rose gold styles in the brand, its elegant design and power reserve function, once launched, it has become the highest Swiss watch style so far. The watch is equipped with a 42-hour power reserve function. The six o’clock position on the surface is equipped with a powerreserve display window to accurately display the power reserve time. The superb skills of the distinguished series are at a glance.

Lange LANGE31 watch series 130.032F18K rose gold watch

Watch series: Lange 31 series
Movement type: manual mechanical
Gender: Men
Case material: 18K rose gold
Strap material: crocodile leather
Table diameter: 45.9 mm
Domestic public price: ¥ 978,000
Watch details: lange / 3222 /
Brief comment: It is wrapped in a rose gold case. The white dial at 3 o’clock is the energy indicator. The number 31 shows the 31-day power reserve of this watch. The second dial is at 6 o’clock, and there is a large calendar display at 10 o’clock. The power of this clockwork is strong, it can lift a 100g object 3 meters high, so a conventional crown or oscillating weight cannot wind the clockwork. You can only use a special key to align a hole on the back of the watch. Rotate to wind the mainspring directly. As for the number of turns, 31 turns and 31 days seem to be a perfect deadline. Subsequent people may have to think about time values ​​if they want to surpass the length of power.

Summary: Nowadays, the power reserve is undoubtedly one of the hallmarks of watchmaking technicians to show their outstanding craftsmanship, just like the tourbillon. The longer the energy stored in the watch, the more uniform the attenuation, the higher the requirements for watchmaking technology, and the more difficult it is to make the watch. Buy a dynamic display watch and experience the energy display of complex skills.