In our workshop we use a mixture of old and new machinery and tools. Some work better than others and some look nicer than others but they are all essential. Below we're going to introduce you to a few key pieces we have here at Ian Walsh Watchmaking. Chances are if you have been to an engineering workshop you wold have seen our first bit of kit, the lathe. The lathe played an important role in the industrial revolution and dates back as far as ancient Egypt! The watchmakers lathe differs from the traditional metal worker lathe in that we use it to manipulate steel much as a woodworker would use it to shape wood. Using the graves we are able to make small watch components such as stems and balance staffs. Below is one of our many lathes we use here at HQ.
From the old to the new we have the timing machine which is pretty self explanatory. It acoustically measures the beat rate or ticks per hour of the watch and therefore allows us to regulate and correct any timing errors. It can be a bit pricey to replace but is definitely needed in a watchmakers workshop.
Now we come to one of the bigger and better looking machines in the workshop, the lapping machine. I actually converted an old machine into the following lapping machine myself. The original machine was used to sharpen tungsten cutting tools for lathes. The new machine is used to polish out imperfections and retain surface flatness. It takes up a bit of room but we don't mind because it looks good.
And finally we come to the unglamorous but must have cleaning machines. Now we have a fine example of a new machine next to an old one. I've had the L & R Tempo 400 for 16 years. It's a fantastic bit of kit with 4 ultrasonic cleaning chambers. Now old trusty got a bit poorly and I was rather quick to replace it with the smiley Elma Solvex that you can just make out in the below image. This cleans using vibrasonic technology. Luckily we were able to get the L & R fixed but not ones to waste we use both machines.
"In football as in watchmaking, talent and elegance mean nothing without rigour and precision"
Although Messi was no doubt talking football he does a good job in summing up watchmaking. My name is Ian and I've worked in the industry for over 20 years. I was a clockmakers apprentice at twelve which I'm sure would be probably be illegal these days. I have an apprentice called Dan who's twenty and has been with me for nearly four years (Dan actually does look like a twelve year old but I promise he's twenty). So why am I writing a blog? Well it's an interesting time in the watch industry. Firstly we've got to contend with some of the bigger companies restricting parts. We've got the increased popularity of the smart watch that requires a whole new skill set and part resources. Indeed the introduction of the smart watch has certainly got Switzerland perspiring a little! Here at Ian Walsh Watchmaking we've got a busy and exciting year ahead of us so join me and Dan as we take you through the daily running of an independent watchmakers.