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Horological Finishing and decoration

by Jordan Ficklin

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Bug & MeI recently received a fantastic book in the mail from Prem Chainani, who has posted some great comments here on Tick Talk. The book is titled High-end horological finishing and decoration. As you can see bug, my three year old, enjoyed the book too.

When I was in school we learned a few basics about finishing, but I wouldn’t say it even covered the basics. We were told that the secrets of finishing were well guarded secrets and there were very few watchmaker’s willing to share this kind of knowledge. That makes this book an extremely rare and exceptional volume in the watchmaking book world. Antoine Simonin’s publishing page lists the book as “so far the only book on the subject.”

finishing toolsThis book doesn’t give out all the secrets but if you understand how to use the tools in the book it certainly gives you a place to start practicing the techniques. In order to achieve the results pictured in the book (from the likes of Audemars Piguet) you would need many years of practice at just finishing.

Even if you are not interested in making watches this book is of great value because it does an exceptional job of illustrating what distinguishes a “high-end” watch from a mid-grade watch. The difference is the hand finishing of master craftsman which turns a “run of the mill” machine into a “hand crafted” work of art. The book also explains which finishing techniques contribute to functional improvements and which ones are only aesthetic.finishing

The book covers such topics as Bevelling, Flanks, Specular Polishing (also known as flat polishing or black polishing), finishing drilled holes, wheels, pinions, screws, pins, pivots, and all kinds of decoration including: engraving, chasing, engine turning, cotes de Geneve (Geneva stripes), stippling (perlage), openworking, sunray brushing, snailing, circular graining, and electroplating. It is beautifully bound and finished. This edition has a few typesetting errors but I didn’t have any problem overlooking them because the book is so beautifully done and the information presented is so valuable.

Prem is going to let me know where the book can be purchased, for now I know it is available from Simonin Publishing.

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One Comment

  1. Prem
    Posted April 14, 2008 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Hi Jp, excellent choice of words, and essay is true to it’s portrayal of the finishing in watchmaking. This is the only book on watch decoration and finishing, the idea is to save the knowledge passed on from generations of watchmakers, make it presentable for reading by professionals and aficionados of the high-end watchmaking world.
    In this respect, the writer Giulio Papi, also the founder of Renaud et Papi S.A. (Audemars Piguet S.A.) has achieved the brilliance of relaying his message of differences between hand decorations and factory finished decorations. Which is why Audemars Piguet movements are so valuable as far as decoration is concerned, because they are mostly hand finished! Giulio is a true authority in this so very rare metier d’Art, we hope he will persevere and write about more aspects of watchmaking that one doesn’t know about, and those that are in danger of disappearing completely in the shadow of new era’s of CNC machining.

    The book is for private circulation to collectors and high profile clients, however, one can request me (Prime Time, Canada) and for the same fee in CHF as appears on Simonin publishing, plus postage can avail of the same. Looks like it will be in the region of $ 85 US, plus postage. You may e-mail me for a copy at
    Thanks so much, Prem

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