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Magnification

by Jordan Ficklin

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Rolex Loupe

For the most part watches and their components are fairly small machines. I would never be able to work on them and properly examine the condition of parts without using some magnification. I don’t really use the loupe pictured at top (it is a presentation piece made in sterling silver, it weighs a ton, and only offers about 2X magnification.) But I will talk about the magnification I do use.

Loupes

When I first started in watchmaking school I had to get used to wearing a loupe. I started using a loupe with a 2 1/2 inch focal length offering about 4X magnification. As time has gone on I have gotten use to using my 10X loupe and I rarely use anything less than that. I keep it on a wire head band (like in the picture). Some people like to support the loupe in their eye with their facial muscles, but I find that to be annoying, plus then you have to keep track of it. I always know where my loupe is it’s either on my head or around my neck. For close-up examination I use an Achromatique 25X loupe held in my hand. It’s focal length is too short for working with but it works well for examining the condition of very small parts.

Leica MicroscopeIn watchmaking school we also had a fantastic Leica Stereo Microscope. It had magnification up to 40X and a working distance of 4 or 5 inches so you could actually work under it for delicate tasks like adjusting a hairspring or the tension on an Accutron pawl.

Gem ScopeI don’t have such a luxury in my daily life but I have access to several Gem Scopes which provide the higher magnification but not the working space. When I need to work under a microscope I use the jeweler’s laser welder. It has a built in Leica lens and offers about 2 inches of working space, the big downside is that it looks in at an angle instead of straight down and there is always the potential for accidently shooting a laster beam at the watch ­čÖé Just Kidding! Laser Welder

All of my loupes are made by ASCO in Switzerland. They are very nice loupes with two lenses. They can be disassembled for cleaning and the image is perfectly clear. The 25X loupe is a little bit rare. There are lots of 20X loupes out there, but there really is a huge difference between my 25X loupe and the 20X loupes I’ve tried, but you pay for quality. My 25X loupe is a $150 loupe.

I haven’t personally had the opportunity to try Beco Loupes but I have heard very good things about them and it is my understanding that they have become a standard part of the LWT tool kit. I would order them except that Beco requires a 500 Euro minimum purchase.

If you have a favorite loupe, or know where I can get a Beco loupe for less than 500 Euro, let me know.

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7 Comments

  1. William Hurt
    Posted December 21, 2008 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Hello,found this blog surfing,,very informative,,I am a 50 year old man ,collecting RR Grade vintage Pocket watches for a couple years now,I have 27 years service with Norfolk Southern Railway Co.,,now you know why the RR watches,,I am self teaching myself to clean these little buggers,I have ruined a couple of lesser grade elgins,finally serviced one that is still running fine & keeping time,,,want to try a few more before turning a screw on my Hamiltons,,I have tried aa number of loupes,,the one I am using is a Bausch&Lomb,4x magnification,,wich works fine ,but is too close to the work for me,,what I am searching for is a quality loupe that I can work from about a 10 or 12 inch distance,,there are dozens that claim to be the best ,although I would like to hear it from someone that has used one,,any info on this would be Greatly appreciated

  2. J.Peter
    Posted December 21, 2008 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Mr Hurt,

    Most watchmakers use loupes similar to the Bausch & Lomb. Their working distances are usually about 2 1/2″ maximum. If you are looking for a 10 to 12 inch working distance you will need to try an Opti-Visor or a Sergical eyepiece. These often provide good magnification at that distance.

    My personal recommendation is to get used to the traditional loupe, there is a reason they are used and that is that they work very well when you get used to them.

  3. Gordon
    Posted March 26, 2009 at 2:13 am | Permalink

    Hello,
    I am a serios Rolex collector.
    I would like to buy a Rolex loupe like the one pictured above. Do you know where I could buy one or are you willing to sell yours? I would pay very well for such an item.

  4. J.Peter
    Posted March 26, 2009 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    Gordon, My loupe was a gift from Rolex and I am not willing to part with it. I don’t know where you could obtain one.

  5. Price
    Posted June 16, 2009 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    Gordon, you could find a loupe just like the one in the first picture at this site http://www.keepthetime.com they occasionally have other similar goodies too – that’s where I got my Rolex wave pen. http://www.keepthetime.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=7&products_id=58 is the address to the loupe they have.

  6. Sue Casson
    Posted December 23, 2009 at 3:09 am | Permalink

    Does anyone know where I can buy a loupe please? I’m based in Derbyshire and would like to get it in time for Christmas, if possible.

  7. Darren Colby
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Hi Peter, I’m a watchmaker in the UK. I’m looking for a 25x eyeglass but I am having absolutely no luck in finding one anywhere on the net. Or in any of the watchmaking suppliers in London. Popular makes such as Bergeon and Horotec don’t seem to make a 25x, the only type I have seen is the same type that is featured in your picture, do you know where I could get one?

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  1. […] watchmaker or watch technician. If you would like to dive right into the very basics, some form of magnification, good tweezers, a good set of screwdrivers, a movement holder, and oilers are […]

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