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Wisdom from the Experienced

by J.Edwards

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Earlier this week, the watchmaker who works beside me handed me a watch that he was having an impossible time trying to get a damaged bracelet off of. The screwbar attaching the bracelet to the case had not been properly installed in the past and a sizeable portion of the screw head on one side had been sheared off, leaving little left for a screwdriver to bite in to.

We have specialized tools that we use in the shop for installing and removing these screwbars, but they all proved futile on this damaged one. Following a few minutes of having my turn at it, I eventually made half a turn of successful progress, using a screwdriver mounted in a vise. Not much headway at all from where my fellow watchmaker had left off.

At this point, one of the more elder watchmakers in the shop noticed my toil and suggested I remove the movement, heat the lugs with a torch and have a go at it again. His advice worked like a charm.

Like most small and important lessons that come about in this trade, this is another I doubt I’ll forget. I hope that those of you reading this will one day find this quick tip to be a real timesaver for yourselves as well.

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  1. J.Peter
    Posted November 27, 2008 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    That’s awesome that you work along side other watchmakers who can help you out in that kind of a situation. That is one of things I miss about working in a retail environment.

    I strongly feel that communication among watchmakers is really important – especially when the older watchmakers who will be retiring soon have so much knowledge that the younger watchmakers could use and vise versa.

  2. Prem
    Posted November 28, 2008 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Hi Jon/ Jp,
    Watchmaking is the type of a career that one has to live to believe in! Experience, practising are the vital keys. Years ago, when I started my career, my professor the veritable Monsieur Pierre Girardet (Technicum Neuchateloise de La-Chaux-de-Fonds) had these thoughts for me….
    ”25 years from now,(way back in 1984) and you will still be wondering, why and how watchmaking constantly is metamorphosing into something new, and daily problems come up anew!
    I learnt that, and you know what, it all is true what he said! A long term perspective, should accompany your experiences- for each watchmaker’s experience is different- except for the way you technically achieve servicing that doesn’ change.
    Cheers and a gala shopping day all!

  3. Posted November 29, 2008 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    I couldn’t agree more J.Peter. I feel incredibly privileged to work along so many experienced watchmakers who are so open and willing to share their knowledge. Learning from them all I can while I can is something that I feel is so vital to the perpetuation of our trade. Recognizing the generation gap that we have in the passing on of horological knowledge here in North America and around the world was the prime motivation behind starting Alliance Horlogère. I’m working hard right now to try and implement a more user friendly interface for editing and adding content on the project to bridge that gap even more, as my colleagues have expressed that editing the raw “wiki-code” to add their own insights to articles is too intimidating. Building block by building block, it is wonderful to see the content grow; just as much as it is a delight to witness the sharing of skills and insights here on Tick Talk.

    As for learning more and more almost daily, even 25 years in, the watchmakers that I work with couldn’t agree with you more Prem! And some of them have been at it for on near 45 years now.

    Hope you both enjoyed your Black Fridays! (and Happy Belated American Thanksgiving, J.Peter!)

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