One of the secrets to being a good watchmaker is to establish a routine and stick to it. For example I always oil the train jewels starting with the barrel and moving towards the balance. Always going in the same order keeps me from skipping any.
I had an experience today where my routine got shattered. I recently returned from an advanced training seminar at Rolex. One of the things they suggested was that we oil the escapement after having installed the balance while the movement was running. I have always oiled the escapement by applying oil to the stones before installing the balance. The thing about this new method isn’t that it is different, but that it fits into a different place in my routine.
Today I had a watch that despite having timed out nicely has been running quite poorly. After a thorough examination I discovered that I had failed to oil the escapement! I imagine that after installing the pallet fork I told myself I would oil the escapement as I was shown in training but after installing the balance I timed out the watch, because for the last 4 years the escapement has always been oiled at this point.
It isn’t that my memory is that bad, but it is quite possible that I got interrupted at some point between installing the pallet fork and the balance. This happens quite frequently in a retail setting. I may have had to change a power cell (see the counter in the right sidebar) or I may have had to size a watch band, or it could have been something else.
It is these interruptions that make the routine so critical. When I come back to the watch I need to know what should be completed and then I can perform a quick check and continue on working with the watch. The problem here is that my routine has changed, and it isn’t habit yet, and that I didn’t follow my own rule of double and triple checking everything.