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Loupe or Optvisor

by aimeri

DISCLAIMER: I do realize that this is a mater of personal choice more than anything else, and my intention with this post is not to stir the pot, but to find out what you experienced guys out there use on your day-to-day job.

I was doing some research, and somebody suggested that for actual work, as opposed to an inspection, a 4x magnification should be the most I need. That sounds very reasonable. I am really struggling trying to decide if I should buy an Optvisor or a Loupe. I can find both with about 3 1/2X to 4X magnification and focal point of about 2″ but I am really torn on which one to get. Both have advantages and disadvantages that are worth considering. I bought a cheap loupe that gives me 15x, and I just could not work with it, then when I read about the focal distance I realized that this loupe was mainly for inspections. I still don’t like it and I’m planning on buying a better quality one. I am assuming that glass or crystal loupes would be better than the clear plastic ones.

What do you guys use for your daily work? Loupes or Optvisors? What brand do you guys recommend? Is it worth it even bothering with the subject?

12 Comments

  1. J.Peter
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Well I think you’ll find that clock guys wear optivisors and watch guys wear loupes. My loupe is indispensable. I used to use a 4 power loupe, but now I use 10X all the time with a 25X for inspection. Mine are ASCO looupes and I really like them. I have heard great things about BECO loupes, but I know I don’t like Bausch & Lomb.

  2. Posted October 1, 2009 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Really? What is the focal distance for your 10X loupe? About 2″? Do you find that enough to work all day long? My biggest problem with my 15X was not even the quality, but rather the focal distance, which I think was somewhere between 1.5″ to 2″. Maybe I just need to get used to it and stop complaining. As far as my vision is concerned, I can even see the whole movement and parts without any magnification at all, but I find that spending hours looking at tiny parts is very exhaustive to my vision at the end of the day.

  3. Maurice D. Lareau
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    Go to ACE Hardware or Walgreen/CVS type stores and buy a pair of reading glasses that you can look over the top. Custom fit a dual watchmaker’s loupe and your are set for life. You will have general magnification all the time and swing down one lense for assembly and two for inspection. 10X is way too strong for assembly.

  4. Posted October 1, 2009 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Maurice,
    I’ve found your idea to be particularly interesting. Same magnification I would get with a regular loupe, but all the comfort of the optvisor. I might have to give that a shot. Any particular brand you would like to suggest?

  5. Scott W.
    Posted October 2, 2009 at 4:57 am | Permalink

    Aimeri, Since I wore glasses most of my life, I started out using the loupes that attach to the frames of my glasses. I switched over to a pair of optivisors, but I really disliked them. I now wear contacts, and use a Bergeon wire loupe holders with a variety of loupes ranging from 3X to 10X. When I started using the loupes they would steam up occasionally, I drilled a couple of holes in the side to let air flow through, and now prefer them more than ever.

  6. Posted October 2, 2009 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    I use a 5x Bauch & Laume loupe for regular work and a Bergeon 10x if I need to see something really small and if I need to inspect something, like the teeth on an Accutron index wheel, I use a microscope.

    Although most of you know this, I think a lot of people new to this tend to use their loupes improplerly and this may cause them some problems.

    When wearing a loupe, you are to keep both eyes open and use your mind to control which eye your are focusing with. I see a lot of people trying to do the one eye thing and they must get some wicked eye strain.

    Also, if fogging is a problem, you can drill a couple of holes in the plastic.

    I have often thought of upgrading my loupes to some of the expensive ones, but I’m not sure if there is really much of a difference when used for watch repair.

  7. Posted October 2, 2009 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    I use a pair of 2x reading glasses for dis/assembly and a 10x B&L loupe for close up work. I’ve only used a B&L J. What don’t you like about them? Maybe I need a new one. :)

  8. Posted October 3, 2009 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    At work, I use a slightly modified Bausch and Lomb. I vented it and installed a new lens in the main loupe body back when I was in watchmaking school. The thing I like about the B&L is that I can quickly double its magnification, when I want to use it for longer periods of close-up work, by installing the small screw in lens that it came with. For basic inspection, I use an ASCO 10x alpanetique. For inspection of pivots, pinions, and teeth, I use an ASCO 25x. Both of which I am very happy with. The 25x takes some definite getting used to, though.

    At home, I mainly use a 4x Ti loupe that I made when I was in school, a generic 10x and a 20x ASCO for inspection. My favourite loupe is a Jaquet-Droz, which was given to me as a gift. It gets about the same amount of wear time as my Ti loupe.

    If you are looking for a good, reasonably-priced, all around loupe, I would recommend Bergeon’s 4x. If you want a slightly longer focal length, however, I would recommend Bergeon’s 3x, which will buy you another 1/2″.

    I have yet to try a BECO, but from what I have heard, the majority of their products are sourced from Asia and too overpriced for the quality.

  9. movery
    Posted October 3, 2009 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    I’ve always wondered if Surgeon’s loupes would be of any use? Don’t know the magnification, but I suspect the focal length would be huge. Bet they’re expensive, too.

  10. J.Peter
    Posted October 3, 2009 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    It’s hard to put a finger on it. I started out with ASCO Loupes. The way things look through the B & L is considerably different and I’m just not used to it. I haven’t tried to analyze what is different about them because I haven’t needed to.

  11. Posted October 3, 2009 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    I have seen IWC’s Kurt Klaus sporting a pair of what appear to me to be surgeons’ loupes before, and he is a veritable master of the trade. So I would say that it’s definitely not out of the question, Movery.

  12. Chris
    Posted October 5, 2009 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    I work with somebody that uses surgeon’s loupes to work on watches all day. The focal distance is amazing, and if I am not mistaken it is upwards of 12″. I used them for about 5 minutes and it is nice, will take getting used to, and is very expensive. I am told the model he wears is around $4000 now. He got them for less than that and uses them to help with posture. I wonder if they could keep me from becoming a hunchback…

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  1. [...] 9 square inches directly in front of them. During the repair of a watch I wear a loupe which, as we discussed before requires your face to about 2 inches from your work. Since this is where you spend most of your [...]

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