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AF Bezel Remover a Disappointment

by J.Edwards

AF Bezel Remover
Aimeri’s recent post on distance education sprouted a lengthy conversation that eventually touched on the subject of tools, with several of our readers requesting more information on what tools are worth investing in and what tools aren’t.

We’ve covered most of the basics, tool-wise, here on the blog already. If you weren’t aware of it, take a look at our Tuesday Tools page, which offers a fairly good overview of the tools used in the day-to-day operations of a typical 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 indispensable.

Today, I’ve chosen to get a little more specific and review a tool that I would recommend you not waste your money on – the same way I would recommend that you not throw your money away on an $8 set of screwdrivers or a $2 pair of tweezers. Typically, investing in a decent set of precision screwdrivers will set you back upwards of $80 (reaching as much as $350 for a top of the line set) and a good pair of tweezers upwards of $20.

Up for scrutiny today, is A★F Switzerland’s bezel remover, which is intended to safely remove a bezel from a watch case without scratching or damaging either of them. The product costs around $16 and appears to me to be a simplified take on Omega’s very effective bezel wrench.

To get right down to it, A★F’s product simply doesn’t do the job well at all. The Omega version utilizes a hard plastic with a small lip protruding from the lower circumference of the tool that serves to lift the bezel when the wrench handles are squeezed together.AF Bezel Remover all chewed up A★F’s version, on the other hand, is made of a soft, rubbery plastic that quickly got chewed up by the bezels it was used on. Of the dozens of bezels I did try it on, I was only ever successful in removing two or three at most, and I quickly retired the tool from my arsenal. Opting, instead, to use the plethora of other options at my disposal.

My two cents on this tool, is that it’s not worth two cents. To quote one of our blog readers, Greg, “the most exspensive tool in the box is the one you don’t use.” A★F’s bezel remover simply isn’t worth the money I paid for it.

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  1. Posted October 6, 2009 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Thank you very much for your detailed review of this tool J.Edwards. This kind of information is very important for newcomers to watchmaking such as myself. We would certainly fall for the cheap tool, or the overpriced tool, not knowing exactly what to expect.

    I am aware of the Tuesday Tools section of the website and I went through it very avidly on my search for a list of tools, and I’ve found it very rich with information, but it lacks one thing. A basic, easy to read list of tools for the aspiring watchmaker. I was able to find one in french which I might adventure myself on translating, but it was exactly what I wanted, and using the Tuesday Tools section together with this list I will be able to find exactly what I need to start studying at home as well. I might even post it here, if the author of the list allows me to do so.

  2. Posted October 6, 2009 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    The AWCI publishes a list of tools for their certified watchmaker program. This covers all the basics, and then some.

  3. Posted October 6, 2009 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    Hi Aimeri, Jon,
    I think that, today’s watchmakers are more beset with complications and 21st Century tooling, that most of them forget the basics that are needed.
    Aimeri, for instance, if you need any help in translating the french document, please e-mail me, and I could do the translations for you, pas de problemes.
    Jon, there seems to be quite a few quick fix companies including the ones that sell stuff on e-Bay. As Aimeri alluded to, in the last post, these are a total waste of time if one is looking for a certain good quality or of horological worthiness.
    IMVHO, I really do recommend using Horotec, for a variety of reasons, quality being the most important one among them. Sincerely, barring a few hand tools that they do not make, it would be a great idea for every watchmaker to try them out. Their one super utility tool is the case back opener deluxe set that I have bought last year, which now includes, Omega keys, Rolex keys, Breitling keys and as well as this all the Panerai sizes.
    I agree A&F are not the best when it comes to specific quality tools, yet, they still do have a repertoire that is exhaustive, and would you believe it, still the market leaders in production of tools for the watch industry in Switzerland.
    Best regards all,
    Prem C.

  4. J.Peter
    Posted October 7, 2009 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Here is the link to that list AWCI Tool List

  5. Posted October 7, 2009 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    I think you can expect a basic, easy to read list from J.Peter soon Aimeri.

    Great point, regarding the AWCI’s tool list, Wackyvorlon, and thank you for posting the link J.Peter.

    I am surprised to hear you say that A★F is the market leader for tools in Switzerland, Prem. I would have guessed Bergeon.

    I agree that Horotec makes some great tools and I am glad to hear that you have had such great success with their deluxe case back opener. Another great supplier/maker that I have been very happy with is VOH.

  6. Posted October 7, 2009 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    A lot of my stuff is from Bergeon, and there’s buckets of old used tools I have.

  7. Posted October 8, 2009 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Old tools are welcome anytime! If you do not need the stuff, donate it to a good cause. I for one, reserve some of the tools that I receive to pass onto learners, students, and anyone trying to venture and learn the basics of watchmaking.
    There simply is not enough of schools out there, including ALL the efforts made by ALL the companies, et al, including Rolex, Swatch Group etc etc/ to be able to train watchmakers for the 21st Century.
    In my opinion, SAV- or After sales services of each and every known Swiss watch brand will undergo a massive transformation in the very near future. Be aware, and know, that literally millions of watches made from 2000 onwards are in the heavy duty league, meaning normal watchmakers, and your good old neighborhood watchmaker will not have a clue as to how to service the item.
    Jon, A&F are made for the masses, and VOH and Horotec are the ‘classiest’ of the bunch that makes good quality refined tooling for the watch industry.
    Thanks again Jon! This was also, a knowledgeable post. best,
    Prem C.

  8. Scott walters
    Posted October 9, 2009 at 4:58 am | Permalink

    I had my company purchase a bezel remover from Jules Borel in Kansas it was sort of a dissapointment as well. I saw one of our other watchmakers had one & thought it would be usefull when removing bezels prior to polishing a variety of brands, in reality it does a great job of gathering dust and getting in the way of other tools I do utilize. I find that a fresh sharp razorblade works the best when used slowly. IMHO Scott

  9. Posted October 9, 2009 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    That’s unfortunate, Scott. I hope the tool that you purchased wasn’t overly expensive. Occasionally, I do find that only a very sharp razor blade will do the trick. Slowly and carefully can’t be stressed enough. I have seen more than one case dented badly enough around the crystal by a blade that making the case water resistant again proved to be quite the feat.

  10. Posted October 13, 2009 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    When it comes to these newer watches, where do you go for documentation? I was looking the other day at this Jaeger Lecoultre three-axis tourbillon. How does the average watchmaker learn to service one of those? Are there any books or docs put out by the maker?

  11. J.Peter
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    Most manufacturers produce service documents for their watches. Many of the older documents can be found on-line and I’ll write about that in a few days.

    For something like JLC’s three-axis tourbillon, the average watchmaker doesn’t service one of those. Only the most experienced of watchmakers would work on one of those. Even at JLC there is probably only one or two watchmakers who are trained on the service of that watch. They produce so few of those watches that it probably doesn’t warrant the cost involved in producing a service document.

    As a general rule: the secret to servicing complicated watches is to understand how each component works and how it interacts with the components around it and be able to make informed decisions about the kind of care, cleaning, adjustment, and lubrication that these components would require. There is a lot to learn before somebody can take on a watch like that.

  12. Posted October 13, 2009 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    Thank you very much! Your comments are greatly appreciated. I notice in De Carle’s Practical Watch Repairing that he goes through checking end shake and side shake of every pivot. Do you normally do that?

  13. Posted October 17, 2009 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Hi Wackyvorlon,

    Yes, we do check the end and side shakes of every pivot, including the barrel. It is also important to check the side shakes of intermediate wheels, etc., on their posts. If you want a watch to keep good time, and do so for several years, it is imperative to check side and end shakes.

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