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Essential Tools for a Watchmaker

by Jordan Ficklin

First, a reminder that this site is intended to promote the pursuit of watchmaking as a career. This list of tools is therefore intended to represent the typical tools a professional watchmaker would need to work professionally in a watch repair shop. The list includes only personal hand tools and ignores shop equipment, like a water tester or a lathe. It is based on my own personal inventory, the WOSTEP Tool Kit, and the AWCI CW21 list. I use every tool on the list on a very regular basis. I have divided the list into three groups: essential, intermediate, and advanced and into specific tasks. Essential tools are . . . well, indispensible. Intermediate and advanced tools will only be necessary for advanced techniques like hairspring manipulation, restoration, or part manufacture.

Assembly / Disassembly		
	Brass S5	
	Nickel #12	
	Steel #2	
	Steel #3	
	Steel #4	
	Plastic	Quartz
Screwdriver Set		
Rectangular Dust Cover		
Bell Jar & Tray		
Parts Trays -- To store parts during disassembly / assembly
Mainspring Winder Set		
Oil Cups 30108A		
Dip Oilers		
Oil Cups red		
Oil Cups blue		
Oil Cup green		
Oil Cup yellow		
Slick Movement holders	
Presto Hand puller	
Presto Wheel Puller		
Loupe 25X		
Loupe 10X		
Loupe 2 1/2		
Automatic Oiler		
Aperture Plate		
Hand Pushers		
Riveting Block		
Set of brass pin vises		
Set of steel pin vises		
Hand Levers		
Pin Vises (Slick) / Barrel Arbor Holders		
Horia Jeweling Tool	
Staking Set		
Brass Hammer		
Incabloc pushers		
Balance tack		
Barrel Closing Tool		
Plexi Stick		
Small Parts Baskets		For cleaning small parts
lg glass cleaning jar		
sm glass cleaqning jar		
Microfiber cloth		
Brass Brush 2272		
Leather Buffs		
Blower / Bulb		
Pith Wood Button		
Case Tools		
Case Knives		
Case Cushion		
Spring Bar Tool		
Ball Peen Hammer		
Measuring Tools		
Tesa Calipers		
Isometer Micrometer		
Caliber Specific Tools		
Movement Holders		
7750 Eccentric Tool		
Micromechanical Tools	
Smoothing Broaches 30543-AP		
Cutting Broaches 30544-AP		
degussit stone		
Small India Stone		
Small Arkansas Stone		
Lg India Stone		
Lg Arkansas Stone		
Emery Sticks		
	8" #4	
	8" #6	
Vallorbe Escapement Files #4		
Oval Burnisher		
Tweezers	Steel #5
Oilers	Blue
Hairspring Holder	
Truing Calipers	
Lyre style truing caliper	
Collet Removers	
Balance Screw Holders	
Poising Tool
Collet Holder	
Carbide Drill	
Pallet Warmer	

burnisher / file	
Tungsten burnisher	
Slot cutter	
flat burnisher	
Eurotool Escapement Files #2	
Jewelers Saw	
Drill Bits	
Centering Punch	
Spring Tweezers	
Chamfer Tools	
File Card	
	10" #2
	Half circle #3 / 8"
	6" #5
	4" domed #4
Tweezers	#7 --	Hairspring Manipulation
Tweezers	Cutters 15A -- Hairspring Forming
Screwhead polisher		

I’m sure it will take some discussion to explain everything here so feel free to add anything you think I missed in the comments or ask questions and I will try my best to keep up.

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  1. Posted October 13, 2009 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    What tools would you recommend for replacing a balance staff? I have a staking set, and a set of roller removers on the way.

    Further, how do you know the proper alignment between the roller jewel and the hairspring?

  2. J.Peter
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Wackyvorlon, for replacing a balance staff you will need quite a few tools beyond the basics. You will need hairspring collet removers, a roller remover (or razor blades), a lathe and graver to cut out the staff, a staking set to rivet it back in place. a poising tool to poise the balance after you install the new staff, and a cutter to adjust the poise. It is a pretty involved process but I suppose I could write about it at a later date.

    The easiest way to get the roller in the right position is to mark its position (assuming it is correct) and the position of the hairspring stud before you remove them and put them back in the same place. You can fine tune them with the beat measurement on your timing machine after you install the balance in the watch.

  3. Posted October 13, 2009 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    So you have to poise the balance wheel even with off-the-shelf balance staffs?

  4. Posted October 13, 2009 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    I see you have the Horia jewelling tool on your list. That is one nice little tool with a very nice and accurate micrometer adjustment. I am still using the Seitz, and I am used to it, but I am sold on the Horia. The only thing that I don’t like is that I have the whole set from Seitz with the pushers, reamers, etc… and they won’t fit on the Horia, so I will need to buy everything.

    If you put a new staff in a balance, take the few minutes and check the poise. It beats having massive positional error at the end of the job. You can actually check it in your truing calipers if you don’t have a poising tool, but I guess I shouldn’t recommend that.
    It probably won’t be much of a problem if you get a balance complete for a newer watch. I work on a lot of older pocket watches, and I am sometimes amazed at how out of poise they are when I check them.

  5. J.Peter
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    Yes, it is extremely improbable that a balance will remain poised after removing the roller, replacing the staff and replacing the roller, there is just too many things going on. The problem isn’t so much in the staff as it is in the moving of metal to form a rivet and the slight movement of the roller.

  6. J.Peter
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    Scott, there are two versions of the Horia tool and one of them should take all of the stumps and pushers from the Seitz set, all you have to do is be sure you get the correct one. I have the other one.

  7. Posted October 13, 2009 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    I’ll have to call my suppliers. The beauty of watchmaking, is that you can always buy yourself a new tool.

  8. Posted October 13, 2009 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    Jp, very nice post, quite a lot of ‘wisdom’ tools in there. I think that I would add Tweezers no. ‘D’- for this is one tweezer that you cannot do without. I searched for mine online, and found a supplier on e-Bay from South Africa.
    Scott agree with you, and with Jp, that the Horia tool is a pre-requisite to quality watchmaking, it makes adjusting those vital 0,01 mm adjustments look so easy!
    I found not two, but a whole lot of Horia tool versions from HBJO. These are the guys that have the brand name Horotec. You can access their website by google search, for HBJO watch tools.
    In essence, yet another quality post from watchmakingblog, kudos!
    Prem C.

  9. Posted October 14, 2009 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    One final question, I take it you poise the balance wheel with the hairspring off?

  10. J.Peter
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Wackyvorlon, Correct. The balance should be poised with the roller installed but with the hairspring removed.

  11. Posted October 14, 2009 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Thanks! I’ve got a poising tool, with agate jaws. Though it’s one without the built in level, so I’ll have to practice leveling it. How do you decide wether to add washers or undercut the screws?

  12. Mike
    Posted October 16, 2009 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    Don’t forget the ETAChron tools.

  13. Posted October 17, 2009 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    I have seen a Horia tool that accepts all of the Seitz stumps and pushers, but I haven’t seen a Horia tool that can accept the Seitz reamers. If anyone does happen to know of an attachment/variation that achieves this, I would love to know more.

    I do know of accessories for your typical staking set that will accept the reamers, however, Scott. That may be something you would want to look into. There is always the option of crafting your own accessory using an old stake, too.

    Wackyvorlon, you can always either add or remove weight when poising. The choice is yours. Here are some deciding factors to keep in mind though:

    – Weight gets added to the highest point of the balance when it comes to rest o the poising tool
    – Weight gets removed from the lowest point of the balance when it comes to rest on the poising tool
    – Never attempt to add weight to a balance that does not have screws on which to add timing washers
    – Never add timing washers to mean time screws, microstella screws, gyromax nuts, etc.
    – When adjusting mean-time screws for dynamic poising, I add some weight if the mean time screws are more than half of their length beyond the outer rim of the balance. I do so by adding timing washers to two opposing balance screws.

  14. B.KIM
    Posted May 3, 2010 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    Very nice tool list.

    I’m interested in learning watchmaking.
    I’m thinking of taking time zone school.
    I want to shop for required watchmaking tools and movment before I enroll.

    Can somebody tell me a good watch tool & watch part supplier in Canada? I live in Montreal.

    So far only place I found was which is in US and I don’t know how much custom will charge on purchase from them.

    Thank ou.

  15. Interested
    Posted November 11, 2010 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    What tools would I need to complete the 3 year program at BHI? Is there a package I could get to make buying easier until I’m well read in the tools of the trade? Must one travel yearly to take exams? I apologize if these questions have been answered elsewhere on your excellent site. This is one of the few outlets I’ve seen for such discussion. Any information or aid would be quite helpful. Thanks for your time.

  16. J.Peter
    Posted November 12, 2010 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Dear Interested, I’m afraid I don’t know anything about the program at BHI.

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