It’s that time of year again. With Christmas just around the corner, I thought I would take some time to compile a list of useful stocking stuffers for watchmakers. I’ve scoured the net high and low to try and find the best prices on a lot of these items, as well, without sacrificing on quality. If you happen to know where to score even better deals on any of the items, please leave a note about it in the comments section below.
Great technology is becoming more and more affordable. The first USB microscope I ever encountered was in watchmaking school. At the time they retailed for around $1000. The optics were okay and the resolution was acceptable, but you could only zoom to around 25x or so. Today, you can pick up a 100x model, with higher resolution and LED illumination for around $30, shipping included. Even better still, is this 500x 2MP USB microscope, with LED illumination for $55. Branded versions of the same product, such as those from Dino-Lite, retail for several-fold as much.
When lubricating the barrel wall of an automatic watch or inserting the barrel arbor into the center coil of the mainspring, holding and maneuvering the barrel appropriately can be a challenge. My tool of choice to hold the barrel in these circumstances is a broad pair of non-marking tweezers with replaceable tips.
With cameras now available in just about every cell phone on the market, there’s an entire sub-industry of interchangeable cellphone camera lenses popping up. The most noteworthy of these lenses for the purposes of a watchmaker are the close-up, macro lenses. From generic, low-budget Jelly Lenses that fit just about any cellphone to 60x illuminated microscope lenses made specifically for the iPhone 4, there is solution out there for just about anyone. My personal favourite is this combination wide-angle macro lens, which I first discovered via Photojojo. For the more industrious, you can also build your own macro lens by following this tutorial on Instructables. I find my macro lens particularly useful when used in conjunction with the My Measures app for the iPhone.
We’ve mentioned Bergeon’s new precision oilers a few times in the past here on the blog and they are an excellent evolution over previous generations of oil picks. If you are a subscriber to the Horological Times, there is a useful article in the November 2010 issue that details how to make comparable oilers yourself, from Bergeon’s classic oilers. Whether you opt to retro-fit old-school oilers or take the plunge on Bergeon’s latest offerings, the upgraded spades will make a notable difference in your lubrication techniques.
With the exception of no longer toting one in my carry on bag at the airport, I always like to have a pocket knife close at hand, as they pack a lot of utility into a very small space. Couple this Swiss made watchmaker’s pocket knife with a collapsible loupe and you’ll be set to undertake simple watch repairs just about anywhere.
Finding small parts that fall on the floor can be difficult sometimes. Particularly if it’s a non-ferrous component like the spring or cap jewel from an anti-shock setting, which can’t be picked up with a magnet. A strong flashlight, like this compact LED Mag-Lite are incredibly useful for catching that glimmer of light or long cast shadow off a small component that has run astray. Less expensive LED flashlights exist on the market, but I’ve yet to find one that compares in quality or intensity to the offerings from Mag-Lite.
For those who do have deep pockets, what watchmaker wouldn’t appreciate a functioning pair of carousel-tourbillon cuff links for Christmas? To get your hands on a pair, you can get in touch with Alexis Sarkissian in New York at (724) 263 2286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.