One of the great things about being a watchmaker, is that so many of the tools we use everyday are small. Barring cleaning machines and water resistance testing equipment, most of the stuff we use to do our job everyday can fit in a stocking at Christmas time.
For this year, I’ve compiled a list of small, stocking-suitable items that I’ve found useful and interesting over this year past. Some of the items you may not have heard of before and most of the items that made this year’s list I’ve come to use and appreciate on a weekly – if not daily – basis in our watch lab. For those who don’t celebrate Christmas, I hope you still find the tools and ideas proposed in this list handy for your own work.
To get even more mileage out of a barrel closer, I’d like to introduce you to an accessory that eases and simplifies the process of adjusting the endshake of the barrel arbor in the barrel. The barrel endshake adjuster is an accessory for the barrel closer that I developed earlier this year to assist me in adjusting endshake.
Ensuring that the endshake of the barrel arbor is correct is a critical precursor to achieving good balance wheel amplitude in a watch and can be adjusted by pressing the centre of the barrel cover into a concave recess. In the past, I used a domed piece of boxwood or the backside of an oiler pressed into the bottom half of the barrel closer, but I was never fully satisfied with the process and felt I could find a better way. After a couple of iterations, I eventually settled on simple design that closely resembles the top half of the barrel closer, with a convex inner topside that mirrors the concave recess in the bottom half of the barrel closer. It is a tool that I now use almost daily.
Be forewarned, the clear plastic currently available on Shapeways isn’t as transparent as I’d like it to be (yet) and requires a bit of work to polish up. For those who don’t want the extra work of polishing, an earlier iteration of the adjuster with hollow sides is also available.
Keeping tabs on technical specifications for quartz watches when running them through standard diagnostics tests used to mean having a two foot stack of documentation beside your quartz tester. No longer. Thanks to J.Peter’s hard work, we now have a concise, go-to reference for quartz specs through the book Electrical Test Values for Quartz Watches, which he compiled over the past year and is now available on Lulu.com.
Also known as a sensory brush, I was first introduced to this fantastic hand and nail brush by a surgeon who raved about them. I picked half a dozen of them up for our shop last winter, to use for scrubbing down after polishing and refinishing watch cases, and now we rave about them, too. The small plastic bristles are soft on the skin but aggressive on dirt and particulate matter. Previously, even with a great soap like Fast Orange, it used to seem that I could scrub for hours and still not remove all traces of polishing compound from the micro-crevices in my hands and fingers. Those days are now long gone. If you do any dirty work, I highly recommend picking up some nail brushes.
We first introduced you to the chronograph hand organizer several months ago here on Tick Talk. Since then, Shapeways has upgraded their material offerings to include several new materials and finishes that make the original chrono hands tray even better, including polished nylon and ultra high detail acrylic.
This one is a second repeat from last year’s list, but it’s another that’s worth repeating. If a picture’s worth a thousand words, this little macro lens has saved me millions. I have been surprisingly impressed with the quality of pictures I’ve been able to capture with this little guy over the past year and a half that I’ve had it and it has proved itself priceless in enabling me to easily communicate the details of a watch repair to potential clients. Used on an iPod Touch, coupled with Airplay to beam the images to an AppleTV, the customer service experience can be taken to a level that was hitherto unimaginable.