In past year’s I’ve compiled lists of usually useful – and sometimes unusually useful – tools for watchmakers that can fit in a stocking. For this year’s list, I’ve opted to have a little bit of fun and compiled a short list of out of the ordinary items we’re not as likely to use at the bench, but still have ties to horology. If you’d like to read last year’s list of 11 great stocking stuffers for 2011, you can check it out here.
As watchmakers, quite often our favourite aspects of a particular watch are kept hidden beneath a dial or the caseback of a timepiece. Watch movement cuff links, on the other hand, let the beauty and intricacy of a watch movement shine. They prove to be interesting conversation starters at weddings, cocktail parties, and black tie events. A typical pair will set you back around $150.
Nearly every watchmaker dreams of one day crafting their own watch. In the wake of the upheaval and standardization within the watch industry over the past century, however, few practicing watchmakers ever actually follow through on this dream. Part of the reason for this, I believe, is that it is a long and arduous journey to design, execute, and succeed in building a watch from the ground up on the first try. Some, like the grandmaster, George Daniels, have proven it is possible to achieve, but there are other world class watchmakers, like Kari Voutilainen, Antoine Preziuso, Franck Muller, & Vianney Halter who began their independent careers by customizing pre-existing watch calibres or ebauches. Working this way allows you to begin with a functional base that you can be more certain will keep time in the end. It frees you to focus on executing on the fine details and the likeliness of achieving small victories earlier in your journey helps to fuel the passion and desire that will keep you hooked and help push your work to greater heights as your skill, know how, and vision increase with each new watch. A nearly failsafe place to start on this voyage is with Tim Swike’s Beginner Watchmaking, which is targeted at novices but also provides useful resources for more seasoned watchmakers. If, or when, you’re ready to take your craft to the next level, dive into George Daniels’ Watchmaking
As alluded to in previous years’ lists, if a picture’s worth a thousand words, this little macro lens for cellphones has saved me millions. I have been surprisingly impressed with the quality of pictures I’ve been able to capture with it and it has proven priceless in enabling me to easily communicate the details of a watch repair to potential clients. It has also been great for sharing some of the craftsmanship and wonder, of the small universe I interact with everyday, with family and friends.
Nearly $15 when I first bought mine a little over two years ago, the price on a new wide-angle/macro lens combo at the time of this writing has plummeted to an unreal low of only 9¢ on Amazon.
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. This Swiss made watchmaker’s pocket knife is a tag team effort between the ever reliable Victorinox & Swiss watch tool manufacturer, Bergeon. While I wouldn’t even begin to consider undertaking a complete service with one, mine has proven helpful for small jobs, like strap swaps or bracelet adjustments, and ballpark estimates for service when not at the bench. In a pinch, I’ve also used mine to fix a few cellphones and eyeglasses for friends and family.