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How a Watch Works #3

by Jordan Ficklin

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How a Watch Works #2

by Jordan Ficklin

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How a Watch Works #1

by Jordan Ficklin

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Detailed view of the Hamilton Poster I featured yesterday.

How a Watch Works

From Hamilton Public Relations

by Jordan Ficklin

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A very kind woman gave me this poster this week. 31″ x 21″ Poster explaining how a watch works from the Hamilton Watch Company. I’ll be having it framed for sure!
How a watch works

A Quick Fit

by J.Edwards

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The gasket system used by Rolex to seal their sapphire crystal (the “glass” that protects the dial and hands) to the watch’s case, is one of the best in the industry. I have yet to encounter a better engineered, more reliable, or impermeable system than the one they employ on their Oyster cases.

In an average watch, the crystal is held in place with a simple, nylon ring. This ring, which we call a gasket, is typically left exposed to the elements, including direct exposure to UV rays, and serves up a straight passage for moisture to enter the watch should it ever fail.

In the case of a Rolex Oyster, this gasket features a small hook-like ridge on its upper edge that fits securely into a channel cut in the perimeter of a Rolex sapphire crystal. Depending on the particular model of Rolex, this gasket may feature other small ridges or undulations, as well, all in the name of increased reliability in thwarting the ease with which liquid can penetrate the seal.

The ridge on the gasket that holds the crystal in place effectively doubles the the distance a liquid or gas must penetrate to enter the watch via the seal at the crystal and also serves to increase the width of the gasket’s frontline defense. Once the gasket and crystal are fitted together on the case, the gasket is fastened tightly to the case by a metal ring in such a way that also doubles the distance a liquid or gas must travel to penetrate the watch via the gasket’s outer edge. Another benefit of this system is that, once sealed, the gasket is protected from the elements by the case, crystal, and metal ring or bezel. Furthermore, because the gasket is under pressure on all sides, the gasket cannot become dislodged following a strong impact or change in pressure, as it can in a more traditional configuration where the upper edge of the gasket is exposed.

In light of these differences, this gasket configuration requires a different approach to installation compared to the majority of other watches on the market, which use the simpler nylon ring gasket. In most watches the gasket is typically installed into the case first and a case press is then used to press the crystal into place. However, in the case of a Rolex (or Tudor), the gasket must be installed into the groove in the crystal first and the crystal and gasket must be installed on the case together before a casing press is used.

Although it quickly becomes second nature once you’ve done it a few times, installing the gasket on a crystal before installing it on the case can be cumbersome. The following short video clip demonstrates a simplified approach I began using several years ago, whereby the crystal is fit into the gasket while on the case, and is the method I’ve found to be most expedient and failsafe. This is just one example and certainly not the only approach. Some of our readers are likely already familiar with it, but for those who aren’t it’s a timesaver I felt worth sharing.

Quick Fit of a Sapphire Crystal on Vimeo.

If you have a different approach or other timesaver to share, let us know in the comments.

Another Slice of History

by J.Edwards

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Here’s another interesting page out of the annals of horological history in North America. The following is a price list for “Watch Repairs To The Trade” that I came across not too long ago, in a box of old watch movements and watch literature from the 1950s, at an estate sale.

While I can’t say with any degree of certainty whether “Conditioning” is the equivalent of a modern day servicing of a mechanical timepiece, I would be hard pressed to believe one could make a living performing a proper cleaning, complete inspection, reassembly, and final timing adjustment at that price point – even with inflation factored in.

According to the inflation calculator at InflationData.com the trade rate for a mainspring in 2013 would be just over $12, while in actuality it’s more than double that (sometimes 5 to 8 times that) for a typical, Swiss mainspring today. Depending on the make and quality, the material cost of a new balance staff or stem and crown seem a little more in keeping with inflation for low end watches.

The Last 100 Years

by Jordan Ficklin

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I recently was reading in the September 1969 edition of the AWI NEWS Bulletin when I read the following editorial from D.W. Lawrence of the Elgin National Watch Company. He spells out many of the improvements which were implemented by the watch industry from the 1920s through 1969. It’s a fun read. Click on the image for a larger version. When you get done reading please comment on what you think have been some of the great technological improvements to watches since 1969.

Timekeepers – A Documentary

by Jordan Ficklin

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The gentlemen in the video below are looking to make a documentary which will encourage people to take an interest in something very dear to me: timekeeping, horology, and watchmakers and clockmakers. I hope you will watch the video, click on the link and help them make this documentary happen. Many of you have been very generous in your donations on this blog, I hope this generosity will extend to these individuals.


Click here to visit their site on Kickstarter

Barrel Arbor Endshake

by Jordan Ficklin

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I know that after I danced Gangnem Style in the last video you thought this was going to be the “Harlem Shake” but it isn’t.

Endshake is the amount of play that an arbor has along its axis between the two bearing surfaces. On the 3130 Rolex specifies an endshake of 0.01mm to 0.03mm for the barrel arbor between the two bearing surfaces (one in the mainplate and the other in the barrel bridge.) A watchmaker needs to be able to judge this play without any measuring tools. He usually does this as much by feel as he does by visual confirmation. It has been quite some time since I had any feedback on my endshake adjustments so I set up a vertical micrometer dial gauge and measured the endshake of this barrel arbor without making any adjustments. Now its your turn. Below is a video of me testing the endshake of the barrel arbor in a Rolex 3130. How much endshake do you think this barrel arbor has? Leave your guess in the comments.

http://youtu.be/c35MUByUzKQ

Adjustments to endshake in modern watches are made using a jeweling tool, like the Horia, Seitz, or Favorite.

If NFL Players Were Watchmakers v2

by Jordan Ficklin

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Sorry, for the double post. For those who receive my blog posts in email and couldn’t see the embedded video here is a link to the video. You’ll want to watch it, its quite entertaining.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeTmVMdSJ_I