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The essential tools for watchmaking 

 

The various basic tools for any watchmaker

The basic watchmaker’s tools are composed of several tools and families of tools.

You will notice in this article that a large part of the tools presented come from the BERGEON company. For more than two centuries, this company has been developing and marketing its entirely Swiss Made tool (suppression du lien) to a large majority of watchmaking professionals and companies, including Initium (suppression du lien). 

 

Tweezers: an extension of your fingers

Antimagnetic, with a fine point or an exceptionally fine tip, there is a multitude of them. 

What we call tweezers, always in the plural, are small pliers used for precision work and handling of various watchmaking parts, such as screws, cogs or pinions. 

 

Tweezers for watchmaker
One of our pairs of Initium tweezers

 

Generally made of steel, tweezers are also available in other materials. 

  • Carbon steel: extremely hard and resistant, this material is often used for work requiring a certain amount of pressure, such as the handling of spiral beams. However, despite its strength, carbon steel is susceptible to corrosion and is not antimagnetic.
  • Stainless steel: known for its resistance to high heat, around 400 °C, stainless steel resists corrosion although it is more flexible than carbon steel. 
  • Antimagnetic steel: as its name indicates, this material is 80% antimagnetic. It is also resistant to elevated temperatures and corrosion.
  • Titanium: in addition to its 100% antimagnetic properties, its flexibility, and its resistance to elevated temperatures, this material has the advantage of being light. It is in fact 40% lighter than stainless steel. However, the disadvantage of titanium is its relatively high price.
  • Brass, bronze, and nickel: these three materials have the same characteristics. In addition to being 100% corrosion resistant and anti-magnetic, they mark the parts extraordinarily little during handling. Thus, the choice between them depends on the preferences of each watchmaker.
  • Wood: exceptionally soft, wood does not mark the parts handled. It is therefore often used to work with soft materials. Generally, wooden tweezers are actually made of steel with only interchangeable wooden tips. 
  • Plastic: known for its insulating properties, plastic tweezers are generally used to change batteries.

 

The screwdrivers

The screwdrivers generally come in batches and are placed on a rotating base associated with a non-slip base, to facilitate handling and storage. These bases can contain up to ten screwdrivers. 

 

Screwdrivers for watchmaker
BERGEON screwdrivers used at Initium

 

The screwdriver is an essential watchmaking tool for the assembly, disassembly and adjustment of a timepiece. Indeed, it allows to manipulate exceedingly small elements within a movement. 

 

The screwdrivers are generally made of stainless steel with an elastomer membrane. Their head is ergonomic and made of self-lubricating POM (polyoxymethylene) synthetic material, thus facilitating their use. 

 

Magnifiers

In watchmaking, it can be visually complicated to manipulate exceedingly small parts that make up the movements of a watch. Therefore, watchmakers use a magnifying glass as a tool to improve their vision and precision. 

 

Magnifiers for watchmaker
One of the simple magnifiers used at Initium

 

Watchmaker’s magnifiers can be offered in various forms, all of which allow the watchmaker to have both hands free:

  • The headband magnifier is wrapped around the end of a wire to attach it to the skull.
  • The eyeglass magnifier has a clip on the end to attach it to eyeglasses.
  • The simple magnifying glass can be held in the roundness of the eye by the contraction of its muscles.

 

Lubrication : an essential step in watchmaking

In watchmaking, lubrication is essential. Its action by the film of oil or grease prevents the direct contact of the varied materials in its presence. Indeed, friction can create energy losses due to friction or wear of the mechanical performance.

Oiler with lubrication
An oiler with lubrication

 

The tool related to watch lubrication is generally in the form of an oiler, allowing the storage of oils and greases necessary for the lubrication of watch parts. 

Most models have four compartments, or cups, in which the necessary materials are stored. The watchmaker then uses a small brush to take the material and place it on the movement parts. 

 

Tools dedicated to watch cases

A central visual element of a watch, the case protects the movement of the timepiece from shocks, dust, and humidity. 

In order to close the case, it is necessary to manipulate the back of the watch (suppression du lien), the part opposite the dial. Generally, the simple manual force is not enough for a watchmaker to close a watch. It is therefore recommended to use different tools, depending on the type of back, to close it. 

 

  • To close cases with pressure back

A steel stem is a stable tool with a threaded mechanism generally used to close pressure watch backs. 

Steel stem for watchmakers
The tool needed to close pressure backs

 

  • To close cases with screwed backs

There are several ways to close screwed back cases, depending on the preferences of the practising watchmaker. These are mainly closed with screwdrivers. 

But there are other tools such as a friction ball, a Jaxa wrench or even a bracket dedicated to this use. 

 

Friction ball for watchmaking
The friction ball: an efficient way to open
and close a screwed bottom 

 

  • The nesting cushion

The casing cushion is provided with a flat surface allowing the placing of watch parts, but more particularly, and as its name indicates, the watch case in order to carry out the casing. Made of flexible and non-slip material on both sides, this watchmaking tool prevents scratching watch glasses. 

 

Casing cushion for watchmaking
The casing cushion, an essential
tool in watchmaking
Skeletonised movement on a casing cushion
An Initium skeletonised movement was placed
on one of our casing cushions

 

Tools dedicated to bracelets

In the watchmaking industry, the tool that allows to put on and take off the bars of a bracelet is essential. 

We present here the tool mainly used in watchmaking: the spring bar. It contains a spring to fix the strap to the lugs of the watch case. 

 

Spring bar for watchmaking
Our Initium tool is dedicated to the fixing and changing of bracelets

 

This tool is generally composed of forks or spikes acting as a lever to facilitate the manoeuvre on a bar.

 

Tools dedicated to needles for a clean watch hands installation

In order to ensure a clean installation of the watch hands, it is necessary to use a dedicated tool to facilitate their installation. 

 

Needle jib for watchmaking
The tool dedicated to chasing needles: a needle jib

 

This tool allows you to press perpendicularly on the centre of the needle without touching its axis. It is, however, important to know how to manage the pressure exerted in order to avoid bending the needles. 

 

The movement holders to secure the watch movement

The movement of a watch being its most delicate component, it cannot be managed directly on a table or in the hands of a watchmaker. 

To prevent damage, a movement holder is necessary to secure the movement while working. This tool looks like a small extendable vice and is often made of nickel-plated brass.

 

Movement holder
This holder is the necessary
tool to secure a movement

 

Protection tools 

  • The desk pad or workbench mat

This tool is in the form of a non-slip or self-adhesive work mat so that it does not have to be permanently fixed to the work surface. The desk mat is very resistant to chemical products used in the watch industry, such as solvents or alcohol. 

 

Desk pad : an essential protection tool
The desk pad, an essential protection tool

 

These workbench mats are available in an assortment of colours that contrast sufficiently with the parts that make up the movement of a watch, making it easier for the watchmaker to make it. 

 

Practising on a bench blotter
Two of our Master Watchmakers practising on a bench blotter

 

  • Finger guards or finger protectors

Finger guards are an essential part of the basic watchmaking tools. Their purpose is not to protect the fingers of the professional, but to protect the watch and its movement from dirt and pollution. 

Finger guards also allow fighting against the oxidation of the movements which could be due to the direct contact with the skin of the watchmaker. 

 

Finger guards for watchmaking
Finger guards are essential and primordial
tools in watchmaking manipulation

 

These can be made with or without latex but are generally antistatic and do not contain talc.

 

Storage and sorting tools

  • The protective bell 

This hermetic tool, generally made of glass, is used to store and protect the parts and the movement from dust or any other contact when they are not at work.

 

Bell to protect the watch movement
The bell, a tool to protect
the movement

 

  • The disassembly plate 

The dismantling plate is the part on which the protective bell is fixed. 

 

Dismantling plate
A dismantling plate, overhung by its bell

 

This receptacle is used to handle and deposit small parts of a movement, such as stones or screws. 

 

Assembled watch movement

 

Disassembled watch movement
A glimpse of a movement before it was disassembled, and the parts were placed
on the disassembly tray
during a watchmaking initiation at Initium

 

 

Maintenance tools to clean delicate parts of the watch

 

 

  • The skin cabron

This tool in the form of a wooden slat has a covered part generally made of cowhide or felt. 

 

Skin cabron for cleaning a timepiece
The skin cabron is a tool for cleaning a timepiece

 

The cabron is mainly used to clean, and sometimes polish, delicate parts of a watch, like the dial. 

 

  • The blowing pear

This pear-shaped rubber instrument is a necessary tool for any operation on the movement of a timepiece. Indeed, it allows removing dust from the movement and some parts because there is always a risk of fine particles entering the movement of the watch. 

Blowing pear for watchmaker
A blowing pear

 

Its bellows system allows to leave no trace, moreover, its tip generally made of PVC prevents any scratch in case of unfortunate contact. On all blower bulbs, there is a valve on the back to prevent the tool from sucking up potential dust through its tip. 

 

  • The rodico

The Rodico cleaning paste is useful in cleaning a watch. We can consider it as the watchmaker’s best friend! 

Rodico for watch cleaning

Rodico for watch cleaning
The rodico, the essential tool for watch cleaning

 

Its use is relatively simple: this blue coloured paste is used to clean all the movement: it allows to remove any imprint and trace of doits or to remove any excess of oil. Its great absorption properties are excellent to remove any deposit without risk. 

 

Essential watchmaking tools

 

At Initium, and as ambassadors of watchmaking, we are always happy to satisfy anyone’s curiosity about watchmaking equipment or tools. 

Do not hesitate to visit one of our workshops to discover more about Swiss mechanical watchmaking and its tools! 

 

Sources

https://www.outils-horloger.eu
https://www.gearpatrol.com
https://www.selvatime.ch
https://www.venus-diffusion.com
https://www.web-horloger.fr
https://mdwatch.ch
https://www.mon-petit-horloger.fr