If you’re stuck wondering how to start with watchmaking, this article is just for you.
Before you bend your brain with questions like:
How to make jewels for mechanical watches?
How to add weights to the balance wheel?
How to operate a lathe?
you should first figure out if handling watch movements and all the little parts is even something that you can manage without donating your tweezers to your sister for some behindhand eyebrow action.
The best way to figure that out is to get these five watchmaking tools every watchmaker needs in order to even dream about disassembling a watch movement.
- Movement HolderPictured above is a Bergeon 4040-P (synthetic, a.k.a. the plastic version) which is really good quality, sturdy, and a pleasure to work with. It helps you to move the movement around comfortably without directly touching it with your fingers. The plastic version is good to avoid getting scratches on the movement you’re working on.
Decent movement holder | Budget movement holder
Tweezers come in all kinds of shapes. The most basic ones are the #3’s – pictured above. The difference in quality comes in at the very tips, which can be asymmetrical in cheap ones. I suggest you instantly go for the $30 Dumont ones if you can. They won’t fail you and will serve you for a long time to come.
Decent tweezers | Budget tweezers
The set I’m holding in my hand ranges from 0.8 to 1.4 mm in diameter. I’ve used the 1.4 the most, but have also used the 0.8 for the small screw holding the hairspring of the 6498, for example. All of them are useful, so when buying watchmakers screwdrivers, make sure you get a variety.
Decent screwdrivers | Budget screwdrivers
- Loupe with a 4X magnifying factor (+ a holder)
Now, this is the tool that has the most power in making you look like a watchmaker. It is essential to see all the tiny parts inside a movement. If you’ve got money to spare, you can also get an extra 15x loupe for fun.
Decent loupe | Budget loupe
- Assortment tray
Having a separate compartment for parts from different areas of the movement is really useful. Starting without a tray will definitely increase your chance of losing movement parts by a factor of 17. So make sure you get something to help you keep things organized – it’s essential if you want to keep good working habits.
That’s about it.
Now before you run off to get the cheapest of everything, I want to remind you of the reason why I added the decent options in the list. It’s not there so you would have to spend more. It’s not there to make more money for myself(affiliate links) and the merchants. It’s not there to reinforce the economy in good faith. The decent options are there because that’s what they are: decent. Get the budget version only if you make your money in Venezuela or a very broke individual. If you buy the cheapest of everything, you’ll end up buying higher quality tools later anyway if you are in any way serious about this craft. It’s expensive to buy cheap things.
When it comes to your first movement, it’s a bit different, however. The first movement you buy actually should be a cheap specimen.
When you’re starting out, there is absolutely no reason to get the original ETA 6498 unless you are a wealthy individual. You will break parts. You will lose parts. You will fuck things up. Count them as a natural loss. So get copy of ETA 6498‘s or copy of ETA 2428‘s instead. I recommend getting two if you can. That way you can just replace the parts that you break/lose any and end up with at least 1 working movement to play with.