Disclaimer: There are awesome never-seen-before pictures but this is a technical write-up, if that aspect of watches is not your cup of tea, stay tuned, we’ll bring something awesome in September!
Last time where we left off (if you haven’t read it yet, you can check it here), our watch was completely disassembled, now we’ll build it back up by reversing the steps. The funny thing is that different tools are used in the assembly process. Instead of explaining it one by one, the picture below will show how it all fits. Movement below the dial and hands above the dial. First, the hour & minute gears are placed in the movement.
The movement gears are added.
Then the movement is placed onto the dial which makes a clicking sound upon latching. Then the hands, marking the hardest part of the assembly. We use this tool to help us press accordingly, the hand pusher. Each hand, hour, and minute has a different hole diameter requiring a different pusher tip.
Hour & minute hands are added The hour hand is placed first. Too little force and it doesn’t connect to the movement and nothing moves, too much force and it clamps on the dial. Removing the hour hand becomes a nightmare if too much force is used. Imbalanced force results in the hand not positioning properly resulting in a non-horizontal sweep. Simply put, the vertical distance from the dial surface to the hour hand should be the same at all times (pun intended). You’ll need a magnifier to make sure it’s held properly. If not, you remove the hand and start again. Once done, it’s the minute hand’s turn. The trick is to point the hour hand at 12 o’clock and place the minute hand gently on it so it doesn’t fall but it’s easier said than done. All the challenges explained for the hour hand are amplified for the minute hand. The only advantage lies in the ease of removing it in the case goes wrong. Simply slide a paper strip and pull it up (careful or it’ll disappear in the abyss of our workshop where you never get to see it again). The hardest part is over.
The crown is added and the hands are adjusted to the current time. While we go around our merry way, a periodic check is made. Since we're still greenhorns with assembly/disassembly, we usually wait 24-48 hours before we confirm all is good compared to the 60 minutes check of average watch maker-seller. If anything goes wrong, we usually confirm it within 1-2 hours but just to make sure we’re on the safe side, 24-48 hours is a must.
Once it’s good, we screw the case back and add the movement holder (the white plastic object which holds the movement in one place and protects it against shock damage, and fill the empty space in the watch case). There are a few checks but we’re 80% done.
The last two-step is adding a glass ring that holds the case down. One important check is to remove any speck of dust because once sealed, you have to literally start from zero again if there is a speck of dust or cloth fibers. We use the blower to make sure the job’s done. The glass cover is placed with another type of pusher tool. If the glass is not placed horizontally, it’ll crack upon using the glass cover pressing tool. A final cleaning with acetone to make sure it’s sparkling and done!
When engraving a dial, we have to go through this whole process and any mistake is paid for with a new replacement in case of scratches or bends. It can be frustrating but the end result is well worth it, both for us and the customer. In our signature design, we simply ditch the factory-made dial and place our own custom dial. Always forward, ARH out.