If your a watch, or clockmaker, a student, or thinking about becoming one. This is the forum for you.

Moderator: David Walter

New Moderator

Postby David Walter » Mon Nov 02, 2009 9:43 pm

The watch and clock makers corner has changed slightly in that I am now the moderator. It seems there should be more activity here especially as it started out as the Wostep Forum.
Maybe it should be called "The Bench View".
Perhaps those in Wostep or those who have graduated can make informed posts as to what they are currently doing at the bench or planning to do. I know similar watches every day can become tedious.

Are there any out there who are budding "Independent horologists' ? or are you all happy to repair the same watches day in day out ?
If you are thinking of making your own watch or modifying an existing calibre, tell us about it. What are your plans, what do you like on special watches or what don't you like ?
I am aware of various posts regarding the work of Independent watchmakers but as far as I can tell there is not a forum devoted to it. Maybe this could become that forum but it will need your thoughts and comments to get there.

So, please ask questions make comments, post photos of special watches that cross your bench. I have several very special clocks for restoration that I will provide information when I get to them.

Tempus Fugit. Think about your next post before "TIme Flees".
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Re: New Moderator

Postby mhameister » Wed Nov 04, 2009 12:46 pm

Hi David,
Welcome as the new moderator. To answer your last question, I'm currently in the (advanced) watchmaking program at Gem City College in Quincy Illinois, and am presently working on chronographs. I was started on the Valjoux 7733 (cam mechanism), and then worked up to the Valjoux cal. 72 (column wheel). Next will be the 7750. In January, I am starting the WOSTEP program at Saint Paul College in St Paul Minnesota. Any tips for a beginning student from the WOSTEP graduates reading this post will be most helpful. I'm particularly interested in the new SAWTA program and any applicable information/opinions that people might have.
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Re: New Moderator

Postby David Walter » Wed Nov 04, 2009 1:47 pm

Will some of you Wostep graduates post suggestions for the new boy on the block.

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Re: New Moderator

Postby horomancer » Thu Nov 05, 2009 10:13 am

Hey there. I've recently set up my own shop in TX after spending the past three years working with Breitling out in CT. So far, things our slow since the biggest hurdle is getting enough work to keep you busy. Not that there is a shortage of work, just it takes time to get your name out and educate the people around you as to why you charge twice as much as the fellow that works out of his garage, and that yes a watch should keep better than +/- a minute a day even if it is from the 70's.
It's been a very interesting experience, and the horrors of watch butchering I've seen just in the past few months have been educational to say the least. I'm WOSTEP certified, but I'm going into clocks since that market is larger in my immedate area, and I have three very skilled clockmakers (all MC certified and 20+ years each in on clockmaking) that are willing to show me how to do the job right.
My ultimate goal is to get out of all the debt I got myself into learning the trade, then try and get to a happy balance of doing work and then playing around going through George Daniel's book to make my own watch.

to mhameister
Good choice going through the WOSTEP program. Since you have some knowledge already, make certain you keep a few junker movements around to work on tweeking hairsprings, assembly disassembly and the like. The first year of WOSTEP is nothing but metal working, which depending on what you do after school can either be wasted time or a god send. The junker movements will keep you're eyes and hands tuned and will give you a serious advantage in the second year when you get into the meat of watch work.
As for the SAWTA program, I've heard it described as a new training course for the modern repair shop. If you go an work for a company like Rolex, Omega, Breitling, or a large and well out fitted jewelery store you will not need 1/3 of the watchmaking knowledge you learn at WOSTEP. You do not regularly adjust pallets, make/adjust parts, restaff balances, etc. You jocky screws and swap parts, because that's more cost efficient for the company. You do need to know more about polishing, case cleaning and adjustment, and how to size crystals and gaskets. From what I've heard the SAWTA is set up with this in mind. The knowledge you get from WOSTEP on case work is effectively zero, since cases vary so greatly from brand to brand and era to era, they assume you'll get that on the job. You can fix and regulate a 7750, what's a few pusher gaskets? Most quality brands have now settled into a 3 piece case arrangement with sapphire or mineral glass crystal, so I imagine SAWTA will cover all the how-to's of making sure the case looks great after you're done and is water tight.
It really depends on where you work when you're done.
Bigger companies = steady though not that great pay, benefits, easy but mindless work.
Independent or in small jewelery store= $0 to infinite pay depending on your skill, the market etc. The watchmaking gods will throw your their twisted, misshapen * spawn at you to work with and don't even think that parts are available. You will actually become a better watchmaker as you go along, instead of just more efficient at swapping parts/movements.
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Re: New Moderator

Postby David Walter » Thu Nov 05, 2009 12:48 pm

Thanks for posting, this is exactly what I am hoping for. please continue as often as you can, this is very efficient way to exchange information that may be hard to discover.

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Re: New Moderator

Postby mhameister » Thu Nov 05, 2009 6:04 pm

Thanks guys, very helpful. In my short time as a student I've already seen my share of the "watchmaking gods" throwing their twisted, misshapen spawn at me. I see the horrors of watch butchering all too often. Oh joy. I have a (signed) copy of the Daniels book you mentioned. One of these days when I have more time I'll have to do more with it than just look at the pictures. I have to sign off right now as I'm sitting in a coffee shop in Quincy IL and my girlfriend likes to go way overboard on PDA, "public display of affection." Very embarrassing . . .
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Re: New Moderator

Postby Thomas Carey » Thu Nov 05, 2009 6:51 pm

mhameister wrote:Thanks guys, very helpful. In my short time as a student I've already seen my share of the "watchmaking gods" throwing their twisted, misshapen spawn at me. I see the horrors of watch butchering all too often. Oh joy. I have a (signed) copy of the Daniels book you mentioned. One of these days when I have more time I'll have to do more with it than just look at the pictures. I have to sign off right now as I'm sitting in a coffee shop in Quincy IL and my girlfriend likes to go way overboard on PDA, "public display of affection." Very embarrassing . . .


I hope you will tell your fellow students and instructors about the forum. I would really like to see more activity in this forum. As I feel it could really help watch and clock makers.

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Re: New Moderator

Postby mhameister » Thu Nov 05, 2009 7:01 pm

I certainly will spread the word about this forum to the Gem City College watchmaking community. It's sort of isolated being here in west central Illinois and this site is a good means of expanding one's horizons. Thanks. mh
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Re: New Moderator

Postby Thomas Carey » Thu Nov 05, 2009 7:44 pm

mhameister wrote:I certainly will spread the word about this forum to the Gem City College watchmaking community. It's sort of isolated being here in west central Illinois and this site is a good means of expanding one's horizons. Thanks. mh


I am in Pontiac IL and know what you mean by isolated. =)

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Re: New Moderator

Postby horomancer » Thu Nov 12, 2009 9:29 am

Ahhhhh making tools
I love/hated tool making the most. I like making things, but my filing has never been flat, despite all my hours of practice, so I always felt my work wasn't as good as it could have been.
Get your fill of tool making now. When you get out of school you will either be to busy to make something nice, or not have the equipment at your disposal. Very nice pictures, please keep up the work. I'm interested to see what the main WOSTEP school is like.
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Re: New Moderator

Postby R_Wostep09 » Thu Nov 12, 2009 10:57 am

mygs29 wrote:Hey guys/girls,

I have been following this section of the forum for a while now and figured it was time to finally start posting. I enjoy reading in forums more that posting but I think this is a good forum to learn and ask questions.

Anyways, a little about myself. Name is Aaron and I am 26 and from Canada. I just moved to Switzerland in July to start the WOSTEP program at the head school in Neuchatel. I got accepted in November of 2007 so it was quite a wait to get here.

Since we started things have been going great. We are doing the micro-mechanics part of the course as most of you know and I like it. I find it a lot of fun. Making different tools for watchmaking and learning how to make all sorts of different parts with different tools. The lathe be my friend I say....

Most of my family and friends had/have not much of a clue about watchmaking so I decided to start a blog about my course and other nonsensical things I feel I need to ramble on about. If you guys are interested here is the link:

http://nowyouknowiknowthatyouknow.blogspot.com/

Lots of the pictures of the stuff I have done/am doing. Any comments and suggestions are more than welcome!

The people at the school are great and it has been a great 3 months so far. It will be nice to start working on actual watches next year but for now I'll just keep making cool stuff...


Hello Aaron. I checked out your blog and I have it now bookmarked. Keep up posting photos so I can continue to watch your work. I graduated this spring from FT in Neuchatel ... I think I remember you from your two days exam in 2007.
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Re: New Moderator

Postby David Walter » Thu Nov 12, 2009 1:23 pm

Hi Guys,

thanks for the posts, this is the sort of advanced learning material I am want to see posted, as well how the knowledge and skill is put to use in your bench life.
Aaron, your blog is very interesting, I like the progression of photos, perhaps when you use the tool for the first time you can post details of what you achieved and the polishing materials you used.


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Re: New Moderator

Postby R_Wostep09 » Thu Nov 12, 2009 1:44 pm

mygs29 wrote:Hey Robert. I remember you too. It's nice to have that book Henrik made for you guys to have something to get ideas from. I wish it showed who did which projects, to see if there is a pattern in design. I just finished my polishing tool today so hopefully I will have some pictures up soon. I should finish the staking block tomorrow I hope and then I am going to start winding stems in the next week or two. Anything I should know about the school I already don't? How is the business in Iceland?


The book that Henrik did is great. You can definitely see a pattern in the designs IF you knew who did what. Nick Wolfe from Ireland was like you, this artistic type (at least you seem to be artistic). Meanwhile, Mark Cull, also from Ireland, he was the opposite. The less, the better. I tried to be artistic as well but more into simple design. Actually, I can show you tomorrow what I did during my course, I happen to be staying in Neuchatel for the moment ;-) I'm visiting WOSTEP tomorrow.

Regarding advices, yes, I can give you something but nothing you don't already know I guess. Absorb everything that Andrea will teach you and ask a lot of questions. Squeeze everything you can from that guy. Try to learn as much as possible and always challenge yourself. Always aim for perfection. The school is hard, but yet, the teaching is so efficient that you won't feel how extremely hard it is.

Enjoy the micro-mechanics now because you will miss it later. Micro-mechanics was not my favorite part when I was in WOSTEP, I really looked forward to get into the watches but I surprised myself how much I missed micro-mechanism when I was in the watch movement. Micro-mechanics is also a really important part of watchmaking, you will never become a real watchmaker without that knowledge and skills. You will see it later how extremely important that is. Also, try to make as many tools as possible during the course because you won't have much time or the machinery after graduation to make tools. I use my tools that I made all the time, some more than others but some I have not used yet.

The business in Iceland is not that bad, to be honest. You would think everything is dead, considering the deep crisis, but it's not. I think some shops are having some difficulties but in the time of recession you have to be really careful. For me and my family, we are doing quite well actually. It has to do with a strong name, good reputation and good products.

I see you tomorrow. Until then, take care.

Robert
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Re: New Moderator

Postby Thomas Carey » Thu Nov 12, 2009 6:48 pm

Speaking of tools. What tools would you suggest that students make while they have the chances?

Are there any of you. Whom wish you would have made a particular tool. But did not when you had the chance?

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Re: New Moderator

Postby David Walter » Fri Nov 13, 2009 11:46 am

Hi all,

this is great but we want to know just what you are doing at the bench now with your knowledge and skills gained at Wostep
and how those skills have developed .

David
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