I was lucky enough to join a small watch making experience that gave me a taste of what it's like to work with watches. It was an eye opening experience and brought a whole new level of appreciation to these little mechanical marvels on our wrist.
Jaeger-LeCoultre is opening up newly designed boutiques across the world and to celebrate in Singapore, they had a watch making experience. I've always wanted to do the full day class just like you'd maybe go for a day long wine tasting class, coffee making class, or a glass blowing course! Just a few examples of things I've done before that gives you a different perspective rather than just consuming the good.
I'll share some pics and things that I learned about watches.
First, watch parts are tiny AF. I'm stating the obvious and we all know this conceptually, but these are seriously small.
These are a few of the parts and the hairspring (top) almost becomes invisible when you look at it head on. It's super thin.
This is the overall size is the movement. It's SMALL. That's my index finger and I'm not a giant. I have 6.6-7" wrists. This was a small movement to be fair, but still.
Okay, now here are the screws.l and the gear train. I placed that one screw on its head so you can see how small it is. The last screw and bridge were even smaller.
Final small part pic is the pallet fork. Apologies I don't have a "finger for scale" photo bc as the class progressed, it got harder and harder and my frustration precluded me from taking proper pics.
Below you can see the dark metal thing sticking out - it's the lever part of the pallet fork and you can see one of the jeweled heads. This thing is so small and it blew me away. We always see these enlarged pics and doesn't do justice how master watchmakers deal with precision. You need STEADY hands.
Seocnd learning, I used to think - maybe I'll become a watchmaker for fun after I retire. Nope, not for me.
You need an extreme level of patience and the ability to stay zen. Arter getting all the gears in place, like so:
You have to place a bridge over the top, like so:
Unfortunately, if you touch the gears in a weird way, the gears fly apart everywhere! If you drop a screw, good luck finding a half grain of rice sized, camouflaged screw on the floor. It's so precise - the gear's pivot the part sticking out has to sit right in the tiny jewel to rescue friction. It's so hard to be so precise.
You have to be a zen Buddhist monk not to want to murder the watch parts in front of you after you get frustrated. After trying to get the escapement wheel to fit in a few times, I realized one of the teeth was slightly bent and it completely caused the gears to seize up. Very little margin for error.
Final learning, I will gladly pay for servicing my watches now! I will never DIY this again in my life. Not for me and hats off to watch makers or repairers.
I highly suggest all of you serious collectors and aficionados to try it out. Ask your AD to do a short 1h session for good clients or maybe make a WC meetup around it!
Some random pics to round it off and thanks for listening.