Ruminations on the future of watchmaking

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GeneJockey
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Re: Ruminations on the future of watchmaking

#11 Post by GeneJockey » Thu Mar 29, 2012 7:37 am

Point taken about the 8/0 balances. I'm just skittish about buying entire watches to get the balance. Then again, I've bought entire parts movements for a 4th wheel!

How close are we to really cheap micromachining?

For example, Ben has posted several times about the Elgin 571, the last BW Raymond PW movement, which uses a detent lever to hold the stem, so it's the most likely piece to break when someone with no wristwatch experience tries to just pull the movement out without releasing the stem. Those detent levers are all used up as NOS, but it's a simple piece - flat, with a raised cylindrical piece on one end and a threaded hole for the screw. Now, I think people are stealing them from lower grade models like the 573 to keep 571s alive.

Or the two problem pieces on a 760 - the 2nd autowind wheel and the rocker plate. Imagine how many more could be running if we could only make more of those.
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Don't take life so serious, son. It ain't nohow permanent. - Pogo

441victor
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Re: Ruminations on the future of watchmaking

#12 Post by 441victor » Thu Mar 29, 2012 2:23 pm

As an example of currently available additive manufacturing, Shapeways (http://www.shapeways.com/) will do printed stainless for $8 per cubic cm and a $6 handling fee per piece. That would get you the basic shape that you would have to drill, tap and finish. We all know how inportant finish is for watch movements so better surface and finer detail would need a more expensive maker. Here is an example of the state of the art on the small detail end of the scale.

Image

It's the size of a grain of sand and is from an article in Wired http://www.wired.com/autopia/2012/03/in ... noprinter/.

This stuff wasn't thinkable 20 years ago and in the last 10 the price of a rapid prototype printer has come down from $30,000 to $600. Extrapolate that growth out another 20 years and I'm thinking we'll be able to duplicate cases with a fat layer of gold over base metal that are indistinguishable from our vintage watches. Damaskeened Hamilton 990 barrel bridges, maybe not. Joel

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trim
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Re: Ruminations on the future of watchmaking

#13 Post by trim » Thu Mar 29, 2012 2:41 pm

Well. I was setting up (did some initial drawings) use the 3D printer at work, that produces sintered titanium to make a 9162 date ring - but then I found donor, which was easier.

You can even use software to convert a photo - into linear form, as a basis for these drawings.

It will be interesting to see where this all goes.

K.
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Oldlyme14
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Re: Ruminations on the future of watchmaking

#14 Post by Oldlyme14 » Fri Mar 30, 2012 5:06 am

How many vintage watch collectors are there anyway?


Mark S.

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coastcat
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Re: Ruminations on the future of watchmaking

#15 Post by coastcat » Fri Mar 30, 2012 7:39 am

hamiltonelectric wrote:This is something I've been thinking about quite a lot in the past couple of years. It came up again today in an email exchange with a customer, so I thought it might make for interesting discussion here: the problem of keeping vintage watches alive for generations to come.

The gist of my concern is that when it comes to vintage watches, the pool of competent watchmakers is shrinking and prospects get dimmer every year as many of us reach retirement. This is a problem which is only going to get worse in the future.
Just received an e-mail from NAWCC announcing that they are closing their School of Horology as a full-time vocational school, although they will continue to offer individual courses, due to increasing financial issues. So the problem is definitely getting worse.

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hamiltonelectric
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Re: Ruminations on the future of watchmaking

#16 Post by hamiltonelectric » Fri Mar 30, 2012 7:47 am

^^^^
Wow. I haven't gotten that email. That's unfortunate. One more watchmaking school bites the dust. There are very few left.

441victor
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Re: Ruminations on the future of watchmaking

#17 Post by 441victor » Fri Mar 30, 2012 3:45 pm

Oldlyme14 wrote:How many vintage watch collectors are there anyway?


Mark S.
Judging from the number of people bidding against me on Ebay there could be thousands. Joel

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daxtellgt6
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Re: Ruminations on the future of watchmaking

#18 Post by daxtellgt6 » Fri Mar 30, 2012 7:28 pm

hamiltonelectric wrote:^^^^
Wow. I haven't gotten that email. That's unfortunate. One more watchmaking school bites the dust. There are very few left.
According to the article there are only about 10 in the US; down from 80 50 or so years ago. Sad to see this trend....

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