WatchUSeek Watch Forums banner

1 - 12 of 12 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
99 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all


Just somthing I have been thinking about..:think::think:..maybe I am wrong in lots of the things I say/think (sorry for that), but when did the high craftsmanship come more or less to a end in watchmaking?

Well, not "end" but turn from man made to more or less robot made as watches more or less are today.

A pocket watch from the 1850´s was more or less made by hand.But, as the industy change, so did the watch making. Stil a pocket watch was turnd out with very high craftsmanship in 1910 to.

When Omega or Angelus made a watch in 1928, I think it had more hand work, crafsmanship than they did in 1962.
Today some say that a Rolex or Cartier is hand made..:think:...well, maybe the movement is. I am no expert, but I do not think that a 2008 watch from them have the same craftsmanship as they did back in the good old days.

Who was first to stop with man made watch and who was last?

Thanks for looking

Cheers
Vegard_dino
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
23,771 Posts
Machine tooling and assembly line methods came into American watch making as early as the late 1850s. So it's been a long process from hand made to today's robotics.
That's a good thing though, as millions of people in the late 1800s and early 1900s era got a good watch at a decent price. Also a lot easier and cheaper to fix with standardized parts.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18,176 Posts
Lathes have always built balance staffs... nowadays the lathe is run by a computer.
Milling machines have always carved cases... nowadays the milling machine is run by a computer.
... etc...
Man as a species designed all of this so they are all still man made.

Hand made?? well, not making them by hand makes them even more uniform and still as exact and cheaper. The standard ETA 2892-A2 meets chronometer standards 'out of the box'... so it has a lot of craftsmanship too. It is just craftsmanship by metallurgists and computer programmers and production engineers and ceramic engineers...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,534 Posts
The craftsmanship ended with the watch they produced just before yours. :)
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
21,244 Posts
High end watches like JLC, Patec etc have a hand finished, decorated and adjusted movement, but I imagine the bits are first machine ma
Rolex I would not classify as handmade, a manufacturer turning out millions of watches a year. I had a look inside my wifes Rolex a couple of weeks ago, in connection with another thread.
The level of finishing was not much ahead of HMT, sorry to say.
But machine making is definitely not a bad thing, the precision and consistency in quality are far higher than if a person made them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
99 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hi all:)

Thanks for replying me

Yes, I agree in that a machine made is better when it comes to precision and a more stabil quality, than the one made by one man.

But, stil, a high end watch today like Rolex or Omega that turn out millions of watches, are more a "robot"watch. To me:)

So, maybe we have lost some of the old tyle, but got cheaper watches and easyer too repair than a watch from 1830´s.

And, yes, Eeeb, stil man made as we did make the machine to do the job:think:..but stil.....maybe it is only me..but I feel that a vintage watch has what a old car/vintage car have to me, charm and "life"....aa..hard to say what I mean. And maybe, maybe I am making some here mad by saying that a modern watch has lost that..just as a modern car has lost it.

Well, thanks for taking time all

Have a good evening

Cheers
vegard_dino
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
23,771 Posts
There is no doubt that many fine watches made today still have some elements of fine craftsmanship in them.
However it has been a very very long time since the parts of a watch were made by hand, and all the assembly and adjustment of these parts was carried out in a small shop by a skilled craftsman.
Anyone who still believes this is simply not living in the industrial age - even if many watch marketing departments try very hard to convince him.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,383 Posts
To me, at least, 'high craftsmanship' has never really came to an end in
watchmaking.
I know that high end modern watches are designed on cad and produced by
CNC machines.... but these are only tools and even the 18thC watchmaker had
tools.
Who could deny that 'high craftsmanship' must have went into the production of
marques like JLC's Gyro Tourbillon or Ulysse Nardin's 'Trilogy of Time'.

High Craftsmanship and Quality I don't think are neccessarily exclusive.

These days, as far as I know, only Patek Phillipe make no compromise whatsoever
to quality and will only adopt modern techniques if the quality is improved or at
the least hasn't suffered.
This philosophy was probably common amongst 18thC English watchmakers.
Non functional embellishments such as ornately engraved and pierced ballance cocks,
Egyptian pillars and exceptional hand finishing was the norm.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
23,771 Posts
I agree that one should never neglect quality - if hand craftsmanship can make a better timepiece. However 100 years ago true quality was measured in timekeeping accuracy above all else.
Unfortunately the superiority of hand craftsmanship was not the situation in the 1880s, when mid grade machine made and factory assembled American watches were as good or better at keeping time than the top grade Swiss watches. The Swiss had to learn innovative factory methods from the USA to compete.
The British stuck with the old school small batch manufacturing methods and were virtually wiped out as watch manufacturers after 1900.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
99 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Tru:-!

Some try to convince us that they stil make it in a small work shop, only by some skiled workers, but, that´s only in the adds.

Yes, the english watchmakers had that idea, and they are gone....well, some are english watchmakers is there now, but ot making it as it was back in the 18th.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
23,771 Posts
I believe that the concept of handcrafted=high quality=high cost plays much better to the mindset of 2008 than it would have in 1908.
100 years ago it was necessary to have factory made=high quality=moderate cost so that the workers could run the trains on time with their Illinois, Ball, Elgin, Waltham, Hamilton, Hampden or Howard RR watches. The repair and maintenance guys also needed plenty of replacement parts at fair prices to keep those watches running accurately.
Nothing wrong with that second concept either. I'm wouldn't be surprised if Henry Ford and F W Taylor paid a visit to Waltham and Elgin at one point.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,355 Posts
There is a 1924 black and white silent movie made by the US government showing how watches were manufactured at the Illinois Watch Company factory. If you are a NAWCC member you can borrow it.

One of the points of the movie was that 85% of a watch's manufacturing cost was labor. There was much hand labor involved such as beveling plates and winding gears and damaskeening the plates. Similar to what you would expect to see in a current Patek or Vercheron Constintine. Today most of the handwork has been eliminated with automation, CNC machining and extnsive use of robotics. All to keep labor costs down.

One factor in reducing the cosmetic appearence of US pocket watch movements was the shift, in the 1920s, to selling factory cased watches. Prior to this watch movements and cases were sold seperately and the appearence of the watch movement was a selling feature. That's why even relatively inexpensive 7 jewel watches were nicely finished.

I find it interesting that with the advent of wristwatches with glass backs many manufacturers make finishing of the watch's movement a selling point, but you do pay for it.
 
1 - 12 of 12 Posts
Top