WATCH•SWISS

MANUFACTURING AND ASSEMBLING THE MOVEMENT

Sophisticated technology and craftsmanship are not contradictory in the manufacture of watches.

The most complex components of a movement may require more than 50 different operations. Some components measure less than 0.05 millimetre, smaller than the thickness of a hair. In some cases the tolerances do not even exceed one micron (0.001 millimetre).

Next, the components are cut using numerically controlled machines (stamping, milling). Then the surfaces are machined (cutting, piercing, centering, tapping). Depending on the desired finish, some components are fashioned in the decorating and engraving workshops where manual workmanship takes over using highly specific tools often conceived specially for the purpose: chisels, saws, files, burnishers, buffs etc.

These finishes are not always all visible but nevertheless guarantee a very high standard of quality in the purest tradition of Swiss watchmaking: bevelling, circular graining, polishing, côtes de Genève, for instance. Several weeks may be needed to complete the decoration of a single movement

Assembling a mechanical movement calls for absolute precision. It involves fitting the winder, the going-train and the escapement and then perhaps the self-winding mechanism, together with the chronograph and calendar mechanism. Each phase requires precise adjustment and inspection. Apart from the need for great skill to fit the balance, escapement and rotor, the most delicate task that no machine can perform to the same quality standard consists in setting the escapement on which the accuracy of the watch depends.

The need for precision and quality is of course equally great when it comes to the assembly of electronic movements, even if by definition the components, functions and assembly process differ (quartz, integrated circuit, stepping motor, going-train, automated assembly).