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  • Writer's pictureMarc Jenni

Acquiring the basic skills

Updated: Feb 8

Location: Zurich, Switzerland

Date: January 28, 1994


First thing to do when you start a watchmaking apprenticeship, is getting rid of your illusions and dreams! No Patek Philippe nor Rolex will be taken apart during the first weeks and no ETA calibers get dismounted. No - a watchmaker starts his career in getting bloody fingers... he starts to manufacture and to build up an inventory of his own tools and devices such as center-punches, bench-vice jaws, hand-fitting devices, miscellaneous cutters, etc.



I remember the particular painful period when the hand gravers needed to get grinded and sharpened by hand respecting a perfect geometry! This procedure is very tricky and tests ones skills, prestidigitation and patience! While pressing the hand gravers onto an Arkansas grinding stone, the sharp edges bores deep into one’s fingers... Every watchmaker recalls these moments of pain but is nevertheless proud to master these essential skills.



Among all the manufactured tools, I did manufacture my own hand graver grinding device. The days of bloody fingers were counted!



During this excercise all basic related skills are used (e.g. filing, drilling, turning, sawing, milling). Furthermore, learning to respect the tolerances and to get familiar with the precision of 1/100 of a milimeter is essential as well as working and shaping different materials.



As you might have seen, the two wheels got pimped up! Since both steel wheels were hardened I tempered them until it’s blue color and polished the two rims of each side... All other brass components were gold plated to prevent tarnishing.


Always remember; every tool and machine has its place and utility - they need to be in a perfect condition and before you even know, you start to excel...

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