WATCHMAKING MACHINES AND TOOLS
While many contemporary artists replicate the same actions and use the same tools as their 18th-century predecessors, watchmaking machines and tools continuously evolved over the centuries. Substituting hydraulic power with electricity significantly increased production rates and capacities, allowing brands to move away from riversides. The late 19th century and the industrial era brought one of the greatest revolutions in horology: the interchangeability of components. This concept enabled the industrialization of production, and cost reduction while enhancing the reliability and durability of watches. To achieve this, machines had to increase their precision and automation. Finally, the digital era has become indispensable in all horological applications, contributing to their rapid advancement.
Whether it’s a century-old tool or the most “intelligent” and automated machines, both are of no use without a skilled person who controls them.
HAND OPERATED TOOLS
Such crafting instruments are most commonly found on the watchmaker’s or artisan’s workbench. They require no power source other than the artisan’s hand. Tweezers and screwdrivers are the most common, but there are numerous tools dedicated to specific uses. It is common for an artisan-watchmaker to make their own tools that don’t exist or modify them when they don’t fully meet their needs.
This chapter lists all machines with a single, specific function. They can be dedicated to manufacturing (lathe, milling machine, drill, screw machine, etc.), quality control (sealing tests, hardness tests, etc.), or measurements. Some of these machines can be mechanically automated in certain cases, but in all cases, these machines must be operated by a human.
Machining centres are machines capable of performing complete sets of operations (milling, drilling, surfacing, etc.). Automatic and computer-controlled, they are appreciated for their speed and non-stop working capacity. They are particularly suitable for large-scale production, although small independent brands widely use them today as well.
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