Every new watch is like a new piece of art It has a different story to tell It’s a very interesting thing about watches on the one hand you have a high precision device and the other thing is they have to be hand finished which is very related to arts and crafts. You have these two worlds in one watch both the aesthetical aspect of it and the mechanical aspect of it.
Here we are at Arnold and Son in our premises at La Chaux-de-Fonds where we manufacture all of our watches. Arnold and Son refers to John Arnold who was one of the biggest and most important watchmaker who ever lived he invented a lot of technical solutions still in use today.
The aim of the modern company to innovate and to continue his legacy but in a contemporary, new manner The idea is really to continue the story more than to repeating it.
First with the design team we design how the watch should look like. The size it should have, the thickness you have to have a kind of mechanical harmony is it good looking or not and when we are happy with the new complications and we think the watch has something new then we create basically the inner works which will make the aesthetic happen.
The first thing you have to do is to order the right material because we use a lot of different materials into mechanical movement going from brass over steel up to titanium or gold and you need a specific material for every different part of it once you have the raw material you start really making the components.
We have different kinds of raw materials going to different workshops for depending on the part you want to make If you want to do watchmaking on super high level you need extremely skilled and specifically trained people we have more than thirty different job descriptions purely different educations and you find these educations, these training only in this region because nowhere else in the world you need such kind of know how.
Working with tiny parts is a challenge because tiny parts makes very small tolerances. We are working in micron tolerances so you cannot do anything without good tooling. We have in house a tool making department which makes from the little screwdriver the watchmaker needs up to a stamping tool which takes months of development.
The reason why we do all our tooling in house because if you’re not mastering your tools, you’re not mastering the part you want to produce. Once all the parts are cut with machinery, they go to be cleaned They’re submitted to quality control, who decides if the part is good enough to continue to the decoration workshop Different kind of traditional movement decorations are applied from Geneva stripes, satin finish.
Depending on the component Is a mechanical watch you buy today is not a leading technology anymore It’s really crafts and arts You are not racing for technological breakthrough you are more racing for making more spectacular watches. You build a very different relation to a mechanical watch than you do to an electronic device because the day you buy it you know that the next one will come and that you will swap it for getting the better one. With a mechanical watch it’s really the object as a physical object of all the hand work which make it special and unique.
That’s makes I think a big difference to something more on the electronic side Once these parts have been decorated they are quality checked again to see if the decoration hasn’t affected the functional aspect of it. That’s always a bit if a trick you have to decorate but not deteriorate the part. They go to be preassembled in a specific workshop before going to the watchmakers set stones for instance into main plates.
Put axis onto wheels and once all these parts have been preassembled, they arrive to the watchmaker who does the final assembly. The watchmaker gets all the little parts in little boxes starts taking the main plate which is the base on everything gets built on adding the wheels which is all on axis put different bridges holding all different wheels in place.
You have to add all the winding mechanism because you want to be able to wind your watch put a dial on it then you put hands and one last thing which we add always at the end is the escapement which is basically the heart of any mechanical watch, it’s also what you hear when your listening to a mechanical watch when you hear the tick tock It’s the very first time you will see and hear your watch moving.
Starting from the simple beating, it’s a long process going to a highly accurate mechanical watch. You cannot just put the parts together and expect the watch to tell perfect time. We are checking the watches for 600 hours on different vibration and other machines to get really sure that everything is ok can be just s little tiny dust, you don’t see it when you put it together but when you move the watch it can a fild of the movement.
So this process is pretty pretty long but this is what the complexity of such a mechanical device requests. Once that you’ve seen that the accuracy of the movement is good, you put it into a watch case which will protect the movement you add the bracelet, and the buckle and you have a watch.
Watches are most of the time perceived as a time capsule It’s really something which are still built today as it used to be for the last centuries It’s nice also for people to be able to buy something which has always existed and probably will always exist as a form of art.