Timezone Watch School

About five years ago, my watch hobby got the better of me, and I decided to take a watchmaking course. The nice folks at Timezone had a resident watchmaker, and had prepared a two-part introductory course. A local watchmaker’s supply house (what are the odds?), O. Frei, had agreed to put together a reasonably priced kit, with tools and a Swiss movement, for the course.

The first part of the course consisted of taking the movement apart and putting it back together. This may sound easy, but the parts are unbelievably small, and it requires a bit of dexterity to end up with  a working movement.

The second course involved taking apart a more complicated movement (an automatic), but this time with an eye toward inspection and lubrication. More tools required!

The whole process was very satisfying, and led me to attack some non-working, watches, including a Zenith pocket watch and the Park repeater. It’s a lot easier to work on pocket watches, I can tell you.

Here are the results of the first course:

The finished movement

The finished movement. Note the slightly lame attempt to blue one of the screws. I actually tried to do the others, but
wasn’t able to for some reason. I had better luck with the Zenith. I suspect that it had something to do with the material. These screws may have been stainless. It’s also likely that my technique wasn’t very good. With the Zenith, I got bolder about applying heat.

Front of the movement, showing the date ring

The other side of the finished movement. The date ring was very difficult to deal with. While this movement was an option for the course, the pieces involved in mounting the date ring weren’t really covered, so I ended up with an extra part. Fortunately, the watch school had an active forum, monitored by the instructor, and they were able to set me straight!

The finished watch, with case and band

All cased up, and ready to go out in public! This was a very satisfying moment.

Close-up of the face and hands

A close-up, showing the hands and face. The basic course kit came with the movement only, but there were options for adding a case and your choice of face. There weren’t a lot of options at the time, but at least there was a certain amount of customization.

The back, showing the transparent caseback

The case was reasonably nice, with a transparent back to view the movement I had so lovingly worked on. A key to watchmaking is not to leave any trace that you were there – dust, scratches, fingerprints, etc. All of these show up with a see-through back!

My watch desk

This is the platform I made about halfway through the project. I was tired of stacking up large books to work on, but didn’t want to buy a proper watchmaking desk. This platform gets the work up into your face where it belongs.

I highly recommend the TZ watch school for anybody who is interested in mechanical watches. Even if you don’t have the desire to go into watchmaking, it really gives a great insight into these tiny mechanical marvels.

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