There is no other retouching technique that can more strongly and deeply affect the smooth surface of metal than engraving. Often a picture of artistic engraving will show us a variety of different techniques and techniques. It can be said that all the retouching techniques ‘attack’ on watch parts in one or several ways. Watchmakers generally systematically act on the surface of watch parts, creating scratches to create beautiful patterns. And engraving is far more than scratches. Metals can be ‘torn’, chipped, sculpted, and even ‘blood-stained.’ In contrast, scratches are just a soft ‘caress’. But as usual, under the watchmaker’s precise ‘surgical operation’, the cold metal surface can also bloom in spring.
The main tool for ‘surgery’ is the ‘scalpel’, which is a trowel or a carving knife. This slender, sharp and regularly sharpened hard steel tool first cuts off the ‘skin’, that is, the surface of the brass, copper-nickel-zinc alloy or stainless steel that is used to create the mechanical parts; then the knife needs to be more vigorous Draw the outline of the selected groove, which is the main body of this ‘surgical operation’. Finally, the overall effect gradually appears, usually a leaf shape or an abstract pattern.
Glashütte Original Double Balance Wheel Plywood Engraving Effect
Saxon watchmakers usually use this technique to polish a specific area, such as a balance-cock. The generally engraved balance wheel splint is a signature feature of Glashütte’s original and Lange watches.
Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’ Art Mécaniques Gravées watch, the movement pattern is completely carved by hand, paying tribute to the spirit of traditional watchmaking
In 2015, Vacheron Constantin’s Métiers d’ Art Mécaniques Gravées watch is another proof of the extraordinary charm of this craft. Both sides of the movement-dial side and bridge side-are completely decorated by hand carving and selectively deepened to highlight the overall pattern effect. The whole process took more than a few months, and the physical endurance requirements of the watchmaker were more stringent than in other links.
The sculpture also has a free interpretation, like this unique Speake-Marin model
However, it must be reminded that sculpting does not require brute force, and proper control throughout the process is the key. For example, the hollowed-out movement needs to be engraved and retouched on the solid surface. These areas are obviously narrow and fragile, but at the same time they are the indispensable final fortresses to ensure the rigidity of the parts and the normal operation of the movement. If the force is too strong and the distortion or cutting is too deep to cause damage, the movement will be endangered Operational life.
Engraving effect of a Blancpain women’s watch movement balance hammer
Sometimes the dial decoration scheme is used to refinish the movement, after all, they are made of the same material and share many characteristics. Guillochage is also a type of engraving. What is slightly special is that this pattern is controlled by mechanical programming. Under ideal conditions, subtle changes in the speed and pattern of hand-guided machinery often produce excellent geometric effects. Of course, they are now often replaced by automation. When it comes to finishing the movement, the guilloche pattern is the most common sculptural texture pattern on the balance hammer.
Laser technology enables Coperfuss to carve hundreds of words on a surface as small as 5 cm2
The latest tools for ‘surgical’ applications are moving towards modernization, intensification and automation. Of all the techniques, laser engraving is currently the most common, and for good reason, it can be used to create a large number of inscriptions on the movement. Serial number, brand name, model name, number of gems and even more details: all of these inscriptions (some of which provide us with watch information or a necessary decoration) are at the very end of the production chain by special equipment lasers Carved. For example, Coperfus left hundreds of words with laser engraving technology on the movement’s substrate of the brand’s most advanced specific models. Human power cannot reach such a high degree of regularity, precision and subtlety, which is also the best example of the noble characteristics of machinery.