Creating a fine watch case
Creating a fine watch case
If one were to compare the watch to the human body, the movement would be the brain, the dial the face, and the case the body. A watch's case is the immediate expression of the movement it contains and protects.
It is the part of the watch that we touch, the part we feel against our skin. For this reason it must have a harmonious shape, suggest a certain sensuality, convey its presence and mirror the curves of its wearer's wrist.
To create and manufacture the veritable sculpture that is a Fine Watch case demands the highest standard in all disciplines: aesthetic (harmonious volumes, contours and materials); technical (robust, perfectly protect the movement from water, damp, dust and pollution); ergonomic (comfortable) and craftsmanship (superbly finished).
From the very first drawings, engineers are consulted to transform the designer's ideas into precise blueprints. A Fine Watch case is composed of numerous parts: the middle in one or more pieces, back, bezel, and horns. Preparing, machining and drilling these parts must be carefully coordinated to ensure they fit perfectly together.
Today, different technologies exist that use highly sophisticated, digitally controlled machines to shape each part to within a micron. Despite this, it is the human eye and hand that inspects each stage and finishes the part.
The middle section, which forms the main part of the case, is cut or stamped from a gold ingot or a block of steel. The case back is cut from a sheet of gold or steel.
These elements then go from machine to machine, workbench to workbench, where they gradually acquire their final form. Each part is stamped, milled, heat-treated and drilled with meticulous care, and repeatedly inspected. The different tolerances are set in stone, as no error can be permitted during these meticulous processes.
The finished parts are assembled, soldered or glued together then cleaned using ultra-sounds. They are then burnished before being polished to a mirror-like shine, or satin-finished. The sculpture takes dazzling form. The case back is engraved with the brand's name, the watch's technical specifications, origin, individual number and the name of the collection. Some cases are decorated using a traditional technique such as engraving or enamelling. Others are made ready to be set with precious stones.
Finally, the perfectly transparent sapphire crystal is fitted into the bezel.
Technically perfect, aesthetically irreproachable, the finished case can now be taken to the watchmakers who will fit the movement.
The sculpture comes alive.
THE PROFESSIONS INVOLVED IN CREATING THE WATCH CASE