Many hands…. and a Pretty Face Sunday, Oct 30 2011 

The design brief I gave myself for the hands and dial of the watch were fairly straight forward, I wanted it to be easily readable, while being a bit “special”.

The hand design was basically set as soon as I saw this clock, all that I had to do was reduce the size, and decide on the material to be used.

The inspiration for my hands

The inspiration for my hands

I started by taking a picture of the clock as perpendicular as I could, then importing that into my CAD program, I traced around the hands, and adjusted a few lines to make it look a little smoother. I then reduced the overall size of the hands proportionally so that the very tip of the minute hand would touch the centre of all of the markings on the chapter ring.

I cut the outline of the hands out using my CNC mill. Just in case, I cut one set out of Titanium, and another pair out of sterling silver.

Cutting the hands

Cutting the hands

Silver and Titanium hands - Pre-polishing

Silver and Titanium hands - Pre-polishing

Just looking at the 2 sets side by side, the silver ones are way too thick, I file the rough edges off the titanium set, and do a quick polish of the hands to almost a black polish. While I’d like to anodise these to a nice blue, I am running out of time and if I wreck this set I won’t have the time to re-finish this set.

Titanium Hands

Titanium Hands- pre polishing on their high technology polishing rig

Silver and Titanium hands side by side

Silver and Titanium hands side by side -Post polishing

 

While I’d like to spend more time to make the dial really special, I know that it will have to be fairly simple.

Render of dial

Render of dial

 

I do a quick mock up on the computer, with a simple silver register ring with different coloured luminous dots, an A at 12 o’clock (for Ashton, I tried using a T but it looked too much like the old Tissot logo), and a reticulated gold centre.

Reticulation is a method of treating the metal by heating and pickling the metal until there is a distinctive difference in the outer layer of the metal to the inside, then heating it to almost melting point, at which time the metal on the inside pulls together, wrinkling the outer layer in a random fashion. While making the entire dial out of this metal would be almost illegible, having the centre made of it will create a nice colour difference from all of the grey and black of the case and register ring.

 

Cutting the register ring

Cutting the register ring

 

 

I cut the ring out of a solid piece of silver, with the dots and A pre-engraved, though still needing a little clean up.

Register ring ready for cleaning up

Register ring ready for cleaning up

The register ring is satin finished in the lathe, and all of the holes are tapered a bit to allow the luminous material to hold in better.

Register ring cleaned up and satin finished

Register ring cleaned up and satin finished

 

I have a number of luminous compounds, and want to use a blue for the hour markers and orange for all of the minute markers, though these colours are only visible when dark, or under an ultraviolet light. I decide to colour the blue luminous with a blue ink, so that even normally the markers are blue as well. to find a suitable binder or glue to stick the luminous material to the dial takes quite a few attempts, some of them shrink, some are too runny, and others form a putty like substance.. Eventually I get one that sticks to the holes and retains its shape, while still being luminous enough to be visible after dark.

Luminous material in place, but needing to be cut back a bit

Luminous material in place, but needing to be cut back a bit

 

Register ring cleaned up and under UV

Register ring cleaned up and under UV

 

I make a piece of reticulated gold, cut a hole for the centre of the dial and also an outline matching the register ring.

Register ring on rough piece of gold

Register ring on rough piece of gold

 

Gold & silver, pre-luminous

Gold & silver, pre-luminous

Dial Experimentation – Safe Enamelling Sunday, Apr 17 2011 

The “Harlequin” type design I would like to try in a number of ways, my initial thoughts were to make it using “cloisonne” style enamelling where the diamond pattern would be laid out on a flat base, using small pieces of wire to make the closed cells which are then filled with the enamel colour and fired.

Another similar method is to use my milling machine to cut the cells out of a solid plate, which will be less fiddly for me (and give me faster results while I learn) though the borders between each cell will be a bit thicker, so the design will not be as refined.

Milling out Diamonds.. much easier than the alternative...

A 3rd idea I had was to use the Plique a Jour method of enamelling, where the design is cut completely through, and using transparent enamels, whatever is behind the dial will be visible.

The basic technique is the same for all of these. (though I haven’t tried proper cloisonne yet)

Cut out the design needed in copper plate on the milling machine

Copper plate milled for enamelling (already looks pretty good...)

Fill the cells with a mixture of enamel powder (ground glass of a special composition to ensure even expansion) and purified water

Wet Enamel (Transparent) on a copper base

Allow the cells to dry

Cells filled, waiting to be fired in the oven

Fire until the powder fuses into a glass, and fixes to the metal

Allow to cool

At this stage the object would be cleaned, the enamel re-applied and re-fired until the desired effect was reached. In my case as these were all test pieces, I left them at this stage to explore more techniques

As I am quite fond of luminous material as well, I thought I would try doing a semi-enamel technique as well, to be used later with carbon fiber sheet, for this I used what is commonly called a “soft enamel”, really a 2 part resin, that has a hardness that is closer to enamel than most plastics, though I still would not trust it for use in an external area of a watch case.

Plastic, cut out to take luminous material

Plastic cut in Diamond Pattern to take Luminous Material

The product I’m using is called ceramit, the only problem that occurred was that the material I wanted to test has a melting point quite close to the heat required to cure the resin.. so I used more copper instead :-)

The big advantages of using this product is that it provides a consistent result with little problems, no incredibly hot pieces of glass and metal (a small electric toaster oven is sufficient for curing), can be used on previously finished pieces quite easily, and the luminous material mixes in quite easily as well. There is also less finishing required and the material can be applied quite thinly, easily, whereas for normal enamel this can be very hit and miss to achieve.

Disadvantages are that it is softer than “real” enamel, so can’t be used on external pieces, and is not regarded as real enamelling (rightly so, as the skill required is no where near)

Being much faster to apply also means I can test more pieces faster, see if a design works, then (once I learn enamelling properly) make a “real” version

Test Piece of enamel powder on copper - dry

Test Piece fired, lots more practice needed...

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