Old Crafts... New Hands

by Lewis Heath  - September 02, 2019

 

Above: technical drawings of the Model 2 hands

 

A Recurring Challenge

Every time we speak to our handmaker about a new design they same the same thing - “don’t worry about tooling, we’ve made thousands of hands over the years and we’ll definitely have done your design at some point”. Which, rather than being taken as a reassurance that we’ll save time and money, is invariably taken as a challenge to the originality of our designs! 

The Model 1 hands were designed at a time when that style of syringe hand was out of vogue (just before the beautiful Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control “Sector Dial” was released) and we thought we’d come up with something new. Estima, our hand maker, did have similar styles on file but the closest were boxier and slightly the wrong lengths, so we went ahead with our own design.

 

Above: Hand prototypes ready for inspection

 

The Model 2 Hands

The concept was simple; a set of floating hour and minute markers moving around the dial. 

This original idea morphed through the design process and we ended up with a hand which held the needle like a human hand holds a pen. It was delicate whilst having presence, skeletal and bold like the numbers whilst still being crisp and light. 

 

Above: Lume hand tips at low light level

 

Manufacturing Challenges

Watch hands are made by stamping out the design from a sheet of metal, normally brass (in Switzerland, or aluminium in China). It’s a very small cookie cutter essentially, pressed down with a great deal of force. 

The first challenge which faced us - or more accurately, our factory - was the gap between the needle and the rest of the hand which held it. This hair's breadth gap really tested their tool-making skills! 

After some months we had a set of production hands, but they weren't able to be lumed by the manufacturer or our own watchmaker as they were too fine. The lume would splay sideways at the point the needle was held, making it impossible to create a straight line. 

Fortunately, there is one company in Switzerland which specialises in highly detailed painting and luming, and they managed to apply the Superluminova perfectly. 

 

Above: The finished hands on the Moss Green Model 2





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