Here’s a test like no other. Today, we’re going to focus on the process rather than the watch. This is a first on many levels: for the first time, we’re going to be assemble a watchbut also explain everything as we go along. Seven years ago, we took part in a workshop organized by Objectif Horlogerie, during which we disassembled and reassembled a movement. With the DIY Watch Club we move on to the next stage, alone but well guided.
DIY Watch Club: mechanical watch kits
The concept is simple: assemble a mechanical watch yourself. The idea is excellent, if a little daring given the damage that can be caused by the user. But the DIY Watch Club team has done it right and has also come up with a correction if you fail on the first attempt. In itself, it’s not rocket science – in fact, it looks pretty straightforward. But beware, some steps are quite tricky and will make you appreciate the work of your watchmaker. For our part, we chose the All Black GMT Diver kit with DWC Tool Set offered at $340 (excluding tax): a 20 ATM waterproof watch with sandwich dial, a Seiko GMT movement, a silicone strap and a complete tool kit. Considering the price, it’s almost a bargain.
Step 1 – Discovering components, tools and protection
This is a satisfying stage: unpacking the entire contents of the case to discover all its contents. Case, movement, dial, rehaut and hands are all present. carefully packed in small foam-protected boxes. The rest are housed in a rather well-organized case with more tools than you’ll need Precision screwdrivers, fine-tipped tweezers, watchmaker’s loupe with magnifying glass, case opener for screwed-in bottoms, case opener knife for clipped-in bottoms, as well as tools for fitting and removing needles. And let’s not forget the protective finger cots to avoid staining the parts and prevent oxidation caused by finger contact, rodico paste and a wooden dowel to remove dust and fingerprints, plus a small leather blotter to serve as a work support. Once you’ve unpacked the kit, place your smartphone on the supplied stand and follow the instructional videos, protect your fingers and off you go !
Step 2 – Opening the bottom of the box
The watch case is delivered closed, with the crown screwed directly into it. This ensures that the case remains airtight during transport, and does not contaminate the inside of the parts, particularly with dust. Thebox bottom opener by adjusting the thumbwheel so that the tips lock into place in two of the six notches on the base, then simply unscrew while applying enough pressure – but not too much – to avoid slipping and making a huge scratch! Once the bottom is open, simply remove the gasket then place it in the plastic pouch supplied, from take off the circle then detach highlight. This is probably the easiest step of all!
Step 3 – Replacing the crown
With the first handling of the movement comes with certain precautions. It’s an assembly made up of very fragile parts, notably the balance wheel and escapement. In a nutshell, anything that moves must not be touchedThis includes the mass, which must not be subjected to pressure. These are basic rules that must always be borne in mind, otherwise the movement could be irreversibly damaged. Since new movements are delivered with a stem mounted with a temporary crownto replace it. Pressing on a specific part just above the plate (base of the movement) unlocks the system that holds it in place, allowing it to be removed. Then simplyinsert the definitive crown gently, rotating until you hear a “click”.
Step 4 – Installing the dial and fitting ring
Before installing the dial, it is necessary to install the hour-wheel friction springa small metal part resembling a bent washer, which will be fitted around the central axis on the hour wheel. Since the watch in our hands had a sandwich dial, it is composed of two parts. The feet of the upper part pass through the holes of the lower part to fit into the holes of the lower part. dedicated holes on the spacer ringthe plastic part that surrounds the movement. These feet need to be straightened with a tweezer, so that they fit perfectly into the dedicated holes. pressing gently and progressivelymaking sure that the central axis remains in the center of the dial. Caution, the dial surface is extremely fragileWe’ve experienced it for ourselves! Small stains can be removed, but irreversible scratches occur very quickly. You therefore need to handle it from the edge or from your feet only. Finally, we insert the movement surmounted by the dial into the casing circle which holds everything together.
Step 5 – Fitting the needles
This is themost trying stage by far. At this stage, it’s best to take a break and have a cup of coffee, as the road ahead is likely to be long and perilous. On paper, the operation is simple: install the needles from lowest to highestGMT, hour, minute and second hands. The further you go, the more precise you need to be, as the support shrinks. Each and every time, grab the needle with the tweezerand place it on the axle, so that it is not only properly seated, but also aligned with the indexes. After checking alignment by turning the crown, we proceed with their fix the hands with a toolThe tool to be used depends on the size of the axis. One wrong move and the seconds axis will be bent and irreversibly damaged. Fortunately, the DIY Watch Club supplies two sets of needles, as this is a delicate stage, and the needles easily pick up micro-scratches as many attempts are made. The the most difficult part is installing the second handat least if, like us, you discover that your micro-motor skills are not as good as you thought. Couple this with the need to use a magnifying glass with only one eye open, just a few centimetres from an axis measuring a meagre 2/10th of a millimetre, while holding a small needle with a tool you’re not used to handling and which you have to release once positioned, without moving an iota… In short, you get the idea! For these 4 needles, we needed a good hourincluding 40 minutes for the second hand. It’s easy to see why watchmakers have developed tools to avoid all this!
Step 6 – Cleaning the case and parts
By this stage, the worst is behind us and it’s clear that the end is nigh. Cleaning is a pleasant moment that you want to make last, and for which you want to take your time. It’s also an opportunity to familiarize yourself with several instruments, including the watchmaker’s bellowsa small bellows that evacuates dust, dirt and other contaminants from the watch. rodicoa modelling paste designed for hand cleaning as applied to a wooden dowelcan also be used on its own for stubborn marks. As a general rule, both the paste and the wooden dowel will suffice. It’s also important to make sure that any marks or dust are on the outside, so as to minimize operations inside the case. As a last resort, you can use the small micro-fiber cloths supplied (except for the dial), taking care to use one for the outside, and the other for the inside. The idea is to avoid contamination when decontaminating!
Step 7 – Fitting the flange and installing the movement
Just like the dial, the flange with the minute scale which connects to the glass, is fitted with feet that fit into specific holes in the nesting circle. Once in position, and after slight pressure, we can adjust the alignment by moving the crown up/down, based on the cardinal points. As in step 3, we’ll need to remove the crown in order to fit the movement. This time, let’s not forget that the hands are already in place, as is the rehaut, so you’ll need to be very careful to perform the same operation while holding the whole thing between your fingers. It’s a little more arduous, but incomparable with what we experienced with the needles! A small hole in the casing circle which will align with a notch in the case. Without touching the movement, and simply by pressing on the circle, as horizontally as possible, we can position the assembly on the bottom, trying to align everything so that the crown stem is straight. When you replace it, you’ll hear the same click as before.
Step 8 – Closing the bottom of the box
At this stage, it’s a formality: we opened it earlier, and closing it again is child’s play. For the watch to be water-resistant, it must not be don’t forget the gasket which we put in a small pouch so as not to contaminate it. By gently pushing it into the notch provided, and making sure that it is correctly positioned at 360°, we are able to close the bottom of the box. The tool tips are already at the right distance apart, as we haven’t used it before. All that’s left is to screw the bottom firmly in place, but without overdoing it.
Step 9 – Fitting the bezel insert
This is the finishing touch: the bezel is already attached to the case, so all that remains is to position the bezel insert. To do this, simply remove the protective film using the tweezer, then take the bezel in hand and place it on the bezel. The adhesive surface is enough to hold everything in place, the important thing being only to align the triangular marker with the index at noon. And that’s it, we’ve assembled our very own watch!
Step 10 – Fitting the bracelet
This isn’t so much a step as a formality with which many of you are familiar. When you think of watches, you think of bracelets. So you’ve got your tool, with needle and fork, to change your strap. No need for that here, the bracelet features quick-release pumps for easy tool-free assembly in seconds seconds. We’d almost have preferred to deal with traditional pumps, just to go all the way.
Our opinion on the DIY Watch Club
It’s a cool conceptfor sure. It’s also a rewarding experience well worth two hours of your time. This can be a good gateway into the world of Seiko mods, as some parts are compatible. Beware, however, that it’s also a good lesson in the fact thatwatchmaking is a real profession and the slightest mistake can be very costly. Let’s finish with the watch, which is not to be outdone. Given its price and technical specifications, the value for money The value for money offered by DIY Watch Club is very satisfactory. It is a great gift idea that will excite any watchmaking enthusiast, not to mention that for around fifty euros, you can have an oscillating weight with a personalized engraving.