View Full Version : How do watchmakers locate for hole drilling?

04-08-2016, 08:36 AM
I've never seen an x-y table on a sensitive drill press. I would have expected something like a jig borer to drill in precise locations for a watch. Do they just scribe/punch/drill? There's gotta be something special in the process.

04-08-2016, 09:02 AM
If I recall correctly the guy on the clickspring channel on youtube used scribe, punch, centre drill, drill. I'm guessing with all the parts being so small they easily slide to the centre of the drill.

edit: sorry I read clock where it said watch, so it doesn't apply

04-08-2016, 09:06 AM
One method they use is drilling jigs similar to one of these;


04-08-2016, 09:24 AM
google hauser M1 jig borer. have something to steady yourself if you see a price. The manual tool for it is a depthing tool - called such because the spacing of the wheels controls the depth of the teeth.

Remember watch making history....in the good old days there were 20+ trades involved in making a watch. Those that drilled holes with criticall spacing used something like the M1 or special made machines or jigs. What is commonly thought of as watchmaking might be more accurately described as watch repair (although i do believe the swiss trained ones have to make a watch). I don't mean that as diminishing the skill at all, but they're making new balance staffs etc not drilling bridges and plates.

The new generation of super watchmakers, make all the parts...and their shops would likely include an M1 or similar

04-08-2016, 09:45 AM
I thought they used one of those optical punch things, never used one but they look interesting

04-08-2016, 10:04 AM
I thought they used one of those optical punch things, never used one but they look interesting

optical centre punches are great, but good for a few thou....might be ok for a clock but not a watch.

04-08-2016, 10:34 AM
Good point, it's going to need a microscope, it amazes me how watches fit so much in

04-08-2016, 11:17 AM
The more traditional technique is to locate and drill in the lathe, with the plate(s) mounted to a faceplate. Layout is a cakewalk, a depthing tool is used to transfer exact relative distances between gear train components to the plates. The intersections of the arcs scribed by the depthing tool can be center punched for larger movements, and then accurately located in the lathe using a wobble stick or optical centering attachment. For smaller movements an optical centering attachment can be used to sight the arc intersections without center punching. People made accurate watches long before there was such thing as a Hauser jig borer. :)

EDIT: For an excellent writeup showing the simplest, and very effective, variation of what I described above, see Mr. Mihalov's photodocumentary of the making of the mainplate and barrel bridge for the watch he is making: http://watchmaking.weebly.com/mainplate.html This, and many other topics, are covered quite well in "Watchmaking" by the late George Daniels.

04-08-2016, 11:19 AM
In clocks the first hole is drilled , then the next 'axle' hole is located with a depthing tool. it can scribe an arc at the required distance then there is some latitude in the point on the arc, or another depthing operation locates an intersecting arc. Then it is down to skill in picking up the intersection with a punch.

04-08-2016, 01:00 PM
Max, read the article, that man has some serious skills, amazing, the only bit I could do was reduce a brass slug to a pile of chips, I'm trained at that!

04-08-2016, 07:02 PM
I love that depthing tool. Pretty smart.

J Tiers
04-09-2016, 12:07 AM
I've never seen an x-y table on a sensitive drill press. ...

That's because you have not been to my shop. The big Atlas/Clausing has one, and I may put one on the mini drill press in the clockmaking area.