Friday, December 30, 2016

Time: More Concepts

Ah, the attention span of a gnat...

Playing around with some designs for an ultra-thin case. Under 6.9mm as it stands. Will be for a Peseux 7001, once I can figure out hands. This was supposed to be for the Miyota, but it just looks better thin, and the 82xx are rather tall and ungainly as movements go. The idea is to allow different bezels to be pressed on. So different designs, materials, decorations such as stone setting, etc...

As an aside, I'm kind of a computer Luddite. You'll note the photographs of the screens rather than proper captured screenshots. The reasons being the aforementioned inability for me to figure out uploading pics not taken by the Camera App in Blogger. And I haven't figured out (even tried actually) screen capture in general.

And to make a nice trifecta of antiquitated technical skills, that 3D software is ancient modelling, animation, and rendering software. As in this is version 3.2 (abandonware) and back in the day I had a legit copy of version 2.0 on a Pentium 90MHz, when that was a badass processor. I had a demo version of 4.0 on a Pentium 266MHz MMX, when it was also badass. But in my defense it was, and still is a great animation and rendering suite. Microsoft bought them just to kill around the same time as they bought Softimage as it could actually compete with it at the 'introductory professional' level. And to double down on my defense I do use the 7.6 version (the one Microsoft killed, but was released as freeware a few years after as Softimage and competitors had finally built a big enough technical gap) for rendering, radiosity, and .STL file creation. Oh, by the way, the software is called Caligari Truespace.

And I am sloooowly trying to learn Blender and FreeCAD. Which are apparently incredible, and open source. I have them installed, but I'm so used to the Truespace UI that changing habits is tough. Parametric modelling is also crazy different than mesh-based modelling.

Time: Concepts

Well, banned from a well known watch forum has turned out to be a good thing. The ban was due to vindictive personal reasons on behalf of the Admin, but I can't say that my attitude didn't play a role. I was at a zero-fucks-given point with the site as it was and calling out more and more of the hypocrisy and echo-chamber regurgitation so prevalent.

So why is it a good thing? Well, the realization of how the echo-chamber works and the realization of the direction the site is going. And more time for myself by stopping wasted efforts on correcting the endless echos of incorrect information.

I'll throw some details on the groupthink ideas from time to time, but today I'll focus on what I'm doing now. The watches.

With my inconsistent focus, well demonstrated by posting irregularities, I've broadened the task of making a watch, into many watches. Why? Because my brain doesn't seem to operate well on the 'simplify tasks' model. I need multiple tasks on the go concurrently to jump around to as I get bored/frustrated with whatever is current.

So what are the watches?

By movement, I have 2 Unitas 6498 on the go. A Standard and a very nicely decorated Élaboré. Both with the same case, but different concepts. Several different hand sets to fit to whatever concepts. One dressy, and one more casual.

I have 2 ÉTA 2824 projects, but currently only one Top grade movement. One is a German case dive watch, the other a coin-edge watch intent to be a women's 'boyfriend' size watch. Both have case and hands ready, waiting for dials as well. I only have a single movement at the time as I'm toying with the idea of using a thin 2892 movement in a 2824 case to be able to use a thicker dial. Thicker dial for enamel reasons. In the interim I can swap the movement between projects with ordinary dial sizing.

I have a Miyota 824x, I want to say 8247 but can't remember exactly, with just the hour, minute, and ~4H-ish placed small seconds hand. The 'pretty' (it's Miyota, so less ugly really) decoration and open rotor. This will be for a custom, cast bronze case experiment. And to test laser-cut hands to see if that can work. It's a pure R&D project, as Miyotas don't carry enough movement cachet without 7Friday-levels of marketing to command decent pricing.

Last, I have a 7750 project en-route. There is no design work on my side at all. I'll be ordering an Élaboré grade movement shortly. This is inspired by my buddy's fake Rolex Daytona with the Chinese day-date-24h layout. He broke the crystal being stupid and I told him I would get it replaced. But I hate that piece of shit. So I'm going to make him a legit, sterile, real chronograph, pending he actually quits drinking (the contributor to breaking his fake). And by 'sterile', I don't mean a logo-less Daytona fake, but an assembly of NOS Swiss parts from ~1990s that have no branding, and it won't be a representative of my future brand vision. I'll post pics when the parts get here, but here's a description. The case is two-tone stainless and yellow gold, the case is stainless, the crown and pushers gold plated. The bezel is a Submariner-style diver, gold plated and gold numerals with blue background. The dial is blue, 7750-pattern 6-9-12 subdials, also blue with gold border. Applied gold indices at 1,2,4,5,7,8,10,11 with lume dots. Gold printing. Date only with gold surround. Hands are gold baton style with lume. It's going to be retro-bling badassery.

Anyways, that's it for today. I'll see what pics I decide to throw up with this, as I think I took the case photos off my phone recently, so the pics will probably be stock ones. (Okay, no relevant pics at the moment as I'm getting a publish error. Pics taken from the Camera app are OK, though. So here's the Longines I'm wearing at Canada Place.)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Time: Continuing.

Going to be working on my own prototypes now.

Probably going to post short general watch-related essays a couple times a week.

Stay tuned...

Monday, July 11, 2016

Speed: A hell of a Catamaran

Was down by the Coal Harbour marina on Sunday and saw this huge cat. Don't know much about it, but it looks awesome. Price probably falls in the 'if you have to ask...' category. Crazy.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Time: Happy 4th of July, America! (Part 1 of a Series on American Horology)

Some thoughts on watchmaking in the USA, from a Canadian watch enthusiast's perspective.

Well with Canada Day over, the Fourth of July is next, and somewhat bigger.

In the Horology world there is a company, Weiss, using the fanfare to introduce what they claim to be a completely legal Made in America watch. Why the mention of 'legal'? Because the FTC has been on a bit of a horological tear lately, gently pointing out that the integrity of 'Made in America' is serious business and that companies do not have free reign on how to market their American-ness.

Companies that have received guidance letters from the FTC over violations include Nialls, Shinola, and Weiss. The only other serious watchmaking companies in the USA that I can think of are RGM (Roland G Murphy), and Keaton Myrick.

So far I'm doubtful of the true FTC compliance of the upcoming watch. It's been teased by Weiss, who's already violated FTC regulations. He's also made some questionable claims even about the Swiss parts being used.

First in his early watches he claimed USA-MADE dials, yet the dials were clearly parts-bin dials available from Ofrei. At some point his dial source has changed (font for the numerals is different) so the new dials MAY be truly USA-MADE, but the early ones definitely weren't.

Second he makes some claims regarding the Swiss ETA/Unitas movements that he uses that are not consistent with Swiss horological practices. In several interviews he states that he receives the movements in a disassembled state and that he performs all the finishing.

For the first part the issue is that neither ETA (the manufacturing company) nor movement brokers (wholesalers) offer disassembled movements. They are provided pre-assembled due to the factory testing requirements and shipping and handling considerations. Always. At one point large Swiss watch and movement companies were provided with ébauches which are raw parts kits. But this was limited to exclusive clients in the past, and ETA has ceased even that several years ago. The only way he is receiving the movements in pieces is if he is asking a supplier to deliberately take apart perfectly assembled movements and increase likelihood of damage and parts loss in shipping. It is highly doubtful to me that this is taking place. What is more likely is that he is misrepresenting the status of the movements to try to create the false illusion of being a Swiss ebaucheries.

For the second part, which supports the analysis of the first, he claims to finish the movements himself. Now in horology all words related to 'Finishing' have very specific meanings. It is not the same as 'complete' it is for the quality and decoration of the movement's surfaces. Typically Geneva Stripes, Pearlage, Polishing, and Anglage. So his claim is that he is receiving unfinished (raw metal) movements and decorating them himself.

Two things work against this claim. First he claims a cost of ~$260USD and the appearance of the final product. For the price, retail replacement costs of unfinished ETA/Unitas is in the ~$190USD range retail (not wholesale), finished Élaboré versions are in the ~$290USD range retail. Trade prices can knock off ~10% for 25+ units which puts a factory assembled and factory finished movement right at the price range Weiss is talking about.

Second, the decoration itself. It is EXACTLY as it comes from the factory. The striping number and where they line up with features such as jewels are IDENTICAL. The only difference is the Weiss logo. Making a claim that he personally finishes the movements because he sends out a bridge to get his logo put on is ludicrous.

I'll put some pics of standard vs custom finishing below.

Third, coming back to his teaser pictures of a new movement, the striping on the plates is TERRIBLE, especially when compared to the Swiss-done stripes on his other movements.

These things support my opinion that Weiss' claims regarding his involvement in his Swiss-Made movements are deceptive.

More to follow as his reveal is tomorrow.

I will also be adding posts on less negative aspects of American-Made Horology in the near future.

***For what it's worth, if by some miracle he has truly made an American watch, including the wheels, pinions, balance, keyless works, click, barrel, ratchet, mainspring, etc... beyond just machining a couple poorly finished brass plates and sandwiching all the real critical Swiss (or god forbid Chinese if he's playing a $ value of American product % game) components unseen between them, I will buy one of his watches.***

Pics (all oriented with crown at left):

Stock 6497: As finished and assembled by the ETA factory

Weiss 6497: Aside from the logo, identical to how ETA provides them.

Archer 6498: A Canadian assembler of watches along the same lines as Weiss, using mostly European sources rather than some American (German case for instance). Movement is factory ETA, with Logo on wheel. Layout difference is due to seconds location. 6497 and 6498 are  identical except for the changes for seconds position (this comes from it being used in pocket watches back in the day).

6498, non standard decoration: Notice the angle of the striping as well as the number is more than standard ETA.

6497, more elaborate non standard decoration: Circular stripes, swan-neck regulator, balance is Glucydur with pins.

Food: Cooking Sous Vide

OK, 'Time, Speed, Distance, and Food' doesn't gel as well as a title. But it's going to be a bit of a topic lately.

So what's this all about? Well, the internet has introduced me to Sous Vide cooking. Big thanks to YouTube Channels, Chef Steps (Sous Vide kings of Seattle), and Food Wishes (though Chef John has only Sous Vided a few things his channel is awesome).

Sous Vide introduces consistency and precision to something that can be erratic (various power levels between different appliances and whatnot). And gives time to think in the sometimes erratic newbie kitchen experience.

The science is simple. Low, stable temperature for longer. When people talk about cooking meat to a specific internal temperature the traditional way is to apply excess heat to the exterior which gradually cools down as it reaches the center, hopefully to the target temp. The time involved becomes a bit of guesswork (less for the experienced, but a ton for novices such as myself) based on the mass and thickness of the food. It can also create a gradient of done-ness on thicker meats such as steak. A medium rare center will have well done parts under the crust, then well, then medium, then finally a more rare center. If there is thickness differences, the thinner sections will end up more medium or well.

What Sous Vide does is presets to the target internal temperature and holds it there until your target internal temperature is met. There is still a time calculation based on size and thickness, but the benefit is that it's only a MINIMUM. You can overshoot by 30 minutes to hours (depending on the food type) and not overcook anything since it's maintaining a temp, not adding excess heat. There is still a traditional cooking aspect of searing for flavor (the delicious browning and caramelizing parts) but it's separate from the cooking now, and very short, limiting overdone or burned results.

Anyways here are some pics:

Flank steak, nice brown crust, evenly pink center.

And 3 eggs cooked at a stable 75°C for 14 minutes, on butter-fried toast (hat-tip to the British for the toast).

Monday, June 13, 2016

Speed: The Supra

Well, I'm going to miss this beast. Probably going to sell it this Saturday for a song. I was so pumped when I bought it, thinking that buying a nearly finished project would get finished faster than my earlier self -build projects (power steering delete, aluminum driveshaft, weight cut, on a JDM 1JZ Supra for example). But it's been modded enough that the few 'little' things it needs to be perfect are still more than I want to spend. At least on a car.

The idea is that the piddly amount I'm selling it for (under half what I bought it for, ugh...) will go towards most of a bench-top CNC milling machine. And that will be back to the Time aspect of the blog.

The problem with project cars in a place like GVRD is the cost of space to work on them, plus the added cost of larger industrial equipment. Those issues are one reason I veered off to Horology, as bad as I want to make a Locost 7 with a North-South aligned Yamaha 3.4L 60° V8, twin turbocharged power plant. And I have the knowledge base to make it grip, respond, and balance. Motion ratios, damping curves, weight transfer, suspension frequency, camber curves, etc... all down. Just nowhere to apply it. Funding limited.

Oh well, I'm working on the black arts of Horology now. And if I can sort out damping curves and acoustic header/exhaust tuning, I should be able to wrap my head around amplitudes and beat errors.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Time: Manufacturing

Manufacturing watches is my 'Endgame', to use a term trying to be popularized by WUS member Chuasam. Once I can produce watch cases, dials, and hands in an independent, structured, and reliable way I will be mostly done purchasing commercial watches. At least dress, métiers d'art, and casual types. Technical tool watches with clicky bezels and excessive depth ratings aren't on the foreseeable project list.

I started screwing around last year with my Sherline lathe, making some watch-ish parts out of sterling silver and testing a friction fit. Pictures below.

After basically wasting some silver in that test (I could make a curio box maybe later), I started researching movement fitting sizes and came to the conclusion that soldering a bar closed and hammering it round before machining, isn't going to work for man-sized watches. And I'm talking old style man-sized of 34mm+. This has to do with common silver bar stock sizes, as well as the thickness to radius ratio that makes getting the ends bent and aligned for soldering a massive pain in the ass. The other issue I had was holding the piece on the lathe without marring it, or it slipping with too much cut depth. Plus sterling silver machines kind of gummy.

So in typical fashion I set it away to think about, and that's become more of a problem avoidance thing than solution seeking. The solutions are now ready in theory but have yet to be acted on or tested.

Size of the initial round parts I will need can be solved by starting with castings. Castings can be then forged on a mandrel to reduce porosity issues and work harden before machining.

The gumminess of traditional sterling silver can be resolved by changing to a high end tarnish resistant sterling silver called Argentium™. This has several added benefits over traditional sterling. It's purer silver, Argentium has 93.5% or 96.0% silver content vs 92.5% silver content in traditional sterling. It's whiter in colour due to the higher silver percentage. It is tarnish resistant due to substituting some of the copper balance with germanium. (From what I can tell the germanium in the silver acts similarly to chromium in steel, producing a transparent, self-healing oxide layer that acts as a barrier to the environmental contaminants that cause tarnish.) The new alloys allow the Argentium to be heat treated to increase hardness and strength above that of traditional sterling. This allows for superior machining and polishing operations.

Finally the work holding problem is hinted at in the last picture, precision fitting collets combined with a 'wax' chuck. I was going to try the traditional method of melting shellac, but then read about super glue for this purpose. I tested some pieces and the bond is good, but they didn't release well with acetone, which is supposed to dissolve cyanoacrylate glue. So I got disappointed. Later found out you just his the chuck with some heat (propane torch) and parts release nearly instantly. Soak them in acetone after to remove glue residue.

So this is kinda my to do list:

Finds a caster that can do some specific size Argentium™ 960 Pro rings.

Make some collets for inside and outside diameter piece holding.

Maybe fit an existing movement, dial, and handset (2892 from a Bulova I have) into a hand-made round, lugless case this decade.

Need to focus more on doing after the thinking is over...

Time: Tissot Couturier

Some thoughts on my Tissot Couturier automatic.

This is a watch that I was very attracted to when I first saw pictures of it, but while I still like it the shine has metaphorically worn off a bit.

The basics of what this is is a fairly simple watch with a plated rose gold case, black dial, and asymmetrically laid out dial with time, small seconds, and date window. Originally it came with a fitted black leather strap that felt like plastic garbage. It's now on a Hirsch Merino leather, and the factory butterfly style deployant.

Since the styling was what attracted me, I'll talk about it first. The dial layout is somewhat reminiscent of the legendary Lange 1, from the crown jewel of Richemont's Maisons, A.Lange & Sohne. But it also has a minimalist approach, lacking individual minute markers for the time, as well as not having any lume. The case is a mix of polished and brushed surfaces but seems rather thick, or at least tall. This is probably due to the movement height.

So with regards to the technical stuff of the movement, it's an interesting approach. From what I've read it's referred to as a 2825. It seems to be simply a module attached to a 2824 base, following nomenclature seen by ETA with the 289x variants. From looking at other uses within Tissot and Hamilton (brothers within the Swatch Group's family), it's probably a plate that allows offsetting of the hours, minutes, or seconds in a variety of positions. It's neat for easily changing dial presentation rather drastically on a single movement.

Timing and quality is anecdotal, based on a sample of... two. Why two? Because the first one I received had a faulty crown that did nothing to impress me with my first new from an Authorized Dealer 'Swiss Made' watch. My Seiko and Orient autos at a fraction of the price have all been perfect out of the box. But small sample size, anecdotal, yada, yada. So how about timing? First off, it's not a huge priority on a watch I can only accurately set at 5 minute intervals. But even so, it's kinda meh. Gains maybe a couple minutes a week, which is on par with my worst Seiko 5 (7S26). Not impressed again, and I'm not sure what the spec is for this new 2825, nor even the grade of this specific movement. It's probably in spec for a ETA Standard grade, which would be my guess by looking at the movement. Despite a couple blued screws and a striped rotor, the key tells for it not being a more accurate grade are the Novodiac rather than Incabloc shock protection, and the straight balance spokes that indicates nickel rather than Glucydur. But like I said this is more of a looker than a performer. I can live.

Overall it's OK. I bought it as a reward for busting ass at work on a long, crazy, OT shift. It's not going anywhere. But still only gets on the wrist about once a month or two.

Beginning Again


Well, I'm giving this another shot. Consistency and diligence aren't my best attributes, but I still like the Time Speed and Distance theme. This one will be about Distance.

So what initiated this nth attempt at the Blog is my recent decision to visit Japan this coming September. Finally, I guess. I've been studying Japanese on and off for ages, but never fully committed to it given a lack of real reason. I prefer sharing English with the Japanese students I meet at Nikka Center for language exchange. So now I'm going, for a reason I'm not really going to get to in depth about.

I don't have much of an idea of what to do there, beyond a general sense of where I'll be initially arriving at, a suburb of Japan's third largest city, Nagoya, in Aichi prefecture. It's the hub of Japan's auto industry, so there will probably be several Speed related posts. Toyota City is nearby. But beyond that, no idea. I'm writing this from Coal Harbour, across from Vancouver's Stanley Park, and am fully aware of what an apathetic tourist and traveler I can be.

But there may be more to this than a simple vacation. I haven't decided myself yet, and likely won't until I'm there, but there could be some complexity involved. This gets back to a Time related subject, but also another thing. But that's for another time.