“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.” – Confucius

Uncomplicate complications – Finishing #2

Aaron Becsei is an independent watchmaker, and member of Académie Horlogére des Créaturs Indépendants. He guides me with the experts’ knowledge through the secrets of fine watchmaking. In the series of Uncomplicate Complications we discover the seeds of uniqueness, art and value in a timepiece.

Abrasive smoothing techniques produce perfectly clean and treated surfaces by removing the micro-tips of the surface metal or by squashing them into hollows. Beyond the subsequent pleasing look they also contribute to corrosion protection as well as to the appropriate spread of oil. Treated surfaces are also prerequisites to subsequent procedures, such as bevelling or creating a satin finish or the Côtes de Genève.

Therefore, another marker of under-dial beauty – and mechanical excellence – at the same time a determining factor in purchases, is how the individual parts are polished.

A few of the polishing methods described below are demonstrated by Aaron.

Mirror polish
With an extremely fine abrasive paste on a polishing wheel or wood stick Aaron smoothes the surface, while applying light pressure on it. To mirror polish the screw heads, a watchmaker could be rubbing the screws in a circular motion for hours on a flat bench with a layer of diamond paste laid on top.

A screw generally is polished on the head, but in Aaron’s timepieces he polishes 6 sides of each and every screw: the top of the head, the head’s edge, the edges of the slit, the cylinder surface of the head, the thread, and the end of the thread (the bottom of the screw).

Specular or black polish
When the surface reflects incident light from one direction to exactly one direction is called specular reflection. Such surface illumination will look black from all perspectives except one. Achieving a flawlessly flat surface might sound simple; however it requires great expertise and patience. The impeccable polish always follows the original surface of the part and the edges are not blurred.

The surface is treated by circular movements and light pressure on an extremely fine abrasive paste. Among other parts Aaron gives black polish to the tip of every flat-head screws.


The articles of the series:

Uncomplicate complications – Entrée
Uncomplicate complications – Movements
Uncomplicate complications – Anglage
Uncomplicate complications – Geneva stripes
Uncomplicate complications – Finishing #1
Uncomplicate complications – Finishing #2
Uncomplicate complications – Tourbillon
Uncomplicate complications – Perpetual calendar
Uncomplicate complications – Power reserve indicator

Photo credits: Bexei.
All registered trademarks are property of their respective owners.
All rights reserved.