These of you who’ve visited on-line watch boards with any frequency have very probably come throughout no less than a couple of heated discussions of “ending,” a subject that appears to fascinate, and divide, fans.
The temperature appears to go even greater when the dialogue turns to “hand ending.” Interpreted strictly, that is the artwork of shaping, beveling, striping, sprucing, frosting, and making use of different patterns to look at elements utilizing hand-driven instruments alone.
What’s all of the fuss about?
I’ve to admit that after I first began shopping for watches, the entire idea of “ending” was utterly unknown to me.
Like many individuals, my start line for critical watches was with Jaeger-LeCoultre, a well-priced model lengthy recognized for its experience in growing actions then, as now, justly considered as providing good worth for cash – however not essentially for top refinement of its motion ending, no less than on its inexpensive items.
In these days, watches have been all about performance to me; when it got here to cosmetics, the query I requested was merely, “Do I like the way in which it seems to be?” And it was really a number of years earlier than I purchased a watch with what was then often known as an exhibition case again, so I couldn’t have inspected the motion if I’d needed to.
Heck, I didn’t even personal a loupe!
By some means, I appeared to get alongside simply positive. Was I lacking one thing vital?
No, hand ending doesn’t matter
Let’s begin with a couple of of the “no” arguments:
· Wonderful hand ending is a frill that doesn’t enhance the operation of a watch. Achieved incorrectly, as when the enamel of gears are over-polished, it may really destroy efficiency.
· Many completely positive – even nice – watches like Rolex and Omega, each recognized for his or her glorious timekeeping, take a function-first, industrial view of ending.
· Machine ending methods are sometimes so good that they’re completely enough, even for consumers who place excessive worth on the cosmetics of a watch and its motion.
· Even seasoned collectors can’t appear to agree on exactly what “positive hand ending” is.
That final level is price a second to debate. Contemplate the touret, a small, hand-held motorized software (it seems to be a bit like an electrical toothbrush) that can be utilized to bevel and polish the perimeters of the plates and bridges in a watch motion.
In the event you go to a few of the watch manufactures most well-known for ending high quality, you will note many employees utilizing tourets reasonably than information. Hand ending, or not?
There’s even battle about what the output of hand ending ought to appear to be. Roger Smith – an impartial watchmaker whose watches I covet dearly – makes use of a ending model characterised by sharp edges, easy shapes, and apparent markings and irregularities from handwork.
Amongst collectors, there’s nice dispute about whether or not his model is best-described as “traditional English” or “rustic.” For the document, I’m extra within the latter camp, however I do respect the stylistic decisions that Roger has made.
Sure, hand ending issues
Earlier than attending to my different private views, let’s flip the coin over for a second and take a look at a few of the most frequent “sure” arguments for hand ending:
· Many ending methods have robust technical foundations; for example, using perlage (these round swirls) and utilized stripes to catch and maintain stray particles and dirty oils in order that they don’t get between shifting elements.
· At its highest stage, hand ending is an artwork. Its outcomes, whether or not seen with the bare eye, loupe, or macro lens, have a visible impression and heat that machine-finished items (and even less-distinguished hand-done items) lack.
· Lovely ending, achieved by hand, hyperlinks trendy horology to the best watches of the previous. The ornamental arts will not be current innovations and it will be a disgrace to lose them with the passage of time.
One collector’s view
So the place do I come down on the Nice Hand Ending Debate?
For me, there may be one tremendous ordinate rule: the ending work achieved, and its outcomes, must be applicable to the watch at hand. That will sound fairly mushy, so let’s break it down extra particularly:
· Is the outcome coherent? That’s, is there a way of issues becoming collectively right into a unified presentation? For example, one very nice little bit of ending (say, a hand-engraved model brand on a motion plate) might be jarring whether it is surrounded by laser-cut or stamped markings which might be clearly at one other stage.
· Does the looks of the watch match the duty to which it’s to be put? No use spending tons of of hours beveling the bridges on a software watch, in my opinion.
· Are the extent and sort of ending clearly related to the model’s character and promise? Right here, I consider the A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1; I’d characterize its ending as pretty assertive, and the corporate makes use of each totally handbook ending methods and instruments just like the touret because it thinks makes most sense. To me, the ensuing sense conveyed by the watch is each exact and masculine; very a lot consistent with how I consider A. Lange & Söhne as a model.
In different circumstances, actually refined ending is an enormous a part of what a model or maker stands for within the first place. Kari Voutilainen’s preliminary rise was largely based mostly on his elegant ending of “new outdated inventory” classic ébauches such because the Peseux 260 utilized in his Observatoire.
And Philippe Dufour’s mastery and software of the normal hand-finishing arts is the factor that makes his three-handed Simplicity one of the vital prized watches on this planet, not revolutionary motion geometry or distinctive case or dial designs. I might go on for a very long time in regards to the technical ending deserves of what you see within the Simplicity motion picture beneath, however I feel I’ll simply allow you to soak it in.
For the makers who function on the very high of the pyramid of hand ending, a part of the sport is that they do issues which might be actually, actually laborious. Kari made every of the arms for every Voutilainen Observatoire personally, and it took him a full day’s ending work, per hand, to attain the extent of symmetry and polish on show.
On each Kari and Philippe’s watches, there are cues on the motion facet that the ending has been achieved the old style method, with tiny hand information and picket pegs. Sharp inside angles can’t be completed by machine or touret, and the attribute “horns” of Philippe’s motion designs each clearly establish the watch as his and on the identical time present a possibility to indicate off just a bit bit.
One model that has set the bar very excessive with regard to each technical innovation and ending high quality is Greubel Forsey. One instance: do you see the black tourbillon bridge that stretches throughout the picture above?
It’s not black – reasonably, it’s completed with a way usually referred to as black sprucing: laboriously hand-smoothing a chunk of metal till it’s so completely flat that from most angles it seems to be a deep, black pool, and from straight-on reveals itself as an ideal mirror.
This specific watch, the Greubel Forsey Invention Piece 1, is also (to me, no less than) an excellent instance of one other axiom: actually nice ending will depend on conception as a lot because it does on execution.
My watch buddies and I disagree on occasion on the standard of ending on specific watches. When this occurs, as a rule they’re specializing in the technical high quality of the work (for example, that the Geneva stripes are uniform and cease easily in the beginning of the beveled fringe of the plate) and I’m trying on the general impact (for example, are there a number of patterns or methods utilized in a small area that don’t appear to work collectively?).
To me, the dial facet of the Invention Piece 1 is a superb instance of coherent (that phrase once more) conception that applies a number of ending methods.
The background frosting of the primary dial, along with being a lot more durable to do than you’d suppose, supplies a luminous palette for the matte rings surrounding the time-keeping indications.
Throughout the two-dimensional tourbillon itself, the polished bridges, escape wheel, and fringe of the stability wheel play within the mild with out being overwhelming, whereas the supporting surfaces are both brushed or frosted to be seen with out being blingy.
The anodized colours of the triangular hour and minute arms make them properly seen and supply a little bit of a technical contact, whereas the blued second and energy reserve arms with black-polished heart discs are appropriate to their objective and permit us to understand yet one more ending method in an applicable context.
So what’s nice ending?
“We all know it once we see it,” mentioned U.S. Supreme Courtroom justice Potter Stewart on the definition of pornography in 1963.
Typically, when watch nuts speak about nice ending they use the time period “the glow.” As with the topic of Justice Stewart’s well-known statement, it’s laborious to specify. However whenever you’ve studied sufficient examples, actually fabulous handwork does start to impart each visible and emotional impression.
The blissful information is that nice ending is the place you discover it; whereas many individuals appear to suppose primarily about motion elements after they speak about ending, I fortunately embody elements comparable to arms, dials, and even circumstances, an space wherein Vianney Halter’s watches excel.
On the finish of the day, it could have turned out that I wasn’t so flawed within the first place. “Do I like the way in which it seems to be?” is definitely not such a nasty criterion for judging the standard of ending.
As with different visible arts, nonetheless, an understanding of method each enriches and modifications one’s notion of “what seems to be good.”
The following time you take a look at a watch together with your bare eye or by way of the loupe, attempt to apply the checks of coherence, suitability, and model character to what you see. In the event you’re intrigued, be taught extra about “what’s actually laborious” about many facets of hand ending and at all times search for “the glow.”
Likelihood is you’ll discover your individual appreciation for this troublesome, and significant, factor of watchmaking.
*This put up was first revealed on December 17, 2014 at Does Hand Ending Matter? A Collector’s View Of Motion Ornament. It’s possible you’ll discover a few of the feedback beneath that article fascinating.