Mechanical watches are a complex lot, hundreds of components squeezed in a space smaller than your palm and all of them working in tandem to produce that ‘tick..tock’ sound and tell you the time with utmost accuracy. To get a better glimpse into the heart of a complex timepiece IWC Schaffhausen held a masterclass for select watch enthusiasts at Mumbai’s Soho house. It was not a presentation or a fancy video showcasing the inner dynamics of a watch but we would be actually disassembling and assembling the IWC 98200 watch movement. Its the one that powered the brands pocket watches and has not changed much throughout the years, more than the nostalgic value the true reason for this movement was its use of larger components which would make it easier for a novice like me to work on (and so I was told). Helping us navigate the myriad of gears, bridges, and springs were Niccolo Farina an IWC watchmaker who had flown in from Dubai.
The session begins by getting into a spotless white anti-static suit so even the tiniest of cog won’t stick to the sleeve. Interestingly the jacket does not have a pocket so that none of the components fall into them. A small briefing follows – we are made aware of the movement we are about to work on and the tools we are using – a screwdriver, a pair of tweezers and the magnifying eye loupe. We start by releasing the energy stored in the main barrel, the spring rapidly unwinds and now the motionless components can be worked upon with ease. Slowly or should I say very slowly I removed the gears for the minute and hour hand and placed them in a special container that had individual compartments. Placing the gears, bridge, screws, etc in the compartments makes it easy to remember the parts when reassembling the movement. Speaking of easy, there was nothing easy for something as simple as removing the screws on a bridge. All of this requires a lot of patience, and the components are extremely delicate a little extra pressure and the gear could bend disturbing the entire movement. And when it comes to screws you have to be extra careful to not scratch the rather expensive case.
On and all, it was a wonderful experience and a brief insight into the amount of work and expertise that goes into the complex machinery that we casually wear on our wrist.