It's quite remarkable to think how much more we get to involve the community in the production of the Tourbillon 1. Everyday we have updates on new components arriving and the next stage of production going into effect. The more and more one understands the production process the more they can appreciate the value of T- zero production. T-zero are processes that cannot be disassembled and are the initial phase where the assembly of sub-assemblies takes place. For Tourbillon 1 we have 35 T-zero pre-assembly steps. An example of this is the two pre-assembly steps needed for preparing stones, and the step needed for centre pin and threaded pin. The threaded pin is used for positioning and fixation of the main bridge. Once these 35 T-zero pre-assembly stages are complete we can begin with the main T-zero assembly such as riveting, jewel setting, etc. The result is the creation of 23 sub-assemblies that when combined make the entirety of the the movement. Most brands that make ‘in-house” movements outsource T-zero due to just how much work this process is. However what they save in time and money they sacrifice in understanding. As Horage founder Andreas Felsl says, “Costs come from not knowing”. If things do go wrong, one can follow their bread crumbs backwards, but if one doesn't understand how the sub-assemblies were constructed then they run into a costly exercise and might not ever find the core issue at hand. We manage T-zero in-house and the reason being is that by controlling these initial pre and sub-assembly processes we can analyze each and every component to mitigate quality control issues. Pascal and Silvan this past summer working on the Tourbillon 1. Just out of frame and directly to the right of Pascal is where T-zero begins.
One just needs to look at new calibers that come to market that are deemed “in-house”. The majority of the time these “in-house” movements have an engineering team separated from production and most importantly T-zero. Our philosophy is that if you engineer it you have to build it. Our engineering team sits directly in T-zero and this ensures nothing is missed with the closest eye on process possible. Main barrels for Tourbillon 1. Recently Silvan our lead on the Tourbillon movement informed me that he had finished the inspection of the main barrels and they were out for DLC coating. They have arrived back in our facility to be visually inspected and then went back out again to have the mainsprings assembled. After the mainsprings are installed we will begin our abrasion testing. Only after our abrasion testing is complete will we begin the final sub-assembly production of the main spring. This is just one out of 23 sub-assemblies for Tourbillon 1. A close up look at that beautiful DLC coating.
The DLC coated barrel can definitely spin. In conjunction with T-zero we also begin the decoration of each of the parts. Marcella is not only our quality control expert but our decoration specialist. This is very important as the decorator needs to have an understanding of acceptable tolerances and can also attribute any changes they make in the surface of a material to quality control. Marcella was heading out to make tools for the Tourbillon 1 at a machining facility in Biel/Bienne and asked if I would like to go along. When we arrived I noticed that some of our other components were being machined that day such as the screw balance wheel. With her drawings in hand she set out to make one of the first tools that would be used for creating circular brushing on the Tourbillon 1. The first step was selecting the correct diameter of raw material and cutting it to a length that would enable her to make three tools. Next she sets up the lathe to begin milling the material. Whats fascinating about all this is that in watchmaking if you want a particular look you have to make it yourself and if you make it yourself, you take complete ownership of the end result. Precision isn’t a nice to have, it’s an absolute must, every time. Once the material is in place she beings milling it to the specifications she has outlined in her spec sheet. With each piece finished she makes a final measurement and all turn out perfect. Being a fly on the wall for these processes is very exciting. I have always been appreciative of the work engineers and watchmakers do, however by understanding each and every process at a granular level one see’s a story in each and every component that makes up the total product. It truly is art. Like a painter that calculates each and every brush stroke an engineer must calculate what will physically come to life and watchmakers must make or find the tools to get the job done. The Tourbillon 1 is in good hands and our team is laser focused on delivering to you noting short of a work of art. Till next time. Landon Stirling