Tiny Tools of the Watchmaking Trade
Posted on 17 March 2016
When I was in high school, my best friend's father kept a small watch workshop in his basement. In fact, I'm sure he still does. He would buy up all the little parts and tools from jewelry stores and watch shops as they closed down and bring them into his workshop. His walls were piled high with tiny tin pull-out drawers and cabinets full of miniature gears, hands, faces, and watch crystals. He specialized in restoring Elgin watches so he didn't have a need to make many parts of his own.
I was looking at humongous 19th century lathes that were used to turn granite columns for neoclassical buildings and got to wondering: What would call for the smallest lathes in the world? Mark's little watch workshop came to mind. I figured watch makers likely required tiny lathes for making tiny precise parts. Turns out I was right! They also use tiny drill presses, vices, and milling machines! The pictures in this post are from Niels Machines, a shop in The Netherlands that specializes in rare watchmaking machines. I have no reason to ever own any of these tools but they sure are nice to look at. They belong in a watch makers workshop anyway.