How to make a watch for Ilona Mask
I first learned about the Russian watch manufactory Konstantin Chaykin several years ago, when I accidentally met information about the Lunokhod watch, which showed the lunar phases. Later, about a year ago, I was invited to the presentation of his new development - a watch for the conquerors of Mars Mars Conqueror, they show the Earth and Martian time and the relative position of our planets. On the eve of Cosmonautics Day, I ended up in the workshop of Konstantin, and saw how mechanical watches are produced today.
Watches under the brand name Konstantin Chaykin are created at a small production in Moscow. They have a rather high price - tens of thousands of dollars, which is determined both by the need to ensure a full production cycle, and by the willingness of customers to pay for such watches.
Konstantin himself invents and develops mechanisms that add additional functions to a watch, and even the standard task of displaying information about the time of day is implemented unbanally, for example, as in the Joker model.
The new development on the space theme Mars Conqueror has two dials with Earth and Martian time. The length of the Martian day is more than Earth’s by about 39 minutes, so its own watch design is required. In a separate circle, the relative position of our planets relative to the sun is displayed and periods suitable for flight to Mars are marked. The strap uses material that is used to make the outer layer of the Russian Sokol spacesuit.
In the office of the watchmaker of the XXI century there is everything necessary for the invention of space clocks, development and quality control of manufacturing.
Designing is carried out using SolidWorks, and production using lasers and modern milling machines, but manual labor is still important and therefore this plant is in miniature, which produces most of the components of the case and mechanism and is called manufactory.
The manufacturing part of the manufactory repeats the familiar areas that are known to almost anyone who has somehow encountered factory production: machining, grinding and polishing, electroplating, painting, assembly, quality control ... It’s unusual that the whole “plant” is placed in several rooms on two floors , and some "shops" occupy one desktop.
Acquaintance with the production of watches began with machining.
You won’t surprise anyone with “smart” milling cutters, but for the first time I saw a turner with a microscope.
This is a truly full-fledged lathe, which allows you to produce watch parts with micron accuracy.
The hardening of steel watch parts is carried out in a special watch furnace, which is produced in Switzerland for watch manufactures widespread there.
The next step: grinding and polishing.
The galvanic "workshop" is more like a school experiment in a chemistry lesson, but the tasks of coating the details of watches with various metals by the electrochemical method are being successfully completed.
Nearby is a painting where colored coatings are applied in an extractor hood.
Each stage of creating a part undergoes quality control. In the accompanying sheet, notes are made about the operations performed with the signature of the person responsible.
Please note that the photos are not discs, they are gears, but the teeth are so small that they cannot be distinguished in the picture.
And then the collector did not have afternoon crumbs on the table, but parts that were ready to be installed in the product.
It is curious that the theme of space accompanies a tour of the watch manufactory. It can be seen that interest is present not only with the founder.
The watch assembly area reminded me of another factory site I visited recently - the production of plasma engines at OKB Fakel in Kaliningrad. The engines assembled there are not many more than watches and the work is almost jewelry.
Konstantin Chaykin notes that watchmaking with jewelry has an important difference - jewelry craftsmanship allows for artistic freedom of creation, while watches require strict adherence to technology and high precision of each product. However, due to the manual nature of the work, manufacturing errors occur and that they are quickly identified and works by the Quality Control Department.
- Have you tried to somehow automate the production?
- At the stage of machining. Product manufacturing, size control. But the rest - accounts for hands and eyes. They tried to somehow automate quality control by optical means, but the machine could not cope. Here, look, these are all defective details. Take a magnifying glass, can you see the marriage?
- No, it seems they are impeccable.
- And he is.
- Do you use 3D printers?
- For prototyping, yes, but for finished products they do not provide the required accuracy. We have partners who print well with plastic and metal, have tried with them, but the printer has not yet been compared with traditional processing methods.
- For spare parts in production, I see that the main series is Joker?
- Yes, our record holder. Orders are one year in advance. Steady demand, and even fakes began to come across on the Internet. We study, look, but they are far from us.
- Did you think to expand production?
- So far, it’s unprofitable: to recruit and train people, increase space, put equipment ... It is more comfortable to work with a stable order.
- What is the theme of space close to?
- This is a childhood dream. I would like to touch in my work at least that way.
- Probably still a PR, the Omega has launched its watch into orbit and the Moon since the 60s. Our cosmonauts not so long ago, everyone without fail flew with the watches of this brand.
- This is not only PR. Mechanical watches in space are really in demand. They are not afraid of heavy charged particles, they are resistant to induced radiation and temperature extremes, they work in a vacuum and do not require battery replacement. This is especially true in flight to Mars. Even self-winding in zero gravity works better, and the whole mechanism, due to the reduction of friction. And in accuracy, modern mechanics approaches quartz.
- Have you already launched your watch into space, experienced zero gravity?
“Not yet, but there are such plans.”
- Speaking of the Red Planet, until Ilon Musk built his giant rocket, your Martian clock will really be useful to drivers of rovers. In Moscow, there is a laboratory at the Space Research Institute, they have devices on Mars, and it would be useful to know the local time. Soon, the ExoMars rover will fly. True, I'm afraid that the salary of scientists will not allow ...
- We are preparing a simplified version, in the price category up to $ 10K, and I am ready to meet with our Martian scientists and separately support their work.
“I will try to help contact them.” Weightlessness tests can also be carried out in a suborbital launch of an ultra-small rocket along a ballistic trajectory. In Russia there are private traders: Cosmocourse, NSTR rocket technology, I think they will be happy to order a test launch. “NSTR” already promises a rocket this year, although it has not yet reached space.
“It’s interesting anyway, you need to contact them.”
- Thanks for the tour and the story!