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It’s All In The Finishing

WHETHER IT’S FOR AESTHETIC APPEAL OR USED AS A PRACTICAL APPLICATION, FINISHES CAN OFTENTIMES BE AN IMPORTANT DIFFERENTIATING FACTOR IN A QUALITY TIMEPIECE

WHETHER IT’S FOR AESTHETIC APPEAL OR USED AS A PRACTICAL APPLICATION, FINISHES CAN OFTENTIMES BE AN IMPORTANT DIFFERENTIATING FACTOR IN A QUALITY TIMEPIECE

When discussing watches, the movements and design are often the main touch points for any collector. However, for aficionados, they know first-hand that the finishing techniques on the components of the watch can enhance the appeal of the watch extensively.

The term is used to describe a wide variety of techniques horology masters have used on watch components for aesthetic or practical reasons. In most cases it’s often for decorative or visual appeal but also at times to enhance functionality.

Nevertheless, whether it is one case or the other, finishing is undoubtedly a work of art and it serves as an important factor for watchmakers to achieve technical perfection in their timepieces. These are some that are used extensively in the world of watchmaking today…

Bevelling

This is the term used to describe the angled flanks on watch components. Also known as anglage or chamfering, this involves polishing the edges of the piece to the same angle, which helps highlight the shape of the part. Bevelling is commonly done on bridges and plates and is considered one of the most delicate finishing techniques in horology. The process is done by both machine and hand, with more intricate parts, such as the inside cut outs of the component, requiring the latter.

Perlage

Coined from the French term of pearling, this decorative motif is essentially done by circular graining the surface of the metal. The process involves applying a pattern of overlapping circles or dots with a peg. It is mostly done by hand as well as machine and applied on plates, bridges and other larger moving parts.

Black Polishing

Also called specular polishing or mirror polish, this special technique is used primarily on steel parts such as steel screws, levers and bridges in order to get a smooth and reflective-like finish. The time-consuming method, mostly done by hand, involves gently rubbing the parts with abrasive diamond pastes until the shine is obtained. Depending on the angle of the light, the polish part can look black, white or grey.

Bluing

The century-old method is a delicate process that utilises precise heat to obtain an exquisite blue tone on parts such as screw heads and hands. Some manufacturers also rely on chemically treating the parts to achieve the same objective but purists will always rely on traditional methods to achieve the brilliance that only thermal bluing can provide.

Sunray Brushing

Mostly used on wheels and dials, this finish is accomplished by applying an abrasive brush to a piece whilst it is being rotated. Due to the precision involved, this process is largely done by machines. The end result though is stunning as it produces a piece that boasts a unique spiral pattern made with nanoscopic lines.

Côtes de Genève

Also known as Geneva or Geneva stripes, the process involves applying parallel stripes into metal surfaces. It is commonly found on plates, bridges and rotors of a movement and occasionally dials as well. Although more decorative in nature, Côtes de Genève also helps trap dust away from the moving parts of the movement. The process involves machine brushing the pattern into metal surfaces, which can oftentimes be straight or circular but always aligned perfectly to ensure a symmetrical motif is kept.

When discussing watches, the movements and design are often the main touch points for any collector. However, for aficionados, they know first-hand that the finishing techniques on the components of the watch can enhance the appeal of the watch extensively.

The term is used to describe a wide variety of techniques horology masters have used on watch components for aesthetic or practical reasons. In most cases it’s often for decorative or visual appeal but also at times to enhance functionality.

Nevertheless, whether it is one case or the other, finishing is undoubtedly a work of art and it serves as an important factor for watchmakers to achieve technical perfection in their timepieces. These are some that are used extensively in the world of watchmaking today…

Bevelling

This is the term used to describe the angled flanks on watch components. Also known as anglage or chamfering, this involves polishing the edges of the piece to the same angle, which helps highlight the shape of the part. Bevelling is commonly done on bridges and plates and is considered one of the most delicate finishing techniques in horology. The process is done by both machine and hand, with more intricate parts, such as the inside cut outs of the component, requiring the latter.

Perlage

Coined from the French term of pearling, this decorative motif is essentially done by circular graining the surface of the metal. The process involves applying a pattern of overlapping circles or dots with a peg. It is mostly done by hand as well as machine and applied on plates, bridges and other larger moving parts.

Black Polishing

Also called specular polishing or mirror polish, this special technique is used primarily on steel parts such as steel screws, levers and bridges in order to get a smooth and reflective-like finish. The time-consuming method, mostly done by hand, involves gently rubbing the parts with abrasive diamond pastes until the shine is obtained. Depending on the angle of the light, the polish part can look black, white or grey.

Bluing

The century-old method is a delicate process that utilises precise heat to obtain an exquisite blue tone on parts such as screw heads and hands. Some manufacturers also rely on chemically treating the parts to achieve the same objective but purists will always rely on traditional methods to achieve the brilliance that only thermal bluing can provide.

Sunray Brushing

Mostly used on wheels and dials, this finish is accomplished by applying an abrasive brush to a piece whilst it is being rotated. Due to the precision involved, this process is largely done by machines. The end result though is stunning as it produces a piece that boasts a unique spiral pattern made with nanoscopic lines.

Côtes de Genève

Also known as Geneva or Geneva stripes, the process involves applying parallel stripes into metal surfaces. It is commonly found on plates, bridges and rotors of a movement and occasionally dials as well. Although more decorative in nature, Côtes de Genève also helps trap dust away from the moving parts of the movement. The process involves machine brushing the pattern into metal surfaces, which can oftentimes be straight or circular but always aligned perfectly to ensure a symmetrical motif is kept.