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Experiences

Meet the IWC Watchmaker

Date2015-07-06T11:17:13

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In 25 countries around the world, over 200 watchmakers and service technicians have been dedicated to the maintenance and repair of IWC watches of every vintage since the company was founded in 1868.
To ensure that no single detail is lost, IWC has maintained detailed records of every watch that has left the factory since 1885.

An IWC watchmaker has been positioned on the first floor of London Boutique, offering maintenance advice and servicing: Robert Trueman.

He holds some of the high horology world’s best kept secrets.

Fascinated by the watch movements since its young age, he learnt how to assemble, service, and polish high complications movements.

This is now on the first floor of the London boutique, that Rob, IWC’s watchmaker, works its magic on all the IWC family timepieces

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When did you first develop an interest in watches?

I was living in downtown Toronto in the mid-1980s and working as a car designer when I came across this old watchmaker’s shop with boxes of watchmaking tools left on the pavement for sale. I bought a couple of them just out of curiosity but I never thought I would actually use them. At first, it really was a coincidence.
I then started using them just to understand how they worked and ended up buying a watch to practise on. It quickly became a hobby. I would buy various broken watches and find out which watches had similar parts, so I could replace them with ones that were working.

How did your career start?

After 10 years of working as a car designer, I was contracted into teaching car design (computer analysis) in Mexico. Four years later, having completed my contract, I returned to England, and that’s when I had to decide what to do next.
I decided to go to an open day at West Dean College to look at their course on making musical instruments, mainly because I wanted to work with my hands – that was one of the things I had missed in my previous jobs. I felt like I had lost my ability to work with my hands and wanted to get it back. While I was visiting West Dean College, another course captured my attention: clockmaking. It was the second time that watches had crossed my path and I decided to have a look at all the universities offering similar courses. I chose to study in Birmingham and that’s really how my career in watchmaking started.

UK_watchmaker
—Robert Trueman at work

What is your favourite IWC family?

Da Vinci. Over the years, this watch family has been the first to incorporate several complications, such as the perpetual calendar and the chronograph. It is a very experimental watch family and that’s what I like about it.
I also own a Da Vinci timepiece, so I have a personal connection with this watch family.

What is the most fascinating watch you have come across?

Without doubt the constant-force tourbillon. It is the type of movement that only a few companies have tried to tackle. It has hacking seconds similar to a second hand that ticks like a quartz movement would. It is very difficult to achieve and extremely advanced.

UK_watchmaker

Why do watches need to be serviced?

Just like cars, watches use oil. This oil lubricates the gear axes as well as other moving parts in the movement. After approximately five years, the oil dries up, and the mechanism along with it. Should the mechanism continue to run in this condition, any particle of dust will start scoring the bearing pivots.
It is very important to service your watch.

You worked as a car designer and now as a watchmaker. Do you see any similarities between these two jobs?

An interesting crossover between car design and watchmaking is understanding and controlling the natural frequency of a vibrating spring-mass combination. In a car, for example, there is a steering wheel, with the wheel itself acting as a weight on the end of a flexible steering column (the spring), supported only at the instrument panel. There is a tendency for the wheel to vibrate depending on the road surface and/or engine vibration, which translates straight to your hands. A heavy airbag exacerbates the problem. In a watch, the balance wheel (mass) in combination with the balance spring is a similar spring-mass combination. The rate of the watch is directly adjusted by changing either the mass of the balance wheel (radius of gyration) or changing the effective length of the balance spring. In a car, lightening the airbag module or stiffening up the steering column will usually keep the natural (resonant) frequency above a level which a driver would feel.

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Each Volvo Ocean 65 took seven months to build, involved 120 boat builders working a total of 36,000 man-hours in four boatyards, and combined the input of over 70 different suppliers.

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Looking back on a long tradition, the helmet manufacturer Schuberth in Magdeburg has been one of the official FORMULA 1 suppliers since 2000. “The best helmets for the best drivers,” is the company’s motto. Indeed: Schuberth’s helmets have been the headgear of choice for drivers who have taken a total of five world championships.

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Brunello Cucinelli first came to Solomeo, not far from the provincial capital, Perugia, in 1985

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The Da Vinci Chronograph Ceramic captivates with an exclusive combination of ceramic and polished titanium materials

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Time moves the world. The IWC Portuguese Grande Complication is an understated, beautifully designed way of summarizing time as the motor of all change: a time machine that shows a tilted globe on the dial.