The magnifying glass is essential to a watchmaker’s creation. What if you could see through it? IWC Schaffhausen has developed the “Cyberloupe”, the first prototype of a digitalized watchmaker loupe.
Antonio Palmisano, head of operations development at IWC Schaffhausen, shares more with The Journal why this is a small revolution in connecting watchmakers with the rest of the world.
What was the inspiration behind the development of the Cyberloupe?
In the middle of our digitalized world, I’m still fascinated by the complex technology of our mechanical watches. For outsiders, it is very difficult to gain insight into this “40mm diameter world”. That’s when I had the idea to digitize the current classic watchmaker’s loupe, which we have been using for 150 years, and make it “intelligent”.
Can you you tell us how does it work?
This watchmaker’s magnifying glass is equipped with a camera and a network connection. It streams the image that the watchmaker sees in real-time to a screen, allowing watch enthusiasts to experience the inner workings of a mechanical movement in a never-before-seen way. Visitors could, for example, marvel at the constant oscillations of the balance wheel, the small ring-shaped pendulum, which is the beating heart of a mechanical watch. Thanks to this new tool, IWC will be able to share its engineering spirit and fascination for watchmaking and craftsmanship with even more people.
How many people were involved in the project? How long did it take to bring the idea to life?
We kept the core team very small so that we could act agile. In this team we have three watchmakers who are very well versed in the area of customer service and training, one person from the industrialization department and an external developer. Once we knew that the idea could theoretically work, we immediately moved on to technical feasibility testing and created a first test sample within 3 months. This proved to all of us, incl. our IWC Board, that it is physically possible.
What were the main challenges for your team in the development phase and what was necessary to make it happen according to your project schedule?
After the idea was born, sponsors within the Richemont group and IWC itself had to be identified, who would support the project. In parallel, a first preliminary study and the patent application were already running. Thanks to an interdisciplinary project team, challenges could be tackled quickly and with ease, without jeopardizing the ambitious project plan.
Can you tell us all the added values the Cyberloupe can bring to IWC’s end customers?
Customers have the possibility to have special functions of our watches explained to them live, without being present on site. Furthermore, our trainers at our headquarters can virtually train other watchmakers on the worldwide platforms. The Cyberloupe has the potential to extract specific information from our backbone IT systems PLM/ERP and display it directly to the user.
What is the evolution of the Cyberloupe? What’s next?
We are already working on the development of the next generation “CYBERLOUPE 2.0”. Apart from the new design, improved image stabilization and resolution, we will show how digital information can be projected “on demand” by the watchmaker directly in front of his eye.
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