The watch dial was originally made out like this

- Oct 20, 2017-

The watch dial was originally made out like this

The watch dial looks very simple, but it's quite complicated. It involves a lot of process, from relief printing to twisting line engraving, from gem inlay to coated luminous material. These skills are very professional, which is the integration of aesthetics and technology between designers and engineers. It requires special equipment and high quality staff. Most senior watch manufacturers only design face plate, and then the special manufacturer of complete dial. These manufacturers include Li Feng Group in the 2000 acquisition of Stern Creations, or dial independent manufacturer Cadran'or, of course, a few brand is your pack everything (including the self-made dial), such as Rolex, Jonny palmer.


The first manufacturing process of the dial plate -- substrate

Dial design is an integral part of any watch and brand image. Customers submit design drawings, engineers are responsible for converting them into engineering design specifications manufacturing process. The work and complexity of the dials depend on the extent to which the design, the function of the machine and the surface treatment process are required. For example, the big calendar certainly need to open a big hole on the dial indicator, the phases of the moon have printed a moon disc, Chronograph sub dials mean extra steps in the manufacturing process. Because some types of decals are very subtle, they involve precise manual work. All of these processes must be mastered by experts and most of the time; they involve precise manual operations, because the most advanced machines cannot replace the experts' eyes and hands.

Once the design is determined, the dial manufacturers will start from the metal plate is called Bauche, the material is usually silver, gold or nickel. Once the Bauche substrate has been cut to the correct shape, two feet were riveted on the back plate. These two feet, like two small metal sticks, are about 1~2 millimeters long, which are used to fix the dial on the machine. If the face is gold, feet are always gold, but if the dial is nickel, copper foot. If the foot is broken, the dial is gone, so every foot is tested for strength. The next step is to machine some small holes on the front panel (for fixed time scales, LOGO, etc.). Next, harden the dial to the strength of 90--120 Vivtorinox. Then wash and polish, ready for the next decorating process.

Decorative technology of dial

For centuries, the watch industry has developed a variety of dial production processes, many processes have remained traditional unchanged. Here are some of the main dials that are common in advanced tabs.


A. Tapisserie Square pattern

The oldest form of the dial is the Tapisserie grid pattern, and the Audemars Pigeut table is the most common. The processing technology since the end of the nineteenth Century has maintained the traditional constant, if you have seen the Key Duplication Service machine, the Tapisserie machine has the same principle, the motherboard a saucer sized machine on the left, the motherboard has manual processing into the Tapisserie grid pattern, the machine right can dial plate fixed to be processed, there are two out the two arm in front of the plate, on the left side of the machine to read the motherboard line on the right side of the knife head to narrow the copy engraved in the dial on. It's a genius design, you know, it's been a century old!

B. Embossing of twisted cord

Twisted rope is a long history carving technique. It was invented in seventeenth Century. It has been used for several centuries to decorate the dial and watch case. The essence is to carve the round inner spiral (Hypotrochoid) on the dial. If you played each ruler a little friend, understand, a painting is out of the niusuo lines:

Press the big gear with your left hand, keep it close to the paper, and can't move. Put a small gear in the big gear, insert the nib into one hole of the pinion, and let the pinion roll along the inner wall of the big gear, then the nib will draw many beautiful curve patterns on the paper. In addition, you can press the pinion, insert the nib into a small hole in the big gear, so that the large and small gear meshing operation, also can draw a variety of beautiful curves.




Niusuo engraving machine is painting "pen" - knife head, and the dial is fixed, then in accordance with the design of cycloid gear do sports circle, the front cutter head naturally carved out the corresponding niusuo lines. These tiny prints are quite complex, depending on the feed processors and delicate feel, for them, the machine just hands extended. He must be careful not to make it too deep and make sure that the consistent force is applied to each thread. Eventually a harmonious, pleasing pattern will be produced. Niusuo lines are most common in the Breguet table.




Dial printing

Have you ever lamented that the numbers on the dial are so perfect? These figures, tracks, logos, and so on, have been printed on the dial for hundreds of years.

First of all, it will dial the required number, scale, logo engraved gravure printing is formed on the metal plate (before is hand carved, now is a chemical process, then coating corrosion) ink on a concave plate, and then wipe the surface more than the ink, so only the scale trough sag only within a residual ink. Then print unions with a resilient silicon ball pressure pickup in the concave board printing ink, then transferred to the dial!

Gemstone inlay 

You must remember the rock Tissot watch in 1980s. Over the years, watch industry has become increasingly popular with unusual materials. Brands such as Rolex, Earl, etc. have been using some very strange materials. There will be a variety of dial gems: 400 thousand years ago as the coral meteorite, Dalmatia petrochemical, jade, agate, lapis, turquoise, malachite, tiger stone, platinum, abalone shell and rare opal etc.. Processing and installing exotic gemstones is challenging. Most gems are very brittle, and cutting holes is not easy. Nowadays, most manufacturers use ultrasonic cutting to process gemstones.

Dial color

The perfect color on the dial is also an art. Now there are two major technologies, metal plating and four-color printing. Many different colors can be achieved by electroplating, whether it's yellow, rose or colored gold, rhodium. The problem with electroplating is that the time required for the plate to be immersed in a chemical bath must be very precise. Time, even more than a second, will be different colors. Four color printing is similar to printing color newspaper. The key lies in precise positioning.

Technical difficulties

There are many difficulties in making the dial. Sometimes, a tiny scratch or dust in the final cleaning process has to be scrapped. Another problem is that the dial is very fragile. Sometimes, the yield of a complex design dial is quite low, and maybe four or five original boards can have a genuine product. This also explains why some dials can greatly increase the price of timepieces.

Advantages and disadvantages of Switzerland and Asia

Switzerland is not the only country to produce dials. Asia has become an experienced area for making dials, and now it's of pretty good quality. But Switzerland has a huge advantage, and Asia can't do it. The craftsmen throughout the Jura Valley and La CHAUX-DE-Fonds are a network, from laser cutters to those who can use high pressure jet cutting. We can find everything we need. In Asia, if they can't do this in a factory, they can't do that. It sounds a bit similar to the advantages of the Chinese electronic industry in Shenzhen compared with Europe, right?