Mechanical movements of the Cold War: how the Soviets revolutionized wristwatches

Besides white supremacy, one of the key drivers of the last election was trade, with outsourcing being the main scapegoat (even though any economist able to count to 10 will tell you that it was technology rather than bad trade deals that really created the Rust Belt). But back in the Depression, one group of Ohio factory workers were delighted to have all their jobs outsourced, and some of them even went along for the ride. They were the workers of the bankrupt Dueber-Hampden Watch Company, which was bought in 1930 by the Soviet Union. At the time, the Soviets were keen to create from scratch a watchmaking industry to rival Switzerland's. In his latest story for Collectors Weekly, Hunter Oatman-Stanford interviewed a collector of Soviet watches (who happens to be Oatman-Stanford's younger brother) on this suddenly timely topic.

Here's a snip:

Three Soviets traveled to Canton, Ohio, where these two companies were based, to pack up all the manufacturing equipment, leftover watch movements, and pieces to ship back to Russia. Twenty-one former Dueber-Hampden employees from Ohio sailed with them to help set up this new facility in Russia, which was aptly named the First State Watch Factory. They began making 7- and 15-jewel pocket-watch movements made with parts from Ohio. The Soviets changed all the lettering to Cyrillic to signify their new ownership, and there were slight design modifications, all very minor. Starting around 1935, they began taking ownership a bit more, using different insignias that said “First State Watch Factory,” and as the years progressed, they began customizing their pocket watches to be a bit more Soviet-specific.

Read the rest

Video: watchmaker services a 234-component Omega wristwatch

It's always fun to watch a master craftsperson at work. In this case, we get to observe a watchmaker named Harry service a Omega Speedmaster Professional, which has 234 parts, and costs $3,444 on Amazon.

Consider there are significantly more old watches that need service each year than there are new watches that need to be made, and yet the Swiss invest so significantly into watchmakers for creation and yet barely consider after-sales service. In this video, we head up to Manfredi Jewels in Greenwich, CT, to talk about this, and see why now more than ever we need qualified repairmen via a detailed look at servicing one of the most iconic timepieces in history – the Omega Speedmaster Professional. For the full story, go to Hodinkee.

Several years ago, when I was editor-in-chief of MAKE, I had the delightful inventor Tim Hunkin write an article about learning to be an amateur watch maker. You can read the article on his blog. Read the rest

Mickey Mouse Watch for $18

I've always wanted a Mickey Mouse watch. This model is on sale for $18 on Amazon, and looks better than more expensive ones. Until I can afford this Masonic watch (which David and I have both been coveting for a couple of decades) this will do the job.

Read the rest

Watch for blind people popular with sighted people

Hyungsoo Kim's wristwatch allows blind people to tell the time by feeling a metal ball in a circular groove. Sighted people want the watch too, because they can check the time without being rude to the person telling them a boring story. It's a handsome watch! (Via Marginal Revolution) Read the rest