Making the Model 1920: The lugs

Manufacturing a watch in America is a dying art form, only a handful of companies in the states are still creating timepieces.  We are proud to be one of then and are dedicated to the idea of rebuilding the great American heyday of watch making one watch at a time.  Over the course of the next few weeks I will take you through the steps of creating the Model 1920, from the concept drawings to a final photograph of the base Model.  After many hours of research and planning the actual building of the prototype is under way.

Jeffrey created the Montana Watch Company out of his love for vintage timepieces.  He is drawn to the design elements that are prevalent during different eras.  Before he decides to create a new timepiece he researches resources looking at watches that strike him for one reason or another.  In this case he has pulled inspiration from watches manufactured in the 1920’s when a transition in style occurred.  The 1920’s started a period where watch design followed form rather than function.  Up until that time function paid a more important role in design.  A design shift moved away from wire lugs into a more substantial lug bringing another element to watch design.  The unique aspect of the Model 1920 are the hinged lugs.  This design presents a variety of challenges and here is how Paul and Jeffrey are dealing with the problem of creating square lugs and adhering them to the round case.

American Watch Manufacturing, American Watch, American Watches

Model 1920 Lug Design

The sketch of the lug design that Paul has drawn shows the radius of the cut out.  Each of the lugs starts out as a round piece of bar stock.  Each edge is then squared off and then the top and bottom radius is put into it. In order for this design to work the tolerances have to be minimal.

American Watch Manufacturing, American Watch, American Watches1920 Lug Machining
American Watch Manufacturing, American Watch, American Watches

Model 1920 Concentricity Check

Once the lugs are machined they go through a concentricity check, which is basically a sophisticated automotive gap tool.  The tolerances are checked and if one doesn’t meet the strict specifications it has to be discarded.

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1920 Lugs awaiting final operation

This photograph shows how each lug is cut from the round piece of stock metal.  Once the lugs are parted off they will be inserted into square holes which have been milled into the sides of the case.  A final process of vacuum brazing ensures invisible seems from the lug to the case.  Vacuum brazing is a metal-joining process whereby a filler metal is heated above and distributed between two close fitting parts by capillary action.  The filler metal is brought to slightly above its melting temperature and then flows over the base metal.  It is then cooled to join the workpieces together.  It is similar to soldering.

Check back in a couple of days and watch a video of machining the case.


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