How Luxury Watches Are Made

Victoria Appleton
Patek Philippe Watch

For many men a watch is one of the few areas of their appearance where they can completely express themselves. The majority of men don’t have many adornments or a variety of clothes to use as an expression of personalisation. It might be a tie clip or a set of cufflinks which a man uses to attempt to stamp some individuality on to their appearance but these are both quite subtle items.

However, with a watch, they can choose something which will really get them noticed. Like handbags or shoes for women, many men collect watches and it’s hard to argue against that as a sensible policy.

Some watches are billed as ‘a watch for all occasions’ but, invariably, this is not the case. One wouldn’t wear a dress watch down the local pub and, likewise, wearing the very latest, cutting edge digital watch to a black tie affair is not the smartest move either. This means a man should have a watch collection, not into the tens but a refined number that work across a multitude of outfits and occasions.

Watch-makers, like a number of other product areas, have seen an increase in numbers in recent years with more and more trying to cater for ever more discerning cliental. There is a long list of luxury watch brands and choosing between them can often be both enjoyable and agonising.

A name which has long been considered the pinnacle of watch making is Rolex and having at least one in your collection is a fine idea. Aesthetically Rolex watches may not differ greatly to other premium brand watch makers but, as with many of the finer things in life – cars, hotels and restaurants – it is what behind the front which counts. In the following we’ll review how luxury watches are made and why many cannot be seen without one.

SEE MORE: LUXURY WATCHMAKING TOUR OF PATEK PHILIPPE MUSEUM, GENEVA

Patek Philippe Watch

Bespoke steel

Steel, like all metals, comes in a variety of grades and forms. Most watches are made from just one type of stainless steel but Rolex use a completely unique steel to any other watch manufacturer. The steel they use is more resistant to both corrosion and rust and can actually take and hold a polish far better than standard stainless steel.

Not only is this steel much more expensive but it is also far harder to work with which has lead to some serious investment from Rolex to enable their equipment to handle with this steel. Because Rolex do not mass produce their watches they can afford to spend longer manufacturing them.

Own science labs

Rolex, as well as having an internal R&D department, have a number of science labs which not only research the items that go into the production of a watch but also, to find more efficient methods in the manufacturing. A key part of their research is actually on the lubricants which they use during the building of their watches – attention to detail is everything in a state of the art of watch.

Hand Assembly

Rolex watches actually are made hands on as far as possible. Machines are used – automated robots for example are used for processes which humans are not ideally suited, handling things with extreme care and precision for example. The movements inside the Rolex are all put together by hand and everything is checked over by trained quality assurance team members.

In-house gold

Yes, Rolex have an in-house foundry which makes all of their gold. While the steel they use is supplied in, the gold and precious metals are smelted internally which allows for strict quality guidelines.

While the specific manufacturing process is done, largely, by hand there are other areas which are purely automated. The supply room, where parts and watches are kept is overseen by robots and a system of conveyer belts operates to deliver these around the manufacturing plant. Robots also do a lot of the ‘repetitive’ jobs, taking the strain away from the human employees but allowing them to focus on the key process – like hand polishing a finished Rolex watch.

With all of the above, it is little wonder that a Rolex takes pride of place in the majority of men’s watch collections. If you’re intrigued by the idea of watchmaking, why not head to the watchmaking capital of the world – Geneva – to tour the Patek Philippe watchmaking museum?

Take Me Watchmaking in Geneva

 
 

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