Take a walk through a CNC machine shop and you’re likely to see rows and rows of parts that have been machined during the day’s runs. In many cases, these parts and pieces can be quite large. Chess pieces turned from the lathe, tools milled from raw steel, aluminum, and alloy, gears for cars – these are all things that you might encounter. At the same time, however, CNC can be used to create things that are very small.
How small? In the case of the Perpetual Calendar Terraluna created by watchmaker Richard Lange, small enough to bring 787 individual pieces together into a single watch that costs over a quarter of a million dollars. A post by Bloomberg takes a look inside the processes that make the creation of the watch possible.
Most have probably never heard the name of the watchmaker or the watch. Connoisseurs, however, share stories of the handcrafted timepieces as if they were legend being passed down from generation to generation.
It is easy to see why, once you become aware of what goes into creating one of these machines. 787 pieces, most of which are precision-crafted using CNC techniques, are brought together over the course of several months and thousands of working hours.
Each individually machined part is hand-inspected and verified to be to the exact specifications necessary to function in the watch. The parts are cleaned and smoothed in order to remove even the smallest imperfections, again, all by hand.
After the machined parts have passed inspection, cleaning, and finishing, each watch is assembled, disassembled, and then assembled again. Why? To ensure that no damage was done to any component during the initial assembly. This damage includes physical damage to the watch parts themselves but also can include even the smallest scratch. Each individual part (all 787 of them) is also re-cleaned during this process.
The end result is a watch that the wearer knows is both physically and mechanically flawless, inside and out. Dozens of the world’s best watchmakers had a hand in creating it as they worked to bring over 700 pieces, most which were precision crafted on CNC machines, together into a watch that can cost more than a house.