Watch industry American watches based on the Swiss model
Cameron Weiss is the founder of the Weiss Watch Company based in California, and learned the art of watch-making in Switzerland. With the Swissnano from Tornos, the company’s production is also supported with Swiss turning know-how.
The Watch Weiss Company was born in Cameron Weiss’ apartment in greater Los Angeles, and today reflects Weiss’ passion for premium watches. The company designs and constructs every single of its watches in a meticulous process. Every Weiss watch starts life with a hand drawing and on this basis is constructed, produced as a prototype, checked, measured and tested. No watch enters the complex production phase without having gone through these steps. On the basis of every drawing, it is decided which parts need to be processed according to the company’s own construction documentation. The more than 150 watch parts, which the company manufactures itself apart from two, are then produced as prototypes to guarantee a perfect fit and tolerance. Before being fitted together, the watch parts are tested with measuring equipment to an exactness of a tenth of a micrometer, so that a perfect fit and functionality are guaranteed prior to assembly.
Such attention to detail is a matter of course for Weiss. His fascination with watches goes back to his time in elementary school when he received a Swatch as a present. He soon discovered is passion for mechanical watches. “A mechanical watch is completely devoid of electronic gadgetry. All its parts are fashioned out of solid material,” explains Weiss. His new-born interest led him to the illustrious Nicolas G.Hayek Watchmaking School in Miami, Florida (USA), named after the founder and former CEO of the Swatch Group. Upon completion of his training there, Weiss continued his watchmaking tuition with the Swiss watch manufacturers Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin in the USA and in Switzerland.
All the time he worked on achieving his own targets and his first watch creations. In 2013 he founded his own company. Since then the Weiss Watch Company, which started with only 10 units of a single watch model, has flourished. Today the company sells 2,000 wristwatches per year, and its portfolio contains 20 different models. Five employees manufacture the watches in the company’s own operations rooms, including a machine workshop.
But until then, the Weiss Watch Company had to overcome various challenges. “Everything we do here takes place beyond any existing production network in the USA, which means we have to grow fast enough to be able to cover wholesale and training ourselves,” says Weiss. “That is vital because we offer the highest quality expected from a Swiss watch manufacturer.”
Swissnano for turned parts of below 4 millimeters
Initially, the Weiss Watch Company had its housings and watch dials made by an outside partner, while Weiss himself assembled the watches in his apartment. Today, the company manufactures all but two parts itself, in a 195 m2 workshop equipped with everything that modern turning and polishing technology requires for processing, contactless measurement and clean-environment assembly. Spiral and main springs are the only parts obtained from Switzerland. To manufacture the watch parts itself, Weiss Watch Company invested in a new Tornos Swissnano in 2016 which it obtained via the Tornos dealer CNC Sales Corp of Simi Valley, California.
“Every single turning part of less than 4 mm needed for our watches is made on the Swissnano,” explains Weiss. “We even do hob cutting on this machine. Two thousand watches per years are not a lot. The Swissnano can process 2,000 gears in a couple of hours. But when we have adjusted all our watch parts for the production of fewer units on a machine, we can buy further machines if necessary so that we can keep up with demand. Of course it would be great to have 50 of these machines one day.” A rocker – the part that makes sure the watch hand can be adjusted with the crown – is just one example of a part that can be produced to perfection using the Swissnano. The rocker has spur gears on one side and coupling wheels on the other, and its processing involves inside and outside turning work. In a single setting, the Swissnano produces fault-free rockers with a length of 4 mm and a diameter of 2 mm out of AP-20 soft steel, with an upper surface of at least Ra 16 and a tolerance of between –0 and +3–5 micrometers.
Small series and short operating times
Production technician Grant Hughson knows all about tool machines. “Our purchase decision was inspired by the fact that the Swissnano was conceived especially for the watch industry and is successfully applied by the big watch manufacturers,” explains Hughson. “Regarding form and structure there are not very many competitive models that can keep up with the Swissnano. Most users allow the Swissnano to handle tens of thousands of parts. But we produce a few hundred parts with short operating times, so that we often have to re-adjust the machine,” concludes Hughson, adding that the Tisis programming software, with its error-free coding, saves a lot of time. The products of the Weiss Watch Company bear the hallmark “Made in America” and satisfy the standards of the Federal Trade Commission.