Part of the reason even seemingly simple projects can take so long is that I’m knee deep in developing capabilities to take this into truly #bespoke modification, which ends up taking a lot of time. Here we have a #laser engraved bezel insert for a #Seiko #SKX007. I started trying to make a #custom engraved bezel insert over a year ago with chemical milling. Even once I found Shangri-la in laser form, there was still plenty to figure out when it comes to not destroying the piece of metal I just invested in having engraved. Aside from the challenge of cutting it out concentrically from the rest of the sheet, the surface itself has to be processed. This particular piece will not need to be polished, but I still need to knock down the slight edge the laser creates. I have ruined a few of these already.
The past few months have been particularly challenging. There is now a great deal of pressure in my world. Some of it comes from clients, who, expecting an approximate 4-6 week turnaround, have been waiting a bit longer, or a good deal longer in some cases. Most, however, is internally generated. My clients are typically quite understanding of my situation. In “real life,” my primary job is as a graphic designer and web developer, and I have the luxury of a particularly flexible employer, so when the occasional situation comes up that requires me to come in a bit later than usual, or take an hour out of the middle of the day to attend to other matters, it isn’t a big deal. As long as any critical duties are attended to, I am free to come and go as I please; however, I am paid for the hours I work, not a salary, which is really quite fine with me, but the missed time at the office definitely cuts into the bottom line. Due to having an occupation outside of my horological pursuits, most clients are willing to bear with me as I juggle work, family, watches, etc.
Internally, I have been having an increasingly difficult time relaxing if there are things that need to be done, which is pretty much always. I don’t really know where this came from. In the past, I have never had an issue partitioning my mind so that I can enjoy whatever my current activity is, despite any other obligations that may require attention. Perhaps it is how accessible we are these days, where online activity is visible through the various social media platforms. I know that if I post a picture of a watch that isn’t the one a certain client has been clamoring for, they may feel that I am neglecting their project.
Regardless of the source, it is almost tangible. Unease as the many projects flash through my mind that are waiting on one process or another. That somewhat hollow, anxious feeling of not coming through like I think I should, of letting people down. The worst is when there is some particular day, event, trip, whatever- that someone wants a watch for. If you make people wait long enough, just about any occasion will suffice as suitable event that would be all that much better, if only they had their watch, and let me tell you, I’ll do just about anything to try to make that happen.
To assuage my guilty conscience, I have been pushing harder and harder. I used to stop at 1 or 2 a.m., now it is usually 3, 4, or later, and seeing the sky outside the window start turning gray announcing dawn has been a frequent occurrence. Even the days when I decide to shut it down “early,” I often can’t quiet my brain enough to avoid answering email, researching parts, ideas, techniques, etc., so the end result is the same when it comes to down time. Of course, this has made my “real life” increasingly difficult. My sleep schedule is shot. During the day, I am a zombie, stumbling through what should be simple tasks, forgetting things, downing energy drinks one after another, just to function at a minimal level.
If that were the extent of it… I’d almost say, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.” However, an increasing number of projects have required extra attention due to mistakes. Some can just be a matter of reworking a certain process. Some are catastrophic, and require replacing very expensive components. Often, I don’t catch it before shipping, and when a client opens a box to find a watch that isn’t functioning correctly, or has a very apparent flaw, I am definitely sending a prepaid label for return. More than the cost, the time is just a killer. All that work, all those sleepless nights, and then I am still having to push other projects aside to rectify a flaw. This is simply unacceptable.
I have known that I need to do something from a health and wellness perspective, but I keep thinking, “Once I am a bit more caught up, once things have settled down, I’ll figure out a better schedule.” However, a series of problems with projects that have had to come back for reworking have hammered the point home.
Case in point: The Average Bros AHWBT7 with baby tuna bezel and SRP585 dial. Keep in mind that I knew this would be reviewed, so one might assume that all that much more attention would be paid to the details, however that assumption would be flawed, because all the details of all the watches I work on matter to me . First of all, this has been in the works for many months. Not long after the AHWSG9 went to Mark, we started talking about this next one. We had discussed the MCMGSD (well at that point, it was still the PMGSD) after I dropped a hint in a comment, and I showed him my mockup with the bezel & crown, and he was wanting those features on this next project. Then came drilled lugs, the ceramic insert, going back and forth on hands, etc. Point is, this was not something that was thrown together overnight. He was very patient, though persistent, as time wore on. He’d ask if there were any updates, I’d tell him that I was planning on doing this or that over the weekend, then some unexpected event would occur, whether it was one of several unfortunate trips to the vet, a family member in the hospital, several bouts of back spasms, or something completely ridiculous, such as flooding my kitchen via the upstairs bathroom, there seemed to always be something getting in the way of my planned work. I even sent him pictures of the flood to prove I wasn’t just making up stories. Finally, things were coming together, and I was anxious to get it to him, as much because I was excited about the watch as I was to check something off my list. On the first try, the crown didn’t screw all the way down. Why did I send it? I don’t really know… I was exhausted, and as soon as it was gone, I knew I’d be paying to ship it back. However, notice in the picture, the chapter ring aligns as it should.
When he received it, he agreed that the crown needed to be addressed, so he sent it back. It was a simple matter to trim the stem a bit more, though I did end up working over the crown assembly as well. This happened to be the week I was getting ready to head out of town for a few days, and in an effort to get several projects wrapped up, I was pushing it even more than usual. My family was ready to go, and they were waiting for me as I worked until nearly 11 p.m., on 2 or 3 hours of sleep, delaying our intended departure time significantly. After I had cemented the crown, I installed it, and noticed that it could use a bit more polishing. A trip to the polishing wheel, and it was looking good, so I boxed it up, and quickly grabbed a few other things that I needed to ship, and we hit the road. I dropped it in the mail the next afternoon, a state away.
I have been waiting on a new polishing rig, because my current setup is less than ideal. Part of the problem is the vibrations that are caused because the cotton wheel doesn’t always stay centered, and so the rotation is not concentric. You can imagine my horror when I saw the video review, and immediately noticed that the chapter ring had walked out of position, most likely due to a very brief stint at the polishing wheel. If I was a 15 year old girl, I’d have been “mortified.” Of all the projects to end up with a misaligned chapter ring, the one that will be seen thousands, possibly tens of thousands of times. Of course, it will be fixed ASAP. However, for some, the damage is done. Misaligned chapter ring. You’ve got to be kidding me. After all the time I have in to this watch, to let it go out like that?
Enough is enough. I am putting in killer hours, but the mistakes are dissolving any advantage I would hope to gain, and in fact, putting me further behind. The time has come to make the changes I have been contemplating for some time.
It is not so simple as just “working less.” I still have plenty of watches that need to be built or modified, and I have too much under development or on order to just pause right now. No, I will have to streamline my processes further, organize my workflow better, and in general, be more efficient in all phases. This will be a process, and will likely need to be refined over time.
The first thing my clients should know, is that I am still going to be working just about every day except Sunday, as I have been for several years. In the end, it may not affect the turnaround time much at all, so please don’t feel like this is a notice of intent to disappear.
The first new policies I am implementing are hard limited hours, and set days for specific procedures:
Hours of Operation: No more 3 or 4 or 7 a.m. days. In an effort to limit mistakes, and conserve general health and sanity, I’ll be working within these hours. Or not… I won’t be working beyond them. When you get a status update, and I tell you I plan doing process “x” on a certain day, if time runs out, time runs out; it will have to wait until the next day specified for that process.
Monday-Thursday I will complete whatever task or process I am in the middle of once the clock strikes 12 a.m., with a hard cutoff of 2 a.m.
Friday- Usually, 10:30 p.m. will be the cutoff.
Saturday- 4 p.m.
Weekly schedule: In the event all tasks associated with that day are finished, I’ll actually take the rest of the night off and maybe watch t.v. or hang out with my kids.
Monday: Admin day- backlogged email, quotes, those mockups I keep not having time for, writing 1500-2000 word blog posts, stuff like that. Probably not much in the way of actual watch work, other than maybe checking on watches that have been on the winder, possibly making some adjustments on the timegrapher.
Tuesday: Admin / Assembly- continuing on whatever other admin I have, and assembly & testing.
Wednesday: Machine & Prep Day- Bezels machined, lugs drilled, metal refinishing & lasered part processing, standard painting. Media blasting and other Cerakote prep work.
Friday: Assembly / Prep / Possible Coating Day- If there is coating that needs to be done, the final stages of soaking, outgassing, & masking will be finished if not completed previously. Possibly coating if Saturday has been compromised as a work day due to other obligations. If nothing needed on those fronts, assembly and testing.
Saturday: Coating, Cleanup, Organizing, Assembly- Cerakote and associated clean up, general shop organization, inventory, etc. Assembly once other needs are attended to.
The next policy that is now in effect: No watch will ship until I am 100% confident that it is at its potential, or to the level that I feel I can achieve. This may sound like a no brainer, but that pressure I discussed earlier is very real, and catering to it will only serve to cause further delays and expense. I’m sorry about your trip, anniversary, the big party, whatever- I will still try and make it work to deliver for those events, but when it comes down to it, I’m not going to send it unless I am certain it is ready.
As I develop and work through my schedule, I may well change things up here and there. The goal is to make sure that your watch is as perfect as I can get it, so that you are thrilled with it, and can be confident that it wasn’t rushed. Each project deserves that much.
That’s it for now. I’m coming up on my 2 a.m. cutoff, and need to attend to a few other things before I shut it down for the evening.
Batman tribute with #ceramic insert (unfortunately, no simple drop in 24hr movement is available) flush mounted with #dagaz smoked super dome #sapphire , SBDC031 #Seiko #Sumo dial, #MarineMaster style hands, relumed to match, #ArtificeHoroWorks A logo crown, #hacking #handwinding #automatic movement.
I get a lot of inquiries about recreating the @averagebros_insta SRP6105, and people are usually disappointed when I explain that the dials are nearly nonexistent, finding the hands is difficult at best, and the bezel isn’t as easy as most online transactions. I’ve probably suggested going with the gen II Stargate dial and aftermarket C3 6105 hands (pinkish/red lume would be gone if this were my personal watch) 10 or 15 times as a simpler, more affordable substitute, but nobody has gone for it yet. Figured I should put one together for a picture at least to give people an idea of how it would look. Throw a coin edge on there, DD #sapphire, take care of the S hand lume, and I think you’re in business.
The #SKX007 Ghost Agent is sporting a PVD coin edge bezel now, much better action on this one. Lower price, too. Have a bunch of parts that need to be be ordered, so this one has to go. #Dagaz bezel insert, M/H hands (I don’t think Jake has even listed these on his site yet), dial, custom laser engraved chapter ring, gray AR #sapphire, 1 of a kind S/a engraved crown, stage 3S media blasted case, Seiko low profile display case back, NH36 #hacking #handwinding movement. Click the link in the promo profile @artificehoroworks or just go to artificehoroworks.com.
There are some pretty exciting projects coming to a close, but for tonight, I have to post one that was posted a month or two ago before it was quite ready. I really would not have spent the time on this right now, so far behind I’m about to get lapped, but I had to get this worked out so I can wrap up a client project without mangling his bezel. I am not disappointed in the result. Much better than my first attempt. I could have dropped it another quarter to half mm, but it ended up sitting very nicely with the top of the shroud. #Seiko SRP637 #Tuna #Monster with double dome #sapphire, SBDX001 #MarineMaster #MM300 hands and dial, SBDC001 #Sumo crown and chapter ring, custom machined bezel, @dlw.watches ceramic #SKX007 bezel insert.
#seikomod #watchmod #watchaddict #watchfam #watchcollector #watchesdaily #watches #watchesofinstagram #wus #wis #watchuseek #instawatches #wornandwound #wotd #artificehoroworks #customwatch #bespoke #divewatch #seikodiver – – from Instagram: http://ift.tt/2cI2ZwZ