We needed The Dague`s beating heart to be reliable, qualitative and emotionally good looking.
The starting point is an older generation of lepine movements, the family of cal. 18.89M, 17,89M and similar (M stands for Mince, thin, slim, in french).
These movements are nicely thin (3.75mm), they have six separate bridges, and many features we like, like copper gaskets (chatons), polished steel screws, a nice large bi-metallic open balance wheel with compensating screws, a deep-blue Breguet hairspring and an open manspring-barrel bridge.
These are exceptional quality, hand-made, manufacture-grade, hand asssembled and hand finished movements whose production started way back in time, in 1908.
This look is different from that of most contemporary movements which tend to be smaller, to have fewer and more closed bridges and smaller balance wheels.
The amount of work necessary to re-create these movements is considerable, in the range of 60 hours per piece, so the decision to use these movement indicates that passion has won over any good common sense.
The original movements had diameters in the 40 mm range and as we did not want to end up with an oversized watch we had to downsize the platine, the movement base-plate, to the smallest possible diameter, which is 37,8mm, or 16,75 lignes.
So after a first selection each movement was stripped down and the platine was downsized on our watchmaker`s lathe;
The movement was then given its first complete service, replacing all of the worn out parts like rubies, balance axes, main springs, screws….
The balance wheel needed special attention balancing its screws and weights and adjusting the Breguet hairspring.
The movements were then assembled, oiled, timed and tested for accuracy and the ones that passed our tests were selected for the next steps.
Each movement was now completely taken apart, all steel parts, screws, bolts and levers were removed and the platine and the six bridges went for the next round of “finissage”.
Finissage is the french watchmaker`s term for finishing, and it concerns the movement looks.
We decided to go for a hand finish that would have a contemporary feel as well as watchmaking heritage quality, a finish that would emphasize the attractive movement design:
– the platine was micro-billè, (sand-blasted), to an even matte finish;
– the bridges underwent “satinage” – satin finish – a finish grade which is refined, modern and quintessential at the same time;
after satinage the bridges went for “anglage ” – The mirror-polishing of their edges
This was all done by hand, the classic way.
The barrel bridge was engraved with our markings and finally, all parts went for a galvanic rhodium treatment to a shiny white-gold tone.
Back on the watchmaker bench, the movement was re-assembled, and re-serviced.
After many more hours of work, we have a handful of beautiful, hand finished, completely hand-restored, movements – the uncompromising beauty we had in mind when we laid out the project was finally in front of us.
As a tribute to the age of these venerable movements, we decided, in some cases, to leave a few of details of the steel parts on the balance-wheel bridge in their original condition, with small and characteristic traces of time.
The amount of works, perseverance and dedication to this result was possible because passion has bordered with the unreasonable determination to use such a special beating heart….