Logbook of production, chapter 4: our Beaubleu round hands
Production continues! After the dials, cases, and bracelets, we now come to the manufacture of round hands, signature of the Maison Beaubleu. Considering the style of the watch, the hands are small but important elements. They are a real engine of our identity, the punctuation point of our visual identity, our dear Beaubleu round hands.
In the past, we have written this series of articles in the form of a logbook. However, for the manufacturing of the round hands, we will rather explain the stages according to the different treatments that the hands will undergo.
It all starts with simple strips of rolled steel with a thickness ranging from 0.1 mm to 0.3 mm, with the width varying according to the types of hands. Then, we make the pilot holes, which will position the hands during the passages in the different machines. All these operations are carried out on the strip itself, from cutting to the Super Luminova treatment.
Given the fineness of the parts and the vagaries of production in general, not all hands will be usable. Indeed, they must meet our quality standards, such as their size 0.001 mm, no deformation, and color treatment without dust, scratches, or bubbles.
Before carrying out the various treatments of the steel strips, we divide them into several batches, each corresponding to a different color treatment: the PVD treatment, the spray paint, the Super Luminova treatment, and the treatment of blued hands.
The Beaubleu Round Hands’ Matte Colors
Regarding the treatment to achieve the matte colors on our round hands, we apply several coats of spray paint with drying time between each applied layer. Here, the difficulty is to obtain the thinnest possible thickness and perfectly smooth layers, so as not to cause friction during the subsequent assembly of the watch.
Each wrong move results in the final loss of the prize. So, before each pass, we perform a test to guarantee quality.
First, what is a Super-Luminova hand? It is a hand that lights up in the dark, which allows you to read the time in all circumstances. So how do we make luminescent hands? It is necessary to apply a product resembling a paste (non-radioactive of course) on the metal plate. You must be very careful not to waste the product because it has a much higher cost than other treatments because of its rarity.
For the PVD treatment, this involves directly tinting the material in-depth by immersing the parts in a bath. Thus, we obtain a lasting effect and a color identical to the case for Olympe and Audace.
The Blue Steel Treatment
The process of bluing steel hands is different from the process of applying color. Batches of ten hands are heated for a few minutes in very precise ovens. Heating them to a certain temperature will form an oxide film. If you want to know more, go to an article that we devoted some time ago to this coloring technique (internal link).
Cut and finish
After stamping, the round hands are finally isolated from the strip and handled individually using tweezers.
However, cutting is not the last step, quite the contrary. A succession of steps follows one another to give the final shape of our hands. They are interspersed with washing and polishing sessions to remove impurities.
Finally, before being added to the watch, the circular hands are carefully checked, whether it is the size, the shape, or the colors, they must be impeccable so as not to interact with the other elements of the dial.
The challenge here is to have both perfectly flat hands that are light enough for lift reasons, but strong enough not to bend and risk touching the other hands.
Thus, this ends the penultimate part of our logbook, then we will proceed to the assembly. The Miyota 9015 movement decorated with the Beaubleu logo will be added to it and we will carry out all the necessary tests and verifications. All that is missing is the final touch, the straps (link to the article in step 3 to make the straps), and their folding clasp, a novelty that brings comfort, elegance and security to the Union Collection!