At the heart of the watch is a 1950s English movement. Originally made by Smiths, this is the same mechanism that Sir Edmund Hillary famously carried to the summit of Everest.
Entirely re-worked for the Robin watch, the mechanism is highly polished in our workshops and then engraved with a distinctive new design to echo those Thomas Loomes used in the 17th century for his own English watches.
Once done, the plates are plated with 22 carat gold.
The screw heads are, as is traditional in better quality English watches, hand polished. Each is then blued on the bench to obtain a crisp, dark contrast against the bright gilt plates. Hand polishing and bluing takes time (rather than the shoddy pale blue imitation, seen in many cheaper watches, of painting on the “blued effect”).
We have lots of time.
It was a moment of pure joy to see the first 39mm Sheffield stainless steel cases being turned.
Once the cases were made, the turner proved to be one of our first customers.
We are now machining our cases in Stamford in our own workshops so have complete control over the making of our own watches.
It takes around seven hours to polish each case blank up to an acceptable standard. Here the three stages of production can be seen above: cut from a solid bar of Sheffield steel, machined and with the burrs removed, polished and fitted with its sapphire.
We are the only firm in England to cut and polish our own sapphire crystals – it became a vital aspect of creating an entirely English-made watch – and we were fortunate indeed to find a firm who still have 1940s polishing machinery that was originally used for watch glasses.
Unlike factory produced watches the Robin requires a significant degree of skill to assemble. Parts are not immediately interchangeable and the jewel height of seven out of the sixteen jewels is individually set to ensure each watch runs with the best possible performance.
Our guide has been the way watches were made seventy years ago in this country, when we still had a chronometer testing facility at Kew. Watchmakers can spend weeks making the smallest of adjustments in the quest to eliminate errors. The principle way to do this is to ensure the jewels are set at the right height for each individual watch part.
The “modern” quest for accuracy has inevitably involved increasing the vph (vibrations, or beats, per hour). A watch beating 28,800vph can be a dull thing for a watchmaker. The Robin however, beats at 18,000vph and leaves room for tweaking and tuning in a far more traditional manner.
The dials are machined in Stamford from solid metal sheet. We are the only watchmakers who make dials with integral dial feet. The dials are then given a traditional frosted finish and the old-fashioned “mushroom” dial feet are soldered into place.
Each is rhodium plated to give long-life protection against tarnishing or discolouring before printing. The effect is similar to seventeenth century silvering but without the need to risk spoiling the dial by applying a coat of lacquer.
If you have any questions no matter how trivial please let us know and we shall be happy to answer.