Swiss precision in the Müglitz Valley
Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten 1/2011
NOMOS Glashütte has invested in a stone setting machine
Frank Wolf, director of chronometry and watch assembly at the manufacturer NOMOS Glashütte, was almost first. But the Swiss engineering companies wouldn’t play along. “They preferred to test their innovation at home so they could react quickly if problems arose.” That’s why NOMOS had to be satisfied with the unofficial title of the first watch manufacturer in Germany to use a stone setting machine in its production processes. The upscale Swiss brands IWC and Ulysse Nardin were quicker off the mark than the Glashütte company.
The jewels used in watch movement are small, very small – seven tenths of a millimeter at a height of one tenth of a millimeter. Watchmaker used to have to sort the stones, which were delivered in bulk, by hand using a magnifying glass – a mindless, taxing activity. Now the machine from Switzerland does the job – reliably and without complaint. In addition, this high-precision marvel of technology also sets the jewels into the plates of the movements in a second operation –to the exact millimeter with the correct pressure.
“It runs fascinatingly well,” says Stefan Friedrich, who completed his watch making apprenticeship at the vocational training center in Dippoldiswalde in June 2010 and now operates the stone setting machine at NOMOS. That’s no problem for a young man who says he has a great empathy with technical things.
“We are still in the test run,” Wolf says, adding that one thing has however already become clear: The machine works more reliably than any human can, eliminating sources of error and thus avoiding costly refinishing.
And: watch makers can now focus on more sophisticated tasks than sorting through microscopically fine material. “We’ve already been able to transfer one of the workers to assembly,” says the department head. And if a breakdown does occur, the Swiss manufacturer can repair the machine via a dedicated line.
NOMOS spokeswoman Ute Fischer-Graf says the “stone setter” is part of an ongoing 2.4 million Euro investment program that started three years ago. However, the watch maker isn’t just investing in technology, it’s also hiring new staff: five watchmakers have joined the company this year and 85 workers now earn their daily crust at NOMOS.
Short time working – a consequence of the economic crisis – was suspended after the summer break, says Fischer-Graf. In the meantime, certain models of NOMOS wristwatches have become harder to obtain. “The retail trade has reduced its inventory levels and is once more placing big orders. The development is now going full tilt in the other direction. Our ladies watches for example, have sold out quickly, and there are waiting times of three to four months for other models, too.”