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Story 104 – 1933 – Quality

Where precision is the order of the day

Wieland starting material for high-quality Swiss wristwatches

Wieland supplies primary material to renowned watch manufacturers in Switzerland. Brass rods are used to produce both filigree and high-precision components which are essential for the proverbial quality and accuracy of the mechanical wristwatches produced there.

Mechanical wristwatches are high-precision masterpieces of precision engineering – especially when they are made by renowned Swiss manufacturers. In order for them to meet the expectations of the proverbial "Swiss movement", not only is the exact production of each individual part and its meticulous assembly necessary. Rather, the outstanding quality of these watches begins with the material: it must be absolutely true to size when machined to very tight tolerances.

This is especially true for the barrel (barillet), which together with the hairspring inside it forms the central driving unit of the watch. The round barrels and their covers are made by machining from round rods, have diameters of between 7 and 15 millimetres and wall thicknesses that are significantly less than one millimetre. If stresses are present in the material – or if they arise during machining – the parts warp and become unusable. Numerous watch manufacturers therefore purchase round bars from Wieland. They are made of alloy Z33 and have been specially heat treated to ensures the required properties including good machinability.

The same material, as well as the brass alloys Wieland Z11, Z21 and SW1, are also used for other watch components, such as the gears, dials and their bezel (lunette), which are manufactured by high-precision machining. The basic bodies of the watches (platines), to which all components are attached, are also made from these alloys.

However, it is not only the excellent dimensional accuracy and machinability of the raw material that often ensures that there is a piece of Wieland in the watches of leading manufacturers. The achievable surface quality – e.g. by polishing or coating – also plays an important role. And last but not least, the consistent material properties, which are as constant as a "Swiss movement".

Clockwork parts

The barrel holds the hairspring and is the central component of every mechanical watch. Its precision also depends on the quality of the copper alloy used.

Clockwork

Many other components of high-quality mechanical wristwatches are also made from Wieland raw materials.