We follow the Kingston from start to finish. Not all pre-built watches have such a laborious delivery but this one covered all of the bases.
Each case is inspected in our Pennsylvania (USA) workshop and then coated with a protective paint before shipment to our Swiss assembler.
An overview of the components that have to be inspected, prepared and packed for each watch that is sent for Swiss assembly.
Mk II is one of the few boutique marks that purchases all of its movements (and components) directly from manufacturers such as ETA SA. Forgoing private label manufacturers and middle-men affords us greater control over the final quality of our watches and the opportunity to continue a perpetual process of self-improvement.
The "watches" have returned from the picturesque Jura region of Switzerland. Every Mk II timepiece is assembled by hand in Switzerland or in our Pennsylvania (USA) workshop.
The quality control resumes and is a constant obsession throughout the process. Here we check the hand alignment, crown operation, and the movement clamps inside the case. Based on this review we classify each piece by the amount of re-work required, if any.
In this specific case we need to un-case the movement. (a, b) Checking the stem to make sure it’s free of dust and debris before re-inserting it into the movement. (c, d) Verifying the date wheel wasn’t damaged during assembly while we clean it.
We un-cased this movement because he hand alignment was outside of our tolerances. As a result we set aside this watch for re-work into one of our custom Kingstons.
Removing the hands from the movement. The dial is covered to protect it from the hand puller.
In this example part of the hand mis-alignment was because the dial was not centered on the movement so we go about re-setting the dial as well as the hands.
Tightening the clamps that secure the dial to the movement.
(a) Re-checking the hands for scratches, (b) bending the hour hand to travel parallel to the dial when installed, (c, d) putting a curve into the minute and seconds hand so that the custom red tipped sweep hand will clear the crystal, (e) adjusting the hand setter to the 2836-2, (f) setting the hour hand
Setting the minute hand
Re-adjusting the minute to improve the hand alignment before fitting the seconds hand.
A close-up of the installation of the seconds hand.
Running the movement to confirm that the hands clear each other at all points around the dial. Yes that is a grotesquely long thumbnail. I keep one nail on my hands a little long to help me perform tasks such as opening bracelets or picking up small parts. Also the human nail is hard enough to clean many case materials without scratching the surface.
Cleaning the movement ring of small bits of dust and debris that might work themselves into the movement if left alone. Prepping and cleaning the case for final casing of the movement.
The three main parts are ready for casing, again.
Checking for dust under the crystal after setting the case over the movement
Installing the casing clamps and casing screws. Every Mk II watch features a movement ring that suspends the movement inside the case, a refinement more commonly reserved for watches several times more expensive because of the complexity inherent in its implementation.
One of the casing clamps became magnetized through static electricity. Here we are verifying that it has been successfully de-magnetized before installing it into the watch.
After years of custom building watches I prefer to hand cut and fit the stem to length if needed. It a time consuming detail but one if done properly makes adjusting the watch very satisfying and re-assuring.
The final timing of the movement. Every time the movement is re-cased its timing has to be verified again. Even if the watch doesn’t require any re-work we check the movement to verify it was un-affected by the trip back from Switzerland.
Timing in 3 (or in this specific case 6) positions requires moving the watch around so we mask the case and cradle to prevent scratching of the finish.
Inspecting the bracelet. (Like my Paradive :D)
Checking the bracelet for imperfections. The lighting we use is very harsh but it enables me to see every detail. The unflattering lighting is the reason everything is in black and white.
A final check of the crown function and fit before more cleaning.
We spend a lot of time just cleaning. Here we are checking for even the smallest debris like lint or excess grease. If oils from a finger, for example, aren’t cleaned up the acid can actually burn into the finish of the movement. I have a beautiful chronograph (not an Mk II) with a display back that features a striking thumb print permanently etched on the rotor by a careless technician. It’s a reminder that no detail is too small.
Greasing the case back gasket and setting it so that we can finally close up the case.
Again more checking and re-checking. Reviewing the case back, again, for imperfections before installation.
Tightening the case back.
Every watch we send out is individually verified for its rated water resistance. By this point in the process the case has already been tested at least three times and undergoing its fourth and fifth tests.
The watch is precariously poised on the testing stand. One time I accidentally bumped a LRRP off the stand, damaging the case finish in a momentary lapse in concentration, and had to go back to step #16.
We perform three different tests. One that checks the crown’s water resistance, the crystal’s security, and finally the overall watch’s water resistance to its maximum rated depth. It’s rare for a watch to fail its pressure tests at this point but we never take these kinds of details for granted.
Cleaning the bezel before installation. I know the state of my hands is quite bad. I have to wash my hands quite often during the day and can’t use moisturizer as the lotion can contaminate our components.
Whenever possible we install the bezels ourselves. This provides us with the control we prefer to align the bezel with the dial precisely and adjust the action of the bezel when needed without having to risk marring the case body.
Pressing the bezel onto the case body. The paper is there to keep the die from scratching the bezel.
Final inspection of the insert to check the quality of the surface finish and printing before installation. What you can’t see is that when I am installing the insert I am standing over the watch so that I can center my iris over the dial to get a precise alignment of the insert.
Double checking my work. If the insert is mis-aligned now it means having to pop the bezel off, risking damaging the case.
Installing the bracelet. It can only go downhill from here so it’s critical to stay focused.
The watch is finally done. The cardboard you see under the bracelet is there to immobilize the bracelet so it won’t scratch itself or the case while in transit.
The end. Thank you for taking the time learn more about us!