Kingston: Prep for Assembly

Here is what we do for each batch of components going out for assembly. It’s far from just shoving a bunch of components into a different box and shipping them out to Switzerland. I apologize in advance for the picture quality. These were quick and dirty shots I took during different stages of the process. Each component is individually inspected; the dials, hands, cases, movements, and case backs.

Each of the hands and dials are carefully and individually packaged for safe transport:

For security reasons I am not going to post the pics of the final packaging used

For this first batch I did the work on the movements personally. I removed the day/date wheels and other parts to make the watches operate as non-date movements. The spare parts have already been packed and are ready for inclusion with the parts kits when the watches return from Switzerland.

The following is the work done on the cases...First we have to attach the crowns to the case body. As you will see in the other post that is also going up today the case supplier, like much of the rest of the industry, is under a lot of production capacity stress. During the process the case supplier actually lost 400 of the specially made Kingston crowns in October 2010. This is a rare occurrence, especially for a case supplier of this caliber. Basically it comes down to the fact that many manufacturers (like in the US) are short staffed but in the case of the watch industry they can’t train up enough people fast enough to fill the void left by the fallout from the Lehman Brothers collapse in Sept. 2008. The box shown below is all that we had (about 200 pieces)

After 2 weeks of urgent communication the crowns were confirmed to have been lost and I reached out to the crown supplier to find out the turnaround time. I was preparing for the worst, that is to say a lead time of about 3-6 months because Christmas is fast approaching and as I noted above anyone worth working with is now jammed with work.

Here the cases are being laid out on a workbench so that I can begin applying a protective coating to the casebodies before their trip to Switzerland.

Here half of the cases are covered with protective paint. I have to start turning over the case bodies so that I can apply coating to the mirror finished case backs. The case manufacturer didn’t use stickers to protect the case backs as the stickers can leave a residue. On polished case backs trying to remove the residue would guarantee the customer would end up scratching their brand new case back.

Now the cases are ready to be packed up with the rest of the parts for shipment to Switzerland. The protective blue coating you see here you won’t see when you receive your watches. We remove the coating with a special process so that we can do one final inspection before shipment.

About the crowns…We got exceptionally good news, almost too good to be true in fact. The crown supplier had made a lot of extras when they made the original order so the lead time was in fact only 6 weeks rather than months. I didn’t want to say anything until I actually had the crowns in hand because frankly I just couldn’t believe it. However here they are….we just got them in last week…

As you can see the label notes 400 pieces, invoiced on November 8, 2010. The order was actually 11 days early.

Sorry to keep everyone in the dark but one of the reasons this update was delayed was because of the crown issue. This isn’t the kind of news that I wanted you guys to worry about until I had a better answer than “may be it will be okay”. November 19th was going to be the date we either new everything was okay or we were f**ked. Fortunately it worked out…well except for the cost of the new crowns.

The first batch of C3 parts arrived at the assemblers late last week. We will be putting together the parts kit ordering pages over the next two weeks and e-mailing the Plankowners and the others that are eligible to order the spare parts kit at that time. Thanks for everyone’s patience. Everything is going as fast as it can be done, which is to say with the requisite amount of care. My apologies for the lack of updates but updates take time. I am not saying you aren’t entitled to them but I do have to balance the priorities. This update and the updates from the last few days have take more than 12 hours solid hours of work to put together and post. But that is also the reason we have put together a new strategy that will be put into practice at the end of January 2011.