Recently, I had the opportunity to head down to our watch factory in Southern China to conduct a factory audit with some clients. From inspecting each stage of manufacture you can gain valuable insight into the possibilities of product development and all the assembly process and the industry.
Let us take you through a step by step process and things to look out for:
- Inner Components of Analog Quartz Watch
- Manufacturing the Case
- Assembly & Packaging
- Quality Control
Inner Components of Analog Quartz Watch
The inner components are the “brain” of the watch, controlling all of its function. The accuracy of analog watches is determined by how each precise each individual component is when manufactured and fitted together. These include:
The movement is the most vital aspect – the internal mechanism of the watch, made of many moving parts which run the clock.
In this Promotional watch factory 3 types of movement are used depending on the range of the watch:
- Swiss movement – most expensive of the lot, where the cheapest can usually last a minimum of 8 years
- Japanese movement – standardized movement which is used for most watches, considered good with a lifespan of about 3 years or more. Usually this movement is shipped from either Singapore or Japan itself.
- Chinese movement – the cheapest amongst all 3, used only for low budget watches – estimated to be around 1 year of lifespan.
The lifespan of watch batteries (typically alkaline) differs based on your specified requests and budget. Our factory is using batteries mainly from HK(18 months), Indonesia (1 year) and Japan (2-3 years) for its mass productions.
Our factory generally boycotts Chinese batteries due to their low quality nature. However, some factories are still using them, to cut costs so do take note.
Often, these batteries are made to be easily replaceable due to its relatively short lifespan.
The dial is what makes your watch highly marketable with your brand logo/artwork printed fashionably along with the hours of the day.
A rubber gasket is a part which keeps the watch water resistant. The factory will install one each on the front and back of the watch. When unscrewing the back cover to replace your battery, beware that this part is very vulnerable to falling off. If not put back in place properly, your watch may lose its resistance.
Manufacturing the case
It is essential to ensure quality in the manufacture in the case as it encloses and protects the movement and dial of a watch. To begin, untreated metal alloys retrieved from another factory are used to form the shape of the casing thereafter receiving treatment to look as good as new .
1. Attaching the different metal components together so that they are treated as a whole.
2. Scraping – The case will go through a huge machinery where it files and scraps off any unwanted material or flaw off the surface to create a smoother touch. Lubricants are used to accelerate this process.
3. Polishing & Shine – The case will then receive its shine after polishing treatment. This gives it a renewed look and is very important as some may not be cleaned properly and stains can still be seen. So it is essential that all parts that go through this process are cleaned thoroughly.
4. Drilling in holes for the assemble team to rivet smaller parts to the watch like the watch crown.
5. Now that the cases are all done and ready to go, the workers will then send them for colouring – through either plating or paint.
6. Glass placement to complete the whole shell.
7. For special requests on water resistant watches, a leakage test is conducted through this machinery right here – the test pressure will then be indicated as an equivalent water depth in metres usually.
Assembly and Packaging
After all these have been completed, the case will be sent to the assembly team. The assembly team is responsible for putting together the inner components of the watch mentioned earlier, along with its strap and back cover.
Usually, the assembly team has to be very experienced as fitting these tiny, fragile parts together can be very tricky. Not done the right way, it will render the whole watch useless. Therefore, members in the assembly team are chosen carefully, possessing nimble fingers as assembling a watch requires much dexterity…
Anatomy of the strap
The strap is easily customizable to any designs you want. Material of the strap includes:
Besides the dial, the strap is often where you can work on your promotional efforts and designs, with the buckle on the strap usually showcasing your brand logo.
Once the back casing is secured to the timepiece, the whole process is completed by placing another layer of protection on both the front and the back.
The completion of the watch brings us to reviewing packaging options. We will be writing another specific post on this, so stay tuned!
Usually most factories conduct Quality Control inspections for at least 3 times – the minute parts of a watch are delicate so most watch factories will designate a whole department for QC to ensure quality. ODM take random samples during the production for testing both for functioning and for lab tests such as Rohs & CE.
QCs are done when:
- The case is completed and a first round of QC is done to ensure they live up to expectations.
- The watch is assembled – the watch is tested to see if it is able to tell the time accurately.
- After packaging – random checks are made to make sure one final time that everything is good and ready to deliver.
Going behind the scenes and understanding the effort and sweat placed into manufacturing each timepiece allows me to better appreciate on what has been often taken for granted. What about you?