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  • Writer's pictureReuben Schoots

January Newsletter 2024

To all of my valued readers,

2023 was a fabulous year. Beginning with the delivery of Series One, followed by the release of Series Two. A trip to Singapore and Malaysia early in the year, followed by a trip to China later in the year. The workshop saw some rather significant upgrades and I experienced lots of growth as a Watchmaker. I also celebrated my 30th birthday. The year would not have been made possible without the support of you all, for which I am most grateful. I would like to warmly welcome 2024, a year I predict will be just as full and possibly even more exciting than 2023.


A Tale of Three Hands

Designing and Machining

The earliest pocket watches from the 16th and 17th century were equipped with only one hand - the hour hand. It took quite some time and development of the mechanical movement and watch before the minute hand was added and finally we saw the inclusion of the second hand. This all happened roughly in the first century of watchmaking. Ever since then, the large majority of watches that have been produced have been equipped with all 3 hands; hours, minutes and seconds. This is how we have become accustomed to telling the time.

As part of the commitment to myself of continually improving as a watchmaker and craftsman, I wanted to enhance the aesthetic qualities of the design of the hand set for Series Two. I wished to redesign the geometry, for a profound 3D quality, combined with more intricate finishing techniques.

Second Hand

By far the smallest of the three hands. 

Given its small size and intricate shape it is a very tricky part to make. Tiny cutting tools, down to just 0.2mm diameter, difficult workholding and very fragile parts are all themes in making seconds hands.

The hole of the central bore is just over 0.25mm. Enough space to pass through just a few human hairs. The thin stem is even smaller, tapering down over its length and finishing at just over 0.1mm thick.

You will notice that both stems either side of the central boss have a gentle taper, thinning out ever so slightly towards the ends, for a more natural and elegant profile. The central and counterbalance bosses are polished and of course, the hand is flame blue/purple to finish.

Minute Hand

The long slender minute hand finishes in a fine needle point, which allows for precision reading of the minute track. The point is so sharp that you could probably sew a thread with this hand!

For Series Two I wanted the minute and hour hands to differentiate and not to just have the minute hand be a slimmer and longer version of the hour hand. I believe this design choice, of having two different hands, greatly improves the legibility of the watch and allows for quick telling of the time.

The long thin stem of the minute hand is very slender and again, like the small seconds hand presents various challenges in workholding, during the machining process. Careful programming and a delicate hand whilst finishing are vital, to avoid breaking, warping or marking the hand.

Hour Hand

The hour hand I have dreamed of making for many years. With a 3D arrow point sculpted tip, rounded stem and raised boss. Finally it has become a reality after countless hours of developing the process.

There is such a broad range of shapes and symbols that are used in watchmaking and in broader horology for that matter, for the hour hand. I kept coming back to the simplicity and practical beauty of the most ancient symbol used to point or indicate a direction. The arrow. Our brains are so hardwired to recognise this symbol, that we unconsciously follow its instruction.

It was clear to me that the arrow point was a logical choice in keeping with the theme of a highly legible dial.

I hope you enjoy the 3D sculpted tip, reminiscent of ancient stone arrow tips.

Finished Hands for Prototype

To gain a better idea of the hands' final appearance, I roughly finished a set. Here is the result. I cannot wait to finish a set for a production piece.

The finishing process is as follows:

  • Clean up burrs from raw machined hand

  • Harden steel by heating with flame to cherry red and quenching in oil

  • Clean up oxide scaling left by the hardening process

  • Anneal hardened hand to deep blue colour, to relieve stress and risk of breaking

  • Polish and grain all surfaces

  • Clean

  • Flame to deep purple/blue

  • Form countersinks, bosses and chamfers

  • Polish countersinks, bosses and chamfers

Instagram Video Hour Hand

Reuben Schoots' updates.

Visit to Shanghai

Towards the end of last year, in mid December I was invited to visit Shanghai for a week, which also happened to be my first time in China. The purpose of this visit was to meet some industry professionals and collectors, as well as to interview with some Chinese watch media companies. My final day in Shanghai was dedicated to an event that showcased my work. The all day event was a big success, beginning with back to back media interviews all morning, followed by an early lunch. The afternoon was when collectors, enthusiasts and myself had the opportunity to mingle and discuss all things watchmaking. In the evening we had a large number of guests join us for dinner in a restaurant. 

I was humbled by the number of people who contributed to make the day happen and also by the number of collectors and Independent Watchmaking enthusiasts who attended. A special mention to Jeayou and WestWood Time for sponsoring the event, Rick from the WatchDog for allowing us to use his space, to my translator Carrie and of course, Mr G for organising the entire thing. 

The trip was a major success and I was truly blown away by the warm and generous hospitality I received.

So… What’s Next?

I have been making all of the different screws for Series Two, for which I am using some new techniques. I am so excited by the great results. I spent some time making some tooling for this job and it has paid off tremendously.

Dial making and prototyping is at the forefront of mind at the moment. The dial has undergone some changes and improvements since the original design. I have spent a relatively crazy amount of time exploring different dial making techniques. There are a few more experiments I would like to make before I settle on the design. 

Best wishes,

It has been a few months since I have written a newsletter. To say things have been both busy in and out of the workshop would be putting it lightly. Thankfully this means I have plenty of work to share and there are some interesting topics being covered in the upcoming newsletters; dial making and design, screw making and tool making. Remember you can sign up to my mailing list, this will ensure you do not miss a newsletter and is also the first and best place to be notified.

For your continued interest in my work and for taking the time to read. I thank you.

The support and encouragement I receive from you all goes a long way.

If you have any questions or comments we would love to hear from you. Please reach out to

Thank you,

Reuben Schoots


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