• Watchmaking & Me

Hand Removing Tools - The Essential Basic Tools of Watchmaking

Before you are able to fully work on a movement, you should remove the dial, not only to gain access to the dial side of the movement but also to protect the dial. To do this, you need a suitable hand removing tool.


There are primarily two main hand removing tool options to choose from:


Presto Tool

Presto style tools come in various guises to aid in the removal of: hour/minute or second hands, cannon pinions and some wheels.


The presto tool works well when you need to lift an item with minimal down force.


The hand removing presto tool is used by placing the presto tool on top of the centre post of the hands, then squeezing the sides, which moves two levers underneath the hands and then into an upward motion. Small plastic feet come down onto the dial face to provide the necessary force to lift the hands up. Using your dial protector would be wise to minimise dial marks.


Bergeon are the main branded manufacturer of presto tools. There are also numerous budget options available.


Rough Cost

Basic Variety = from £4

Branded Variety = from £45


Recommendation

I've not tried using a branded presto tool, but I've got a budget one and it has done the job for me so far, although I do tend to use hand levers more. I suggest you save your money and go for the budget option. This budget option option on Amazon will do the trick. The Bergeon 30671-7 Presto Tool would be the branded option to use.


Hand Levers

Hand levers (which look like mini-crowbars) are sold and meant to be used in pairs, in order to add equal pressure on both sides of the hands and minimise the risk of bending or damaging the hands during removal. They are inserted opposite to each other underneath the hands in order to pry the hands up off of the arbor. This does apply some pressure to the dial and therefore you should definitely use a dial protector.


From what I've seen, hand levers are the traditional and preferred choice of hand removal tool for watchmakers. So far, they are also my favourite hand removal tool simply because I feel I have more control over the speed and pressure applied, which minimises the risk of damage to the hands or dial.


Bergeon, Horotec and A F Switzerland are the main branded manufacturers although there are numerous budget options available. They come in various sizes to cater for different sized hands.


Some watchmakers also use hand levers as snap on case back removers.


Class-made Hand Levers

You can also make these yourself with a small piece of steel or brass rod if you have access to the necessary tools, as we did in one of our early classes.


Rough Cost

Basic Variety = from £4

Branded Variety = from £25

Recommendation

I'm fortunate to have my own class-made hand levers and a set of Horotec 05.007 Hand Levers. From my own experience, if you are unable to make your own, then I would recommend going the branded route, as you can never be sure of the finish on the budget options.


If you think I've missed anything or have anything to add, please comment below.

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