Tweezers - The Essential Basic Tools of Watchmaking
Watchmaking tweezers are another vital addition to your tool set. They are meant to act as an extension to your fingers, they should be held between your thumb and first two fingers as if you are holding a pen. With practice you should be able to rotate them through 360 degrees while holding your watch parts between the tips of the tweezers. Another good test is the ability to pick up a human hair with a pair of tweezers.
It is strongly recommended to choose non-magnetic tweezers because having watch parts stick to your tweezers can be quite annoying and interrupt your flow.
They can be found in various types, shapes and materials including stainless steel, brass, carbon steel and even plastic and although stainless steel is most common I suggest you also purchase one or two carbon steel tweezers which are much harder wearing and will last a lifetime. The following are generally recommended by watchmakers as a minimum:
No. 2 - Strong with Fine and Flat Tips
No. 3 - Fine Tips
No. 5 - Short and Extra Fine for Hairsprings
Brass AM - for non marking of watch parts
Plastic - (optional for working on quartz movements)
Brass tweezers are invaluable when working with fragile watch parts as they are gentler on metal and less likely to mark.
The main respected tweezers brand to look out for is Dumont (also the most expensive), Bergeon and Horotec also make high quality options.
I originally purchased a very cheap set of 7 Stella stainless steal anti-magnetic tweezers and unlike cheap screwdrivers, they can still do a job and serve their purpose. I eventually replaced them with a few quality branded options. I still have this original set and still find them very useful as a backup especially as they are cheap enough to be adapted for other purposes (i.e. mainspring oiling) which I will come to in future posts.
When I did look to upgrade, my research found that sets of tweezers from the big manufacturers were quite pricey. So I made the choice to purchase individual tweezers to suit my needs as well as a generic tweezers box to store them. My core tweezers now consists of the following:
Dumont No. 1AM - Brass
Dumont No. 3 - Carbon Steel
Dumont No. 5 - Carbon Steel
My brass tweezer are the ones I seem to use most in order to avoid scratching parts but they should be respected and you should learn to jump between different tweezers for different tasks. Brass tweezers should not be used for anything that requires any force as they are fragile and easily mis-shaped with any excess force (I know, I've done it!), this is where the carbon steel options are better suited, much tougher and harder wearing.
Basic Variety = from £12 for a set of 7
Branded Variety = around £30 each
It's worth splashing the cash for the key sizes of branded Dumont tweezer and the buy a cheap basic set to fill the gaps.
If you think I've missed anything or have anything to add, please comment below.