In the world of watchmaking, there is a delicate balance that extends beyond the intricate movement of gears and springs. The protection and preservation of a timepiece is a major element of watchmaking. This includes the use of the often overlooked movement case cushions.
Movement case cushions play a critical role in safeguarding the integrity of a watch movement ensuring its longevity and performance. Movement case cushions can be extremely important and helpful but often not considered a priority for your watchmaking toolkit. I, however, think they are extremely beneficial and would highly recommend having one or two at your disposal.
What is a Movement Case Cushion?
A movement case cushion is a small but simple tool to use during watchmaking. It is a soft surface to work on your movements. They are available in a variety of materials including leather, silicone and gel. A gel cushion provides greater visibility but the surface is significantly firmer and can be trickier to work on watch parts. Alternatively, other materials provide a better workspace but it can be more difficult to see the parts.
Movement case cushions also come in multiple sizes. The most common sizes used by watchmakers are 55mm and 75mm diameters. I currently have two case cushions, a 50mm diameter padded case cushion and a 75mm diameter gel cushion. They both serve a purpose and are useful in their own way. The 50mm padded cushion is the perfect size for holding movements and parts with a good level of give to work on but the black color makes it harder to see parts.
On the other hand, the 75mm gel cushion is a lighter color allowing you to clearly see each part and is also a better size for cases. It is, however, slightly too firm to work on parts but offers a better grip on a crystal for opening a notched screw case back.
What is a Movement Case Cushion Used For?
While working on a watch movement or handling fragile parts, watchmakers can encounter challenges posed by the firmness of their bench mat. There are also potential hazards of placing a watch crystal side down on their workbench. This is where the practicality of a case cushion truly shines.
The primary purpose of a movement case cushion is to provide a soft and supportive surface for working on watch movements and more fragile components. Unlike a rigid bench mat, a case cushion offers a gentle yet secure platform that minimizes the risk of damaging or scratching delicate surfaces. Its cushioning properties create a protective barrier ensuring that the movement and other parts are held securely. As it is non-slip, you can rest assured that everything is safe and secure whilst working.
When it comes to opening a watch case back, the use of a movement case cushion proves invaluable. Placing a watch crystal side down on a bench mat or workbench while attempting to access the case back can lead to scratches, chips or even shattering of the crystal. By utilizing a case cushion, watchmakers can safely position the watch without compromising the integrity of the timepiece.
Whether it’s providing a softer working surface for intricate tasks or protecting the watch crystal during case back removal, a movement case cushion offers peace of mind to watchmakers. It serves as a practical solution to maintain the pristine condition of timepieces and safeguards the watch parts.
Movement case cushions vary in price massively depending on whether you purchase a basic or a branded option. Basic movement case cushions can be as little as $10 whilst branded options can have a starting price of $50. The best branded options are typically made by Bergeon and Horotec.
Whilst a movement case cushion is not necessarily essential, it is an extremely useful addition to your watchmaking toolkit. As it is not an absolute essential, it is not worth the investment in a branded option as cheap options are good enough and perform well.
Tips for Using Movement Case Cushions
A lot of movement case cushions are typically black in design. Whilst they are also extremely beneficial, it can make it more difficult to see the watch parts positioned on it, especially if they are also darker in color. A clear gel cushion is a better alternative if you are just purchasing one.
Having multiple movement case cushions allows for a variety of different tasks in your watchmaking journey. By having options, you can choose the movement case cushion that is suitable for the specific watch movement and case size. Consider factors such as material and compatibility with the case design to ensure a proper fit and optimal functionality.
Regularly inspect and clean the movement case cushion to ensure its optimal condition. Remove any debris or particles that may have accumulated as they can affect the cushion’s performance and cause damage to watch parts.
Some movement case cushions come with a dust cover. This is a great option to protect it from dust and debris when not in use ensuring it is clean to use next time.
Over time, movement case cushions may wear out. Monitor their condition and replace them when necessary to maintain the proper support and protection for watch movements.
Movement Case Cushions FAQs
A watch cushion is a small pillow or pad that is used to protect, display, or store a watch. It can be made of various materials, such as velvet, leather, suede, or linen, and it can have different shapes, sizes, and colors. A watch cushion can be used to prevent scratches, dust, or moisture from damaging the watch, or to enhance the appearance and presentation of the watch.
Repairing or servicing the watch, especially if the watch needs to be opened or disassembled, or if the watch has a complex or fragile mechanism.
A movement case cushion provides a soft and supportive surface for working on a watch. It protects the crystal ensuring it is safe, secure, and at no risk of damage.
If you think I’ve missed anything or have anything to add, please comment below.