Protecting a watch movement is a critical part of watchmaking. Once you have delicately removed a watch movement from its case, you want to avoid placing it directly on a desk or any other flat surface. This precaution is necessary to prevent damage from misplacement and instability which can affect the movement’s precision, performance, and appearance. There is also the risk of accidentally damaging watch parts if not placed securely.
To ensure the protection of the movement, watchmakers commonly employ a specialized tool called a movement holder. This essential device provides a secure and stable platform for safely securing the movement during various repair or maintenance tasks.
By securely holding the movement, the holder minimizes the risk of unintentional damage or misalignment. This allows you to work on intricate tasks with precision and confidence. No matter the task, a movement holder serves as a reliable companion throughout the watchmaking process.
What Are Movement Holders?
Movement holders are designed to provide a stable and adjustable platform for working on the intricate components of a watch movement. Typically, movement holders feature a vice-like mechanism or clamping system that securely grips the movement from multiple sides. This ensures a firm hold without damaging the delicate parts. The holder can be tightened or expanded as needed to accommodate different sizes and shapes.
Movement holders come in various designs and materials including stainless steel, carbon fiber and other durable materials. Some more advanced models offer reversible functionality, with one side catering to larger pocket watch movements and the other side suitable for smaller wrist watch movements.
Bergeon and Horotec are the two main manufacturers of movement holders. However, Bergeon options are typically preferred by watchmakers and come in two varieties:
- Bergeon 4040 Movement Holder (8 3/4 – 19 Ligne)
- Bergeon 4040-P Movement Holder (8 3/4 – 19 Ligne)
The only difference between the two movement holders is that the 4040-P model is made from carbon fiber rather than stainless steel. This means it has a little more give when tightening around a movement and is less likely to scratch it. They are priced the same and therefore the Bergeon 4040-P is the best option to go for.
What are Movement Holders Used For?
Movement holders are specialized tools used in watchmaking to securely hold and stabilize watch movements during repair, maintenance, or assembly.
By using watch movement holders, you can safely and conveniently perform a range of tasks on the movement. The secure grip provided by the movement holder ensures stability and minimizes the risk of accidental damage or misalignment during these delicate procedures. A movement holder is an indispensable tool that enhances precision, efficiency and safety in the intricate world of watch repair and maintenance.
Basic movements holders are from $11 whilst branded varieties are more around the $35 price point.
Of the options for movement holders, the Bergeon 4040-P Movement Holder is your best option. The risk to the movement from a budget option movement holder is just not worth the saving in my opinion. Branded options are also higher quality with enhanced longevity and durability.
As an alternative to movement holders, there are also movement rings. These are not universal as they are designed to match specific (ligne) sizes corresponding to the movement being worked on. In Swiss watchmaking, the term “ligne” is commonly used as a unit of measurement, particularly for determining the thickness of a movement.
Movement rings have a molded tube-like shape and feature a notch to accommodate the winding stem. Unlike adjustable movement holders, these rings provide a secure yet gentle grip, allowing the movement to sit flush within the ring. They are available in both plastic and metal offering both an affordable option and a higher quality alternative.
Higher-end movement rings are crafted by renowned watch tool manufacturers specifically for certain movement calibers. These precision tools often come equipped with hand pushers for convenient hand setting and chronograph function checks. They prove particularly useful when testing a movement without the need to reattach the pusher buttons and winding stem. Notable manufacturers of movement rings include Bergeon, Horotec, AF Switzerland and Horia, catering to different movement requirements.
While I have recently acquired a budget universal movement holder and have yet to try non-universal movement rings, I will provide feedback once I have thoroughly tested them.
Whilst basic varieties are as little as $20, branded options can start from $200.
Branded movement rings are definitely a worthy investment once you start working regularly on the same movement calibers. They are higher quality than their budget alternatives and will no doubt stand the test of time.
Tips For Using Movement Holders
Unless you plan to work with only a few different watch calibers (in which case you should buy a branded movement ring for those calibers) then a universal movement holder is your best bet.
Maintain stability by placing the movement holder on a stable surface such as a watchmaker’s bench mat. This will prevent accidental slips or toppling of the holder whilst working.
If you are working with chronograph features, opt for higher-end movement holders that come with specialized hand pushers. These tools allow for convenient testing and adjustment of movement functions without the need for reattaching pusher buttons or the winding stem.
Movement Holders FAQ
A movement holder holds the watch movement secure and steady whilst working on it. This keeps it safe and stable to prevent damage. Movement holders are universal and can be used for a wide variety of watch movements as they can be adjusted to fit.
If you are looking for a universal option, a movement holder is great for securing a wide range of watch movements. For a more specific alternative, movement rings are designed for specific movements and are more appropriate if working exclusively on specific watch movements.
If you think I’ve missed anything or have anything to add, please comment below.