Watchmaking tweezers are one of the most essential tools used in the intricate art of watchmaking. There is no doubt that alongside watchmakers screwdrivers, tweezers will be the most used tools in your kit. These specialised tweezers are designed to be precise and durable, with different types and sizes available for various watchmaking tasks. They are used for handling small and delicate watch components, such as screws, springs and jewels, which require extreme care and precision.
Watchmakers tweezers come in different shapes and sizes to suit various watch components. Plus, each type of tweezers is made of specific materials to suit the task at hand. For example, some tweezers are made of brass, while others are made of steel, gold or even plastic, depending on their intended use.
What Makes Good Watchmakers Tweezers
Watchmakers tweezers are a vital addition to your tool set. The role of watchmaking tweezers in the creation and repair of timepieces is vital to achieving accurate and precise results. They are designed to handle small and delicate watch components, which require the utmost care and precision. Whilst watchmaking tweezers are pretty standard, you want to ensure the ones in your toolkit offer the following:
Precision: Watchmakers tweezers are designed to be precise and accurate, allowing you to handle small components with the utmost care and accuracy. This level of precision is critical in ensuring that the watch functions correctly and accurately.
Durability: High-quality watchmakers tweezers are made of durable materials that can withstand regular use over time. They are designed to remain sharp and accurate, ensuring that they perform their function effectively over an extended period. One exception to this is brass tweezers which are very delicate and prone to damage but perfect when handling delicate parts.
Non-Magnetic: Some watch components are sensitive to magnetism, and using metal tweezers can cause damage or disruption to their accuracy. Watchmaking tweezers are made of non-magnetic materials, making them safe to use on magnetic components.
Versatility: Watchmakers tweezers come in different shapes and sizes, making them suitable for handling various watch components. Each type of tweezers is made of specific materials to suit the task at hand, ensuring that they perform effectively.
Protection: Watchmakers tweezers are designed to prevent damage to watch components during assembly and disassembly, protecting them from scratches, tool marks, and other types of damage that can occur during the watchmaking process.
Why You Should Spend Money on Good Watchmakers Tweezers
When it comes to watchmaking tweezers, the best quality are going to come with a slightly higher price tag. But does that mean it is important to spend considerable money on your watchmaking tweezers?
Unlike watchmaking screwdrivers, good watchmaking tweezers can be found at a lower price. With tweezers, you can afford to go cheap as they can do the same job as a branded, more expensive set. In contrast to cheap screwdrivers, affordable watchmaking tweezers can still do the job and serve their purpose.
I originally purchased a very cheap set of 7 Stella stainless steel anti-magnetic tweezers. Whilst I eventually replaced them with a few quality branded options, they worked well for me at the start of my watchmaking journey and did an excellent job. I still have this original set and find them very useful as a backup. They are also cheap enough to be adapted for other purposes like custom mainspring oiling tweezers.
That being said, if your budget allows for tweezers of higher quality then you should definitely invest. The price tag is higher because these tweezers are better quality, more precise and are likely to last a lifetime. It is therefore a worthwhile purchase but there are options available to you.
When I did look to upgrade, my research found that sets of tweezers from the big manufacturers were quite pricey. I made the decision to purchase individual tweezers to suit my needs as well as a generic tweezers box to store them. My core tweezers set now consists of the following:
You can therefore get great quality, branded tweezers without necessarily having to pay the price tag of a full set. One thing to also note is that all tweezers sets i’ve seen do not include a brass tweezer so you would need to purchase this separately anyway.
As a rough guideline, when looking for watchmaking tweezers, you should expect the following pricing:
- Basic Variety = from £12 for a set of 7
- Branded Variety = around £30 per tweezer
Things to Consider When Purchasing Watchmaking Tweezers
For your first purchase of watchmaking tweezers, it will be to your advantage to purchase a set. This is a great way to kickstart your watchmaking tool kit. By buying a set, it is guaranteed that each tweezer will be the same quality.
It also saves you messing up and buying duplicates accidentally as the set will include one of each size. A set also often comes with some storage.
If you choose to buy tweezers individually, the following watchmaker tweezer types 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
Watchmakers tweezers can be made of multiple different materials. Whilst all have their benefits, stainless steel is the most popular. However, you may want to consider purchasing carbon steel tweezers instead which are much harder wearing and will last a lifetime.
Brass tweezers are invaluable when working with fragile watch parts as they are gentler on metal and less likely to mark. In addition, brass tweezers are resistant to corrosion allowing them to stand the test of time. Make sure you have brass tweezers in your watchmaking toolkit.
It is strongly recommended that you choose non-magnetic tweezers. Non-magnetic tweezers are much more convenient and functional to work with whilst watchmaking. With magnetic tweezers, you will find that watch parts stick to your tweezers which can be quite annoying and interrupt your work flow. It is also worth noting that select watch parts can be sensitive to magnetism and therefore, magnetic tweezers would not be helpful.
The main respected tweezers brand to look out for is Dumont which are incredible quality tweezers. However, this is also the more expensive brand on the market. Decent alternatives include Bergeon and Horotec who also make high quality options.
Look for tweezers with comfortable handles that provide a good grip and prevent slippage. Handles made of materials such as rubber or plastic can be comfortable to hold and reduce hand fatigue during extended use.
Tips for Using Watchmaking Tweezers
Watchmaking tweezers are meant to act as an extension to your fingers offering you the ability to work within the exceptionally small space of the watch and with even smaller parts. Therefore, the tweezers should be held between your thumb and first two fingers as if you are holding a pen. Hold the tweezers near the tip to have better control and precision.
Avoid gripping the tweezers too tightly to prevent slipping and damaging delicate watch components. The longer you use the tweezers for, the more fluid and natural your usage will be. 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 of how well you are working with your tweezers is the ability to pick up a human hair with a pair of tweezers.
You should learn to jump between different tweezers for different tasks. Use brass tweezers of the most fragile watch parts. Brass tweezers are more gentle to use and have a lower risk of scratching or damaging delicate watch parts. However, brass tweezers should not be used for anything that requires any force as they are fragile and easily mis-shapen with any excess force. This is where your stainless steel/carbon steel tweezers come in which are more hardwearing.
Clean the tweezers after each use to remove dirt and debris, which can affect their performance. This also stops them from transferring dust and debris to any watch components the next time you use them.
Store the tweezers in a protective case or holder to prevent them from getting damaged or lost. Whilst higher quality tweezers can last a lifetime, this is only if you look after them well.
My personal recommendation is to splash the cash for the key sizes of branded Dumont tweezers and buy a cheap basic set to fill the gaps. This ensures that your core collection of watchmakers’ tweezers, the ones most often used, are of great quality and will last a long time. The cheaper tweezers in your collection will do a decent job without denting your budget for a tool rarely used.