Roger Ferner Swiss Hand Operated Watch Dial Printing Machine
Sold: An used Roger Ferner Swiss Hand Operated Watch Dial Printing Machine or Pad Printing Machine
Made in: La Chaux de Fonds Suisse
Almost all dials are concerned with a type of printing. Watchmaker’s logos, “Swiss Made” appellation, identifying characters, and even hour markers for common watches. We take an example of the stylized hour markers of 12, 3 and 9 on the dial.
The design is engraved onto brass plate with great precision. The printing method is similar to the press method of intaglio, where ink is placed on the plate, and because of the sunken surfaces of the engraving, the ink collects. A quick wipe of the plate rids the non-engraved surface of ink. A silicon ball is then applied on the plate, picking up the ink. This is then transferred to the dial.
Sometimes, due to the thickness of the print required, several imprints are made with fresh ink on the plate. The precision required in the setup of the plate, silicon ball and the dial is very high, so that each subsequent imprint is precisely on the same spot, so that the ink so applied builds up as a layer without making the edges of the characters being printed fuzzy. This is done for each colour needed on the dial.
The precision required is often underestimated. For example, a dial may have a printed second’s marker in the form of a railway track around the dial. The precision for each second mark is very high, as a small amount of error will be easily detected. Behind all those operations, the exerced hand of specialist is ensuring to provide you the best dial quality
The process starts with a plate with the numerals, railway tracks, logo etc. that are engraved into the metal by means of a chemical process (in the past they would have been engraved by hand). The plate is spread with ink and cleaned so only the ink in the design is left. A silicon or gelatine head then stamps down on the plate and picks up the ink and it is transferred to the dial. Watching the process, on these old machines with ink everywhere, you wonder how it is possible for the numerals to be transferred to the dial without a smudge, but it works and the result is immaculate.