When passion rules the game:

Paul Gerber's revolutionary new Cal. 33 watch

Part 2
(Please click on small images to view large ones)

Paul Gerber really enjoys running a small, independent atelier and workshop. He is free to decide on his own on what to develop and produce, there is no marketing of accounting department, there is just his fun, devotion and passion for watch making. This also allows him to produce watches your never will find anywhere else. One aspect here is to produce as much as possible in-house, not only movement parts, but also dials, buckles and hands.

Manufacturing the Cal. 33 movement:

Paul Gerber obviously crafts the movement plates himself in his atelier using CNC technology (top image). The plates are cut of brass, tested and then finished with fine Geneva stripes, anglage and perlage. The Geneva stripes are applied in an angle of 33° (-> the name is caliber 33, after all!) and are computed in a way that each gear wheel axis is centrally intersected with one stripe.

But this is not the complete picture. Paul Gerber also manufactures the wheel and gears on his own. The wheels are cut of a special, hard alloy of 18kt rose gold (below, small image left) and are beautifully finished using a custom-made tool (small image left middle). Let's take as an example a finished wheel, the central minute wheel (big image below). The inner rims and the spokes are anglaged and polished. It is mounted on the also in-house made central pinion, which is a piece of art in itself (small image middle); please note the inwards shaped teeth of the upper gear rim, where the minute wheel is mounted). Like this, also the mainspring barrel (small image middle right) and the pallet (small image right) are made.

An exercise on its own is the pallet wheel. Because the forces acting on its teeth are too strong, it proved not to be possible to use the 18kt gold alloy for this wheel. Instead, it is made of steel. However, it is not without exemplary details as you can see from the next image: It is completely skeletonized, an extremely difficult task considering how small the whole pieces are (5.85 and 2.90mm diameter, respectively!!). The size of the pallet wheel makes it necessary to resort to completely new techniques: The pallet wheel is custom-made for Paul Gerber by the specialized company MimoTec using a galvanic method (here already fitted on his in-house-made pinion):
Finally, a picture of the completed movement. Paul Gerber buys the Glucidur balance wheel ring, and modifies it for the screws himself. The balance wheel is, together with the case, the crystals and the strap, the only thing he does not completely make on his own! You can also see now the screwed (gold) chatons and the interesting contrast of rhodium plated bridges, the deep yellow Glucidur balance and the red gold in-house made wheels.
Manufacturing the dial and hands:
Like in his iconic first wristwatches, the RetroSeconds and the RetroTwin (see Curtis Thompson's excellent review on the latter watch here), Paul Gerber himself produces the dial with its specific Guillochage (image top). The dial is cut from a brass plate and then guilloched using a CNC machine (left image). Then, the dial is rhodium plated and send to an outside specialist who rhodinizes it and prints the Paul Gerber logo.
Meanwhile, the numerals are made. Paul Gerber cuts them using CNC machines from 18kt rose gold (middle left image) and polish them (middle right image). Also, his unique hands are made in-house. They are designed by Paul Gerber himself, milled from steel, grinded and finally, in the tradition of great watch making art, hardened and blued by heat (right image).
Their shape reminds me on the shape of a juicy pear. Here you can see (from left to right):
- hours hand
- minutes hand
- seconds hand for watch with moon phase
- seconds hand for watch without moon phase
A deep blue, full of soul, don't you think? Paul carefully controls and selects each and every blued hand before they are put into a watch. The bluing by hand creates many different blue tones, and Paul tries to put only matching colours together.
The moon phase display moon is executed as a composition of deeply blue Lapis lazuli and 54 sparkling diamonds, combined in a globe of 6mm diameter (image left), integrated into the movement (unique in the watch world!) and visible from both sides of the watch (image middle left and right). The slow motion of the moon unifies technology (movement) and aesthetics (dial) in a three-dimensional fashion (image right).
Altogether, the dial makes up a beautiful ensemble. Resting surfaces make up the scene for a dramatic play of Arabic numerals around a guilloched center that resembles a sparkling ocean:
Manufacturing the buckle:
Paul Gerber sought to design a buckle which, while still being a tang buckle, is quite long in order to avoid strong bending of the strap. Like the watch cases, the buckles are made of matching gold colour, the Paul Gerber logo is engraved by CNC tools and afterwards enameled with blue colour:
We finally succeeded to present the techniques used to create these exceptional watches. In the following chapter, the finished watches will be shown.

Part 1 - Paul Gerber's new Cal. 33 movement
Part 2 - Pure in-house manufacture
Part 3 - The new Cal. 33 watches