Watch Balance Wheel

Discussion in 'Macro' started by ben_hutcherson, Dec 30, 2017.

  1. I was playing a bit with some "old" glass earlier this evening using one of my favorite macro subjects-a watch(I also collect watches).

    This was taken with a pre-AI 55mm 3.5 Micro mounted on a set of Novaflex bellows with my D800. Illumination was via a 3-strobe Norman set up(two umbrellas for the main lighting, and a 12" reflector on the wall behind to cut shadows). All strobes were at 200 w-s.

    The subject was roughly 330mm from the focal plane, which if I'm not too rusty on my Macro math works out to 6x life size. The lens was set to a marked f/5.6 aperture, and I'm really too lazy to figure out what the "real" aperture is. I probably should have reversed the lens, but couldn't find a reversing ring. I'm pretty pleased with how this turned out, though.

    balance wheel-web.jpg
  2. I love watches for macro work because they have all sorts of crazy small detail and design. In my day job I work with very tiny assemblies and find that researching watchmaking methods often reveals better ways of making the parts. Do you have the George Daniel's Watchmaking book? A lot of good photos there. I want to say a focus stack would give an overall sharper result, but having the slightly soft areas helps the 3D appearance, so it's really a matter of what you're going for.
  3. I actually bought two copies when it was reprinted a few years ago as the first printing was impossible to find and $$$.

    Daniels was a genius, and it's one of my go-to references. I still disagree with the curmudgeon that "his" Co-Axial escapement is fundamentally different from Fasoldt's escapement, but I'll overlook that in light of the fact that he was the finest watchmaker of the 21st century.

    Thanks for your comments on the photo. In all honesty, what I was actually going for with this was a clear view of both the hairspring and balance wheel assembly. This is a "non-magnetic" Waltham, and there are few photos that actually show the bi-metallic lamination of the non-mag wheel clearly. It's still not overly clear in my photo, but it can be seen in the full-res file.

    balance wheel copy.jpg
  4. Now we're talking high magnification, and I can see the bimetal joint. How they ever got that sort of thing to work without fancy simulation software is beyond me, but work they do. I do some occasional macro product photography and have found the mechanical loop between subject and camera is really important. If on a tripod, I try to find a hard floor to work on. Everyplace I go tends to be carpeted, making sharp shots difficult. If you're on a single tabletop or copy stand, so much the better. I've only done a few focus stacks, and nothing I have would give fine enough positioning for the likes of a watch. The bug people seem to have this down to a science. If you haven't tried it, download a copy of CombineZP and give it a shot. BTW, as a part time machinist, one of my favorite books is Practical Benchwork for Horologists by Levin.
  5. Well, I reached the end of the bellows and also had the lens about an inch from the watch. Looks like it's reversal time. I only closed down to f/4,, and it was dark enough wide open that I could JUST see it well enough to compose and more or less see focus. I'd just put new modeling lamps in my strobes(I had a light stand tumble and it took out the umbrella, modeling lamp on that head, and the lamp on the shared circuit) but probably should have cranked them to full power.

    I think I'd definitely in reversal zone.

    None the less, the quality of this nearly 50 year old piece of glass continues to amaze me.

    waltham non mag web.jpg
  6. One of my favorite macro lenses is an ancient (small thread) Schneider short focal length enlarging lens, reversed on the end of a bellows. Lots of good old glass out there!

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