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Aiguilles Beaubleu

Seconde Française - The hands

Paris - July 9, 2024
Behind the scenes of Beaubleu Workshops is revealed through the Production journey. A series of articles created to explain the stages of manufacturing Beaubleu watches and the challenges they raise.

A few weeks ago, the new Beaubleu limited edition collection Seconde Française was launched. It is made up of two very distinct creations: 19.24 and 20.24. Seconde Française gives birth to the “flying seconds”, a weightless second hand which seems to float above the dial.

As a reminder, deliveries are scheduled for October 2024.

The hands

An emblematic and distinctive signature of the Maison, the (round) hands are the result of a meticulous process. It all starts with the use of thin, carefully perforated strips of steel. This step is crucial to ensure that the hands are precisely positioned as they pass through the different machines.

Each of these steps is carried out directly on said steel strip, from cutting to application of color, including the various treatments.

Only hands that meet the strict Beaubleu quality criteria will continue their journey, thus guaranteeing the absence of any potential defect (deformation, scratches, dust particles, bubbles, etc.).

Painting

In order to obtain a subtle matte finish, several layers of paint are sprayed, with particular care taken to dry between each application.

The challenge in this process is finding the perfect balance: achieving the thinnest possible thickness while ensuring flawless uniformity. It's all about precision, to just a few hundredths of a millimeter.

Each hand is then subjected to resistance and fineness tests to ensure the quality of the finish and the proper assembly to come.

The bluing process (for 19.24 White Ivory model)

Contrary to what one might think, the bluing of steel hands is not achieved with a simple application of paint.

The hands are heated by flame, in ovens of remarkable precision, necessary for the formation of the oxide film which gives this very particular coloring.

Flying second

The first step in making this Second is to cut a disc using a cookie cutter. Then, a suitable central axis is manufactured to receive the hat. Finding the right diameter and thickness was essential to ensure an even distribution, minimizing vibration and fragility of the moving glass, while making it virtually invisible.

The second challenge is to apply the pad printing directly to the disc without deforming or scratching it. It is therefore essential to control the viscosity of the paint for optimal results.

Penultimate step of this process, the disc of 0.17 mm with a tolerance of 0.004 mm (for information the diameter of a hair is 0.07 mm), will be housed on the barrel of the movement during assembly.

What makes this stage impressive is the interlocking of two extremely fine components.

SuperLuminova (for 20.24 models)

A grade X1 Luminova is used for these hands, known for its high density which requires a specific application method. The hands are designed with contours forming a rail, making it easy to manually apply Luminova to the center.

This approach guarantees uniform and precise distribution of the luminous paint.

Quality Control

To conclude, the precious hands are subject to careful control of dimensions, shape and coloring, in order to prevent any interference with the other elements of the dial.

The challenge lies in keeping these hands perfectly flat, light and strong enough to prevent them from bending and coming into contact with other hands or glass.

For Luminova hands, a check under a UV lamp is carried out.

The next chapter of this Production journey concerns the manufacturing of the dials and will arrive in a few weeks.