February 20, 2018 11 min read
If there’s any imperfection in the crystal itself, or the AR coating, we’ll re-assemble the case with a new crystal, or re-apply the AR.
Likewise, the dial or a hand may need to be replaced, if I find an unacceptable imperfection in the part. Applied hour markers are installed by hand, and lume is applied by hand, so again, there can be a small degree of human error.
What’s “acceptable”? It’s a judgment call, but here again, if I think a customer is likely to complain about anything, or if I’m not happy having it considered representative of the quality we deliver, we’ll look to replace the part. Thankfully, it’s rare that I find any reason to replace a dial or hand.
Sometimes the crown will slip between positions. It may require a bit of working back-and-forth for the lubricants within the movement to get evenly distributed. Other times, the crown stem can be cut a little too long or too short, which can be the cause of the crown not engaging correctly.
If I find that the crown doesn’t operate as it should, even after working it a bit, I’ll set it aside for my watchmaker to look at, and possibly re-cut the crown stem, or install a new one. Otherwise, I just return the crown to its winding position or screw it down, as applicable.
What’s important for people to understand is that every part of the watch goes through at least 3 rounds of QC prior to being sent for assembly, the movements will be adjusted to within spec (if need be), and each watch goes through at least 2 rounds of QC after being assembled (including timekeeping tests), BEFORE it gets to me.
Going further, the movements most microbrands like mine use are usually “off-the-shelf” components from large suppliers, with low defect rates. Very often, we're doing no customization of the movements, which can sometimes lead to defects. As such, we’re not expecting to pull many, if any watches out for mechanical issues.
And therein lies the rub. When you’re not expecting to find many, if any defects, it’s easy to let your guard down, and of course that’s when you get a spike in your return for defect rate. It’s a rookie mistake, one I’m willing to admit even I have made.
It’s not uncommon for me to get a 300-500 piece production without any issues at all, when I won’t pull a single piece out for any reason whatsoever. That’s always a good result, but generally, I assume I’ll pull 1% out for some issue, be it quality, assembly, or operation.
The killer combo is when we get a higher-than-expected defect rate in the movement, combined with an unexpectedly high number of assembly errors. Dealing with that sort of double-whammy is no day at the spa.
That means the customer – that’s YOU – must make the effort to inspect new arrivals carefully, looking for anything amiss, BEFORE you do anything which will prevent you from being able to return it.
At that point, they may only offer to repair or correct the “defect”, and only IF they agree that what you’ve found IS a defect at all, and not something within their QC standards.
I said above that I generally assume we’ll pull 1% out during QC, which is the 5th or 6th round. That means, if you find something “wrong” with a watch we sent you, the odds of it being something that’s NOT within our QC standards are pretty slim.
More likely, it’s something we deemed to be within our acceptable range, or it’s within that 1%, but it just happened to slip through five or six rounds of QC. If it’s within the 0.1% of issues we can’t sort out, but you’ve accepted the watch by wearing it, we may not be able to resolve the issue to your satisfaction.
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