March 21, 2011

Beyond Motorcycles

Greetings fellow folk.  Today I wish to make a departure from my usual fare.  Today we will not speak of tools, or motor-driven conveyances, or the innate awesomeness of fire.  Today I wish to spend a moment in the fast paced, razzle-dazzle world of fashion accessories.  Particularly, useless, out-dated fashion accessories.  To be precise, The Watch.

With the advent of cellular phones and their fantastic timekeeping ability, you see less and less wrists adorned with a watch.  It would seem that the watch has been made over as a phone and (ironically?) moved back into the pocket, where it first started its journey through human culture.

And while Tag Heuer must be pulling some sort of profit to have His Coolness, Brad Pitt model their watches for the unworthy world to see, most of us don’t spend more than $100 on timekeeping per fiscal year.  I know I didn’t.  I spent a little over twenty bucks, and got this:

Fig. 32: A watch on a Royal typewriter

To say I simply 'got' the watch for a little over twenty dollars is false.  I got the watch face (a cheap Mossimo wrist watch with a fake leather band) for $20.  I made the watch band over the course of two days during my recent period of internet silence known as 'vacation'.  I'll get into the materials and methods of construction later, but needless to say, the watch cost me more Time than it did Money, which is perhaps appropriate.

Detail 1

I made the main wrist strap out of two layers of leather.  The top is black suede, about 1 millimeter thick.  It looks pretty, but has a lot of stretch in it, so would be unsuitable for the band.  I fixed this issue by making the watch out of two layers.  The bottom is good, strong leather, about 2 millimeters thick, but ugly tan in color.  I punched small holes around the pereimeter of both pieces and stitched it together with synthetic sinew.  I like synthetic sinew because it's much easier to work with, plus, you can melt your knots with a match to keep them from ever coming undone.  The down side is that synthetic sinew will eventually lose it's leathery pigment and turn nylon white (because it's really white nylon, folks!).
Having two layers of leather meant I could do some pretty cool effects when attaching the face straps.  As you can see in Detail 1, the strap dives under the leather and is stitched through all the layers using a leather-workers awl.  I tried doing as much of this project as I could on my old Sears Kenmore sewing machine, but at around three ply of leather, the old girl gives a groan and refuses to go any further.

Detail 2

Eventually I decided to stop being creative and become simply ridiculous.  The second face strap is asymmetrical to it's brother, who I mentioned earlier.  It starts wide and tapers down to a chamfered end.  I then adorned it with the back end of two handgun cartridges (9mm and .38 Special, both +P so I could have them in silver).  I cut both of the cartridges off in my vice and filed them down smooth.  I had previously removed the primers and so simply threaded them on as beads through the primer pocket.  The face strap was punched with holes corresponding the the cartidge size, so they would be countersunk into the leather.

Detail 3

Finding a suitable buckle for a watch like this is nigh impossible, so I went super-unconventional and secured it to my wrist using a knurled nut I found in my grandpa's collection.  In order to mate the metal to the leather, I had to fire up my brain and, shortly thereafter, the MIG welder.

Detail 4

Detail four doesn't show you what's going on between the leather layers, but essentially, there is a 1.25" long strip of 18 gauge steel, about 0.375" wide, and rounded on all corners so it won't slice through.  I drilled five equally spaced holes in this piece of metal, and welded a section of threaded metal (fancy talk for a cut off bolt) flush into the center hole from the back.  I punched corresponding holes into the leather as needed and then sewed the metal between the leather strap layers with the bolt protruding as shown.  You can see the knurled nut in the upper, left-hand corner.  It really is a very nice looking piece of hardware.

Detail 5

In the end, I got myself a post-apocalyptic timepiece that I am proud to wear.  If I could change anything, I'd put a nicer face on it, waterproof, with an automatic movement so I'd never need batteries.  But honestly, who has that much to spend on a watch?

Demoto would like to thank his dad for inspiring him in this undertaking with tales of the massive Russian submarine watch.  You may not have brought one back from the Ukraine, but I might have made one to rival it's coolness.

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