The case is made in accordance to Philippe's specifications. "Case makers are not precise people", he says with a grin. Shown below is a tray of cases, finished by the casemaker, and waiting for the movements.
Philippe is obsessed to ensure that the movements fit the cases completely, without any movement rings, and he needs the movements to be precisely machined, so that its diameter is within 0.01mm of the internal diameter of the case. To ensure this, he first make these case holders shown below in sizes of 0.01mm increments. These blanks are used to measure the inside of the cases.
I know of no other watchmaker who does this, most would merely put in a longer securing screw, or a movement ring.
"I use these blanks to measure the internal dimensions of the case like so", pips Philippe.
With this, he knows exactly how much to cut the movement blanks, so it fits snugly, without any movement blanks. Shown below are the movement blanks, after returning from the CNC machine, before any finishing.
Philippe's approach to the click follows the tradition set by Valee de Joux artisans from the turn of the century. Much thought has gone into the design of th click, which takes the form of a very beautifully machined piece, chamfered and polished to mirror finish.
Shown below is the click spring, held by a special tool used to keep it in place during the finishing. Note the glint of the anglage as it catches some light.
As is traditional in the Valee, the jewel of the fifth wheel sits on a black polished steel cap, which is cut, polished, and set into the fifth wheel cock.
Note the sharp outward pointed edge of the cock, marked A. Sharp points, either outward pointing or inward, are very difficult to execute, and only possible by hand.
Philippe examining the finish.
Sepia toning by Photoshop CS.