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Thread: Bergeon screwdriver fragility - deliberate?

  1. #1
    Journeyman earlofsodbury's Avatar
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    Bergeon screwdriver fragility - deliberate?

    I recently bit the bullet and purchased a Bergeon service kit, having previously damaged watches with cheap chinesium tools.

    Yesterday I wanted to change the strap on my Oris, and to my annoyance an overtight screw on one of the lug bars wrecked the tip of one of the Bergeon screwdrivers!

    Not since the days of xmas-cracker tools made from chewing-gum have I known a driver damaged by a screw, rather than the other way around - but then the thought struck me: is it deliberate? i.e. is it better to damage the driver than the screw, since a new tip is cheap, where damage to a decent watch most certainly isn't...

    Anyone know if this is the case. Bergeon are characteristically unforthcoming.

  2. #2
    Craftsman
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    Can't opine on whether or not it's deliberate but I had this too and was surprised at the tool material quality for the cost. I dug through my toolbox, found a tiny unbranded screwdriver that popped the screw out straight away.

  3. #3
    Master Webwatchmaker's Avatar
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    I make all my own screwdriver blades from English blue steel rod. Cut the rod to length and form a flat side to be held firm by the side screw in the screwdriver with a diamond disc in a bremel, then finish the blade itself on a fine India stone using a screwdriver sharpening roller. Do not put oil on the stone. Use turps substitute as the lubricant. This prevents the stone from getting clogged and it can be wiped clean after use with a rag soaked in more turps substitute.
    Finally, taylor the end of the blade to exactly fit the slot in the screw head so that there is no play and always use a screwdriver of the same width as the screw head. This minimises the risk of marking the screw head. I prepare my screwdrivers in advance for whatever watch I am next going to work on.
    Some screws are intrinsically weak because they have thin heads or have been previously over tightened. From experience I have noticed that many early Blancpain movements had extremely weak screws, an issue which now seems to have been resolved by Frédéric Piguet, the manufacturers.
    So my answer is to always have a screwdriver harder than the screw head. But taylor it to fit the head snugly and use the right width screwdriver.
    Finally, I have been buying starter tools recently for my apprentice and find that reasonable quality can be found online. Bergeon are not always the best choice. For example their patented sprung hand removing tool is positively a dangerous tool to use for removing today's tightly fitting watch hands. And their prices are often ludicrous.

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    Last edited by Webwatchmaker; 23rd November 2019 at 09:51.

  4. #4
    Master Thewatchbloke's Avatar
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    Were they anti magnetic screwdriver blades? I had a set of Bergeon antimagnetic screwdrivers and the blades seemed like they were made of cheese. I wrote and complained to Bergeon about them and sent them samples of the blades as I couldn't believe they weren't faulty. Bergeon wrote back and said in their opinion the blades weren't faulty but they sent me a complete set of standard blades each in packs of 10 (so 100 blades in all) for my trouble.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Webwatchmaker View Post
    I make all my own screwdriver blades from English blue steel rod. Cut the rod to length and form a flat side to be held firm by the side screw in the screwdriver with a diamond disc in a bremel, then finish the blade itself on a fine India stone using a screwdriver sharpening roller. Do not put oil on the stone. Use turps substitute as the lubricant. This prevents the stone from getting clogged and it can be wiped clean after use with a rag soaked in more turps substitute.
    Finally, taylor the end of the blade to exactly fit the slot in the screw head so that there is no play and always use a screwdriver of the same width as the screw head. This minimises the risk of marking the screw head. I prepare my screwdrivers in advance for whatever watch I am next going to work on.
    Some screws are intrinsically weak because they have thin heads or have been previously over tightened. From experience I have noticed that many early Blancpain movements had extremely weak screws, an issue which now seems to have been resolved by Frédéric Piguet, the manufacturers.
    So my answer is to always have a screwdriver harder than the screw head. But taylor it to fit the head snugly and use the right width screwdriver.
    Finally, I have been buying starter tools recently for my apprentice and find that reasonable quality can be found online. Bergeon are not always the best choice. For example their patented sprung hand removing tool is positively a dangerous tool to use for removing today's tightly fitting watch hands. And their prices are often ludicrous.

    Sent from my SM-G900F using Tapatalk
    This is interesting. Regarding the hand removal tool, do you feel this is likely to cause damage. Would you recommend levers instead?

  6. #6
    Master Webwatchmaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaffe View Post
    This is interesting. Regarding the hand removal tool, do you feel this is likely to cause damage. Would you recommend levers instead?
    I use sharp edged levers with a central cut out to wrap around the hand collet and with thin clean polythene under them to protect the dial. The Bergeon sprung hand lifters give many problems. They will definitely mark matt black dials and scratch soft lacquer on older dials. With enamel dials they can crack them due to the pressure they exert. I use a special hand remover for enamel dials which grips the underside of the hour hand collet and lifts by pressing variable sized pins onto the top of the cannon pinion, clearing the minute hand hole.



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  7. #7
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    Thank you. That is a very useful looking tool!

  8. #8
    Master Webwatchmaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaffe View Post
    Thank you. That is a very useful looking tool!
    Yeah, It's quite rare now. I must try it for nose hairs...

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  9. #9
    Hell AF screwdrivers better than Bergeon MAYBE.

  10. #10
    Journeyman earlofsodbury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Webwatchmaker View Post
    I make all my own screwdriver blades from English blue steel rod.
    I have the utmost respect for what you're doing, if your handle reflects your vocation - it makes the utmost sense. I must admit I bought the Bergeon kit exactly because I didn't want to have to keep re-grinding cheap drivers so that at least they weren't triangular and fat!

    Quote Originally Posted by Thewatchbloke View Post
    Were they anti magnetic screwdriver blades?
    Not specifically, but given your points and those of other respondants, Bergeon will be hearing from me!

  11. #11
    Master
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    Interesting thread as I thought it was just me. When I ‘upgraded’ to Bergeon screwdrivers I snapped the tip off one the first time I stripped a movement!

  12. #12
    Craftsman
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    I have 2 sets of AF ones. Never had a problem with them that wasn’t caused by Me using them inappropriately (I don’t just do watches)

    Dave

  13. #13
    Master Webwatchmaker's Avatar
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    I bought a set of Bergeon screwdrivers on a revolving stand over 40 years ago. They were about £75.00 then. The finish on the shafts lasted for years but eventually it started to come off. The tops were filled with ball bearings as I remember and were solid. Lovely to use. I don't remember the blades being anything special and who knows where they get them from these days. I eventually gave them away and was given a new set from makers just over the border from La Chaux de Fonds in France.
    They were not great quality so I just bought a set from Cousins. Those blades aren't bad but I still have loads of my own home made ones. Using Pioneer English blue steel. They get a lot of use and even prise the kids off Humbrol cans and remove spring bars from lugs.
    But I constantly keep them well finished with a flat bottom edge and demagnetised. Very basic maintenance really for my daily bread.

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  14. #14
    Journeyman rodia77's Avatar
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    Not a screwdriver but my Bergeon pin pusher broke rather easily. Springbar forks seem to hold just fine.

  15. #15
    Master Webwatchmaker's Avatar
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    All I can say about Bergeon is that their prices have always been eye wateringly expensive and A+F stuff I have found much cheaper and just as durable. Even the Bergeon catalogue was fifty quid !
    When I first lived in CH I ordered watch parts from Bergeon Le Locle. They always sent the wrong part. It was so infuriating that I found it easier to buy from K H Mahoney in Bristol when I did the odd repair. Cousins weren't prominent at that time. Mahoney were brilliant. Plus they always had a great stock of second hand watchmaking tools and equipment, and a reasonable returns policy !
    *However, I feel that their generous returns policy contributed significantly to their ultimate demise.

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    Last edited by Webwatchmaker; 24th November 2019 at 11:52.

  16. #16
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    I can only give my experience , my Bergeon spring bar removal tool is ok on the fork end but the small pin pusher i managed to break the first time i used it . Ok must have given it too much pressure , nope ordered another one and the second one is bent .

    Thats it for me with Bergeon. I managed to get a whole box of used/vintage screwdrives from a watch fair I went to , some are swiss style, some are English, some are French. All need a bit of dressing but ive never had a problem with any of them £20 for about 20 odd screwdrivers bargain.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thewatchbloke View Post
    Were they anti magnetic screwdriver blades? I had a set of Bergeon antimagnetic screwdrivers and the blades seemed like they were made of cheese. I wrote and complained to Bergeon about them and sent them samples of the blades as I couldn't believe they weren't faulty. Bergeon wrote back and said in their opinion the blades weren't faulty but they sent me a complete set of standard blades each in packs of 10 (so 100 blades in all) for my trouble.
    I`ve just ended up with some 1.0mm antimagnetics and mine are like cheese, only ordered them because Cousins didn`t have 1.0mm AF in stock! Absolutely rubbish, not fit for use on watches. Not sure what brand they were but they were dearer than AF.....that's around £12 spent on utter crap!
    Last edited by walkerwek1958; 24th November 2019 at 18:23.

  18. #18
    Journeyman earlofsodbury's Avatar
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    This is damned annoying, not least because the machining on everything I have is very good and given that even a simple thing like a driver blade will need several operations to make - representing the bulk of manufacturing costs - you'd think they'd at least temper the material properly afterwards!

  19. #19
    Master Webwatchmaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by walkerwek1958 View Post
    I`ve just ended up with some 1.0mm antimagnetics and mine are like cheese, only ordered them because Cousins didn`t have 1.0mm AF in stock! Absolutely rubbish, not fit for use on watches.
    I have never needed non magnetic screwdrivers in my life. Tweezers, yes, certainly. But if I did I would make the blades from hardened brass rod, which I am sure would loosen the most stubborn screw. The screwdriver bodies are made from hardened brass, so they are by definition not magnetic and swapping a steel for a brass blade should be simple.

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  20. #20
    Master murkeywaters's Avatar
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    Bit off track from screwdrivers, I once bought a lot of watch making tools from an auction and had this lovely Bergeon staking kit, was planning on keeping it but then realised how much it cost! Sold it on eBay where it went to Australia..




  21. #21
    Master Webwatchmaker's Avatar
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    That set is gorgeous and looks unused. I bet it was well over 1k new. I should resume going to BHI meetings. There were great bargains at their sales.

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  22. #22
    Upton good for bargains?

  23. #23
    Master murkeywaters's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Webwatchmaker View Post
    That set is gorgeous and looks unused. I bet it was well over 1k new. I should resume going to BHI meetings. There were great bargains at their sales.

    Sent from my SM-G900F using Tapatalk
    It was nice, although I think stakes 287/288 had lost their tips which I mentioned in the sales ad.

  24. #24
    Master Webwatchmaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by murkeywaters View Post
    It was nice, although I think stakes 287/288 had lost their tips which I mentioned in the sales ad.
    Oh well. Only the gods are perfect !
    I especially like the rubbed in jewel setting tool. They are becoming increasingly difficult to find.

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