We attended the Lange Akademie –Lange’s world famous training experience for watch enthusiasts –in Napa Valley earlier this year and we had a great time and a humbling one as well.  Here’s a brief excerpt from our full coverage, coming up soon in our Winter edition.

“We’ve each been provided with a slightly oversized balance cock (in watchmaking a cock is fixed to the plate at one point, whereas a bridge is fixed at two or more; the balance cock holds the upper jeweled pivot for the balance, while the lower is in the mainplate) and a burin –the needle-sharp engraver’s tool –with which to begin abusing it.  My bubble of confidence bursts almost instantly as the tip of my burin skips out of control across the cock, instantly producing an unsightly gouge.  Duly chastened, I begin to dig at the poor thing as carefully as I can –trying to approximate, at least, the control demonstrated by Ms. Rauchfuss (Lange’s master engraver, in town to show us how it’s done)  –but it’s a near-impossible task, and the final result looks like a particularly inept four-year-old’s attempt to copy the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

I shamefacedly glance at my benchmate and experience a gratifying surge of schadenfreude –he’s given up any pretense of replicating the Lange balance cock style and has instead opted for what looks like an Inuit scrimshaw carving –a stylized Orcinus orca, perhaps.  Ms. Rauchfuss is wandering around the room, and I trail in her wake, observing the results obtained by my comrades-in-arms, and I begin to understand her rather fixed expression of resignation.  She is like a general who has had to order too many brave men to their deaths; the balance cocks under our burins are to her as the flower of French chivalry upon the fields of Agincourt under d’Albret; as Control says of Smiley at the beginning of The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, she is like a surgeon who has seen too much blood.  Weeks later, the tip of my right index finger, where I bore down on the burin, is still numb –a persistent reminder to not get, well, cocky.”

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This is what I eventually ended up with.

She made it look easy . .  but it wasn’t easy.  See you in the pages of Revolution Magazine.