Ten Years Of Working History Of Chinese Watchmaker Cao Weifeng

Cao Weifeng, 36 years old, senior engineer. Graduated from Tianjin University with a master’s degree, majoring in instrumentation. In July 2003, he joined the technical center of Tianjin Seagull Watch Group Co., Ltd. and engaged in the research and development of mechanical watch movements for 11 years. At the time, he was the director of the second room of high-end movement creation, and now works in a postdoctoral workstation. The main research direction is the research of high-end complex tourbillon movements and the application of new materials. Designed and developed products have obtained 6 national invention patents and applied for 3 PCT international patents. One of them (the planetary dual tourbillon mechanism) was successively authorized by the Japanese and German Patent Offices in early 2014. In 2014, he was appraised as ‘China Watch Master’ by China Watch Association. Since 2009, he has regularly published articles in the technical columns of watch professional magazines such as ‘Watches’, ‘Timepieces’, ‘Fashion Time’ and ‘Gossamer Watches’.
   Since entering the Gull Watch Factory in 2003, I have been ignorant of what I was doing at the beginning. After years of accumulation, the quantity has changed to the qualitative change. I have achieved ten years of satisfactory results, which are divided into three stages: 1. The learning stage from 2003 to 2004; 2. The growth stage from 2005 to 2008; 3. The maturity stage from 2009 to 2013.
Learning phase
   My undergraduate major is automation, and I have a very limited mechanical knowledge. There is only one point that I consider to be my own advantage. I have loved machinery since I was a child. Especially my mother is an old employee of the Seagull Watch Factory. I am very impressed with the watch. On July 1, 2003, the party’s birthday (feeling very memorable), I entered the Seagull Watch Factory. Then I was arranged to enter the workshop internship experience. This is a required course for in-depth production to become a research and development technician. Through this course, you can understand how each part of the mechanical watch movement is made, and finally how to assemble it into a qualified one. Movement. The duration of this course is not very long. For me to fully understand and integrate all the processes, processing techniques and production experience of watchmaking, I need to consciously walk into the workshop to learn more in the process of developing movements in the future. More knowledgeable, especially with teachers who have technical skills.
   After the internship, I officially entered the technical center and started product development. I am honored to follow my master, Zhou Wenxia, ​​the deputy chief engineer of the Technology Center, to learn the design and development of mechanical watch movements. Zhou Gong graduated from Tianjin University in the early years, majoring in timekeeping (now merged into Jingyi College), and his business ability is quite outstanding. At the same time, there are several senior engineers of the older generation who have been enthusiastic about product research and development, although they have retired for many years. They have taught me very rich knowledge of professional movement design theory and parts manufacturing experience. Every senior is like a treasure house that contains endless wealth that I endure, and I have full respect for them. They not only give me knowledge and experience, but also a more important attitude of persistence and persistence in technology, and a life-long attitude to fight for my own ideas, which makes me feel much benefit.
   At this stage, I basically focus on learning. Learning includes two aspects: self-study and masters’ learning. I deeply understand that the understanding of mechanical watches is superficial, so I have found the basic knowledge of university machinery related books to make up for my knowledge reserve. Cooperate with the master to do the movement design project, although it is all one of them, but the accumulation of bits and pieces is what you have to learn. If you encounter something you do n’t understand, ask the teachers, the seniors in design and development, and the senior technicians in processing.

Cao Weifeng’s first tourbillon product was ST8001
growing phase
   After nearly two years of working practice, especially under the guidance of Zhou Gong and your seniors, I have basically mastered the design process and skills of the movement. At the beginning of 2005, under the instruction of the master, I started to do design tasks independently. Although these projects for me don’t need much complicated design, no matter how simple, they also need the complete design process. I think this is the only way to sharpen myself. We must not slack off because of simplicity. We must not be so far-reaching. We must be down-to-earth. This is what I always insist on.

The first tourbillon product designed by Cao Weifeng ST8003

The second tourbillon product ST8006 designed by Cao Weifeng
   Since the second half of 2005, I have participated in the research and development of the coaxial tourbillon, the replacement product of the Seagull core technology tourbillon. This is my first full exposure to the research and development of tourbillon technology. Although I was only responsible for drawing the drawings at that time, because of my enthusiasm for the technology and a strong thirst for knowledge, I took the tourbillon from the theoretical calculation to the confirmation of the project plan. The R & D process is familiar.

Cao Weifeng’s tourbillon product ST8260
   In 2006, I participated in the research and development of the Seagull double tourbillon product. This is the first time that Seagull has developed a complex tourbillon product, which is relatively difficult. Three trial trials were made before and after, and the finished product was not successfully made until 2007. In 2008, Seagull launched a double tourbillon mechanical watch at the Basel International Watch Fair in Switzerland, which was widely praised. It was only a crisis in this exhibition. The Swiss watchmaker raised a patent question on the core technology of the Seagull double tourbillon, and believed that there was suspected infringement. After careful review by the experts of the referee committee, the conclusion of non-infringement was finally obtained, and Seagull won this historic lawsuit.

Cao Weifeng’s tourbillon product ST8080
Then, I experienced three opportunities to enrich my learning:
1. From April 2008 to October 2010, I studied for a master’s degree at Tianjin University, majoring in instrumentation engineering, and finally completed my studies with a graduation thesis entitled ‘Analysis and Improvement of Tourbillon Mechanical Watches’. The course of study in the past two years has laid a solid theoretical foundation for me, allowing me to learn a lot of cutting-edge scientific and technological knowledge today;
2. From July to August 2008, I participated in the training of watch knowledge for all technical staff of the Seagull by the teachers of the Xi’an Clock and Watch Institute. Through this very systematic training, I familiarized myself with the basic theory, materials, standards, etc. of the watch;
3. From the second half of 2009 to the first half of 2010, I was selected to participate in the ‘Innovative Engineer Training Course’ organized by the Tianjin Science and Technology Commission and held by Hebei University of Technology. The training for nearly a year has taught me the ‘Invention Problem Solving Theory’ that is very popular in the world and has not started in China. This theory made me understand that the original innovation requires strong theoretical support. This training has played a vital role in achieving many innovations in the future.
   At this stage, my question is, what is innovation? How to be innovative? How can we really break through the patent barriers of the watch kingdom Switzerland? The answer I got is that the most important thing is to consolidate my knowledge reserve, learn professional knowledge in a down-to-earth manner, and further study hard to learn more knowledge in this field and non-field knowledge, and broaden my horizons.
Maturity stage
   In 2009, I entered the second high-end movement creation room. As the director, I led my team to carry out project research and development. The main research direction is the research and development of high-end complex tourbillon movements and the application of new materials. In 2010, ‘Seagull’ moved into the newly-built industrial park. In the same year, my team and I were transferred to the newly established postdoctoral research station. Among the key projects we undertake are the following (the research and development goals of these projects are set to improve the accuracy of the watch’s travel time, and they are all very challenging, which is my favorite): research and development of advanced Carrier balance spring system The balance spring system is equivalent to the ‘heart’ of a watch. The cardless structure overcomes the disadvantages of the original cardholder structure and can further improve the movement accuracy of the movement. This project started research and development in 2009. It belongs to the basic research of mechanical watches. It requires precise theoretical calculations and absolute rationality of the structure. A slight error will cause failure. This technology has been authorized by the national utility model patent. The patent name is the adjustable balance of the watch. The patent number is CN200920250256.

Seagull tourbillon products with cardless balance and hairspring system ST8260W

Developed the ST8550 planetary double tourbillon mechanical watch movement
   This project started planning in 2010. The core technology has been authorized by the national invention patent. The patent name is a tourbillon mechanical watch with both rotation and revolution. Patent number: CN200910067648. Its technical feature is that two tourbillons are placed on a rotatable platform, both rotating at a speed of 1 minute / week, and revolving at a speed of 12 hours / week under the drive of a turntable. The movement trajectory of the speed governing mechanism inside the tourbillon is more complicated, and combined with the technical advantage of the average error of the double tourbillon, the time accuracy of this watch can be improved. This technology obtained Japanese patent authorization in 2014-patent number JP2011544767, and in the same year also obtained German patent authorization-patent number DE112009000624T5.
Developed the ST8520 dual-axis three-dimensional rotating tourbillon mechanical watch movement
    In March 2013, the prototype of the first dual-axis three-dimensional rotary tourbillon mechanical watch movement was successfully manufactured. Its technical characteristics are: the tourbillon is upgraded from plane rotation to three-dimensional rotation, and the movement trajectory becomes more complicated, which can better reduce the position error caused by the gravity of the earth and improve the accuracy of the watch’s travel time. This technology was authorized by the National Invention Patent in December 2013. The patent name: a dual-axis tourbillon mechanism for a mechanical watch. Patent number: CN201110142886. Based on my own design ideas, I gave it a name: ‘Qiyi 1’.

‘Qiyi No. 1’ Tourbillon mechanical watch
Developed the ST8530 three-axis three-dimensional rotary tourbillon mechanical watch movement
   A year later, a prototype of the first three-axis three-dimensional rotary tourbillon mechanical watch movement was successfully produced in March 2014. Its technical characteristics are: the movement trajectory of the tourbillon changes from a two-dimensional cylindrical three-dimensional rotation to a three-dimensional spherical three-dimensional rotation. The complexity of the trajectory of the speed regulation system will be further increased, and the timing accuracy of the watch will be further improved.

‘Qingyi 2’ tourbillon mechanical watch
Concluding remarks: As a seagull person for ten years, I have understood the technical connotation of mechanical watches and the endless space for expansion from shallow to deep, which made me from the boring beginning to the intoxication and obsession later, from my job to hobbies, and deeply understand The endless joy that comes from studying technology and spreading my skills. I think now that we have chosen this industry, we must resolutely and resolutely follow this path. I will continue to work hard and work hard to create better results.
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