There have been quite a few discussions about what kinds of tools to use for opening various types of watch cases. For the snap back case, there are the Seiko style tools, the Horotec Case Crab, the case knife, and even the taped-up razor blade. Personally, I’ve gotten quite good on the Horotec Case Crab. I use the bits hand-held for most things, and prefer the whole apparatus as the ultimate tool for cemented on snap backs.
I’m in NYC and lately have had the pleasure of a couple of meet ups with vintage collectors at a cafe/pub near me. The aesthetics of things were lovely. Great environs, good music, dim light solvable with a loupe, and my collection of the week stylishly transported in one of my waxed canvas rolls. Lovely, except when I’d have to fish around in my bag for the bit to my Horotec Case Crab in order to check out a movement.
After watching Signore Goldberger pop the back off his sweet Rolex Split Seconds chrono with a cheese knife, I decided that it was time to up my game. I wasn’t sure just how I’d do that, though.
Some time passed and eventually I stumbled across a listing on the Bay for a folding vintage watchmaker’s knife. I got in touch with the seller and got to brush up on my Portugeuese. Through our exchange I learned it’s story. The knife was owned by Armando Vieira, a watchmaker in the one watchmaker town of Vermoim Maia, a town in Northern Portugal of about 15,000 outside of Porto and the Rio Douro. Senhor Vieira is a spritely 75 years old and though he will likely work until the day that he expires, he has decided to begin passing along some of his tools. The seller visited Senhor Vieira’s shop frequently, each time asking for his assistance in opening a watch or pocket watch. On one of these visits, the watchmaker gifted him the knife so that it would continue being used long after he was gone. When he found himself using the knife very infrequently, he decided to post it for sale, and that’s how I came to learn the story.
After a three week long journey via standard post, it arrived today. I can confirm that the broken tip and dulled blade, worn through many years opening watches, works quite well for its given task. The brass, steel, and horn construction is very sturdy. If only the knife could tell of the watches it has worked on.
It’s just what I didn’t know I was looking for.