The Oiling Plate- Shock Settings- Incabloc, KIF and Duo Fix

The Gear Train exam was now complete, I achieved a comfortable pass although my mark was much lower than I had expected, so we could move on to preparing for the Escapement exam. The escapement regulates the timekeeping of a watch and is therefore extremely important. Its probably the most complex part of a movement and any service work carried out on the rest of the movement counts for nothing unless the escapement is set up correctly.

Our first port of call would be shock settings and the dreaded oiling plate. The mechanism of a watch is delicate and therefore liable to suffering damage as a result of various types of shock, for this reason shock resistant systems were invented. They are designed to protect the tiny balance staff pivots and stop them from breaking. These pivots are of such a small size in order to keep friction on a swinging balance wheel to a minimum.

Incabloc Shock Setting…

During a shock the jewels are pushed sideways or upwards and the shoulder of the balance staff comes into contact with the setting, stopping further movement and taking the weight off the balance, this relieves stress on the pivots. The spring, which is under tension, then returns the the jewels and balance to the correct working position.

Diagram of shock setting in its normal position and taking a shock…

We now had a basic understanding of shock settings so it was time to get going with some practical work. Our task was to lubricate a plate containing capped jewel settings. It included 12 Incabloc settings, 4 Duofix settings (non-shock-protection cap jewel housings) and 4 Kif settings. We needed to complete the plate five times, it would be checked each time under a microscope for the correct amount of lubrication, cleanliness and the shape of the lubrication.

The Oiling Plate…


After learning the appropriate amount of oil that should be present in the assembled setting and the strict standard of cleanliness required, it was time to get started. The first thing we had to do was remove all of the springs, jewels and chatons from the plate ready for it all to go through the cleaning machine. The Incabloc and Kif settings both have a chaton that the endstone (Jewel) is fitted into so these two parts must be separated before cleaning.

Almost ready for cleaning…


After cleaning every part it was time to start oiling the settings and fitting them into the plate. There were 12 Incabloc settings so I decided to start with these to get them out of the way. The endstone (2) is held between a pair of tweezers flat on the bench and the correct amount of oil applied in the centre, the chaton (3) already containing the jewel hole (2) is then carefully placed on top and finally the chaton is moved in a circle motion while lightly applied some downward pressure. The capillary action of the oil being drawn through the jewel hole is what keeps the two parts together. Its now ready to be put into position in the plate and the retaining spring secured over the top.

Incabloc components…


The Kif settings were next to do and they are done in exactly the shame way as the Incabloc settings. The only real difference being the oil sink on the back of the jewel hole which allows a bit more oil to be added if its under filled. You only get one chance to oil the settings correctly, if too much oil is applied or its not dead centre the whole thing has to be cleaned again and the process starts from the beginning. The first couple of times I completed the plate I probably had to do each jewel 2/3 times to get them perfect.

KIF components…


The last part of the plate to complete were the Duo Fix settings (A,B,C,D), these are cap jewel settings rather than shock settings so only comprise of a spring, the endstone (Jewel) and the setting with jewel hole which is fixed to the plate. The lack of chaton means these jewels are lubricated slightly differently, the endstone is lubricated as normal and then turned the opposite way up before being located in the setting. The spring is then placed on top to secure it. They are a bit trickier to do than the others because of placing the endstone, even placing it slightly off centre drags the oil and the whole process has to begin again!

Work in progress…

I wouldn’t describe the oiling plate as an enjoyable experience but its definitely something thats necessary in order to consistently lubricate shock settings efficiently and to the same standard. If proof of this was needed, the speed at which each subsequent plate was completed was definitely it. The incabloc settings are the most common in modern watches, oiling 60 of them has given me the experience of lubricating 30 watches! With the plates out of the way, next we would be tackling the rest of the escapement.

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