Making a Stainless Steel Watch Case and Back on the Shapeoko 3 (Start to Finish)

Hands down one of the most ambitious Shapeoko projects I’ve seen shared here. Awesome work, sir.



You mention using a 1/16 cutter with the makita. What collet are you using? I purchased the ellaire 1/8 & 1/4, they don’t appear to sell anything else.

At a guess that would be #112 .0625" Flat Cutter which is a 1/16" endmill w/ a 1/8" shaft which fits in the 1/8" Elaire collet.

EDIT: and for the record, Elaire also sells a 3/16" collet (anyone know of a good source for such endmills) and 4, 6, and 8mm


Thanks! Little embarrassed didn’t think of that.

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and 1/32…all with 1.8 shanks…

BTW: A good question, really.

4 Likes[sel_text13]=ZrN;search2[nested]=1;search2[group]=1651368;search2[fuzzy_sku]=1;srredir=m5_view_item.html

one of my goto sites for bits. not sure if you guys already kno about it


New one to me. Added it to: Thanks!


Nice selection and pretty good prices. But I still can’t locate a 1/16" ZrN coated cutter, this guy stops at 1/8 too (like C3D)


yea i dont see any ZrN coated 1/16… they have TiN and AlTiN 1/16 tho… ill post it here if come across any ZrN

Update: Bad news, Bad news, Good news, Bad news, Good news, Good news on the watch.

It’s still running, but the day/date didn’t move during the first night (Bad News.)

I found a bent and missing tooth in the drive train (Bad News)

I have a VERY rare movement (less than 1% of the total volume) because it has a Date at the 6 PM position (Good News $$)

There are NO replacement parts to be found anywhere in the world (Bad News)

I did find a replacement movement with a Date at the 3 PM position (Good News)

I have found a way to remove the two dials (Day and Date) and I think I have figured out how to reprint the letters and numbers so that they can be read at the 6 PM position (I think that is really the only difference is the printing position) (Good News)

On the bright side, other than not changing the Day/Date, it keeps GREAT time!


With the skills you have already exhibited I would have thought you could machine up another cog wheel on the Shapeoko! - No I’m not serious.

and I think I have figured out how to reprint the letters and numbers

Sounds like you may have an answer to your dilemma, I hope so after all your work, it would be nice to have everything working.

What is the watch’s vintage? Looks like it is pretty early quartz watch technology,

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Haha, thanks, I’d rather machine a watch body than have to deal with the tiny components inside. I’m 57, so the eyes, and streadiness of the hands aren’t what they used to be. I learned during my trip in Switzerland that there are few watchmakers over 45. At that age they become teachers. Yup, NOW I understand.

I think the watch is about 22-25 years old. Not that old, but I haven’t found another like it, and boy I have been searching.

I own LOTS of watches, all makes, and types, from $$$$ to $, and as Ex-NASA engineer I can appreciate the wonderful mechanics of a good wind-up or automatic, but I like the precision of quartz. My best (favorite) watch is a Seiko Solar Watch. NO batteries to change and accurate to (about) 1-2 seconds a month.

Now for the reveal; this watch project was just practice because what I really wanted was to machine a new case for the Seiko Solar out of Gold, 10-14K. I have some 18K watches and that is too soft for my lifestyle (Machinist, Harley guy, haha) So now I start the next journey. I will start with a lost wax casting, and I have found an Ex-NASA guy with the necessary equipment, and I think I have almost enough material (gold), but this one will take me at least a year…so wish me luck.


I have a Seiko solar as my daily driver as well, very similar to the one pictured below:

I’ve been pretty happy with it as well. Would love to see what you do with the case!



I’ve always regretted that my father’s 27 jewel Seiko had a similar failure (and I haven’t been able to find someone locally to replace the part — did come across one guy on the internet who does restorations, but the reality is, it’s just too large a watch for my taste (and wrist) — will probably do the restoration and give it to my son as a college graduation gift) — had an inexpensive Seiko quartz which I was very fond of, but it died an untimely death and couldn’t afford to replace it at that time. Been wearing a Timex Expedition (and kicking myself for not getting the nifty Ingersoll reproduction face which was offered for a while) for a while now (on my 3rd band — guess I should buy a stainless buckle clasp) and would like to upgrade, but kind of have my heart set on the Ingersoll face version (which I’ll likely never see for sale again).

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Oh crap, I wear a Timex Expedition, too. And we live near each other, I believe, based on your info on the Shapeoko forum. You probably don’t have dobermans, though.

Nope, no Dobermans, though am looking forward to getting a dog once I’m retired (they don’t allow dogs at work).

Never forget!

For 2 days I’ve been chasing a 0.020" error in my X-Axis. After all the preaching you think I’d first check the SET SCREW!!! Well, it wasn’t so much loose, as fatigued after 2 years of cutting metal.
The point of the set screw had a nice flat on it allowing (only on a load) to slip. In the picture you can see the small dimple from my drilling check (fool me once).

This fixture is two fold. It’ll hold the watch cover still while I engrave the outside and inside as well as a holding fixture to deepen the counterbores another 0.010".

PS I’m also working on my Spotting surface technique





That spotting technique is cool.
My dad told me about that, once.
I believe one way was to use a wooden dowel and pollish.
How was yours done?
Nice to see that old style being used.
Really great work.


It’s a wrap, it’s finished, I’m done…