Making a wristwatch using the Nomad 3

I received my nomad 3 this spring and I highly recommend it for small soft metal parts.

Here is the first update on my current project,

I was inspired by gdon_2003’s wristwatch post so I started on my horological adventure, I wasn’t starting with a donor watch so I decided to take the project in a new direction and make all the visible components,

Right now the list includes the Watch Case, Threaded Case Back, Bezel, Acrylic Watch crystal, Bezel Insert, Hands, Band, Buckle, and finally the Dial.

The Nomad 3 is an incredibly robust machine and paired with Fusion 360 I was able to do a tremendous amount with only a few tools.


1/8’’ Carbide TICN 3 flute end mill

1/16’’ Carbide TICN 3 flute end mill

1/32’’ Carbide 2 flute end mill

1/8’’ Carbide Keyseat Cutter (keyseat relief for the bezel spring)

#4 32-64 TPI 3/8 Carbide Single Point Threadmill

#72 Carbide Drill (Lug Holes, dial holes)

Photo 1: Modeling the case in Fusion 360,
I was inspired by WW2 pilot and early GMT watches, so I modeled up a simple 38 mm case. I didn’t want to torture the nomad with steel, so bought some navel (lead-free) brass.

Photo 2: Fusion 360 CAM,
After completing the modeling, I tooled the model using Fusion 360. Some previous testing allowed me to dial in a good surface finish with slight modifications to the parameters provided in the Carbide3D tutorials by Winston. (DM me for feed/speeds or strategies)

Photo 3: Photo 4: Fixturing,
The nomad has some great fixturing options but in my previous projects I found that SCOTCH 3M 401M is absolutely invaluable and will hold almost anything, even with larger .02 step-downs into aluminum or brass

Photo 4: Flipping the Part for Operation 2,
After multiple tests, I found milling 1/4’’ alignment pin holes 1/16’’ into the waste board resulted in surprisingly accurate and repeatable ± .002’’ flip fig.

Photo 5:
6 Hours of machining later and I ended up with all the parts needed for a dry fit. The tolerances were all within .003’’ of expected, the threads needed to be chased, but a spring pass would have worked if I was more patient.

Photo 6-7: Where the project currently stands:
I forgot to take pictures of the crown or the fixture used to drill the lug holes. All the parts fit but need to be cleaned, polished and buffed.

Step 8: Next Steps
Apparently making a “professional” looking dial is very difficult, I have no experience painting or printing. So I am finding myself a bit stuck. The hands were easier and were milled out of .005 shim stock.

If anyone has any experience making dials or polishing small parts, any info would be appreciated. Updates on this project will probably be sporadic.


Came across a blog post ages ago which suggested making a dial by printing using an inkjet printer onto photo paper and then lacquering it:

I’d like to think you could do one using a guilloche pattern or engine-turning w/ an abrasive though.

For polishing small parts, I’ve always just stuck them into an eraser and then used a succession of finer grits — 3M’s Micro Mesh is amazing (I have two sets, one for wood, the other for metals, and need to buy a 3rd for plastics)


Awesome, thanks
I will definitely try the eraser trick.
The Guilloche patterning is an interesting idea

Hi, lovely project. Could you give us some idea about how you used the #72 drill in the N3 please?
Did you set up peck drilling in F360, what feeds and speeds etc?


Sure, small drills are always tough, The biggest thing is getting the hole started with an accurate spot drill. I used a 1/8th 90-degree drill mill. Then used the recommended speeds/feeds from the manufacturer. The magic sauce was a .003 peck depth, a .006 accumulated pecking depth, and a .002 chip breaking cycle. I also found a .5 second dwell really cleared up the bottom. If you have any more questions, feel free to send me a dm

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I’ve been using some knock off 3m radial bristle discs on a dremel with flexi shaft to sand and polish tiny parts. So far for uneven surfaces they are pretty good.

As for a dial how much tolerance/space do you have? My first thought would be to etch/engrave details and then pour resin (by pour I mean use a syringe to get to the tiny spots) and then sand back to make it clean and crisp. Not sure how well it would work but the nomad is definitely able to do tiny detail.


That 3M tape looks nice, and expensive! Perhaps better if not more professional than my super glue and masking tape.

Great idea!
I will to try an engraved dial this weekend and maybe use a milled stencil to transfer on the paint.
I will update with some pictures

Step 9:
Remaking custom sized hands,
I used a cheap Chinese V mill at 10,000rpm at chip load of .0002 and a step-down of .001
With a small step downs the Nomad can produce excellent edge finish

Step 10:
Machining Dial indices, after getting experience cutting shim stock, I decided to test mill dial indices with the same recipe.