Inside Tornos

Donnie Hinske, of Titans of CNC, tours the factory in Switzerland where Tornos builds its world-class CNC machines.

The tiny part that Donnie is so exuberant about at the beginning of the video is a balance staff for a mechanical watch. The 0.165mm diameter that Michael Hauser relays when they dive in a little deeper just before the 2 minute mark is actually on the larger side of the spectrum when it comes to the pivots of a balance staff, which are routinely closer to 0.100mm in diameter. I've handcrafted several in the 0.090mm range and as small as 0.080mm for various restoration projects over the years. There is little sense comparing what the human hand is capable of relative to these massive Swiss CNC lathes, though. The speed, repeatability, and precision of the components that Tornos' machines can crank out is remarkable.

Donnie also gets particularly excited about a 33-spindle machine in this video. I, for one, am appreciative I finally have something to point people to when talking about this level of Swiss micro-machining. Shortly before the launch of the Apple Watch, I had an opportunity to spend a week inside Apple's design studio and adjacent model shop at Infinite Loop 2. At some point, I got to talking with one of the CNC operators in the Industrial Design Group about some of the more advanced CNC machines we had each encountered and he looked at me like I had three heads when I articulated the capabilities of a 32-spindle unit. To this day, I still don't think he believed me.