Chinese machine tools have been exported to the West since the 1960s, the original offerings being intended for professional use in industry rather than an amateur's workshop. Early sales literature, though lacking in illustrations, was issued in the form of handsome, hard-bound books, these often being printed in two languages, those for the UK having, for example, both English and Russian text. Items offered included a wide variety of lathes, milling, boring, shaping, planing, slotting, grinding sawing and gear-cutting machines, power presses, pantograph engravers, tool and cutter grinders, hammers and shears.
Only one watchmaker's lathes has, so far, been discovered, the snappily named Model C-0608-1, this appearing for the first time in the sales book for 1965. A Geneva pattern lathe with a flat-topped, round bed, it was supplied fastened to a large base plate, had a centre height of 40 mm and could take 100 mm between centres. As the lathe was listed as weighing some 28 kg (presumably including the standard-fit 3-phase, 0.12 kW 1400 r.p.m. motor) one must assume that the support plate was in cast iron, the overall dimensions being 380 mm long, 240 mm wide and 360 mm high.
Whether or not the C-0608-1 was supplied a complete kit in a fitted box is not known but supplied as part of the standard equipment was a set of sixteen wire collets to take work from 1 to 4 mm in diameter; 4 external (fir-tree) step chucks with a capacity from 6 to 23 mm; 4 internal stepped (cone) chucks able to take work from 6 to 23 mm; two centres; a set of spanners and complete electrical equipment.
Bored though to clear 8 mm, the spindle was formed with a 40° taper in its nose. Driven by a round belt direct from 3-step pulley, spindle speeds were listed as being 1440, 2100 and 3300 r.p.m. Also supplied as part of the standard equipment was a proper compound tool rest assembly with cross and longitudinal feeds each of 40 mm and a top slide able to be swivelled 28° both ways from central. Two unusual features were the micrometer dials - unusually large for a watchmaker's lathe - and the method of clamping the slide rest to the bed - the front part of the support casting being split and clamped by a turnbuckle. The lever-action tailstock was also secured in the same way, the casting being extended downwards, split vertically and camped by a cross bolt. A modern lathe with a similar arrangement - as well as a flat-topped round bed - was the Hobbymat MD65.
Available as an extra - but not illustrated - was what the makers described as a milling head that could be swivelled 90° each side of upright and with two speeds, driven from a 2-step pulley mounted on the long motor shaft, of 980 and 1600 r.p.m.
Should any reader have a lathe like this, the writer would be very interested to hear from you.