Dixi, of Le Locle, in Switzerland, was a high-precision machine-tool company who specialised in meeting the requirements of watch, clock and mechanical instrument companies. In addition to many specialised, one-off machines built to perform some special part of a production process they also offered a range of lathes, miniature millers in vertical and horizontal types, jig-spotting machines and, in later years, jig borers.
Manufactured by from the beginning of the 20th century until the 1960s, the Dixi "miller" was typical of their products and found only in precision industries. However, they were not alone in this field amnd competition came from both Aciera in Switzerland and two German companies, Steinel in Schwenningen and Renner in Glashütte. In the USA the Cadillac Tool & Gage Company (and others) made similar devices for sale to the mass-production American watchmakers, such as Waltham. The products of all these companies were often so close in appearance that only the smallest detail distinguished one from another and strangely (though almost certainly at the insistence of the customer) the makers also frequently left off any badge, or other identifying marks.
All versions of the machine were very similar in general construction and layout to the original (1909) "pointeuses" or "jig spotting" machine first used in Le Locle - this town being the one-time centre of Swiss watchmaking and precision machine-tool manufacture. However, the early models had no spindle, merely a "centre punch" for spotting the tiny drill jigs used in watch making. Built in both horizontal and vertical versions, with a head to accept 8 or 10 mm horological collets, the Dixi was available with numerous accessories including (as seen on the horizontal model on this page) a neat, over-centre clamp on the 70 mm diameter "rotary table". The main compound table was 170 mm x 75 mm and could be moved 60 mm in the X and 35 mm in each of the Y and Z directions. The complete assembly resembled a miniature, or precision milling and drilling machine with all the table feeds having sensitive lever operation. Indeed, all the types resemble, in many ways, the Hauser "horizontal precision miller", which used the headstock from a miniature jig borer. The Dixi was made in several styles and sizes including: vertical only, horizontal-only, horizontal-adaptable-to-vertical and with plain compound tables or with a more sophisticated vertically disposed swing table - somewhat reminiscent of that used (in a horizontal version) on some American precision milling and gear-grinding machines such as that by the American Watch Tool Company.
One very interesting feature on some later models was a quick-change spindle assembly. The consisted of a cartridge, complete with pulley, contained in a hinge-open housing that allowed an exchange to be made in a matter of seconds. If any reader can shed further light on this or similar Dixi machines, or has any literature featuring them, the writer would be delighted to hear from you.
A German collector of these and similar specialised watchmaking machines would also be grateful to know of any for sale - please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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