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Author Topic: Watch Repair.  (Read 1026 times)
Slackratchet
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« on: May 14, 2010, 08:32:38 pm »

Inspired by stories here I took my beloved pocket watch to a watch repair store I had recently discovered. The watch was given to me by my Grandmother, it belonged to her Father. The store in question is actually a combination used book store, coffee shop, watch repair. Entering the place I felt quite at home. Old books, good coffee and a display of watches and wonderful old watch repair tools, what more could you want? If you live in the Seattle area I can give you directions Wink
Ultimately my watch was in worse shape than I realized and I am at the end of a long queue so in six months I will owe the gentleman a bit over 120.00 for his work. It's a price I am fine with paying and in the end I will be quite happy to wear my old watch again I just wish it was tomorrow and not December. I guess it will be on time for my birthday.
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... takes the path of most resistance.
Abslomrob
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« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2010, 06:28:13 pm »

$120 is actually quite cheap, especially if there's any actual repair involved.  Many places charge that for a simple COA (clean, oil and adjust).  One thing to find out up front though is that if there <is> any repair work involved, discuss with them in detail what needs to be done and how they're going to do it.  I did what you did with my Grampa's watch a decade or so ago, and one of the things that had to be fixed was a cracked jewel.  His solution was to drill a hole in the nickle-plated pillar plate and push in a new brass jewel assembly.  Which works, but the watch will never be "original" again, and I now regret having done it.  Ah well, live and learn.

Some shops are a bit too quick to swap out parts, not realizing (or not caring) that the replacement isn't 100% identical to the original part.  What did they say was wrong with it?
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Slackratchet
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« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2010, 09:26:21 pm »

Worn bushings and some part which keeps the movement stable in the case is plain missing. It obviously had a missing hour hand as well. About 15 years ago I had it cleaned but that's all that I've had done.
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ChrlsHrdy
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United States United States


« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2010, 09:44:59 pm »

It's too bad that shop is all the way up in Seattle. I live in San Diego, and I have my Grandfather's mid 1800's pocket watch that will not wind. I found one shop, but will not take it to them because they quoted me $250 without even seeing the watch.
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Abslomrob
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« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2010, 04:28:48 pm »

Worn bushings and some part which keeps the movement stable in the case is plain missing.

Alas, there's not much you can do for bushings other then push (or drill) them out and put new ones in.
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Slackratchet
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« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2010, 04:38:30 pm »

Yeah, that's what I understand. Ultimately I would rather have it functional and in my pocket than gathering dust on a shelf or in a drawer.
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Abslomrob
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« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2010, 04:48:18 pm »

In which case, you might want to see if they can replace the bushings with jewels.  You didn't mention what kind of watch it is, so it may not be practical (since they'd have to replace the gears as well), but the results would be a more accurate watch that won't wear out as quickly.  This type of modification would be fairly simple if you're looking at something like a Waltham '83 movement ('cause there's so many parts out there), or most Elgin's, but gets tricky with the more obscure brands. 
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Slackratchet
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« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2010, 05:13:35 pm »

It is a Waltham. I'll talk to the guy and see what's possible. Thanks for the suggestion.
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watch_guy
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« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2010, 07:50:48 am »

In which case, you might want to see if they can replace the bushings with jewels.  You didn't mention what kind of watch it is, so it may not be practical (since they'd have to replace the gears as well), but the results would be a more accurate watch that won't wear out as quickly.  This type of modification would be fairly simple if you're looking at something like a Waltham '83 movement ('cause there's so many parts out there), or most Elgin's, but gets tricky with the more obscure brands. 

Rob,
I'm not sure why you think it would be necessary to replace the gears.

In any case, a quick and dirty(although improper) fix is to install friction jewels in place of the bushings.

This is not a proper fix, and is generally frowned upon, especially for collectible watches. It's a lot faster(and thus cheaper) than replacing the bushings, though, and in fact the two leading 20th century watchmaking texts(by DeCarle and Freid) recommend it.  Basically, the watchmaker would just need to measure the pivot sizes. Then, a jewel with a proper hole size is selected from an assortment. The plate is reamed to the correct size(.01mm smaller than the jewel OD), and the jewel pressed into place using a jewel press. With a Seitz jeweling outfit, it takes just a couple of minutes to do all of the above. The jewels are generic, still made new in Switzerland, and cost $2-3 each bought individually(or about $.50 each when bought in an assortment).

This same technique can also be used to fix a broken or cracked hard-to-find jewel on an older American watch. I've occasionally done it on the dial side, where it's not visible, although I would never do it on the top plate. I've seen more than one beautiful old movement with its plates or gold settings ruined by this. Fortunately, though, later model watches like the Hamilton 992B, and the later Elgin Raymonds(571) and Waltham Vaguards used friction jeweling from the factory.

Also, if the bushings aren't too bad, it's possible to close them up a little bit in a staking set, and then broach them back out to the correct size. I've had good luck doing this. It saves the trouble of bushing, which is time consuming and very fiddly to get right.
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Abslomrob
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« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2010, 12:21:46 pm »

Now that you mention it, I guess you wouldn't need to replace the pinions if the jewels were flat.  I had it in my mind that the replacement jewels would require conical pivots.  Its not something I've ever done myself yet.
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