Learning to Repair Watches?
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  1. #1
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    Learning to Repair Watches?

    I'm curious how difficult it would be to learn to repair watches, specifically mechanical movements? I love watches but really know nothing about the inner workings. I'd be interested in being able to buy older, non-working watches and fixing them up or simply repairing my own. Any thoughts?
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  2. #2
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    Re: Learning to Repair Watches?

    Are you mechanically inclined?
    Are you willing to read several books before embarking ?
    Are you up for a modest investment in tools (good sticky at the top of the forum on tools)?

    I know several watchmakers who are really at the top of the heap in repair and restoration who didn't go to school for it and learned a long time before the internet.

    It's a never ending process of learning though , but to get to the point of being able to do basic servicing doesn't take so long. I started out, before going to school, like many here with some screwdrivers and a pair of tweezers and a jar of naphtha and a brush. And books. Flea market watches. Spent many hours searching for parts on the floor and my little 'bench' was in a bedroom with deep shag carpet. That'll teach you tweezer discipline !

    Read the tool sticky and spend a few hours reading the forums and books- you might be surprised what your library has. Get a cheapo watch and some cheapo tools and give it a try. It'll either hook you or not.
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  3. #3
    DON
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    Re: Learning to Repair Watches?

    I did it. Remove a small part and then put it back. Removed two parts and then put them back. Eventually you have no problems. Going trains can sometimes be a problem (always one gear that doesn't want to get into the jewel hole). Sometimes it's the balance

    I did minor repairs myself. Had a watchmaker do full cleanings, but I replaced the dials and reamed new hands if needed. I timed them.

    I mainly like working on Omega movements and used to also do Longines

    DON
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    Re: Learning to Repair Watches?

    It is not that difficult provided you read all you can on servicing hand wind watches , get some decent screwdrivers, tweezers and loupes. ( not Chinese specials) Buy a cheap Swiss hand wind mechanical watch or movement only that is going, take it apart taking a photo as each part is removed. Put it back together and going. Do it until until you can do so without looking at the photos. Keep an eye out for the pesky little springs .They have been waiting to fly off and escape for years.
    Follow the KISS principle and do not muck around with the balance or mainspring to start.
    Take you time.
    After that buy two non working movements the same as the one above. Try and get one going using the other for parts . Be prepared for much frustration.
    Simple stuff . NOT.
    Congratulations you have just become an expert pretender but will get much enjoyment in bringing non working movements back to life using donors. Like me ha.

  5. #5
    Moderator Samantha's Avatar
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    Re: Learning to Repair Watches?

    It also depends on what one's definition of repairing watches is. Learning to take apart, clean and put a movement back together is a lot different than learning things like replacing (or cutting) a balance staff, setting an escapement, vibrating a hairspring (or hairspring work), or timing a watch to get good lines in all 6 positions, to name a few.
    Samantha

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    Re: Learning to Repair Watches?

    Saying: "vibrating a hairspring (or hairspring work)", what do you mean?
    Thanks

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    Moderator Samantha's Avatar
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    Re: Learning to Repair Watches?

    Vibrating a hairspring is done after a new hairspring has the collet put on. Vibrating the hairspring will tell the watchmaker where to pin the stud. Hairspring work is manipulating the hairspring when it is out of flat and/or out of round to get it back in the flat and/or round.
    Samantha

  8. #8
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    Re: Learning to Repair Watches?

    Samantha makes a good point. There are levels of watch repair. Servicing is only the start. Also mentioned are tools. I've only serviced/repaired one pocket watch. I bought a 5 disk course for repairing pocket watches. Watched everyone of them twice. I then realized that my ebay chinese watch repair kit wasn't going to cut it. Invested in most the tools I needed. I then tore into my first 18s waltham pocket watch. With camera in hand, laptop with repair disks, I went at it. I serviced the watch and replaced a broken mainspring in it. It worked when I got done and was very rewarding. As I've moved more to collecting vintage wrist watches now, I haven't had the nerve to get into them yet as they are soo small and my 57 yr old eyes challenge me at times. I will tear one apart one day though. I would start with a very cheap mechanical watch if it was my first one though. There are techniques for using your tweezers so you aren't popping small unfindable screws across the room. Lol Also ways of starting screws properly back into position. Learn the basics first. Learn what the parts of a watch are. Oh, and I always take pictures to help put back together. Good luck!
    Last edited by bsshog40; April 15th, 2017 at 23:21.
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    Re: Learning to Repair Watches?

    I see some difference of opinion here on whether to get cheap or quality tools. Me: a noob 're watch repairing, have done all sorts of other mechanical arts from auto mechanics to plastic surgery. My 2¢ worth: a fine tool sings in the hand, helps you do better work and get more joy out of doing it. Would you want your electrician or your eye surgeon using cut-rate clumsy tools? There's your answer. (-:

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    Re: Learning to Repair Watches?


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