Thread: ultra sonic cleaner damage movement

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  1. #1
    Member seanuk's Avatar
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    ultra sonic cleaner damage movement

    i have heard that you should not put a working mechanical watch in a n ultra sonic cleaner as it will damage the watch.
    what exactly does it damage?
    other than shake the screws out of it..
    every time i try to get out... they pull me back in...


  2. #2
    Moderator Eeeb's Avatar
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    Re: ultra sonic cleaner damage movement

    Quote Originally Posted by seanuk View Post
    i have heard that you should not put a working mechanical watch in a n ultra sonic cleaner as it will damage the watch.
    what exactly does it damage?
    other than shake the screws out of it..
    ... after the screws: disassemble the watch into pieces where you have no idea what went where... Someday I'll try this with a movement I don't care about and see if this is legend or truth...
    "Forever is composed of nows." - Emily Dickinson

    "The watch has to be surrounded by a history.
    You need more than just a great design. You need to create an atmosphere around the product.
    Who is the company behind it? Why are they using this material?
    People need to be able to identify the watch with themselves. It's based on emotion." - Ralph Furter

    ...that's just my opinion and I've been wrong before and will be again and might be now!

  3. #3
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    Re: ultra sonic cleaner damage movement

    An ultrasonic cleaner can certainly unscrew screws (which are not thoroughly tightened) but it can also disturb the lubrication of the watch (pivot oils) causing the oil to migrate away from where it is supposed to be. There are other considerations as well - this would certainly be the ultimate test of the "water resistance" of a watch and the ability of luminous material to stay in place. The vibration (kHz) & local high pressures aren't what a watch is designed to handle.

  4. #4
    Member SHANE 1000's Avatar
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    Re: ultra sonic cleaner damage movement

    What I have found with Ultrasonics is (with constant use/long duration sumerging) it can eat away at the metals, I had a heated Branson, that I used for a long time with bracelets and noticed that the steel was becoming worn in places.

    I used the basket and submerged each individual part over the complete movement, but with dive watches just for getting gunk out of all the nooks & crannies , it worked fine.

  5. #5
    Member seanuk's Avatar
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    Re: ultra sonic cleaner damage movement

    i thought the oil may be the issue. the paint too is a concern (as the ultra sonic will trat it as dirt and try to loosen it)
    i suppose it boiles down to duration of time in the cleaner and how intense it cleans.
    my own experimenting with watch parts is that oil does stay put (how much of it though?) oil in the wrong places is a concern.
    i wont be putting any working movements in mine..
    every time i try to get out... they pull me back in...


  6. #6
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    Re: ultra sonic cleaner damage movement

    You are no doubt talking about tank type ultrasonic cleaners. They are great for clock movements. Not for watch mechanisms which are cleaned in dedicated watch cleaning machines. I have both an automatic three jar cleaner with ultrasonic and a manual machine. these spin off the excess liquids and have built in drying cycles. As for the oils that is the purpose of them, to remove the caked on oils and dirt. A lot of movements are put in fully assembled and come out ticking. After you disassemble you may still have to use a tooth pick or better a piece of peg wood to scrape away the caked on dirt on the jewel surface.
    Bob

  7. #7
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    Re: ultra sonic cleaner damage movement

    Watches can be cleaned in tank-type ultrasonic cleaners they aren't just for clocks. Most provide suspension for a 600 ml beaker used to hold the cleaning/rinse solutions. With three beakers (cleaner, rinse 1, rinse 2), some part baskets, and some manual labor a disassembled watch movement can be cleaned, etc. At around $200 these machines are accessible to the amateur watch repairer.

    Or you could opt to go whole-hog and purchase the fully-automated Greiner ACS-900 Ultrasonic Watch Cleaner for a mere $12,500 or so!


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    Re: ultra sonic cleaner damage movement

    Quote Originally Posted by seanuk View Post
    i have heard that you should not put a working mechanical watch in a n ultra sonic cleaner as it will damage the watch.
    what exactly does it damage?
    other than shake the screws out of it..
    Now, because this is a watchmaking forum, I'll assume you're asking about disassembled watch. If not, you can skip the rest.

    You can clean the dissembled or complete watch movement (without dial and hands, of course). There are two parts that you clean manually: balance assembly and pallet fork. They both might have parts (stones and/or hairspring) glued with shellac or some type of glue that can be dissolved in watch cleaning solution. Also, excessive (longer than few minutes) cleaning can bleach the brass.

    Ultrasonic will pull out all loose screws (e.g. dial feet screws), but as long as you know that, it's OK.

    Make sure you rinse and dry it properly, and no worries.

  9. #9
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    Re: ultra sonic cleaner damage movement

    Since he said a "working mechanical watch" presumably he means cleaning an assembled watch in an ultrasonic. This is something that you should not do.

    There is no problem cleaning a balance or pallet fork in an ultrasonic if professional cleaning/rinse solutions are used. This is done all the time. Obviously, alcohol should not be used since it will dissolve shellac.

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