Got My First Vintage Watch! Service Questions

Thread: Got My First Vintage Watch! Service Questions

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  1. #1
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    Got My First Vintage Watch! Service Questions

    So I received my first vintage Omega this week, and it is quite beautiful. It's a 490 movement from the 60s. Thanks to all of you who helped me choose the right one for me. I took it into the Omega store in NYC this weekend to have it looked at, and I'm happy to report that the entire watch is genuine, original and not refinished. But there is some potentially bad news that I would like your opinions on. The gentleman there ran a diagnostic and determined that the watch was in "bad condition" and not lubricated at all. He showed me some numbers, and one set in particular in which read "X -050 ↓ 182° 6.3↑" and said the "-050" should read "+3." I have no idea what this means, but he said it meant that it needed to be repaired. Then, he said that the company does not import parts for this movement (490) any more and that I would have to have it shipped to Switzerland for 6 months to have it restored at a cost of $700-1000, the option being the only one available according to him. He also said that if anyone else claims they can fix it, they would be dishonest because there is no way they could get the proper parts. Does this jive with you guys? Are there really no other options? I don't know whether I'm ready to part with it for that long, or return the watch. Is there any option short of a full restoration so that I can wear this gorgeous timepiece? Also, assuming that there is really no lubrication (odd because the guy I bought it from claims it was serviced in January, which I believe), how long before it grinds to a halt? Can't I just have someone just lubricate it? It was odd that the Omega store refused to do anything short of shipping it off for 6 months. It doesn't make sense to me. Thanks in advance for any assistance.

  2. #2
    Member Marrick's Avatar
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    Re: Got My First Vintage Watch! Service Questions

    Well, we have one or two real watchmakers in here, as well as a few Omega experts - so I won't say too much - except that it sounds like rubbish to me. There are competent independent Omega specialists around, even IF anything is needed. Stay cool!
    Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects."

    Will Rogers (1879 - 1935)


    Please don't PM me to ask for a valuation - I won't attempt one.

  3. #3
    Member radger's Avatar
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    Re: Got My First Vintage Watch! Service Questions

    Definately sounds rubbish to me.
    Find a watchmaker who can service mechanical watches, perhaps
    the store didn't have one.

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  5. #4
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    Re: Got My First Vintage Watch! Service Questions

    I'm going to second Marrick's opinion - there's no need to send it in to Omega and put out that kind of money. The second number (182˚) is the amplitude. That's how many degrees the balance wheel spins. It should be at least 240˚ and 270˚ is better if I recall correctly. A normal service by any competent watchmaker may do the trick, and if not any trouble can be spotted in the process.

    Oh, I believe you have a picture debt to be paid. That's what we charge for the advice that helped you sort out originals versus redials.

  6. #5
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    Re: Got My First Vintage Watch! Service Questions

    I left the watch with Harri. He'll let me know tomorrow whether there is anything he can do. Will satisfy my picture debt asap. :)

  7. #6
    Member rmelle's Avatar
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    Re: Got My First Vintage Watch! Service Questions

    I am a watch maker,
    sounds to me like:
    I take my automobile to the garage where they put the car to a fancy computer and all kind of numbers run out which I don't understand and then they say: OK, we can fix it but it will cost you..........
    Don't buy it.
    This is the menthality I dont like when ignorant watchenthusiasts take their watch to a so called expert, especially with the A called/high ended brands....
    first: was the watch fully wound when tested? I can make a good watch look like this poor when only wound a tiny little bit....
    I know one perticular Jeweler who does this to clients, very bad!
    Normaly this omega calliber is after a good cleaning nearly always direct within COSC norm.
    When such a watch is never ever serviced by a "Butcher" there are absolutely no problems here...
    A month ago I servised a late 60's Tissot visodate, Tissot NL couldn't do it, Tissot Swiss wanted about 800 Euro's. Take care it is only a (max!) 450 Euro watch
    And it was just a good clean, new glass, case polishing, nothing special about it!
    Ok, I am at the other end of the world, for you even close to Swiss, but: If you take the watch to a good independant watchmaker who knows what he is talking about you will have great joy out of your Omega!
    good luck, O yes: And post a picture of it, we like that one

    Succes,
    RJ van Melle.

  8. #7
    Member indiana_holmes's Avatar
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    Re: Got My First Vintage Watch! Service Questions

    I am one of those ignorant watch enthusiasts that went overboard with a 1942 Bulova I bought. I took it to a jeweler that did not have a watchmaker on staff. They sent it to some guy in the area. It cost me $150.00 U.S. That would have been okay if it had worked. I took it back 2 times. It still didn't work right. I finally went to a jeweler that is also a watchmaker. He had previously got an 1902 Elgin pocket watch up and running for me. I don't know why I didn't go to him first. Anyway, another $150.00 and it works very well. I put more into the watch than I paid for it...aarrgghh!!!
    https://forums.watchuseek.com/showthread.php?t=218162

    I hope you have a competent independent watchmaker near where you live. They are great people, but a vanishing group. Good luck with your watch and wear it in good health. Please post some pics of your "first".
    Chris

  9. #8
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    Re: Got My First Vintage Watch! Service Questions

    I echo what the others have said. It is a very good watch so it is easier to service than most others. You need a watchmaker, not a jeweller. Anybody competent and honest will know it to be a good watch that doesn't cost a fortune to service. Knowledge is power here. Mention calibre numbers and see if you get the reaction you should. A decent watchmaker will realise that if you know about words like cailbre and amplitude then you didn't come in to be fleeced. There is one universal rule that you will hear a thousand times: buy the watchmaker. Check out the trade body in your country, know their code of practice and find somebody who has been affiliated for a good long time.
    Ask for the watch to be tested after you have wound it and explain that it runs well but needs a clean and lube because the amplitude has measured a little low.
    The Omega guy was scamming you. There are plenty of other avenues.

  10. #9
    Member tee530's Avatar
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    Re: Got My First Vintage Watch! Service Questions

    Well, I'll offer a bit of counterpoint to some of the replies above; I agree with some but not all of the opinions.

    The OP mentioned he brought the watch to the Omega store. They basically gave him the advice that Omega is going to give to anyone bringing in a cal 490: send it to Bienne for an overhaul, as it is considered by Omega to be a very old vintage piece. This is not a scam, this is simply the standard Omega procedure. If you go this route, it will indeed cost $700-$1000, and it will indeed take 6 months. (I have done it!) What you will get is a complete factory rebuild of the watch, inside and out, using original parts. If this watch is important to you, and cost is not an object, then you can consider it. You will also get a 2 year warranty. On the downside, Omega will sometimes insist that the dial and hands be repaired or replaced, and if they don't have any replacement dials, they will insist that they refurbish (read: re-dial) it. You may or may not find this acceptable.

    However, there are many watchmakers who can and will service a vintage Omega. A simply google search of vintage Omega repair will turn up lots of them. They will likely be cheaper (though I would be personally wary of any that charged well below $350 or so, IMO.) and you will be able to dictate better the work you want done. Potential downsides are unknown skill level of of watchmaker in question (though you can check references, and indeed ask around here), and perhaps lack of access to parts if the movement requires an extensive rebuild.

    Ultimately, I'd say that if this watch doesn't have tremendous sentimental or collectible value to you, the independent watchmaker route is probably better. You'll get your watch back on its feet faster and more cheaply.

    .

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