Hard winding pocket watches?

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  1. #1
    Member Rook49's Avatar
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    Hard winding pocket watches?

    I've noticed in several ads on pocket watches for sale that they are hard to wind. Generally is dried oil and crud in the movement the problem or is it more often a mechanical problem of some sort?

  2. #2
    Vintage & NAWCC Forum moderator Ben_hutcherson's Avatar
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    Re: Hard winding pocket watches?

    Some people in the past really piled the grease on the winding parts of a watch, and this grease can congeal to the consistency of peanut butter over time.

    It takes a lot work to really get all of the old grease out, and then reapply the correct amount in the correct places.

    In addition, water damage at some point in the watch's past can cause the winding to be very hard if it's not completely cleaned up. On American watches with a separate stem and sleeve, water damage in this area can really cause problems.

    A badly worn crown(worn smooth) can cause a watch to feel really hard to wind.

    Finally, sometimes the problem is as simple as the movement being rotated a little bit in the case.
    Member National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors
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  3. #3
    Member Rook49's Avatar
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    Re: Hard winding pocket watches?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben_hutcherson View Post
    Finally, sometimes the problem is as simple as the movement being rotated a little bit in the case.
    Thanks Ben.

    I hadn't even thought of the last one you listed.
    I recently purchased a Waltham model 1883 that I was going to use to practice cleaning on. It runs and keeps reasonably good time but it's hard to wind. I got such a good deal on the watch that I wasn't concerned to much about tearing it up while leaning to work on it. But when the watch came in the mail yesterday the darn thing looks so good it would be a shame for me to ruin it by experimenting on it. So now I'm going to have to look for another one that's not in such good condition to work on. I want one that runs so I'll know when I put it back together if I've made a mistake or not because if it was running before it should run again when I reassemble it.

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  5. #4
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    Re: Hard winding pocket watches?

    The other possibility is what happened to me - I took a smooth-winding watch to a local 'watchmaker' because their rates were low. When I got it back, the stem (on a lever-set watch) was loose, and it was very hard to wind. Upon inspection years later, the stem in the case is a terrible fit. What I think happened is that they broke the stem in the course of servicing the watch, and replaced it with one that 'kind of' fit. But in addition to being loose up and down, the square of the stem that engages the winding mechanism is too small for a tight fit, so it doesn't engage properly. I'm also not convinced they didn't install much too strong a mainspring.

    Caveat emptor. At least they've gone out of business since!
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  6. #5
    Member Rook49's Avatar
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    Re: Hard winding pocket watches?

    Here's some photos of the watch. Other than the crystal that's a bit cloudy, the movement and the double sunk dial look really great especially for a $76 dollar watch.








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