Mido Multifort / Movado Cork Stem Seals - Anyone Got Experience / Documents / Spares?

Thread: Mido Multifort / Movado Cork Stem Seals - Anyone Got Experience / Documents / Spares?

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  1. #1
    Member David.Boettcher's Avatar
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    Mido Multifort / Movado Cork Stem Seals - Anyone Got Experience / Documents / Spares?

    The Mido Multifort and other Mido's from the mid 1930s until, I believe, at least the 1960s used specially treated natural cork to seal the winding stem against water ingress.

    Movados of a similar age also had a similar system of cork stem seals.

    Does anyone have any experience of working on these, any factory service manuals, spare parts or any other knowledge about these cork stem seals?

    Thanks for any help!

    Regards - David

  2. #2
    Member Marrick's Avatar
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    Re: Mido Multifort / Movado Cork Stem Seals - Anyone Got Experience / Documents / Spares?

    You could try asking in the watchmaking forum:

    https://forums.watchuseek.com/f6/
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  3. #3
    Member David.Boettcher's Avatar
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    Re: Mido Multifort / Movado Cork Stem Seals - Anyone Got Experience / Documents / Spares?

    Thanks, I'll give it a try.

    Regards - David

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    Re: Mido Multifort / Movado Cork Stem Seals - Anyone Got Experience / Documents / Spares?

    I seem to recall that Radger did some work on these, and the words uttered were not kind...

  6. #5
    Member David.Boettcher's Avatar
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    Re: Mido Multifort / Movado Cork Stem Seals - Anyone Got Experience / Documents / Spares?

    Although they were certainly not what we would today consider a dive watch, when they introduced the Multifort in 1934 Mido had it tested by the New York Electrical Testing Laboratories Inc., the tests included simulated immersion tests to 13atm (120 m). I am surprised that a cork seal would withstand this pressure, which is why I am trying to find out more about the design of the seal.

    Mido adverts at the time emphasised that the watch was waterproof. Here is one from 1945 making some pretty bold claims. I know advertising then was a lot less constrained than it is now, but even so the claims are striking:




    I had thought that this technology died out a long time ago, but funnily enough, it seems that Mido are still using cork stem seals, or at least were in 2008. This item describes the introduction in 2008 of the Mido Jubilee for the 90th anniversary of the brand.

    MIDO : Le liège rend les montres étanches

    One paragraph starts:

    Utiliser du liège pour rendre une montre étanche: cette invention brevetée en 1934 n'a jamais été égalée par les joints synthétiques appelés «o-ring».

    "Use of cork to make a waterproof watch: This invention patented in 1934 has never been matched by synthetic seals called «o-ring»."

    Interesting?

    Regards - David

  7. #6
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: Mido Multifort / Movado Cork Stem Seals - Anyone Got Experience / Documents / Spares?

    Well, there's a reason they use cork as a stopper for wine bottles. Interestingly though, there's also a reason wine bottles need to be kept on their side; otherwise the cork dries out and lets in air. That would suggest (in a watch) that the cork and stem sleeve would need to be rather heavily lubricated to prevent the same thing from happening. No?
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    Re: Mido Multifort / Movado Cork Stem Seals - Anyone Got Experience / Documents / Spares?

    Otherwise imagine a warranty claim...

    I'm sorry sir, you didn't swim wearing your watch at least once a week - so the warranty is void

    Anyway, interesting stuff. I sometimes wonder if the advertising department talked to the designers. Often there is an interesting disconnect going on there these days, causing the engineers to cringe and hide.

  9. #8
    Moderator Public Forum John MS's Avatar
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    Re: Mido Multifort / Movado Cork Stem Seals - Anyone Got Experience / Documents / Spares?

    Quote Originally Posted by David.Boettcher View Post
    Although they were certainly not what we would today consider a dive watch, when they introduced the Multifort in 1934 Mido had it tested by the New York Electrical Testing Laboratories Inc., the tests included simulated immersion tests to 13atm (120 m). I am surprised that a cork seal would withstand this pressure, which is why I am trying to find out more about the design of the seal.

    Mido adverts at the time emphasised that the watch was waterproof. Here is one from 1945 making some pretty bold claims. I know advertising then was a lot less constrained than it is now, but even so the claims are striking:
    In the absence of consumer protection rules watch companies were far more exuberant in their claims back then. I've got a Sandoz from the 1950's that proclaims it is Shockproof, Waterproof, Antimagnetic and Tropicalized. I'm sure the cork would have provided a splash resistant seal as long as it was dampened every once in a while. That advertisement reminds me of the Timex Takes a Lickin but Keeps on Tickin displays found in every department store back then. I'm sure there is more than one reason that cork did not become the standard seal for watches.

  10. #9
    Member David.Boettcher's Avatar
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    Re: Mido Multifort / Movado Cork Stem Seals - Anyone Got Experience / Documents / Spares?

    Quote Originally Posted by AbslomRob View Post
    Well, there's a reason they use cork as a stopper for wine bottles. Interestingly though, there's also a reason wine bottles need to be kept on their side; otherwise the cork dries out and lets in air. That would suggest (in a watch) that the cork and stem sleeve would need to be rather heavily lubricated to prevent the same thing from happening. No?
    Interesting thoughts. Of course, the wine needs the cork to keep any air at all out, to prevent taint, so the cork must be kept damp at all times.

    A watch however perhaps does not need to be totally air tight, just moisture tight. Dry air that might pass through a dry cork would be no problem, but maybe damp air or water trying to get in would damp the cork, which would swell and seal. I don't know, but I do know that they sold a lot of watches in the 40s, 50s and 60s with these cork stem seals, and presumably they wouldn't have reintroduced them in 2008 and described them as waterproof if the system didn't work.

    In their official history, Mido say the 1934 stem seals used "specially treated natural cork", and in the 2008 press release I posted a link to, it says

    Le liège naturel est chauffé et graissé pour garantir son humidité

    "Natural cork is heated and greased to ensure its moisture"

    which is presumably the "special treatment".

    One point that Franz Linz makes in the 2008 press release is that with an automatic watch, the crown is only usually used to set the date or time, not every day to wind the watch. This reduces wear on the stem seals. This is interesting because Mido made the Multifort an automatic in 1935, a year after the introduction of the waterproof Multifort. However, the Movado Acvatic and West End watches that used the same cork seals were manual wind.

    I have written to Mido to try to get more details of the cork, but if they are using this stem sealing in current models like the press release says, presumably someone in the trade could get hold of some spare cork seals and a technical manual? How would I go about finding someone who could do this - any ideas?

    Regards - David

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