My watch has stopped...was it something I did?

Thread: My watch has stopped...was it something I did?

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  1. #1
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    My watch has stopped...was it something I did?

    A week ago I bought my first pocket watch, it's a 1909 dennison half-hunter case, with a waltham movement not dated that I can see, but 13727524 is the serial number, and I looked this up as being size 18, 15 jewels, breguet spring and OF style (though I'm not a collector so I don't even know what those last two things mean)
    It's been running well since the day it got here, the first day it lost a minute, since then it's gained two, but hasn't stopped at all in that time. I've been wearing it to work and the stables, as I got it to use not to begin a collection, and have been very happy with it so far. Only this evening, I think I might have accidentally killed it

    I'd wound it up, just til it started to feel tight, not forcing it too far, and it was still ticking away happily after that. I've got it on a piece of wide ribbon at the moment cos I can't afford a chain for it til next month, and I'd been playing with the ribbon wrapped round my finger, twisting it round and round in a spiral, and to untwist it before I put it down, I let go of the watch, so it could spin free on the ribbon and undo all the twists. It went round quickly, a lot of times, then back in the other direction a bit too. I didn't look at it at once, but put it down, and a couple of minutes later noticed the second hand wasn't moving and it had stopped.
    Giving it a very gentle tap and shake hasn't made it restart, nor has a slightly less very gentle tap, and four hours later, it's still stopped. I opened the back and the balance wheel is stopped, but will move easily if I turn it with a pin, and springs back to it's original position when I let go. I haven't wound it so tight I've broken anything that way, because it was still working after I'd wound it, and I even wound it a couple more clicks just to see if that would make it start working again so there was room for further winding. And I didn't drop it, knock it, or do anything else to it apart from letting it spin on the ribbon.

    So now I'm thinking, was that a totally idiotic thing to do, and spinning is an obvious and stupid way to mess up a watch and stop it from working?
    Sorry if I'm using all the wrong terms or telling you information which isn't even helpful, I'm so new to this subject : all I know about pocket watches other than that I always wanted one, I've learnt in the last two weeks from reading online, so I've tried to think of everything useful I can say about my watch and what's happened to it, but can't help feeling like a bit of a daft newbie for not knowing much and especially for the fact I might have just done something to ruin my watch!

    I'd really appreciate any help anyone can give, suggestions on how to make it start again would be most welcomed of course but even just confirming whether or not my spinning it on the ribbon is likely to be the cause of it's demise would be a help. I can't afford to send it for repair unless it's something very minor and inexpensive (and I fear just having them look at it would be more than I can pay out right now), so I'm really hoping it will be ok!

  2. #2
    Member Eeeb's Avatar
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    Re: My watch has stopped...was it something I did?

    I have a Columbus watch that I had serviced and it worked wonderfully for several months until one night when, while watching it, if just stopped!

    Winding it and shaking it hasn't started mine either. Back to the watchmaker... Like yours, 'something' broke. It happens. They are mechanical devices with small parts that move rapidly and need to meet tight tolerances.

    Maybe others will have suggestions but I suspect you will have to do what I will have to do, take it to an expert and ask him to make it well.
    "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
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: My watch has stopped...was it something I did?

    It sorta sounds like the balance impulse pin is on the wrong side of the lever notch. If that's it, its a fairly easy fix for a watchmaker; they just have to reseat the balance wheel. I wouldn't recommend doing it yourself though; the hairspring on the balance is reasonably delicate, and very easy to damage if you don't know what you're doing.

    As for spinning the watch on the ribbon, I wouldn't call it the dumbest thing you could do to a watch, but you gotta remember that this thing is dependent on a free-spinning balance to tell time; deliberately adding external motion to it isn't exactly a good thing.

    Your watch is a Model 1883, which is probably the most common Waltham watch made. They made it in a vast array of styles and grades. Yours seems to be in the middle; 15 jewels is as many jewels as a good watch needs and no more. The Brueget Hairspring refers to the fact that the hairspring (the tiny one on the balance wheel that makes it swing back and forth) has an "Overcoil" ... the wire is bent up and looped over the top of the sprial at one end. This has the effect of reducing the tendancy of the spring to vibrate up and down and makes it run more accurately. OF means "Open Face", and really means that the winding stem is aligned directly opposite the second hand (as opposed to a Hunting Case watch, which has the winding stem to the right of the second hand).
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  5. #4
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    Re: My watch has stopped...was it something I did?

    Yes, Rob is right in his diagnosis. The test you did is a very good clue because, if all were well, the spring would oscillate. That it just returns to where it was is a sure sign of what is wrong. You are going to be out of your depth here, I suspect. It is a job for a pro because it doesn't just need to be set running again, it needs to be investigated to find out why it went wrong. The possibility of a damaged lever or escape wheel cannot be discounted. Then again, you may be lucky. It is worth remembering that although this was the state of the art fifteen jewel watch, more modern seventeens have shock protection. Yours does not. Handle with appropriate care and enjoy.

  6. #5
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    Re: My watch has stopped...was it something I did?

    Thankyou very much to all of you who've replied, all the information has been a great help. I'll investigate at the local jewellers and see if they either have a watch specialist or can recommend one to me so it can be looked at by the right person. I certainly won't try doing anything to it myself, don't worry - I'm a modelmaker but those just have to look right, not work right, so I fully understand I'm out of my depth and won't make things worse by having a go at it!

    quote AbslomRob :
    "OF means "Open Face", and really means that the winding stem is aligned directly opposite the second hand (as opposed to a Hunting Case watch, which has the winding stem to the right of the second hand)."

    This is curious, on my watch the winding stem is over to the right (by the 3 position on the dial), and it is in a half hunter case, so I wonder why the serial number says it's the opposite. I've been wearing it on my horse even though I don't actually hunt (she's too old and I'm not brave enough!), so it's got pretty close to doing what it was designed for, hehe

  7. #6
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: My watch has stopped...was it something I did?

    The information in the Waltham database (I'm assuming you looked it up on the NAWCC's database) does contain inaccuracies (typcially transcribed from the original hand-written inventories). Its worthwhile emailing the database administrator ([email protected]) with your watch information so that he can update the database.
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  8. #7
    Member rmelle's Avatar
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    Re: My watch has stopped...was it something I did?

    Dear,
    if the impulse jewel is on the wrong side of the lever the balance would not make a complete free motion.
    it would only turn half way and then stop very sudden and return.
    So if the balance turn completely free in all directions:
    it might very well that the impuls jewel got loose.
    and is lost in the watch.
    maybe it is still there, that I hope for you!
    personal note:
    There are only VERY few watches that are actualy horse proof HAHAHA
    and that is from my own expierence... I work with them quite often
    AND: never ever swing an antique watch around your fingers with the chain or ribbon, the G forces are way too big for the balance staffs, or impulse jewels.
    Compare yourself being on a kids playground: turned on a turning disk (?correct English?) they have there...............
    Hope you find a watchmaker to repair it and that he has the correct impuls jewel.
    SUCCES!

    regards,
    RJ van melle.

    PS: checking the balance: hold the watch between your fingertips, then turn your wrist GENTLY, then look at the motion of the balance.
    on the other hand: the impulse jewel might very well still be inside the watch, so don't open it anymore.......
    Last edited by rmelle; May 6th, 2010 at 00:08. Reason: adding PS

  9. #8
    Member Marrick's Avatar
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    Re: My watch has stopped...was it something I did?

    Quote Originally Posted by rmelle View Post
    Compare yourself being on a kids playground: turned on a turning disk (?correct English?)
    Probably "Merry-Go-Round" is the most common term, but it can be used for many varieties of rotating equipment. Where I grew up, playground spinning devices were called "whirligigs" - if I remember correctly.

    Of course, they are now banned for being too dangerous.
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