Repair -- old mechanical wind-up watch -- stop & go

Thread: Repair -- old mechanical wind-up watch -- stop & go

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  1. #1
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    Repair -- old mechanical wind-up watch -- stop & go

    Have a circa 1950's mechanical wind-up watch.

    If I first wind it up, it runs for 5 seconds, then stop/freeze.
    If I tap / jiggle it gently, it will resume, then stop again.
    Issue is less frequent once it has been running steady longer.

    What are the possible problems that would fit these symptoms,
    and how involved & expensive would each be to repair?

    Thanks!
    Eugene.

  2. #2
    Zenith Forum Co-moderator
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    Re: Repair -- old mechanical wind-up watch -- stop & go

    Sounds like the only thing that is wrong is that the poor thing hasn't been serviced in ages, the oils are all dried up and the gearwheel pivots sticking in their ruby bearings. Plus the amplitude (swing) of the balance being too low to keep the whole thing ticking. Get the watch to a watchmaker who will service it and it may well be almost like new!

    Hartmut Richter

  3. #3
    Member gsinclair's Avatar
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    Re: Repair -- old mechanical wind-up watch -- stop & go

    Quote Originally Posted by Hartmut Richter View Post
    Sounds like the only thing that is wrong is that the poor thing hasn't been serviced in ages, the oils are all dried up and the gearwheel pivots sticking in their ruby bearings. Plus the amplitude (swing) of the balance being too low to keep the whole thing ticking. Get the watch to a watchmaker who will service it and it may well be almost like new!
    Hartmut Richter
    I bought a vintage pocket watch in Europe some years ago (only markings on it say "Ancre 6 Rubis" -- I don't know anything about it except it has 6 jewels in it; see attachment for photos). I pulled it out the other day for more or less the first time, wound it up, and found similar behaviour to what the OP described.

    Two watchmakers in town said exactly the same thing: "Don't spend any money on it." The first one elaborated: it was a cheap piece-of-junk watch to begin with, never designed to last more than a few years, and it's not worth servicing now. The inside of it did look pretty run-down, I've got to say.

    When I got home, I experimented a bit and found I'd been winding it the wrong way! The way I wound it, there was a satisfying clicking sound, which I thought was good. Going the other way, however, actually tightened the spring and caused it to go. How silly did I feel!

    The problem of intermittent ticking seems to have disappeared. It now runs continuously for about 16 hours (not much of a power reserve...) and loses at least 10 minutes in that time. But hey, it's better than no pocket watch, and will do until I do the research and buy a good one.

    So, Eugene, I hope you have better luck getting it serviced than I did.

    By the way, first post from a sometime lurker. Hi, everybody!

    Gavin
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  5. #4
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    Re: Repair -- old mechanical wind-up watch -- stop & go

    @gsinclair - Did the watchmakers give you a rough price to have the watch repaired? I have a silver 6 cylinder rubis pocket watch that's been in the family for years and was contemplating taking it for repair?

  6. #5
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    Re: Repair -- old mechanical wind-up watch -- stop & go

    Quote Originally Posted by 3Lions View Post
    @gsinclair - Did the watchmakers give you a rough price to have the watch repaired? I have a silver 6 cylinder rubis pocket watch that's been in the family for years and was contemplating taking it for repair?
    No, they both were adamant that there was no point repairing it because it was nothing much of a watch in the first place. So they didn't even give me an estimate. I'd be curious. But from my novice eyes, the look of the parts inside suggested a total overhaul.

    I'm happy just to keep the watch as a curiosity until I get a decent one, then I may dismantle it myself for interest. As yours is a family watch, you may have more determination. I'd be interested to know how you go.

  7. #6
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    Re: Repair -- old mechanical wind-up watch -- stop & go

    Update - I've had a repair* estimate of around 300€ (I'm living in Munich).

    *He's not sure it can be repaired as there are at least 2 broken parts in the watch that will have to be made from scratch. I think that this will also make the estimate a very rough guess. I reckon if it can be fixed, it could go up to 500€ easily.

  8. #7
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: Repair -- old mechanical wind-up watch -- stop & go

    For a watch like that, you'd probably need to scour the net and flea markets for a similar movment that you could scavenge parts from. That or befriend an amature watchmaker/student who might be willing to make the broken parts for fun.
    My growing collection of "affordable" vintages: http://www.abslomrob.com

  9. #8
    Member gsinclair's Avatar
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    Re: Repair -- old mechanical wind-up watch -- stop & go

    Quote Originally Posted by 3Lions View Post
    Update - I've had a repair* estimate of around 300€ (I'm living in Munich).
    I guess that's why my two prospective repairmen said "Don't spend any money on it"...

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    Re: Repair -- old mechanical wind-up watch -- stop & go

    Quote Originally Posted by gsinclair View Post
    The problem of intermittent ticking seems to have disappeared. It now runs continuously for about 16 hours (not much of a power reserve...) and loses at least 10 minutes in that time. But hey, it's better than no pocket watch, and will do until I do the research and buy a good one
    16hrs is not terrible (well, you'd have to wind it up in the morning & before bed) -- the loss of 5-10min / day, I've had on a few watches before.. I would see if it loses any power during the first 8hrs after winding -- it may only be losing it towards the 16th hour (while it's starting to lose power). Otherwise it could just be running slow, needing adjustments -- which at least used to be a common thing you could get fixed...

    (My watch is still waiting to find a good place to get it serviced -- I've not gotten to it yet -- but good to hear it's more just in need of maintenance than repair.. like oiling the gears..)

  11. #10
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: Repair -- old mechanical wind-up watch -- stop & go

    For watches like these, you're best to find a local watch club, and see if there's anyone there that tinkers. If someone same up to me with one, I'd probably charge them $25 to clean it with the understanding that the I wasn't a pro, my work wasn't guaranteed, and there's the slight but real risk that I might damage the watch. That's usually acceptable to someone who'd otherwise face a several-hundred dollar bill on a watch worth a quarter of that.
    My growing collection of "affordable" vintages: http://www.abslomrob.com

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