A well busted Assmann I busted even more...
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  1. #1
    Member pmwas's Avatar
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    Aug 2010

    A well busted Assmann I busted even more...


    A new arrival to my collection was to be pure pleasure.
    I bought an J.Assmann watch (Glashuette) that was supposed to be all fine and working.

    I could see there was a non original ratchet wheel (bad, bad thing), but since I managed to negotiate a discount on that, it did not bother me that much.

    The watch did... kinda tick, though, very far from "working".

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    There. A MESS!!! The Assmann dial was from another movement (feet used to be in wrong spots, non matching), the crown wheel had a broken screw (small screw that makes it work together as one piece), the corrosion on the keyless works was spectacular, some jewels loose, escape wheel repivoted, screws mismatched, and the motion works had bad gear ratio, so that the hour hand would move too fast.
    Also many scratches, dings - a MASSACRE.

    I should have called the guy and tell him I'm returning this piece of crap, but firstly - I've already disassembled it and secondly - I thought I could make it run again. Well - somehow...

    Let's just go further with the story. I'm sorry - it will be missing some pictures, that I simply forgot to take. I'm kind of forgetful when I'm doing something difficult - I stay too focused on it.

    The watch has a distinctive Glashuette balance and escapement:

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    The gold escape wheel and gold pallet fork with built-in banking pin.
    Very thin pivots on the arbors increase accuracy, but decrease durability.
    The pallet fork seems to have a replaced arbor and I'll have to return to that issue later on...

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    As you can see - the dial is completely wrong. I glued two feet on, so it's more usable now. But still no less incorrect.

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    You have to install the crown wheel to the barrel bridge early, before assembling the movement for sure.
    Then - the rest of the keyless works. In the meantime, I also adjusted the hairspring to be flatter.

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    R-U-S-T-Y !!! Just terrible.

    On with assembling. Like I said - the escape wheel is repivoted and the top bearing cannot be screwed down tight (it locks). No big deal, but still - annoying. The non original ratchet wheel has no screw to secure it (there is a notch on the arbor for that), but it's safely tight. One has to secure to other side while mounting it, so that the dial side barrel bridge won't bend.

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    Take a look on the escapement now. It looks good, but the fork has a non original arbor and you can also see tiny marks on the metal over the exit pallet. Also, the banking pin was bent a bit, which I did not show...

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    Working? No - barely ticking. I got back to the begining.

    It's an unusual issue I've already encountered once - due to my own error. When you replace a riveted arbor, it has to be of EXACT thickness. If it's by micrometers too think, it will bend the fork, altering pallets' position.
    In this case, the pallet will not lock against the escape tooth, but will instead be bounced back.
    The safety pin is then pressed against the roller table and the balance stops.
    A distinctive feature of this malfunction is that the more you wind it, the more abruptly it stops (as the escape wheel presses the pallet fork against the roller table much harder).

    The way to repair this might be to punch the fork directly over the arbor, to straighten it.
    Sounds good and the last time I succeeded this way, so I tried again, but... I f%^!& up the pallet fork even more!

    Because it's not an old English pallet fork, quite symmetrical in it's design - in Glashuette's fork one of the arms is thinner and instead of straighteing the center bit, I terribly bent the thin end!!! Sh(oo)t!
    again - I was too miserable to remember about pictures. So I made some drawings:

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    As you can see in the bottom pic - there are no many more marks around the exit pallet :(
    You know what? This is bad - I feel very bad about it. I SHOULD have known this was coming and now I'm the one doing pure idiot's work.

    What did I do? I removed the exit pallet and started to straighten the bent metal, but how???
    Eventually, after trying some small pilers, tweezers and stuff, I figured out a finger nail cutter was very useful for this job! I slightly overcorrected that, so I had to bend it a bit back again - pure horror and it was me myself who made that to me. I was not angry, I was furious. By midnight it turned into an unstopable rage, which ended when I... lost the pallet.

    Yes, after all the hard work I've done, I've shot the pallet from my tweezers and it flew away in an unknown direction. I could hear it hit something twice and it disappeared.

    Try to find a part that's 1x1,5mm 'large, transparent and colorless. Good luck!
    Also, the pallet is uniquely shaped, so no way to find an easy replacement as well.

    At this point, I put the parts to one of my 'parts' boxes and finaly, at 1:00AM I went to sleep.
    Took me 7 hours and I ended up short of my cash, my watch and terribly depressed.

    Is that the end? No, because this is a perfect time for divine intervention.
    Next day in the morning I found the pallet on my desk. Impossible, but true.

    I eagerly reassembled the movement and... it would still not work. The escapement was working fine, though. There as a balance issue this time. Clearly bad interaction with the pallet fork again.
    I tried to figure it out and (for the love of...!!!) dropped the movement on my desk.

    Result? Broken balance pivot. Just SUPERB - beautiful work again.

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    The good thing about Glashuette balance wheel is that they use a friction staff and it's the easiest staff to make. I took a large pinion, cut it and adjusted the thickness to fit.
    The good thing - the staff was already repaired as well, and someone just replaced half of it, leaving the other. Yes, the staff is divided - the top piece I left be and just made the bottom half.
    It's not... correct, but saves time and effort.
    After checking the length I installed the roller table (no roller yet) and now I could see the problem.
    The pallet fork was still bent and needed straightening of the other arm (the one that goes to the balance, whatever it's called):

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    So my work on the pallet fork was .
    Intro - straighten the banking pin
    Phase 1. Strike it (idiotically) on the staking set.
    Phase 2. Repair the damage I made during phase 1, with slight over-correction compared to the initial state (bent more outwards the pallet will not engage - hits the back of the preceeding tooth - and bent more inwards the pallet will not release - took some titrating to get it just right).
    Phase 3. bend the balance end so that it was symmetrically located on both sides of the balance bearing.

    That was DIFFICULT, but not like it's not partly my fault as well. I do need to think twice next time I take a hammer... Even a light, rubber one...

    Now there's a reward for me:


    Exit pallet action:


    Looks good as well!

    Now all I needed to do was to repair the motion works with a proper minute wheel and the work, after like 20 hours or so, the watch was almost done!

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    I don't count teeth - I have no will to do it and I always get that wrong.
    I just take all the minute wheels I have, check which of them fit and try them on until I get a good one.
    I also tried some hour wheels, but I'd need one with more teeth, which was not possible...

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    Done. Was it worth the money? NO!!! Was it worth the effort? YES, YES, YES!!!
    Pure bliss...

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    And at least the case is original to the movement... I wondered for a while maybe it's wrong too ;)

    Final results:

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    The dial looks good, despite it's all wrong. How did someone get a genuine Assmann dial is another thing. That's tough.
    The case is silver, Swiss made, and it's - like I mentioned - original to the movement.

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    It's also terribly overpolished.

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    All in all - it all turned out fine, but obviously, it's not what I thought I was buying ;)
    Have a great day!!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2010

    Re: A well busted Assmann I busted even more...

    Amazing journey with a great outcome
    I really felt your pain with bits going wrong as I’ve just overhauled a 60 year old Seamaster which I picked up as a project. I’ve just finished it and it was not in the level you work at but it certainly had some challenges and learning along the way. Great story

  3. #3
    Member brandon\'s Avatar
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    Aug 2010
    Minneapolis, MN

    A well busted Assmann I busted even more...

    CC Texas and rfortson like this.
    "Oh, nice. So now we're quoting other people to sound deep." -alx007

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  5. #4
    Member jimdon5822's Avatar
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    Apr 2016

    Re: A well busted Assmann I busted even more...

    Awesome job. I hope someday to be half as proficient as you in repairing watches!

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  6. #5
    Member Paleotime's Avatar
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    Apr 2008
    Idaho, USA

    Re: A well busted Assmann I busted even more...

    Thanks for sharing that experience...many of us have been in similar spots, where no matter how hard you try, nothing seems to work out. Disaster always seems to show up when you are close to the end.

    In the end, you have fixed some of the injustices done to that beautiful movement...nice work. I congratulate you on your tenacity.

  7. #6
    Member bsshog40's Avatar
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    Apr 2015

    Re: A well busted Assmann I busted even more...

    Wow, great work! Your repairs are at levels I ain't even close to. Sounds like you enjoyed every minute of it.
    Bobby - My original music! Check me out! Thanks!

  8. #7
    Member pmwas's Avatar
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    Aug 2010
    Well, maybe not every minute - the struggle with the pallet fork was painful and depressing. And I still say I must have gotten some help with finding the pallet - someone up there was very nice to me 🙂
    Truly - I disassembled the watch for parts and abandoned the project at some point. Lucky I did not throw the pallet fork away - I sometimes do it with damaged parts to make my decision final 😉
    bsshog40 likes this.
    Have a great day!!!

  9. #8
    Member DragonDan's Avatar
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    Dec 2009
    Phoenix, Arizona

    Re: A well busted Assmann I busted even more...

    wow, the agony of defeat, the unbridled joy of victory all in a 2" watch case. Good photos and write up on this rollercoaster ride
    Pink Floyd. Dark side of the moon. Side one, track four.
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