Regulating mechanical movements
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  1. #1
    Member temchik's Avatar
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    Regulating mechanical movements

    Hi All,

    Something has been bothering me about regulating a mechanical watch, -

    On one hand when someone posts about their watch running 5 minutes fast a day everybody says it's too much and something's wrong with the movement (magnetized or stuck spring).

    On another hand when reading about regulating they say even a tiniest adjustment to the regulator bar/screw will result in a huge difference. For example, regulating a +/- 15 seconds/day watch may prove to be a time consuming task, it being very easy to overshoot by 30 seconds or more...

    So, which is it - wouldn't one just move the regulator quite a bit further to compensate for a big difference? It seems that the total span of the regulator bar could be way over the "something is wrong" 5 minutes range?

    Of course, I'm not talking about a watch that's been running +5 seconds/day and then suddenly overnight it went to -5 minutes. Something probably did happen there and may require professional attention... Even then, unless it's an expensive piece I would think that regulating it should be a problem

    Am I missing something obvious here?

  2. #2
    Member Sodiac's Avatar
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    Re: Regulating mechanical movements

    <
    "...On one hand when someone posts about their watch running 5 minutes fast a day everybody says it's too much and something's wrong with the movement (magnetized or stuck spring).

    On another hand when reading about regulating they say even a tiniest adjustment to the regulator bar/screw will result in a huge difference. For example, regulating a +/- 15 seconds/day watch may prove to be a time consuming task, it being very easy to overshoot by 30 seconds or more
    ..." >

    You have two different statements here that aren't necessarily linked, so there's no "on the one hand/other hand" with these. There could be many reasons why a watch is running 5 minutes slow. And it indeed takes very tiny movements to make big changes when regulating a watch. So...I'm not sure what your question is?
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    Sodiac
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  3. #3
    Member temchik's Avatar
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    My question is - why 5 mins a day means something is wrong? Why not just regulate it back to normal limits. A lot of times people say that it would way out regulation range, I just don't see why...

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  5. #4
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    Re: Regulating mechanical movements

    Because most watches can only be regulated within a narrow range, usually less than +/- 1 minute, 5 minutes is beyond regulation.

  6. #5
    Member baronrojo's Avatar
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    Re: Regulating mechanical movements

    5 minutes off and it's time to service it.

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    Re: Regulating mechanical movements

    Quote Originally Posted by RON in PA View Post
    Because most watches can only be regulated within a narrow range, usually less than +/- 1 minute, 5 minutes is beyond regulation.
    Not true really. It depends on the watch, but most watches with flat balance springs and and regulator pins can be adjusted far more than +/- 1 minute per day. Just for fun I put an ETA 6498 on my timing machine and moved the regulator arm to both extremes, just to see what the numbers would be. Slowest rate was about -400 seconds a day, and fastest was about +500, so a 900 second per day (or about 15 minutes per day) swing.

    Now if we are talking about a free sprung balance with adjustable screws or weights (Rolex, some Omega, PP, etc....) then yes the range of adjustment is much smaller.

    Now, would I simply regulate a watch that was running 5 minutes per day fast or slow? That is an entirely different question, and the daily rate would not give enough information to say yes or no.

    Cheers, Al
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  8. #7
    Member temchik's Avatar
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    Re: Regulating mechanical movements

    Thank you, I was hoping that someone had actually done the extreme measurements :) Mostly things are just stated without any evidence...

    I myself moved the regulator arm about 1mm and the watch got faster about 5 seconds an hour = about 2 minutes a day... I don't have a timing machine, so I don't have exact timing, but I can safely say that my Seiko can definitely be regulated withing at least 10 minutes per day

    Basically, the reason to not just re-regulate such watch, although one easily could, is because something may be wrong with the mechanism if it is suddenly way faster/slower than before. Also, if it's a newly acquired used watch with unknown service history running this fast/slow it should be serviced regardless?

    Quite frankly, I would still try it myself on a not very expensive watch, especially lower end Seikos since servicing may prove to be more expensive than the watch itself unless it has more than just a monetary value to you...

  9. #8
    Member lysanderxiii's Avatar
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    Re: Regulating mechanical movements

    I think an 2824 has about 150-200 seconds on either side of neutral.

    However, the throw of the regulator is not why the "off for a service" quote comes up.

    5 minutes is a drastic change in the behavior of the movement, and indicates something has happened to the movement, probably bad.

    If your car suddenly started to get 3 miles to the gallon gas mileage when previously it had been getting 20, would you not think to yourself, "Maybe I should get this look at..."
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  10. #9
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    Re: Regulating mechanical movements

    Quote Originally Posted by lysanderxiii View Post
    I think an 2824 has about 150-200 seconds on either side of neutral.

    However, the throw of the regulator is not why the "off for a service" quote comes up.

    5 minutes is a drastic change in the behavior of the movement, and indicates something has happened to the movement, probably bad.

    If your car suddenly started to get 3 miles to the gallon gas mileage when previously it had been getting 20, would you not think to yourself, "Maybe I should get this look at..."
    To quote the OP, that is not the situation we are talking about here:

    "Of course, I'm not talking about a watch that's been running +5 seconds/day and then suddenly overnight it went to -5 minutes. "

    No doubt a change in rate is cause for further investigation - just thought you may have missed that in the original post.

    Cheers, Al

  11. #10
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    Re: Regulating mechanical movements

    Quote Originally Posted by temchik View Post
    Thank you, I was hoping that someone had actually done the extreme measurements :) Mostly things are just stated without any evidence...

    I myself moved the regulator arm about 1mm and the watch got faster about 5 seconds an hour = about 2 minutes a day... I don't have a timing machine, so I don't have exact timing, but I can safely say that my Seiko can definitely be regulated withing at least 10 minutes per day

    Basically, the reason to not just re-regulate such watch, although one easily could, is because something may be wrong with the mechanism if it is suddenly way faster/slower than before. Also, if it's a newly acquired used watch with unknown service history running this fast/slow it should be serviced regardless?

    Quite frankly, I would still try it myself on a not very expensive watch, especially lower end Seikos since servicing may prove to be more expensive than the watch itself unless it has more than just a monetary value to you...
    When someone sends me a watch that they don't know the service history for, there are several things I look at to determine if it needs a complete service. The daily rate is usually not the one that I give the most weight to. Things like balance amplitude, positional variation, any signs of wear, dirt, or dried oils, and how long the watch runs in comparison to it's stated power reserve are some things I would typically look at.

    Daily rate is typically not a very reliable indicator that a watch needs service. To put it another way, just because a watch keeps good time does not mean it's not in need of service.

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers, Al
    temchik likes this.

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