The Tale of my Vintage Grand Seiko Chronometer's Service!*modem burner*

Thread: The Tale of my Vintage Grand Seiko Chronometer's Service!*modem burner*

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2007

    The Tale of my Vintage Grand Seiko Chronometer's Service!*modem burner*

    This was posted on the Seiko forum, but it might be of interest to the general forumners who may not lurk over there!

    First post:
    Hello guys, just wanted to share with you my new pride and joy.

    It's a 1965 Grand Seiko Chronometer 5277-9990.
    I am constantly amazed at how current the design is, even though it's a vintage piece. The construction is absolutely brilliant (more on this later)

    Here are some photos, both on leather, and a vintage steel Seiko bracelet that I found to be more than adequate for this piece.

    Unfortunately the seal is not in the best possible condition, but is still very much there. The case construction is superb, with very few apparent flaws such as pitting, which is very common in watches from this time period (especially in many Swiss steel case backs)
    It saddens me to know that many sloppy watchmakers here in Brazil never heard of such thing as a "Grand" Seiko, so this watch got the same treatment as beat up VW Beetles.

    Today I watched as my trusted watchmaker (who has worked for Rolex and Seiko) disassembled the movement I took for him to work on. From preliminary inspections it was clear this watch never got the treatment it deserved.
    Petrified lubricant (where there was still any lubricant left), dust specs, tool scratches from careless watchmakers. I was already expecting poor news, but fortunately it wasn't the case.

    This is where Seiko's brilliancy in design becomes evident. Even though the watch worked most of it's life without the proper lubrication or cleaning, all of the critical parts that were carefully inspected by my watchmaker showed virtually no significant wear. This is to be expected from a watch that is left unused in a safe for many many years, obviously not the case when we examined my timepiece.

    You can say Seiko may have gone over the top with 35 jewels, but it's this very set of jewels that protected the most wear prone components of this caliber. The barrel is jeweled, the plates are fully jeweled, the date disk slides over ruby jewels, etc etc etc....

    My over-exaggerated watchmaker put it simply "This watch, after my full service, will be good to go for another 50 years".

    We were quite pleased after each component was removed and prepared for cleaning when we saw what lay beneath.

    Tomorrow he will put it back together, and I will take macro photos to try and document the process as best I can. This way you all can see the hidden "jewels" this beautiful caliber hides.

    Stay tuned for the next installment!

    Kind regards,
    Fred Bonatto
    And second post:

    Well for those waiting for installment number 2 of my Grand Seiko's service, here it is. While I watched over his shoulder I realized how fortunate I am to have a watchmaker who allows me to breath down his neck with a camera for over an hour.

    I apologize for the poor lighting and some unsteady shots, but out of over 80 photos I took, these are the best.

    As you can see, most parts have surface/finish wear and blemishes, both due to age and poor watchmaking skills.

    It did clean up nicely though. I'll try my best to explain what is on each picture!

    Here's the watch whole and handsome

    After disassembling the entire movement and cleaning each part individually Omar (my watchmaker) began laying the parts out in preparation

    Here we see the dial side of the mainplate. As you can see, there are two sets of three rubies (triangularly set) near the center. These are there to ensure that the hour and minute wheels can spin smoothly. Around the "middle" circle you can see the rubies the calendar disk slide over (if you consider the plate as three circles, a large center one with all the complicated machining, a middle section, and an outer section)

    The barrel bridge and mainspring barrel, both jeweled, hence the expression "jeweled down to the barrels". The necessity of these rubies can be debated, though I rather have them than not hehe

    Detail of one of the wheels and escapement wheel.

    And Omar begins....

    Chosing the proper you can see the barrel is already set on the mainplate.

    Chosing the proper screw

    Placing one of the movement bridges.

    Some more lubrication.

    Barrel bridge on and fitting of wheels, checking to see if everything is spinning freely.

    "Might I have missed something?"

    ..."nope, looks just fine, on goes the calendar disc"

    Not much left now.

    Balance bridge with balance spring and balance being set

    Looks great!

    How about the dial now...

    Minor hand adjustments...

    Getting cased up and ready for...

    ....the vibrograf fine adjustment! It tuned up well within COSC specs!!!

    And all cased up again!

    I hope you guys enjoy the pictorial! Thanks Omar for all the patience and question answering!

    Kind regards,
    Fred Bonatto

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Middle of Hurricane Alley

    Re: The Tale of my Vintage Grand Seiko Chronometer's Service!*modem burner*

    Very interesting! A very fine watch, the Grand Seiko!
    I did not like that "Omar" put his fingerprints all over the movement and dial.

  3. #3
    MMT is offline
    Member MMT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006

    Re: The Tale of my Vintage Grand Seiko Chronometer's Service!*modem burner*

    Last edited by MMT; November 17th, 2008 at 00:52.

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  5. #4
    Member WIS_Chronomaster's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007

    Re: The Tale of my Vintage Grand Seiko Chronometer's Service!*modem burner*

    I love this post, great love the pictures to that a fine watch.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007

    Re: The Tale of my Vintage Grand Seiko Chronometer's Service!*modem burner*

    Quote Originally Posted by Janne View Post
    I did not like that "Omar" put his fingerprints all over the movement and dial.
    In the last few years, working with watches, I've come to understand a bit of how the industry works. They would like us all believe that watches must be serviced in determined periods of time, that the watchmakers are like brain surgeons, and that watch parts are as fragile as oriental porcelain figurines.

    Though there are obviously truths in what I said, there is some room for flexibility. A full service is necessary for every watch once in a while, though this varies greatly from watch to watch. How much you use it, how you use it, what components does it have, and regular inspection are all elements that must be taken into consideration.

    First, if the watch is used regularly, for desk diving lets say, it will last longer between service intervals than a watch sitting in a safe. This is because the lubrication is always working itself around where it should be instead of gravitating to one spot due to lack of movement and possibly caking/drying up.

    If you ride a motorcycle daily, you might need to service your watch in shorter intervals than someone who works at home. Maybe its a good idea to wear a hand wound watch instead of an automatic to reduce part movement etc.

    Complications, automatics, chronographs, all require periodic maintenance, more so than a simple hand wound watch due to the amount of lubrication needed.

    Lastly, a watch that is regularly inspected by a competent watchmaker will give you a better idea of what's going on. Would you change your motor oil without first checking the dip-stick?

    I mention all of these aspects to try and explain why it's OK for Omar to handle my watch like he did. The manner in which I took the photographs, showing the workbench with it's battle scars and scratches, his weathered hands, and his many-times re-sharpened tools, is only an attempt to show a bit of the reality of watchmaking. His hands are dry and free of any excessive skin oil, and after handling every part with his bare finger tips, he would always clean it with Rodico (which is the green rubber you see in one of the pictures). This absorbs any skin oil, dust specks, and erases all finger prints from all sorts of parts, including dials, bridges, etc.
    Every single watchmaker in the world uses this material for cleaning after his work, just like a car mechanic wipes off excess oil from the engine compartment.

    The watch has no fingerprints on it, or any dust specks anywhere. The dial was not scratched, damaged, or altered in any way after he touched it. Careful watchmaking ensures that the watch comes out like expected. In other words, a lot more damage can be done by a sloppy watchmaker with a screwdriver on his hand than the fingertips of a careful artisan can!

    I hope this can help understand my perspective a bit!

    Kind regards,
    Fred Bonatto

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Lexington, KY

    Re: The Tale of my Vintage Grand Seiko Chronometer's Service!*modem burner*

    Beautiful watch and great photos
    Last edited by jwalther; November 15th, 2008 at 12:51.
    Seiko Marinemaster SBDX001
    My Father's Hamilton Khaki Automatic

    My Grandfather's Movado Sub Sea Automatic

    "That's what character is-It's in the tryin'" Eric Taylor.

  8. #7
    Member mikewatch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Massachusetts, USA

    Re: The Tale of my Vintage Grand Seiko Chronometer's Service!*modem burner*

    Fantastic post. Thanks for sharing! These pics make everything look simple but as someone just starting to get into servicing my own watches, I'm sure it takes years of skilled practice to get to this level.
    Hamilton Khaki Mechanical | Hamilton King Khaki | Zodiac SeaDragon
    Seiko "Pogue" Automatic 6139-6005 (1975) |Seiko Automatic Diver 7S26-0040 | Seiko Kinetic 5M42-0059

    Grails: (Hey, if you're gonna dream, dream big...)
    Omega Planet Ocean (orange bezel) | Omega Speedy Pro Sapphire Sandwich
    Rolex Submariner LV Green Bezel
    Bell & Ross BR01-92 Limited Edition | Vacheron Constantin Patrimony

  9. #8
    Member chansigril's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008

    Re: The Tale of my Vintage Grand Seiko Chronometer's Service!*modem burner*

    the breakdown and reassembly pics were great, thanks for sharing

    i also chuckled at the parallels drawn to auto mechanics... since i am a mechanic methinks the watchmaker must work more delicately than we do however, the slide hammer would not work so well in their field

    this may even motivate me to break down a watch and learn a little bit... well mebbe i should head to barnes and noble first, or amazon... pick up a manual...

  10. #9
    Member Mize's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    The South

    Re: The Tale of my Vintage Grand Seiko Chronometer's Service!*modem burner*

    Very interesting post and a beautiful watch too!

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