Newbie questions about servicing
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  1. #1
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    Newbie questions about servicing

    Hey there,


    I have a few autos in my collection (SINN 556A, HAMILTON with hand-wound ETA 6497, MARATAC with MIYOTA 8245), but I have not been yet through the servicing-thing and I had a few "basic" questions. If anyone can shed some light..

    - can I go see my local watchmaker (assuming the movement is a common ETA or SELLITA, not a manufacture movement), instead of sending the watch to SINN ? (seems like it is a better option in terms of cost and turn-around time). What about specific spare parts like gaskets etc.., can SINN sell them directly to my watchmaker ?

    - let's say my watch has Ar filling and copper sulfate capsule, I understand these must be replaced by SINN (same for UX). Can my watchmaker NOT replace them, and what will be the impact on the watch ?

    - because to what I understand, these 2 items are here to get a longer interval between 2 services (I am not talking about fogging etc.. I don't plan to jump from ice cold water to boiling water with my watch on the wrist). Is this something we can measure ? It may vary a lot depending on the watch and its user, but I've read service intervals are about every 5-8 years, sometimes 10. What about watches with Ar/copper sulfate, is it like 12, 15 years ?

    - if I go even further: I have a 200-500 USD watch, with a SEIKO or a MIYOTA movement. That means every 8 years I will have to spend 100-150 USD for a full service, that represents about 20-75% of the price of the watch ? I am not poor, I am not rich either but I just want to understand the whole thing. Of course, with a 2000 USD U1 (my target - but I may switch to an EZM3 if the U1 is too big/heavy), this makes much more sense.

    - last question: ETA or SELLITA ? I have read everything and anything about who is the best between the two, overall ETA might be a bit better but there is nothing clear. What about servicing ? Is it easier to get replacement parts from one brand or the other ? Any cheaper ?

    Thanks for your help !
    Cheers from France
    Current rotation: CITIZEN EcoDrive Nighthawk BJ7010-17W / CITIZEN EcoDrive SuperTitanium AW1220-54L / CITIZEN EcoDrive Promaster Land PMD56-2952 / CASIO Protrek PRG-110 / HAMILTON Khaki Field Mechanical Officer 44 mm / MARATAC Mid Pilot / SINN 556A / SINN 857 UTC TESTAF LH Cargo

  2. #2
    Member GrussGott's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie questions about servicing

    Others know better than me, but i'll take a crack:

    (1.) Not advised, but yes any watchmaker can service a Sinn ETA or Sellita TOP grade movement, although that would likely void your warranty, but I'm not sure about that. In short, don't do that.

    (2.) The Ar is actually nitrogen I believe, although I doubt a local shop could do it and maybe they could order the copper sulfate capsule, but best to send to Sinn, and especially for the UX. If you forego that, I'm sure a local shop service it, and the watch would work fine without the nitro and CS capsule but then why buy a Sinn in the first place? If you're buying the Sinn for the tech, get it serviced at Sinn, if you're not buying the Sinn for the tech why buy a Sinn? You can buy a Porsche and have a neighbor service it, but kinda defeats the purpose of buying the Porsche, n'est-ce pas?

    (3.) Yes, just like with cars, you'll have service costs

    (4.) Sellita = ETA clone (no more patent) and Sinn is certifying and warranting the movement so you're buying a Sinn, with the rest being equal.
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  3. #3
    Member whineboy's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie questions about servicing

    Quote Originally Posted by GrussGott View Post
    (4.) Sellita = ETA clone (no more patent) and Sinn is certifying and warranting the movement so you're buying a Sinn, with the rest being equal.
    It’s funny, people refer to expired ETA patents, but I’ve never seen any identified. Who knows if ETA/Eterna even held any? Not as if you can patent the entire movement design (patents are typically very specific). Also, they’d need patents in each country of importance - patents are not international in scope. That costs major money.


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  5. #4
    Member GrussGott's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie questions about servicing

    Quote Originally Posted by whineboy View Post
    It’s funny, people refer to expired ETA patents, but I’ve never seen any identified.
    If you'd like to see modern ETA patents, you can go to patents.google.com and look up patents for ébauches assigned to ETA ... but did I miss your point and you believe ETA never patented their 2824 movement, or any part of it, in any country?

    As evidence against, I'd offer that Einstein worked in a Swiss patent office - so the Swiss were / are definitely patenty

    Name:  Einstein_am_Stehtisch.jpg
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    and ETA in its early days seemed pretty concerned with proprietary IP, so much so that they advertised:

    Name:  Ebauches-SA-Vintage-Ad.jpg
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Size:  43.7 KB

    You can also read all about it here
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  6. #5
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    Re: Newbie questions about servicing

    Sinn 556 does not have any particular Sinn technologies. Setting aside warranty, and replacement part concerns, it could be serviced elsewhere.


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  7. #6
    Member whineboy's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie questions about servicing

    Quote Originally Posted by GrussGott View Post
    If you'd like to see modern ETA patents, you can go to patents.google.com and look up patents for ébauches assigned to ETA ... but did I miss your point and you believe ETA never patented their 2824 movement, or any part of it, in any country?

    As evidence against, I'd offer that Einstein worked in a Swiss patent office - so the Swiss were / are definitely patenty

    * * * *

    and ETA in its early days seemed pretty concerned with proprietary IP, so much so that they advertised:

    * * * *

    You can also read all about it here
    What follows is pretty off-topic and I apologize to OP for the hijack.

    Yes, my point is that everyone talks about the patents on the 2824 (and 2892) but I've never seen any particular patent identified. As you note, ETA is sophisticated and has many patents, and I'm sure there were some on those movements, but for people to speak as if there was a single patent covering the 2824 movement is a bit ignorant of how patents are used in business. Obtaining patent protection for most machines is like assembling a jigsaw puzzle - the machine is the complete puzzle image. The business tries to protect the important aspects of the entire machine by patenting some of the individual puzzle pieces. You might have a patent on a hairspring design, a new gear tooth shape, a way of making bearing jewels, a new lume material. You aren't going to get a single patent that covers an entire movement (unless the movement is something revolutionary like Zenith's integral oscillator) because (in most countries) a patent is only granted for inventions that are new and not obvious. I also feel the odds of there being a single patent covering the 2824 in general are remote because the overall design of mechanical movements is pretty well-known - the movement itself would not be a single invention, it would be a collection of inventions - since you can only protect one invention per patent, you'd need multiple patents to cover all the inventions in a movement. And, IIRC, the 2824 was an evolution of earlier Ebauches SA movements, meaning only the improvements in the 2824 should have been patentable.

    BTW, Swatch has many patents/patent applications - I ran a quick search at the European Patent Office and ETA/Ebauches SA has ~ 4200 hits, while Swatch had ~ 3500 hits. I'd estimate that corresponds to ~ 1700 / 1200 families (a family refers to patents in different countries that are all based on the same invention). I did not determine how many of those families were still "alive" and legally enforceable, but I'd expect the total to be about half - it's expensive to keep patents alive, many countries require annual fees in the mid-$100's and even $1000+ to be paid. Interestingly, many of those are design patents that only cover the ornamental appearance of an object. Years ago I ran a check and found Seiko had ~ 3300 "live" families. BTW, I prefer the EPO site to Google because it has better advanced search functions.

    The article you cited (good story) only echoes the common view that all patents on the ETA movements have expired, but none are identified.

    I also liked that poster, although I think it actually is directed more to trademarks/branding because it focuses on use of genuine parts. If I could find a copy in a poster shop it'd be an instant buy.

    I find the issue of patents and watches very interesting because I'm a licensed U.S. patent attorney (30+ years of practice behind me so I know a bit about the subject).
    Last edited by whineboy; September 17th, 2019 at 15:13.
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  8. #7
    Member JD305's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie questions about servicing

    double post

  9. #8
    Member JD305's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie questions about servicing

    See comments in Blue ...


    Quote Originally Posted by paj20 View Post
    Hey there,

    I have a few autos in my collection (SINN 556A, HAMILTON with hand-wound ETA 6497, MARATAC with MIYOTA 8245), but I have not been yet through the servicing-thing and I had a few "basic" questions. If anyone can shed some light..

    - can I go see my local watchmaker (assuming the movement is a common ETA or SELLITA, not a manufacture movement), instead of sending the watch to SINN ? (seems like it is a better option in terms of cost and turn-around time). What about specific spare parts like gaskets etc.., can SINN sell them directly to my watchmaker ?

    >>> Short Answer: YES a local watch smith can overhaul the movement (because that 556 does not contain any type of nitrogen or desiccant tech) ... You will not get SINN service warranty and you will not get any replacement parts that are proprietary to Sinn (your watch smith will not be able to get them). Normal ETA movement parts can be had, but that watch is new, it should not need and new parts, aside from a new mainspring maybe.

    - let's say my watch has Ar filling and copper sulfate capsule, I understand these must be replaced by SINN (same for UX). Can my watchmaker NOT replace them, and what will be the impact on the watch ?
    >>> see above

    - because to what I understand, these 2 items are here to get a longer interval between 2 services (I am not talking about fogging etc.. I don't plan to jump from ice cold water to boiling water with my watch on the wrist). Is this something we can measure ? It may vary a lot depending on the watch and its user, but I've read service intervals are about every 5-8 years, sometimes 10. What about watches with Ar/copper sulfate, is it like 12, 15 years ?
    >>> Sinn estimates service intervals stretched out to every 5 years with that capsule technology

    - if I go even further: I have a 200-500 USD watch, with a SEIKO or a MIYOTA movement. That means every 8 years I will have to spend 100-150 USD for a full service, that represents about 20-75% of the price of the watch ? I am not poor, I am not rich either but I just want to understand the whole thing. Of course, with a 2000 USD U1 (my target - but I may switch to an EZM3 if the U1 is too big/heavy), this makes much more sense.
    >>>Unfortunately ... this is the cost of enjoying automatic watches ... and the more specialized the watch, the more expensive to service, and the least amount of qualified watchsmiths that know what they are doing. Because of this, and my OCD, I've decided to educate myself so I can perform minor repairs ... and then it gets more expensive because of all the nice tools you have to acquire ;)

    - last question: ETA or SELLITA ? I have read everything and anything about who is the best between the two, overall ETA might be a bit better but there is nothing clear. What about servicing ? Is it easier to get replacement parts from one brand or the other ? Any cheaper ?
    >>> I believe that when ETA started clamping down on providing movements and parts to other makers ... companies like Sellita expanded (they are 2nd largest provider of movements in Switzerland after ETA and they were the outsource maker for ETA 2824 movements) ... so you will see a lot of compatible looks between an ETA 2824 and a Selitta SW200. Although Selitta will be priced lower.

    Thanks for your help !
    Cheers from France

  10. #9
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    Re: Newbie questions about servicing

    Thanks alot for your inputs. Really appreciated.
    I am heading to Frankfurt for a business trip in december, I definitely have to stop by their shop.
    Cheers,
    Current rotation: CITIZEN EcoDrive Nighthawk BJ7010-17W / CITIZEN EcoDrive SuperTitanium AW1220-54L / CITIZEN EcoDrive Promaster Land PMD56-2952 / CASIO Protrek PRG-110 / HAMILTON Khaki Field Mechanical Officer 44 mm / MARATAC Mid Pilot / SINN 556A / SINN 857 UTC TESTAF LH Cargo

  11. #10
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    Re: Newbie questions about servicing

    double post - sorry
    Current rotation: CITIZEN EcoDrive Nighthawk BJ7010-17W / CITIZEN EcoDrive SuperTitanium AW1220-54L / CITIZEN EcoDrive Promaster Land PMD56-2952 / CASIO Protrek PRG-110 / HAMILTON Khaki Field Mechanical Officer 44 mm / MARATAC Mid Pilot / SINN 556A / SINN 857 UTC TESTAF LH Cargo

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