I recently had the chance to purchase a vintage A384. Iíve been very happy with my Original 1969 38 mm, and never expected to purchase one of the true originals. Also, I considered my Ebel Senior Chronograph with its caliber 134 to fill any need I might have for a vintage El Primero. However, when I got a chance to see an A384 in person I had to have it.
Now I need to decide how to restore it, and it certainly does need restoration. Some of the key issues include:
- The start/stop pusher is extremely sticky and can barely be pushed down to activate the chronograph.
- The central second hand is loose and resets at 42 seconds rather than 0. I suspect its collar is loose.
- Given the watchís age and uncertain service history Iím sure it needs a general oiling.
Other than those concerns it actually runs quite well, at less than +/- 10 seconds per 24 hours. The date and chronograph functions work perfectly as well (with the caveat relating to the central seconds hand). I assume that sending it to Zenith is the best thing to do. Iíve called the local service center in my area and they told me that they would forward it to Switzerland as they do not have parts for this type of watch.
I usually send a summary of a watchís issues and any specific requests that I have with a watch when I get it serviced. I was thinking of requesting the following:
- Case: No finishing.
- Chronograph pushers: Replace
- Crown: At the centerís discretion, with a preference for an original period accurate 1969 crown replacement if possible. Itís a Zenith/Movado square star logo now, so I expect itís a service crown to begin with. I can live with it. If they replace it with a modern five star crown Iíd be okay with that as well.
- Hands: Replace the 30 minute totaliser, which is not original currently. Iím thinking of saying that they should replace the central minute and hour hands as they are scratched up, but if they are replaced with new hands with better lume, the luminescence of the hands and dial wonít match. So Iím not quite sure what would be ideal.
- Dial: This is the hardest part. The dial has some patina, including a blemish at 3:30, but itís still in good shape. The lume is weak, but Iím fine with that. Looking at this dial means staring back into 1969 (or at least a date prior to 1972). I suppose Iíd prefer to keep it, but then the lume might not match the hands if they are replaced. Also, if the date wheel has to be replaced for any reason, it would probably be lighter and stick out. Iíd rather they match.
- Date window: Preserve if it is still functional, but if it must be replaced due to wear or some other reason, replace the dial to match it as well.
- Crystal: Polish or replace, at their discretion as long as itís original acrylic.
- Movement: I havenít opened the watch, but I presume from the way that the colour of the dial and date window match, that they are from the same period and that it is a 3019 PHC. I absolutely want to preserve the movement. Iím fine with any parts being swapped out as necessary. They had better not play around like some other companies and swap the whole thing out for a comparable movement though. If they were to swap it out for another 3019 PHC of similar vintage I guess I could live with it, but if itís a caliber 400 that would be totally unacceptable.
What do you think of my options? I'm not sure if all of this will be reasonable or possible, but I'm at least trying to sort out what to aim for. It also leads me to think about what it is that makes a watch original and authentic. I get the feeling that it's maintaining the integrity of the case, dial, hands and movement. Defining that in this situation seems like a bit of a challenge.
(That's a small piece of paper over the serial number. I'm too lazy to modify the image to blur it.)