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Omega Seamaster Repair, Tiffany Signed Dial

This vintage Omega Seamaster DeVille was missing its bezel.  This is not an uncommon problem, but it doesn't have a simple solution as most of these bezels are no longer available.  So, this bezel had to be custom-made.  There really isn't any other reasonable solution to this problem.  I serviced this watch, and installed a genuine Omega crown as well.

Click on image to enlarge

Click on image to enlarge

LeCoultre Memovox, Automatic Alarm Watch Restoration, Caliber K825

This is a vintage LeCoultre automatic alarm watch with date.  The biggest problem with this watch was that the dial feet had been broken off.  This caused the dial to be loose inside the case, and the hands would catch on the dial and cause the watch to stop. Someone did a bad repair job where they tried to soft (lead) solder the feet back on, and there was also glue reside.  Neither one of these is strong enough to work, especially since the surface area of the bond is pretty small.  Only high-temperature solder or welding will work properly in this application.  

The dial feet have to be very precisely located, otherwise the date won't line up properly or the alarm disk won't be centered.  When you get the dial hot enough to melt the silver solder it will burn the finish of the dial, so the dial also had to be refinished after the feet were replaced.

It also needed quite a bit of work to the movement.  I found a similar bad repair job on the automatic bridge, where a locating pin was filed off.  I replaced that pin and a nearby broken jewel, and overhauled the movement.

Click on image to enlarge

Click on image to enlarge

‘Repetition Chronograph’ Repeater Pocketwatch Repair

This is a non-branded quarter repeater with a simple chronograph.  It has the words 'Repetition Chronograph' on the inside dust cover, but there is no real brand name associated with the watch.  It is in a 14K gold case, and is probably from the early 1900's.  As received, it didn't work - the watch would run but only for a minute or two, and the repeater didn't work at all.  It was extremely dirty, and needed about 3 different cleaning processes just to get it right.  Also, the sweep second hand was missing, the crystal was missing, and the pusher crown was rusted and frozen.  In order to supply a second hand, I had to make a special long tube to fit this watch, and then attach that to a vintage sweep hand I had in the shop.  I had to repair the inner workings of the pusher crown, as those are not readily available anymore, especially not in this size and quality.

Click on image to enlarge

Click on image to enlarge

Marcel Cane ( Lemania ) Chronograph Watch Repair

This is a small brand watch that was purchased by my customer while travelling overseas.  Obviously, one of the pushers was missing, and the manufacturer was no longer in business so a factory replacement pusher was simply not available.  It is actually a very nice quality watch, using a Lemania hand-wound movement (very similar to the one used in the Omega Speedmaster Man on the Moon watch).  The case is solid 18K, and has a nice heft and a hinged back.  I fabricated a new pusher from solid gold.  I didn't have a single piece of gold that was quite thick enough, so I soldered a small block using hard plumb solder (i.e 18K plumb solder contains 18/24 gold content for an exact color match, whereas a lot of 18K solder actually has about 12-16K gold).  You can see how oxidized gold gets when heated by the purplish hue in the third photo.  The pusher I made actually fit the case a bit better than the original, which you can see in the last 2 photos.

 

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Click on image to enlarge

Vintage Rolex Transitional Bubbleback Repair, Caliber 645 movement, early 1950's era

This watch is typically called a 'transitional bubbleback'.  It is a bit bigger than the above watch, and the case is no longer straight between the lugs (where the strap fits).  You can see the evolution of their autowind mechanism, where Rolex started to add jewels to the autowind mechanism.  You'll also see that the rotor is slightly larger in this watch, presumably to help the watch autowind more effectively.  This watch also has the 'Super Oyster' crown (winder), which did not screw down.  This design didn't work very well, especially compared to their earlier screw down crown designs.  The 'Super Oyster' crown was only in production for 3 years.

Click on image to enlarge

Click on image to enlarge

Vintage Rolex Bubbleback Repair

This is a pretty typical repair of a vintage Rolex Oyster Perpetual watch.  This watch didn't run very well, the crown didn't screw down, and the rotor / autoweight rattled in the case because the rotor axle was broken.  These watches represent an early (and somewhat unrefined) design of an automatic winding mechanism.  They tend to have 2 main problems.  The first problem is that the rotor axles break due to a relatively small lower pivot, and due to the fact that the rotors themselves are rigid.  There is no provision for shock protection of the autowinding mechanism.  (if you scroll down to the Rolex with the later 1030 movement, you will see that the autoweight has cuts in it which help the rotor flex and absorb shock.)  The second problem is wear in the unjeweled plates.  On this watch, I added 6 jewels total to the autowind mechanism to correct this wear.  This is by far the best way to solve this problem.  Again, if you scroll down to the Rolex with the 1030, you will see that they eventually went to a fully-jeweled design.

Incidentally, the dial and hands on this watch appear to be in original (not refinished) condition, but on closer inspection I realized that this dial is an older refinish.  It has a nice patina, and we decided to leave it alone.

Click on image to enlarge

Click on image to enlarge

Vintage Wittnauer Chronograph Restoration

This vintage chronograph was received in very bad shape.  It was missing a pusher, the lug at 2 o'clock was bent, and the movement was rusty.  After inspecting the movement, I realized that it would need a lot of parts.  Beyond the obvious, I found most all of the wheels would need to be replaced due to rust and bad pivots.  I decided to source a replacement movement that I could use for parts.  This is a good idea as it is less expensive to buy a complete movement than it is to buy the individual parts.  It also helps me estimate the cost to repair, as it puts a price cap on the cost of parts.  Most of the original movement was unuseable, but the overall originality of the piece is still intact as the replacement movement is an identical replacement to the old one.  It is a Landeron 248 movement, if you are interested.

I overhauled the new movement, and used some of the plates and miscellaneous parts from the old movement.  I applied new luminous to the dial, hands, and bezel.  I also replaced the crystal, both pushers, and the caseback gasket.  I turned the sealing surface on the caseback, as that was badly damaged from a botched attempt to open the caseback without the proper tool.

After the customer received his watch, I got this very kind e-mail:  

I received the watch today, I am amazed at what I took out of the box!  Out of my current collection I think this will get the most wrist time and one of the only ones immune to the chopping block when things get rough.  Now I have no fear in buying that beater chrono or watch, because I found a watch maker that can make them whole again and get their hearts beating once more.  The craftsmanship is  of a very high level,  but what truly sets your work apart is the outstanding customer service you provide every step of the restoration process, and your willingness to answer any and all questions.  I am currently hunting down a Wittnauer professional chronograph 242T and trust me when I say I don't care what condition it's in if the price is right, it will be showing up at your doorstep! Thanks, Wade from Hawaii

Click on image to enlarge

Click on image to enlarge

Rolex Red Submariner, model 1680

Vintage Rolex sports watches have become very popular recently, and the red Submariner is one of the most desirable.  This one has a more interesting story than most, as told by my customer:  

"It's the only watch I have used since a friend gave me it in 1974 and has a lot of sentimental value to me. I have put it through its paces; it has dived to 180 feet, locked out of submarines, made hundreds of parachute jumps, gotten pounded in big surf, suffered temperatures from 20 below to 120 above, and been in combat with me during my 30 years as a Navy SEAL."

The customer sent me the watch without a bezel, as shown in the photos.  He had two bracelets with it, neither of which were attached to the watch, presumably because both had problems with the fliplock clasps and wouldn't stay closed properly.  I did a complete overhaul, with new crown, tube, back gasket, crystal, and a few movement parts.  I also supplied a new bezel, insert, and bezel spring.  I repaired both bracelets, replaced the riveted pin holding the fliplock, and adjusted the clasp for solid operation.

The owner Rick W. from Virginia Beach, VA commented:

The watch and bracelets arrived yesterday. Immediately unpacked them and saw that everything looked just perfect. Slipped it on, still cold from the mail. It started running right away and I let it reach wrist temperature, then set it by the atomic clock. It has kept perfect time since then.

 I keep looking down and admiring this watch I have worn since 1974. It was in very rough shape when I sent you it, but you completely restored it so that now it both looks brand new and has the sentimental value of an old friend.

Thanks, Tom...you are the man.

Click on image to enlarge

Click on image to enlarge

— Click here for more Restoration Photos (page 3) —

Restoration Photos, page 2

Vintage Angelus Chronodato Watch Repair

This Angelus is called a Chronodato for obvious reasons, it features a 2 register chronograph with a 45 minute register, plus windows for the day and month, and a center pointer for the date (1-31 are printed at the far outside of the dial).  This watch was received in fairly poor condition, and really didn't do anything correctly.  It couldn't be wound, as the winding pinion was loose in the case.  It was not possible to set the hands properly as there was too much wear in the setting/winding mechanism.  The day/date would not change by itself, as a pin was missing to drive this function.  And, the chronograph didn't function either.  I think the correctors were the only thing that worked.  The movement was very dirty, and had some rust.  I completely disassembled the watch, even further than what is shown the photos.  I made two new bushings for the stem to correct wear so that the watch would wind and set smoothly.  I also made a pin for the date mechanism (which was missing) so that the day/date would change properly.  It needed quite a few parts, including a new stem, crystal, mainspring, and set bridge.

Click on image to enlarge

Click on image to enlarge

Antique Gruen Curvex Watch Repair

This is a vintage Gruen Curvex, probably from the late 1940s.  It is a dedication watch and was given to my customer's father when he retired from the police department.  Aesthetically it was in poor condition, but the mechanism was in pretty good shape and the case didn't have any significant wear (this is a white gold-filled case).  I did a complete overhaul on the movement and replaced a few parts, including the mainspring.  The crown was not correct on this watch, it was a waterproof style crown on a non-waterproof case, so I replaced that with something more correct.  I also had the dial refinished, and replaced the crystal with a new old stock period glass crystal.  The crystal is very curved, and therefore tends to reflect everything making it difficult to photograph.

Click on image to enlarge

Click on image to enlarge

Tom Gref  -  PO Box 69151  -  Tucson, AZ  -  85737  -  520.818.3382

email: tom@bestoftimeswatch.com

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