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Poor old Stuart, poor storage and poor watchmaking

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This one is about my Stuart...
I don't think this needs clarification, but in case any non-American watches collector pops in - Stuart was the highest grade made by Illinois Springfield Watch Co and among the highest Illinois Watch co grades.
I once bought myself an early Stuart - S/N 2852
It's housed in a Dueber 4oz coin silver case, likely not original, but nice.

It has a single sunk, original dial with the fancy script.
In fact - here it is:

The minute hand is glued together, but that's fine enough, better than a replacement fine spade would be...
The movement...

...oxidated and probably stored out of case for some time.
I once quickly cleaned and oiled it, but it would not run very well, so today I decided to give it a good cleaning and reoiling.

I disassebbled the watch and found a new, sliver tone mainspring.
I thought it was good I had a winder, will make inserting a hard, strong mainspring easier, but I did not know how wrong I was this time.
You know, sometimes, even when you're cautious, things will just go wrong and - of course - they always go wrong when you're working on a good watch and you're twice as cautious as usual.

That's the barrel. It's original, has the S/N scratched inside.
When I insert a strong mainspring into a barrel, I have to hold the t-shaped end in it's hole, because the moment the winder releases the mainspring, it will likely pop out and move.
First time it popped out and my tool slipped slightly. Now this might be the yelow arrow marked damage or maybe it already had been there, I don't know...
The green arrow marks an old damage, covered with patina even stinky Gronal would not remove...
The red arrow points the disaster spot - on second attept, my tool slipped again and chipped a barrel tooth.
Why do I always have to learn the hard way? I used the blunt tweezer end for this not to scratch it, but I did not think it can hit a tooth so hard!
Again - it looks like the tooth might have been damaged during the old (now tarnished) slip, but I'm pretty sure it's mine
Funny - I was so happy having the mainspring winder, but this time I'd be on the safe side inserting this with my fingers.
Well... that's why I sometimes prefer to leave a watch be and that's why I've never touched my 23j 1892 Vanguard... you never know when you screw up...

But on with it:

This is another old damage...
Someone decided to punch it tight, I think, because it just won't come of. Before cleaning, after cleaning, just no way to remove it.
And it's terribly soft, so every most delicate attempt leave marks on it...
All in all I decided to leave it be, but I'm sre there are cleaning liquids left underneeth...
Still, there is not a slightest slit under this wheel to slip a thin tool and pry from there, it's dead flat on the plate...

Stuart grade has real screw down settings. Lower grades mostly had faux setting (don't know about Bunn grade, though).

On the underside of the top plate - two patent markings and one applied for...

The only difference here is a nicely polished pallet fork.
Otherwise it all looks like any other ISWCo of the era.

The pallets have no shellac, but instead they are fitted very tight. I wonder if there was any shellac originally?
The exit palet was not flat, and this might explain the misarable performance, we'll see now, after I corrected it.

Assembling is easy. This watch has the Burt's Patent, so the barrel can be taken in and out with the top plate screwed on tight.

Such punch marks always mean a watch had undergone a staff replacement.
If they are inside from the cock screw - the staff was too long. Outside - too short.

The balance cock has punch marks all over, on the other hand
This is a beautiful balance cock. It's gilded much better than the other plates and it's lovely gilt is corrosion resistant.
I always wondered - gold does not oxidate or corrode, so the goild used for gilding watch plates must have not been pure...
This balance cock is so lovely shiny, I was actually affraid it had been replaced!
No, the number matches, so it must be quality gilding on this one!

The cannon pinion placed back.
Not very tight, which is good. You should not replace cannon pinion with minute wheel on, especially if it's brass, but - like I said - this one won't move...

What I like about keywinds is the simplicity of the winding 'mechanism'.
Way much more work woth keyless works, but after assembling a few date indicators, I think I should not complain anyway.
The click is poorly filed down for some reason.

The dial side done...

The dial pinned...

The balance on. I should not allow it ticking cock off, as it could scratch the plate, but I just could not resist taking a picture. It's struggling for life so badly

And there you go!
Now it's working!!! 'Like a top' so to say, so the pallet was a problem indeed...

Looking from the side - the cock is bent up (even despite the punch marks), the hairspring is seated too high for the stud and surely a too long staff was used while repairing this one.
Still - it works fine.

And cased.
I'm very angry I added some damage to the mainspring barrel, but one can see this watch has not had an easy life.
Badly oxidated it has white spots all over (the dark spots have a tendency to turn white during cleaning and there is no way to 'properly' remove them), too long staff, bent cock, punched plates, non-movable minute wheel, damaged barrel, screwdriver marks on the banking pins, filed click, broken hand...

Still, despite all the scars, noone has ever done critical damage to the movement, and it works very well.
I'm still glad to have a 4 digit Stuart among my early Illinois watches, even though - considering it's condition - I definitely paid too much for it...

Thanks for looking!!!
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Updated 02-17-2017 at 02:14 PM by pmwas



  1. kinsler33's Avatar
    Very fine photographs. I wonder how they were made.

    M Kinsler
  2. pmwas's Avatar
    It's just a Sony DSC H5 camera. Good (built in) Zeiss optics
  3. Fred Hansen's Avatar
    Nice watch Pawel and that particular dial has always been one of my favorites, only used for a brief period on Stuarts and Bunns in the 2,000 and low 50,000 serial ranges.

    And agree on the Sony camera with Zeiss optics ... I'm still using a 15 year old DSC-F707 for my pics.