18K Henry Sandoz 1/4 Chronograph/Repeater Pocket Watch

mldenison

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Oct 3, 2010
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Folks,

I just purchased this Sandoz watch. I'm unsure of the jewel count but it's in an 18K case.

It supposed to be running well but it'll be a couple of weeks before I receive it.

Can anyone PM me some folks that can do a COA on it? I know it'll need a new crystal as there's a chip out of the one that's on it. My watch repairer says he doesn't work on Swiss watches.

I appreciate it!

Auction Picture.JPG
 

mynikko

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Oct 2, 2014
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Nice watch. I also have a similar one, minute repeater and chronograph, by Henri Sandoz in 18K as well. Although it has a sliding activation for the repeater, its construction is very similar to Le Phare. I found that they actually modified the pushing activation to silding after dissembling it. That modification makes the repeater activating motion less efficient in my opinion.

The repeater part of mine is non working though. The previous watchmaker totally screwed up the watch. Multiple parts were damaged (and used super glue to hold them together, gosh), so I just got it as gold scrab and put the watch for display only.
 

mldenison

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That's a shame about your watch.

Earlier this year, I got a Burlington Special pocket watch movement that was recased in a nice wristwatch case. The seller said it was running nicely - not.

I sent it to my repairman and it came back running worse. I sent it to my other repairman. It came back not running.

I found another top notch repairman that made it right. Turns out it was missing a few parts and super glue had been used to 'fix' a couple of issues.

You should have to have a license to buy super glue.

Anyway, I hope this one fairs better.

Any idea on the case weight if yours is an 18S?

Thanks
 

mynikko

Registered User
Oct 2, 2014
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Hello,

It is interesting that you asked, because I did not know the weight either, so I took it apart and measured it this morning. It’s about 18S in size, and the case weights roughly around 52 grams (plus weight of the bezel ring, button and crown, but minus the steel springs).

photo_2021-05-16_16-51-54.jpg

I also took some pictures of the movement. The blue circle shows that the movement was designed for push-in repeater activation button, but was modified to a sliding activation (red circle). As you can see in the green circle, which is one of the many poor attempts by the previous watchmaker: a roughly cut piece of brass (I do not know what his intention were). Previously I removed all the super glued parts and attempted to restore it. That is why you only see one left; before, there were brass pieces glued all over the places.

photo_2021-05-16_16-52-00.jpg

The main reason I started learning watch repairing is because I was not able to find watchmakers who is willing to service my pocket watches. There are only two watchmakers who are capable of servicing pocket watches (especially ones with complications) in my town. Besides the steep price, they are super busy. The longest I had to wait was two years. I befriended with one of them, and started my watch repairing journey. Now I just make the parts for myself (for him too) and service my own watches.

Servicing antique pocket watches is very different from servicing the contemporary wristwatches, especially the older, European ones. A lot of people do not realize that and assume that all watchmakers can do it. At least in my town, out of more than 20 watchmakers, I would say only 2 are really capable of doing it (not counting me because I only service my own watches; I also avoid buying watches that I cannot repair). Not only there are so many different types of escapement and designs; also, there is no replacement parts available. Watchmakers will have to spend time to observe the original designs or even previous repair attempts. There is little room for error. If you make a mistake, depending on the seriousness, you probably will have to make your own parts.

photo_2021-05-16_22-07-06.jpg photo_2021-05-16_22-07-03.jpg
[Me, making of a minute wheel (red circled) for a quarter repeater]

My rule of thumb is that I am extremely cautious when performing something that is unrecoverable. I rather make a new part to try than experimenting on the original parts. The super glue fix is obvious but less damaging because it can be removed. One of the common practices of many incompetent watchmakers do is annealing steel parts to make it softer to drill. That is not that noticeable by non-professionals, but it essentially makes the watch less durable. Sometimes annealing is unavoidable, but it should be the last resort. I have seen annealing done on the crown wheels, ratchet wheels or even repeater gongs (the worst), and to me, that is just unacceptable. Yes, you watch will run for maybe a few years, but the permanent damage will cause it to wear out very quickly.

Of course, I understand most watchmakers do not have the time. A typical COA on Rolex 3135 movement probably takes an hour or two (besides testing), and you can probably make at least US$300 from it. Best of all, you can still find parts if you made a mistake. Servicing an 1850 cylinder escapement quarter repeater pocket watch is a completely different story. In a perfectly smooth scenario, a complete overhaul would take me a whole night. If one of the pivots is worn (which is extremely common) or repeater is not functioning correctly, then I will not be able to finish it in one day. If the hairspring is somehow deformed or parts were damaged by the previous repair attempt, it would take me weeks to resolve the problem. A Rolex with 3135 movement costs around US$ 10K, and a previously mentioned pocket watch, even in an 18K case, probably will not cost you more than 2K. How much can a watchmaker charge his customer for servicing that 1850 watch (plus nowhere to find parts)? I would just turn it away, because it is not worth the time and risk.

Before, I loved to collect pocket watches with multiple complications, especially minute repeaters. Now, I just stick to one complication per watch because it is really a hassle for me to service them.
 

mldenison

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You do great work! I am in awe of anyone who can understand, and disassemble/reassemble something as complicated as these watches. Let alone manufacture parts for them. And marvel at the person(s) who designed and built them in the first place.
 

mldenison

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The watch has been with a recommended chronograph/repeater repairman for about a month. I heard back from him today. It turns out that is a 5 minute repeater instead of the minute repeater as advertised in the auction. He's got the repeater function running well as well as the chronograph function.

The time is a different story. It, according to him, runs about an hour fast per day. I'm kind of bummed. According to him:

This might require either the balance or lever being replaced with a correct matching component, and/or the hairspring being replaced with a correct length and strength hairspring.

I'm going to do a Google search to see if such parts might be available via a donor watch but I think it'll be a fruitless search. He doesn't have any parts.

Mort
 
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Ethan Lipsig

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You have my sympathies. I've been there. Many of us have been there.
 

eri231

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It will be impossible to find a balance donor.
However, there are two methods to weight or lighten a balance, without having to replace it. One orthodox replace the counterweight screws another, practiced by poor watchmakers, weigh down the balance with tin.
regards enrico
 

mynikko

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Oct 2, 2014
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Just replace a few pairs of balance screws. One hour is still fixable this way unless the amplitude became a issue. The max ever I corrected was 2 hours if I remember correctly.
 

mldenison

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Thanks, guys. That gives me some hope that I won't have to try and locate unobtanium parts.

Unfortunately, at my age (77), my eyesight is pretty crappy and my hands have slight tremors which preclude me from attempting something this delicate. I'd like to go back 20 years.
 

mynikko

Registered User
Oct 2, 2014
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Oh, I forgot to mention. Never trust the timing machine because you never know the frequency of the pocket watch. It's rare that the watch is off as much as an hour. Even if the hairspring was replaced, the last guy who was capable of replacing it probably would not have left it as is. Make sure you time it the old fashion way. Let it run for at least an hour and then see if it is indeed off by 2.5 mins.

I did make this stupid mistake. I adjusted the watch so it runs perfectly on the timing machine, and then it turned out that the watch itself runs too fast if adjusted to 18000 Hz.
 

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