Amateur Watchmakers?

Discussion in 'Wrist Watches' started by Greg Davis, Mar 4, 2001.

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  1. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Registered User

    Nov 29, 2000
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    I have begun to take the hobby a little more seriously of late. The newest twist for me is to take some of the old junkers from my "project box" and either strip them for all parts or merge the working bits into functional watches. Yeah, I know it's essentially a waste of time, since the watches will never have any value, but I'm exploring new avenues . . . avenues that lead to better skills.

    I have acquired a book ("The Watch Repairers Manual") and fully intend to read it, using my project watches to practice... at least the ones that have a hope of being salvaged. Meanwhile, I am amassing a stockpile of parts.

    From the conversations many of you have, I assume I am not alone in exploring this area of the hobby. Do you have any favorite books on the subject of watch repair? Any favorite tapes from the NAWCC library? Any advice you can offer that will save me from wasting a lot of time?



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    Regards,

    - Greg
     
  2. Dave Haynes

    Dave Haynes Registered User

    Sep 12, 2000
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    Greg: I think that your plan is a good one.
    I too waste a lot of time on pointless
    repair of worthless timepieces. My motive is
    often just to have the satisfaction of seeing
    a little machine that didn't work and hasn't
    worked for maybe 50 years, fire up and start
    ticking. I have found that the practice helps when I get to a watch that I really
    want and need to run. If you've taken apart
    and cleaned enough ETAs and AS 1361's, and they work,when you get to that Rolex, you will proceed with much more confidence. I recommend working on old Seiko automatics. They are cheap (usually under $10 at flea markets),have all of the difficult features like day-dates etc. and are really quite an assembly challenge to a novice. If you screw up, so what? When you succeed, you have
    a good watch. I would also not spend a lot of time disassembling old watches, keep them intact so you can compare whole movements.
    When you finally figure out how a watch works, you won't need to worry about putting thing back together, it will flow naturally.
     
  3. Mike Kearney

    Mike Kearney Guest

    I've been an amateur for a bit over two years now, the whole thing brought on by the availability of watches, books and tools on ebay, Tom Mister's endless supply of goodies, and my proximity to the NAWCC School in Columbia. I've been to two classes, intro and lathes, and though I still have lots to learn, the School's given me a good base of skills and knowledge. I get to go to one class a year (2-3 weeks), which means it's going to take me seven or eight years to complete the watch program, versus seven or eight months for the full-time student. But I get a lot more practice. I can't say enough good things about the School and the people who run it. We're really lucky to have it.

    My three favorite books are:
    The Watch Repairer's Manual, by Henry Fried.
    Bench Practices for Watch Repairers, (the thrilling sequel to the WRM) by Henry Fried.
    The Watch Escapement, by Henry Fried.

    As to practicing, pick a manual wind watch that you would wear if it were running reliably. Maybe just a $15. Benrus from ebay or from a box lot at a mart. Then do anything it takes to make it work. Clean it, replace the crystal, mainspring, stem, crown if necessary, and don't let anything stop you, even if it takes months find the parts. Then as soon as you're done, start another one.
    Regards,
    Mike

    [This message has been edited by Mike Kearney (edited 03-04-2001).]
     
  4. Tom Huber

    Tom Huber Registered User
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    Dec 9, 2000
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    I also spend countless hours working on what may be considered worthless pieces. With each one I tear down, I learn something new. I might recommend to make a written diagram or notes on how it goes back together. If you are ordering a part, and you go back two or three weeks later to put it together, the notes are a godsend. Also, a tip that I posted a while back. When I was first learning to do this about 20 years ago, a watchmaker friend gave me a container of maybe 1000 small watch parts. He told me to take it home and transfer the parts one at a time to another container using my tweezers. When I was done, I was to move the containers further apart and do it again. After I had done that 10 times, I was ready for my next lesson. This gives practice on handling small parts with the tweezers. It takes time to learn the correct pressure to hold a part properly with the tweezers. I'm sure all of us have given too much or too little pressure when picking up a part, only to have it disappear.
    I also derive a great sense of satisfaction on taking a junker which has not run in maybe 50 or 60 years, working on it and getting it to run. Tom
     
  5. Steve, What do you think about guys or gals with big cumberson fingers that seem to bump the little parts. I do great with the power tools and auto engines but when it comes to WW's I just can't seem to get them back where they belong. I have a whole pile of parts that I will share if any of you need them. No, I didn't take any Pateks, VC's or that group apart for practice. I have several videos and many books. I have a good feel for what does what, but repairing eludes me. I take my hat off to you collectors that can go A to Z.
    My Regards, Marty
     
  6. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Registered User

    Nov 29, 2000
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    Has anyone else had a problem with tweezers getting magnetized? I suspect it may have something to do with the fact that my stainless steel tweezer are used to service both quartz and mechanical watches. I presume the fact that they are magnetized is problematic... so what should I do about this?



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    Regards,

    - Greg
     
  7. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User

    Aug 27, 2000
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    Greg,

    Many grades of stainless steel will not magnetize. Yours are stainless? Do you not have a demagnetizer? Non-magnetic tweezers are available. If you do mechanical and electronic watches, these might be a better choice for you.

    Regards,
    Doug S.

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  8. Dave Haynes

    Dave Haynes Registered User

    Sep 12, 2000
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    Sometimes I like a little magnetism in tweezers, makes it easy to pick up those tiny screws that I can't see.

    On the subject: the guy I learned from taught me to demagnetize the balance complete on every watch regardless. I wrap the balance in
    a fold of paper to keep it from flying
    all over the place, put it on the spot and
    pow! push the button. I wonder if the paper insulates the demagnetizing process? Any
    opinions?
     
  9. Jerry Freedman

    Jerry Freedman Registered User
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    Sep 16, 2000
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    I use an electric soldering gun to de-magnetize my tweezers. I just pull the tweezers slowly through and away from the gun. I use the wide area near the handle.
     

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