Collectors and Cracked Jewels (moral not watch repair question)

DeweyC

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I wonder about the acceptance of cracked jewels among collectors. I often find myself replacing cracked jewels that have apparently been passed over for some time. As many of you know, cracked jewels are a detriment to timing and can result in pivot damage.

How do you view a 996 with a cracked upper jewel vs one that is undamaged?

Is it morally acceptable to part out a "lesser"movement for a jewel to restore a "more worthy" movement?

Would you prefer the cracked jewel remain since it is "factory" (kind of)?

Some of these are difficult to come by (center and barrel jewels in particular). Many balance jewels now sold are really Seitz fit into settings. Some, like the internal jewels of a Waltham barrel, are a challenge to replace (and are often a selective fit to the arbor).

What is the preference for originality over function? Do you accept modern jewels or prefer to leave the damage? Do you find a good donor or is this an aspect of the moral problem of "parting out"?
 

musicguy

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I personally do not have a moral dilemma replacing a broken jewel or
having someone else do it for me.


Rob
 
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darrahg

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I prefer function over originality. A jewel can always be adjusted to fit with minor adjustments except, of course, when a pivot hole needs to be smaller than what is at hand. Appropriate tools are required and choosing a color close to the original is preferred.
 

Chris Radek

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My opinion is that parting out a complete movement is a tragedy and a last resort. It is better to use a new jewel in a competently-made setting, finished to an appropriate level to match the watch. It is an honest, pragmatic, reversible repair.
 

Clint Geller

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Whenever I discuss with a watchmaker whether to replace a jewel in one of my watches, several questions come up:

1) Does the damaged jewel appear to be original?
2) Does the crack affect the watch's functionality? That is, does the crack reach the bearing surface of the jewel where it interacts with the pinion pivot?
3) How close a match in dimensions and color can be had for the original, damaged jewel and setting?
4) What kind of setting is the current jewel in (if it is in a setting at all)? Can the original setting be saved, and how much would the movement plate be scarred, if at all, by the replacement operation?

If the answer to Question 1 is yes, and the answer to Question 2 is no, I usually prefer to leave it there and stop. But if the answer to Question 2 is yes, the way forward gets more complicated. One reason I prefer screwed-down settings for plate jewels is that damaged jewels can be replaced more easily without scarring the plates.
 
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DeweyC

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My opinion is that parting out a complete movement is a tragedy and a last resort. It is better to use a new jewel in a competently-made setting, finished to an appropriate level to match the watch. It is an honest, pragmatic, reversible repair.
The replies are thoughtful. But may minimalize reality.

Jewels are like mainsprings; getting very problematic.

Does a full assortment of NON friction jewels exist? Bottom center wheel jewels? Motor Barrel jewels?

I will say that after 30 years of collecting jewels, pinions and flat springs, I do not have vintage jewels for large arbors. I do have vintage unset jewels for most balance and train wheels as well very old assortments of American PW balance jewels in settings (before Bestfit). I even bought sets of jewels that were "in process".

I have also ground out IDs and reduced ODs on vintage jewels. But this is not a complete answer.

Cannot make a competent setting if a correct jewel is not available. Does putting a seitz jewel in a balance jewel setting count as competent?

Is it immoral to part out a rusted watch for the jewels? How about a watch where the Balance spring is rusted and therfore useless as an oscilator?
 

grtnev

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I personally do not have a moral dilemma replacing a broken jewel or
having someone else do it for me.


Rob
I agree.

That being said, Clint’s points are very valid.

I have one exception - I probably would not leave a cracked jewel, unless there was absolutely no possible replacement. If the crack doesn’t extend to the jewel bore today, it probably will at some point.

Richard
 
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DeweyC

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Whenever I discuss with a watchmaker whether to replace a jewel in one of my watches, several questions come up:

1) Does the damaged jewel appear to be original?
2) Does the crack affect the watch's functionality? That is, does the crack reach the bearing surface of the jewel where it interacts with the pinion pivot?
3) How close a match in dimensions and color can be had for the original, damaged jewel and setting?
4) What kind of setting is the current jewel in (if it is in a setting at all)? Can the original setting be saved, and how much would the movement plate be scarred, if at all, by the replacement operation?

If the answer to Question 1 is yes, and the answer to Question 2 is no, I usually prefer to leave it there and stop. But if the answer to Question 2 is yes, the way forward gets more complicated. One reason I prefer screwed-down settings for plate jewels is that damaged jewels can be replaced more easily without scarring the plates.
Clint,

I am not sure when a crack would not impact function (as opposed to a chip). But I think you are hitting the issue of conservation vs. restoration.

If the goal is to keep the watch in it's damaged state, but with all parts supplied during production, then I would stop at point 1. Stabilize the movt and maybe not even put a mainspring in it. Such artifacts are kept as reference material and are very important.

If the goal is to use the piece as intended, then cracked jewels pose several problems. The crack will wick away the oil from the pivot, even if it is not chipped which would score the pivot. If the chip is on a non bearing surface (like at the "cup"of a train jewel), then of course there is no risk of damage.

So running an "important" watch with damaged jewels will wind up altering the watch in an uncontrolled manner (pivot damage). For example, runnning a jeweled barrel with a cracked jewel will result in ultimately defeating the goal of the jeweled barrel by scoring.

Points three and four reflect the quality of the restoration. This is where the issue of HOW the proper jewel is obtained comes in and the current owner's concerns about having "non original" hands involved. By this I mean that no matter how competently the work is done, a jewel put in the setting by a current worker is not "factory".

It reflects someone else's efforts. For some collectors this is considered "history of the piece". For others, they will want a part that could well have been used for the piece being worked on except that fate decreed that specific part went into another serial number.
 

Chris Radek

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Of course it's better to part out a rusted watch instead of a good one.

For watches that are being repaired in order to be used, I see no harm in using modern Seitz jewels in place of vintage, especially in places like balance hole jewels where they are disposable wear parts and not even visible. I also see no harm in using modern mainsprings in place of vintage. I also use modern crystals, O-rings and gaskets, luminous paste, lubes, etc etc.

All these decisions require the repairer's good judgment and it's not possible or even desirable to make hard and fast rules. The situation matters.
 
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topspin

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I would view it as being akin to replacing a damaged or worn-out component on a classic car.

Let me see now... which would I prefer to have in my garage - a 1960s Ferrari with original but worn-out tyres, or the same car with decent tyres scavenged from wherever they can be found? If I just want to sit and admire it, I'll leave it as is. Otherwise, let's at least try to make it roadworthy.
 

DeweyC

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I would view it as being akin to replacing a damaged or worn-out component on a classic car.

Let me see now... which would I prefer to have in my garage - a 1960s Ferrari with original but worn-out tyres, or the same car with decent tyres scavenged from wherever they can be found? If I just want to sit and admire it, I'll leave it as is. Otherwise, let's at least try to make it roadworthy.
At the risk of going way off topic, I have a cusotmer who has his 1935 Alfa two seater stripped down to the frame every 5 years. Flies it to Italy every year for a rally. He uses it as intended and has parts made to pattern as needed. There is even a company in the UK that makes the differntials from original patterns. Look up DL George. I watched a mechanic ROLL a reverse curve fender to pattern. Amazing what CAN be done.
 

Clint Geller

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I agree.

That being said, Clint’s points are very valid.

I have one exception - I probably would not leave a cracked jewel, unless there was absolutely no possible replacement. If the crack doesn’t extend to the jewel bore today, it probably will at some point.

Richard
Richard, if we wait long enough, every watch will be dust. However, unless one plans to run a particular watch at least semi-regularly, a jewel with a crack that does not reach the bearing surface is not likely to cause a problem in my lifetime. As for wicking some oil away from the bearing surface, if one only runs a watch a day or two a year, that may not be an issue, either. It's even been suggested that one should keep such seldom used watches dry deliberately. That said, if I can get a jewel replaced with a more or less "exact" replacement without the plates being scarred, I might prefer to do that. The reasons for that preference are not entirely rational, but neither is the collecting hobby. If I owned an authentic Union Army Spencer repeating cavalry carbine, I would prefer to have it in functional condition, but I would never dream of actually firing it.
 
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musicguy

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, if I can get a jewel replaced with a more or less "exact" replacement without the plates being scarred,
I don't want my plates being scared LOL



Rob
 

musicguy

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ben_hutcherson

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This one is a difficult one for me, as I do like all of my watches to function and function correctly.

With that said, "replacing" a jewel can be very difficult. In many high grade watches, although the jewels are functionally(very) important, they are also an important part of the cosmetics of the watch. High grade watches at least for visible jewels often received the brightest colored jewels, roughly color matched to each other, and of course in gold settings often of a specific style for the grade. I do not accept as a good repair an off color, shape, or incorrectly set visible jewel on a watch, period, and the watch would have to have a lot of other redeeming qualities for me to even consider it for my collection.

Even in the correct setting, the bright pink Seitz jewels stick out like a sore thumb and they spoil the watch for me.

The game changes a bit for non-visible jewels. Often times, presumably original pieces won't necessarily have pillar plate jewels as brightly colored as the others, nor were they apparently as carefully matched. I'm completely okay with replacing one with whatever correctly sized bezel set jewel can be found, although I know that can be easier said than done. If a bezel set jewel can't be located, it would be a tough decision as to whether or not fitting a Seitz jewel would be okay for me. A lot would depend on the overall originality of the watch, and whether I cared about preserving the condition as-is or if it was perhaps a bit more "rough" of a piece where I'd rather have it running.
 

musicguy

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I would agree no one here would intentionally want a glaring mismatching colored jewel(or mismatched setting)
on the top plate of their high grade watch, but a lower balance hole jewel is fine with me(and other internal ones).









Rob
 

bruce linde

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clock guy, here... i noticed the one thing that hasn't been mentioned is disclosing cracked jewels when selling watches?
 

DeweyC

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This one is a difficult one for me, as I do like all of my watches to function and function correctly.

With that said, "replacing" a jewel can be very difficult. In many high grade watches, although the jewels are functionally(very) important, they are also an important part of the cosmetics of the watch. High grade watches at least for visible jewels often received the brightest colored jewels, roughly color matched to each other, and of course in gold settings often of a specific style for the grade. I do not accept as a good repair an off color, shape, or incorrectly set visible jewel on a watch, period, and the watch would have to have a lot of other redeeming qualities for me to even consider it for my collection.

Even in the correct setting, the bright pink Seitz jewels stick out like a sore thumb and they spoil the watch for me.

The game changes a bit for non-visible jewels. Often times, presumably original pieces won't necessarily have pillar plate jewels as brightly colored as the others, nor were they apparently as carefully matched. I'm completely okay with replacing one with whatever correctly sized bezel set jewel can be found, although I know that can be easier said than done. If a bezel set jewel can't be located, it would be a tough decision as to whether or not fitting a Seitz jewel would be okay for me. A lot would depend on the overall originality of the watch, and whether I cared about preserving the condition as-is or if it was perhaps a bit more "rough" of a piece where I'd rather have it running.
Ben,

This is what I was asking about. You and Clint agree aesthetics is important; but you seem less tolerant of cracked jewels.

I asked others to expose their thinking, and I really do need to expose myself as well. I do not propose that my decisions are above reproach. They are offered in the vein in which you and others have offered your thoughts. As ideas for external examination.

The issue for me as a worker is that the supply of vintage jewels is finite and diminishing. While I give the option of using friction jewels as replacement in the removable jewel settings (particularly balance jewels), I recommend correct jewels. Even if it means sacrificing a more common movement. In my view, factory correct watches are becoming scarcer and it is more useful to maintain some examples rather than protect a large supply of less interesting pieces (and yes I know this is a highly prejudicial/arrogant position).

I have watched the prices of Seitz tool sets with some bemusement (?). First, where are the purchasers going to get friction jewels sets? Secondly, where are they going to use friction jewels? I happen to use a jeweling tool on every vintage watch. It is the perfect tool for removing jewels, setting rollers and balanee springs, and replacing gold cap jewels without marring them. But that is really the extent of where it "should" be used in vintage watches..

But the place they are designed to be used is on post 1940s watches and for adjusting endshakes of friction jewels.

It sounds like you understand the limited supply of vintage jewels. I am reaching a point where I am husbanding what I have.

The problem as I see it for collectors is the limited choices faced. Lets stick with an American RR watch. Any of em.

Is it STILL an American RR watch with a friction jewel in the setting at lower (not visible) 4th pivot? This is a highly personal judgment.

Is it justifiable to use a 4th hole jewel from another movement? When? Thankfully there are a plenty of damaged movements of all grades that have greatly reduced importance to collectors (world?) as a consequence of that damage.

But, assuming the world lasts long enough, we are approaching a point where some form of triage (in its true sense) is going to be needed.

Any watch I keep for myself is fully correct with undamaged factory parts. Whether I bought it that way or made it that way. I may well be immoral, but my value is that a "perfect" 990 is more useful to the world than a running 974 or even 972. The nice thing about collecting Hamiltons (and Hampdens) is that even mistake purchases are useful as donors.

For me monetary value has nothing to do with it. I know for a fact I have "made" more than one correct Hampden or Hamilton for more money than it was worth. Guess that is one definition of "hobby"?

When it comes to near unique watches, we are in an entirely different kettle of fish. There is already a limited supply of remaining examples. Even if a donor could be found, would it it be defensible? OTOH, I would have no problem (applying triage) in finding a more common movement that had a good 4th jewel I could use in that unique watch.
 

Greg Frauenhoff

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Dewey,

Off topic, but somewhere I recall having some Waltham internal barrel arbor jewels (I think that's what they are). If interested I will take a look and send you a few (no charge).

Greg
 

Dr. Jon

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One method I have used has been to use a friction jewel in a chaton. I push out the cracked jewel and bore out the setting as little as possible to fit a friction jewel. The result requries a microscope to see the difference and if a correct replacement becomes available my repair can be replaced with a more factory like one.
 
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ben_hutcherson

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One method I have used has been to use a friction jewel in a chaton. I push out the cracked jewel and bore out the setting as little as possible to fit a friction jewel. The result requries a microscope to see the difference and if a correct replacement becomes available my repair can be replaced with a more factory like one.
Are you setting friction jewels into the factory chatons, or are you setting them into chatons you make?

I have a hard time seeing how, once a chaton is reamed for a friction jewel, it can ever accept a bezel set jewel again.

Full disclosure-in my early days of collecting, I happened upon a somewhat uncommon two-tone lower grade Waltham 83 with nice two-toning but absolutely beat to death. All of the train jewels were smashed-not cracked but there were just shards of them remaining in the settings.

After deliberating over what to do, I went to my Seitz jewel assortment and picked the best matches I had that allowed minimal reaming. In fact, I think I used it as a chance to replenish my jewel assortment a bit and ordered a handful of missing or low sizes so that I could minimize the amount of machining. The results did look nice and the movement ran great, especially since one of the strengths of Seitz jewels is you can set endshake perfectly. With that said, it bothered me because, among other things, the color was totally wrong on the jewels. I would have expected that grade to probably have garnet jewels that would have been faintly red/pink. If it did have ruby jewels, they would have been similarly "poor colored" ones. The pink Seitz jewels stuck out like a sore thumb to me. I did sell it with full disclosure of how it had been repaired, and it did bring a fair price for what it was, but I couldn't stand to look at it. In retrospect, I THINK they were composition settings so I probably should have just dug through my spares box and I most likely could have found enough plates with good jewels(already set) to put in them. I've never been any good at getting bezel sets just right, and that's one of those jobs I'll offload to someone who does know what they're doing.

On disclosing cracked jewels-I have quite a few watches on which I've never even removed the dial, so I might not know of a cracked pillar plate jewel. Some top plate jewels also aren't visible without disassembly. In my early days of collecting, I took everything apart, but that has now passed and I don't take something apart unless I have a reason(fix it or check for a specific feature or for a matching number). I have removed hundreds of dials and have yet to damage an enamel one in doing so(nor have I damaged a metal one with a proper protector, although I did a few before I made protectors) but the possibility is always there. I don't want to take a chance, especially on a rare dial, unless I need to.
 

DeweyC

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Are you setting friction jewels into the factory chatons, or are you setting them into chatons you make?

I have a hard time seeing how, once a chaton is reamed for a friction jewel, it can ever accept a bezel set jewel again.

Full disclosure-in my early days of collecting, I happened upon a somewhat uncommon two-tone lower grade Waltham 83 with nice two-toning but absolutely beat to death. All of the train jewels were smashed-not cracked but there were just shards of them remaining in the settings.

After deliberating over what to do, I went to my Seitz jewel assortment and picked the best matches I had that allowed minimal reaming. In fact, I think I used it as a chance to replenish my jewel assortment a bit and ordered a handful of missing or low sizes so that I could minimize the amount of machining. The results did look nice and the movement ran great, especially since one of the strengths of Seitz jewels is you can set endshake perfectly. With that said, it bothered me because, among other things, the color was totally wrong on the jewels. I would have expected that grade to probably have garnet jewels that would have been faintly red/pink. If it did have ruby jewels, they would have been similarly "poor colored" ones. The pink Seitz jewels stuck out like a sore thumb to me. I did sell it with full disclosure of how it had been repaired, and it did bring a fair price for what it was, but I couldn't stand to look at it. In retrospect, I THINK they were composition settings so I probably should have just dug through my spares box and I most likely could have found enough plates with good jewels(already set) to put in them. I've never been any good at getting bezel sets just right, and that's one of those jobs I'll offload to someone who does know what they're doing.

On disclosing cracked jewels-I have quite a few watches on which I've never even removed the dial, so I might not know of a cracked pillar plate jewel. Some top plate jewels also aren't visible without disassembly. In my early days of collecting, I took everything apart, but that has now passed and I don't take something apart unless I have a reason(fix it or check for a specific feature or for a matching number). I have removed hundreds of dials and have yet to damage an enamel one in doing so(nor have I damaged a metal one with a proper protector, although I did a few before I made protectors) but the possibility is always there. I don't want to take a chance, especially on a rare dial, unless I need to.
Ben,

It is possible to push out a cracked jewel in a chaton so as to also raise the bezel. It is then probable to find a seitz jewel that will fit the chaton with the correct hole.

I have shown in other threads who to then use the coned pushers to press the bezel back onto the Seitz jewel. It helps to have the either of the clamping anvils (the collet based one is easiest) for this.

I also use this technique when fitting unset jewels into the original chaton (either found loose or from another chaton). These are my preferred jewel source although I will Seitz when I have to.

I agree that the Seitz jewel color is offensive. By using the old chaton as original, the endhsakes are preserved.

I use a screw press jeweling tool. While I bought mine in Switz, it looks to me that that Chinese clones are just as capable and far less expensive. I bought a set of the Chinese pushers and found them to be of good quality.

The available "new jewel replacements" suffer the drawbacks you mention. They are Seitz jewels friction set into the chatons.
 
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ben_hutcherson

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Ben,

It is possible to push out a cracked jewel in a chaton so as to also raise the bezel. It is then probable to find a seitz jewel that will fit the chaton with the correct hole.

I have shown in other threads who to then use the coned pushers to press the bezel back onto the Seitz jewel. It helps to have the either of the clamping anvils (the collet based one is easiest) for this.

I also use this technique when fitting unset jewels into the original chaton (either found loose or from another chaton). These are my preferred jewel source although I will Seitz when I have to.

I agree that the Seitz jewel color is offensive. By using the old chaton as original, the endhsakes are preserved.

I use a screw press jeweling tool. While I bought mine in Switz, it looks to me that that Chinese clones are just as capable and far less expensive. I bought a set of the Chinese pushers and found them to be of good quality.

The available "new jewel replacements" suffer the drawbacks you mention. They are Seitz jewels friction set into the chatons.
Dewey,

Thank you for all of the information, and you have me anxious to try now.

My Seitz press is the "big set" in the wooden box and I do have the full set of pushers and anvils(including the collets) that were included in it. My tools and bench have yet to make the move from Kentucky, and even though I was still actively working on watches up until I moved now a little over a year ago, it had quite literally been years since I'd touched my Seitz tool. It has made a nice platform for my good Levin staking set and my back-up K&D in that time.
 

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