Enthusiast level watchmaker tool kit suggestions

Discussion in 'Watch Repair' started by Psyche524, Apr 24, 2018.

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  1. Psyche524

    Psyche524 Registered User

    Mar 31, 2018
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    I locally purchased a pretty basic watchmaker toolkit, which I very quickly realised was absolutely useless. Particularly when trying to unscrew the tiny screws in the movement of wristwatches. Could anybody suggest a decent kit that will suffice for an amateur watch tinkerer? The mailing system is extremely slow here, so it's important to get one that is good enough first time. As always, thanks for any advice given.

    Chris
     
  2. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Chris,

    I don't think you're going to find what you need in a kit; buying individual tools as you need them is the way to go. Try and buy the best you can afford because quality will last.

    Tweezers are essential and the very best are the Swiss Dumont brand, A*F or Horotec are also good. Once you use these you'll appreciate why they're so expensive! Screwdrivers are the next essential, and here there's a lot of choice, from Bergeon, Horotec, A*F and several more. Most people end up buying several sets but gravitate to a single favourite which they find to be most comfortable to use. Both tweezers and screwdrivers will need dressing from time to time to keep the tips in good shape.

    Good lighting and magnification are needed, and here again personal preferences come into play. Binocular headband magnifiers are fine for lower power work up to around 4x, but you'll need 10x, 12x or more for some things, and then the choice is between the traditional eyeglass held in the eye, on a wire band or clipped onto spectacles, or the most versatile, comfortable to use, (and most expensive!), a stereo zoom microscope. Working distance reduces drastically with increasing magnification in the eyeglass types but a good stereo microscope will still leave room to work under it. As with all the other things, cheap optics are a mistake.

    Other things will come as you find a need, such as mainspring winders, oilers and oil cups, a staking set, a jewelling press, crystal removers and presses, files, perhaps a lathe, and indeed it never really ends.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  3. Psyche524

    Psyche524 Registered User

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    Thanks Graham
     
  4. pocketsrforwatches

    pocketsrforwatches Registered User
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    Graham hit the nail on the head with his advice.
    Roger
     
  5. richiec

    richiec Registered User
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    Psyche24, go to chapter marts, usually can find some tools there. I have used Jules Borel, Otto Frei, Dave's Watch Parts, a great one is Uncle Larry's, he has a lot of tools including lathes. I have an old watchmakers lathe I got relatively cheap on Ebay, an L&R manual watch cleaner on Ebay for cheap, etc. Don't scrimp on tweezers or screwdrivers, buy quality parts, cleaning agents, quality oils like Moebius, get a decent oiler set up and a few watch movement holders, I bought Bergeon and have been very happy. Watch paper, peg wood, good quality lintless cloth, then comes the part of buying parts. I bought a few hundred old, broken watch movements so have a good parts supply. If you specialize in one brand like Elgin or Waltham, there are parts boxes out there, most have had the popular parts taken but you can get lucky and do like I did and buy two and consolidate the parts. Happy hunting, enjoy the trip, definitely keeps me out of most trouble except buying watches and parts.
     
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  6. Jack_W

    Jack_W Registered User
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    tool acquisition is nearly a hobby in itself.

    What hasn't been said, is buy books too. De Carle and Fried are the better ones with discussions on tools. The Chicago School of Watch Making also has info on tools. Learning what the tools are is also helpful in deciding what you need. As things get more complicated (ie., buying a lathe, etc), books become a necessity for understanding proper function, use and maintenance.

    Most of the tools I have are used, with a few exceptions (screw-drivers, for example).

    Good luck!
     
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  7. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Chris,

    On the subject of books, 'Watchmaking' by George Daniels is in a class of its own. Whilst it is essentially a manual for making a complete watch from scratch, there is so much practical information about procedures and techniques in there, as well as design considerations such as escapement geometries, that anyone seriously interested in collecting or repairing watches should have a copy.

    For a view of the English trade, 'Watchmaking in England 1760-1820' by Leonard Weiss is a useful compilation from various sources, 'The Artistry of the English Watch' by Cedric Jagger describes the evolution of styles and designs, as does 'Watches' by Cecil Clutton and George Daniels from a more technical viewpoint, (although slightly dated now, still worth buying).

    There are several reputable online dealers who maintain archives of the watches they have sold which contain much useful information. I think the best of these is David Penney, a very eminent horologist, author and illustrator whose archive descriptions are an invaluable reference source.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  8. Psyche524

    Psyche524 Registered User

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    Thanks again Graham,

    I was in conversation with David Penny via email earlier this month; very knowledgeable and a nice guy.

    I'll see if I can get my hands on Watchmaking, it does sound sensible to read trough that first. Maybe it will reduce the number of mistakes I make whilst starting off.

    Chris
     
  9. rstl99

    rstl99 Registered User
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    My advice to you is: consider very carefully what being an "amateur watch tinkerer" means to you, how far you want to go and how much you're willing to invest in learning new skills and acquiring the tools to exercice those skills. Because in my experience, acquiring good books and tools for watch repair can become a black hole for time and money. And as Graham says, it never really ends. Just be aware of what you buy and why, because it can surprisingly add up pretty quickly, as I found out when I finally added up all I had spent in the last 2-3 years on books, tools, watch and clock specimens, supplies, etc. Quite sobering an exercice that was... But if it becomes an enjoyable hobby or pastime that will occupy you for many years and give you pleasure and satisfaction, it's probably money well spent, and it's always good to pay more to buy quality tools once. Good luck and have fun.
     
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  10. Psyche524

    Psyche524 Registered User

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    Thanks everyone for the advice. I quite like the idea of finding watches/clocks that are beyond economic repair (if paying someone to do it for you) and saving it from the brink of the bin. Maybe selling one or two, if worth while, to keep costs down. I have a watch that may just need a clean to get going, so considering giving that a go. It’s a nice little watch, so i’m Hoping that I’m not opening a can of worms, needing multiple spare parts that would need to be found.

    I created another tread showing pictures and description of the faulty watch. But maybe hasn’t had the views/responses it may have had. Due to me initially putting the thread in the wrong section, it getting moved to the correct place but unfortunately, subsequently fell off the ‘new post list’. Where I presume most quickly check when logging on.

    If anybody gets chance to have a look, that would be great. It can be found in:

    watch repair > Chesterfield watch Corp with Bevet watch/alarm movement.

    Thanks again,

    Chris
     
  11. RJSoftware

    RJSoftware Registered User

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    #11 RJSoftware, Apr 27, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2018
    One exception to the cheaper Chinese tool rule found on the bay is:

    Jewelers watchmaker Loupe Magnifying Tool LED Light.

    Basically its a black pair of eye glasses with a flip up lighted loupe for each eye. It has choice of magnification and each loupe can flip up out of the way. 10, 15, 20 and 25,x for each eye. I set my left at 10,x and right at 20,x. General use I flip the 10x up out of way for regular vision. These are nice tool with broad use.

    About lighting, you really want florescent as incandescence get hot an there is a tendency to get close to scalp. The loupe leds are nice but fiddly and desk florescennts have tubes that transmit light at all angles. So they light up arround dark corners. You want kind with arm that reaches (,forgot name).

    In general you dont need a lathe to start. Also the binocular microscope (I find) is really for the lathe.

    Besides the obvious screwdrivers tweezers the most essential is the staking set. The staking set is the workhorse of the trade.

    When you shop for a staking set, K&D is probably the best. Inverto means you can insert a stake upside down in the tool. This has distinct advantages. You only need hammer no levers or micrometer settings though they are nice. The stumps are the short stakes of the set. With inverto these are hardly used. On stumps look for V notch on top. These are important as they do essential job of tightening cannon pinions. Another important stump/,punch is for pressing rollers back on. These look like a normal flat face stump/punch but have a little slot for the roller jewel to sit in.

    About the roller. There are probably a dozen or so types of roller REMOVING tools. Dont get the pincher pliers type. The sometimes break the staff. Some staking sets include roller removers. The K&,D ones look like a little claw that screws into a base. They work well. So understand, your staking set choice is important. Research and find images to confirm visually so you can bid well.

    The stakes/punches are same thing different names. Solid, hollow, flat nose, round nose combnations are the majority. Depending on seller communication, but they usually mix them up. You want biggest range.

    One other contraversial tool is the K&D staff remover. This tool will put you on the map of balance wheel repair ( main problem) by allowing you to remove the staff without a lathe. Then you can buy the replacement staff and install it with your staking set.

    So understand that the balance wheel being the most prevelent problem is solved by the staking set.
    usually a broken pivot on staff from watch being dropped.

    It goes in order like this:

    Take balance assembly out. (screw driver).
    Detach hairspring terminal from balance cock (screw driver).
    Detach hairspring from balance (,i use razor).
    Remove roller (,double roller is just 2 pieces). ( Roller remover - staking set).
    Remove staff. K&D staff remover.
    Stake new staff (staking set hollow round nose and hollow flat).
    Install roller (staking set ( punches/stumps with roller jewel slot).
    Install hairspring (staking set, hollow flat).
    Install balance. Done.

    Another tool consideration is the caliper. This tool is used to straighten out split balance wheel rims that get bent. Its fairly common problem. Remember to tighten tool on staff cones before bending.

    Dont bother with poising tool right away till you get into critical time keeping. Generally not a big concern.

    As to Daniels book, yes it is the best but in beginning not as essential moneywise as staking set. De Carl is better than Freid as in better detail but Fried is more organized.

    Rj
     
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  12. Ticktinker

    Ticktinker Registered User
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    I Identify with those above recommending the best name brands. While I would not buy a kit of a one of those brands due to the cost, I would definitely buy drivers or individual tools I need. One thing is foremost, I will not buy a cheap kit in the name of getting a complete kit of junk tools.
     
  13. Psyche524

    Psyche524 Registered User

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    So, I’ve just bought some of those loupe glasses and a little more research on my part to get enough good quality screwdriver sizes to get me going. It occurred to me that I would be foolish to spend the time dismantling the watches and not clean them at the same time. Any advice on cleaning solutions and/or apparatus appreciated.
     
  14. Ticktinker

    Ticktinker Registered User
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    Psyche,
    For cleaning methods, click the search Icon on top of the page. Just put in cleaning.
    There are many more experienced than I am and respect their ways, whether I can afford them or not...
    I have a post there for a cheapie method with no expensive equipment.
    Please take care of mother nature when disposing of cleaning solutions.
    Happy Hobbying!
     
  15. richiec

    richiec Registered User
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    I would agree with RJ about the Daniels book, very pricey and overkill for a novice, goes into way more detail than you need right now. Fried is definitely more organized, personally I didn't care for DeCarle, can't find the answer without a lot of looking.
     
  16. NewBernWatchmaker

    NewBernWatchmaker Registered User

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    Just starting myself so here are my initial insights-

    I went cheap on everything. Basic screwdriver set a 4x loupe, a set of electronics tweezers, and a cheap movement holder. This was all about 35 dollars. I found a serviceable lathe without attachments for 100 and an old furnace fan motor to power it for 15. So after getting started....

    The cheap screwdrivers are junk and I will be replacing them one by any time I see myself using a particular one or needing one. Until then though they do indeed turn screws (though you may need to take them to a stone to get the widths right). One thing I didn't mention is lighting, you really can't get enough! Jeweler's loupe is cheap but the first time you need two hands and it doesn't want to sit right you will want something else, though I hear a wire can fix that. Tweezers - you really only use the fine tipped one and one beefier one for heavier parts so a set isn't needed initially. I am sure nice tweezers are worth it but again it is something I will get one by one as I find myself really needing it. I also found a staking tool on ebay (not entirely complete) for 50 bucks so all together I am a little less than two hundred in it and it is enough to start taking things apart and putting them back together and I just need some gravers, a belt, and a reversing switch for my lathe and I can start turning for practice and start making attempts at staffs. The big costs I see needing soon are lathe attachments (a collet holding tailstock and a compound slide to really help the manufacturing of parts and some solution for cutting gears...).
     
  17. RJSoftware

    RJSoftware Registered User

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    #17 RJSoftware, Jun 7, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2018
    besides a good assortment of collets, one thing that will help immensely with turning is a counter-shaft. I made mine from wood.

    Turning on normal setup turns entirely too fast. The counter-shaft is used to convert high speed low torque into lower speed but higher torque. The cs can be as simple as two pulleys, one large and one small that spin on a common axle.

    So the pulley of the motor has belt that goes to the large pulley of th CS. The small pulley of the CS is belted to the lathe pulley.

    The problem with the direct motor pulley to lathe pulley is that most variable controlled ac motors has too low of torque at low speeds. So they stall at proper cutting speeds.

    They do cut at high speeds but this is much less desirable as higher speeds chip. Chipping produces a weaker object. The ideal speed and torque produces peeling effect. When turning correctly the swarf comes off like long curly thin hairs.

    Some have used a dc motor arrangement which provides good speed and torque without the CS. But I imagine the arrangement more costly.

    To control the overall speed I use a simple dimmer switch installed conveniently on my lathe. It also serves as on/off switch. I like this better than foot peddle as foot can get tired from long turning sessions.

    When I turn I try to go as slow as I can. but the smaller the object gets the more speed rquired. Going slow with good torque is a good way to inch up on the job.

    What I find on the small watch pivots is once i establish the graver contact I push inward toward the cone. I push graver tip from pivot tip toward cone.

    The graver edge slides up pivot side toward cone. Notice I do not push against pivot. I avoid the graver pushing on the pivot like someone jumping on pivot like a diving board. The pivot does not flex but simply breaks.

    But at that point I am usually using the binocular scope.

    Although I have a tailsock dremel bit holder, I dont find it all that necessary. Drilling to exact center I dont do with anything related to the quill. I think you will find it is not that accurate. Or I should say wont work as expected. See wobble stick.

    Another unused tool by me are step collets. I got them but never need them.

    The compound slide is another I never use. Got that too. It just is too much bother for simple watch staffs.

    The beet gravers are carbide. The best carbide to make them from is carbide dremel bits. I use a dremel diamond wheel to grind the carbide dremel tip into a sharp pointy cone. Then I flatten/grind the tip to produce a cutting edge.

    The little flat angled on end of cone serves for flat, round and even cutoff tool. Just depends angle of presentation.

    The thing is the carbide cuts so well that even a crude surface works. Since the staffs are soo small you could do the whole job with just a single pointy tip. Having a small flat with a rounded tip just speeds things up

    Rj
     
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  18. RJSoftware

    RJSoftware Registered User

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    Thank you for the appreciation, it helps me clarify my own thoughts too as I explain my thought process to others.

    One of the main observation is the lack of perspective given to the sizes we deal with.

    For example the sell gravers of 1/4" stock and usually hss. The working end could be ground to graver point with proper shape etc. but when you get down to it, you start to realize that the size of the graver is just too big.

    Its one of those subtle got-chas. Like using too low of magnification. You can struggle through it and make it work but once you see how staffs are much smaller you begin to see the lack of understanding sellers etc. have for the issue of things being small.

    You (,me) can get caught in their world of trying to muscle through buying devices to help you conquer the wall you hit when pivots/staffs get seriously small.

    I cant express this enough, you can spend big money and give up from frustration. Consider that I have neck spinal chord damage that limits my tactile sensory. I have eye problems of torn retina and serious floater issues. Not to say pity me, but to say how good it feels for me to have conquered the wall and to have avoided the money pitfall which tries to lure us into a solution from the position of total lack of faith in the ability to learn. I dont want to say, if I can do it you can, because I dont know anybody else situation. I am just trying to loan out my feeling of victory.

    The pivot wall is real. They are no. 1 problem in watch repair along with hairsprings. Honestly both of these worlds I cross my fingers a bit. It only takes one small careless move to fail. So many little got-,chas.

    Failure isnt really that big of a deal when you get a few wins under your belt. So expect it. Things get too tough put it aside. No shame in timing jobs or relinquishing them.

    The thing that can really kill the will is spending big money only to find still in the same boat.

    Of the tools that cost, the lathe with collets, the binocular microscope ( it goes hand and glove with lathe) and the staking set. Jacot tool and good case opener.

    The Jacot tool is for fine reduction and polishing of pivots.

    There are numerous small hand tools but you pick them up allong the way. Another tool to avoid is hairspring vibrating tool. Expensive bs, make it yourself or do without.

    Jeweling tools is another issue. Seitz friction fit jewels are expensive and rare. But simple solution. Basically your at the mercy of parts supply.

    You can win lots of rub in and jewels in settings cheap. But there is more effort to install.

    Rj
     

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