Maintaining and Repairing Mechanical Watches - A Practical Guide by Mark W. Wiles

Discussion in 'Horological Books' started by robmack, Apr 16, 2017.

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  1. robmack

    robmack Registered User

    Jun 22, 2013
    Toronto, CANADA
    Country Flag:
    Title: Maintaining and Repairing Mechanical Watches - A Practical Guide
    Author: Mark W. Wiles
    Publisher: The Crowood Press Ltd., Ramsbury, Marlborough, Wiltshire SN8 2HR
    First Published: Oct. 1 2016
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 1785001558
    ISBN-13: 978-1785001550
    Dimensions: 19 x 1.8 x 24.1 cm
    337 colour photographs, 208 pages

    Table Of Contents
    Part 1: The Basics
    Part II: How a Watch Works
    Part III: Servicing and Cleaning a Watch
    Part IV: Common Repairs
    Part V: Different Types of Watch Mechanism

    I will start by saying I'm not a professional watchmaker. I've just started collecting as a hobby and wanted to broaden my knowledge about mechanical watches. I found this book at the local library and checked it out. Just the first few minutes browsing through the book convinced me that this was a serious text book and worthy of a further thorough read.

    This book is targeted for those entering the horology field - new students or hobbyists can obtain the best value from this book. Those with greater experience would probably be better served with a more advanced textbook. The flow of the book assumes no prior knowledge and brings the reader to the equivalent of an advanced beginner status by the end of the book. The target is to;

    1. introduce the tools necessary to begin working on watches
    2. introduce horological terminology
    3. bring the reader through a complete tear-down, cleaning and re-assembly of a basic mechanical watch movement.
    4. introduce the reader to several common repairs and adjustments that every watch will require sometime in their lives

    Mark Wiles writes well. His explanations are clear and concise. Suitable language is used throughout so that concepts are articulated in an unambiguous manner. The text builds on foundational knowledge as it is introduced throughout the book. This helps to immerse the reader into the terminology and vernacular of the hobby/trade. The book is liberally illustrated with clear labelled colour pictures, diagrams and tables throughout. Each photo usually illustrates one point, or is presented to offer side by side comparisons. Important elements in photos are given numbered and coloured labels and the labels are explained in the accompanying captions, which I thought to be very instructive and informational on the part of the author.

    The first chapter introduces the tools that the author feels are the minimum needed to work on a watch. This is followed by a long chapter on the components and operation of a simple mechanical watch. The author relies upon an easy-to-obtain watch to illustrate the disassembly and reassembly processes throughout the book — a ETA 6497. This is also known as the Unitas 6497, and the Chinese equivalent of this movement is the Seagull ST25. This is a 9S or 16-1/2 Ligne (37.24mm) movement and replacement parts are readily available. The reader can follow through the text of the book practicing on their same movement.

    The next chapter begins to walk through the sequencing of dismantling a watch to prepare it for cleaning. Again, I thought it was well written because the text was procedural in its tone, concise in its description and thorough in its treatment. The author anticipates problem areas that the student may encounter along the way and inserts tips and/or warnings at that point in the process. Steps use the ETA 6497 movement as illustration although any movement the reader currently has could be substituted so long as the details of the parts don't deviate much from a standard mechanical watch (e.g.. date, alarm or other complications). I especially liked the treatise on oiling. Mr. Wiles broke down the types of oils needed to be stocked by the level of the operator — Hobbyist, Amateur, aspiring Professional. This was helpful for me because it gave concrete practical advice based on level of experience and probability of encountering an unusual movement requiring an esoteric oil. Essentially, I only need to stock oils which I am most likely to use. This is reflective of the types of advice offered throughout the text, which makes this book so valuable for the level of reader it targets. Another nugget of information in this chapter was how to time and regulate a watch using a watch timing machine. This was very enlightening and gave quick, concise advice relating timing machine display to a given problem area in a movement. I know there are numerous texts devoted to this subject but it was nice that there was treatment of this topic in this one book.

    The next chapter covered typical repairs that older mechanical watches would require. These repairs include replacing a mainspring, replacing a winding stem, replacing a crystal, adjusting hand friction and replacing luminous paint on watch hands (can't imagine how often that comes up).

    The last chapter is dedicated to specialities such as other escapement types (English level, Pin pallet, cylinder and verge), sweep second hand movements, fusee watches, various types of keyless works. A novice would not necessarily encounter these types of watches often but you never know. The treatment is light and so would not serve complete justice to the topic. However, it broadens one's knowledge about a variety of aspects of watchmaking and that is generally the forte of this book. It's a text that crams a lot into a small space.

    In conclusion, I'd highly recommend this book if you fall into the targeted region of its readership. It is a modern replacement for similar books that get recommended, the advantage of "Maintaining and Repairing Mechanical Watches" being the instructional tone of its writing, use of detailed colour photos instead of hand-drawn diagrams and the use of modern tools and techniques.
    Michele Frueh likes this.
  2. Richard Watkins

    Richard Watkins Registered User
    NAWCC Fellow NAWCC Member

    #2 Richard Watkins, Nov 23, 2017
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2017
    I would like to use your excellent review in a supplement to my bibliography. Is that OK? I would need your full name.

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