Orphaned 1800's Longines PW Movements - What To Do With Them?

John Hinkey

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As a prelude to restoring my great uncle's 1880-vintage Longines pocket watch I bought 4 different movements of the same era for spare parts.
Well, it turns out that I didn't really need any major spare parts after all, but now I'm the owner of 3 decent movements, two of which are really very very nice.
See here:
This one is my favorite - the balance seems fine, but it won't wind (likely broken mainspring). Jewels look OK as far as I can tell.
1653194941516.jpeg
It has a very nice dial too (the chip at the setting lever likely will be covered up by the bezel):
1653195034868.jpeg
and this one actually seems to run fine (it winds up and runs - no idea how accurately), but it's much more dirty than the one above:
1653195116101.jpeg
The dial is in perfect shape, though not the most fancy (it's also missing the minute hand, but that's not a big deal):
1653195167569.jpeg

I'd love to restore these movements, but I'm having troubles finding suitable full silver cases (open or full hunter) that don't already have OK movements or that people aren't asking $450 for.

One or both of these could be candidates for my 3D printed pocket watch case project, but that's 3-9 months off.

Any ideas? Should I rebuild them both (and the 3rd one that's note quite as nice) and try to sell them? Keep them and keep trying to find a decent case?

Thoughts?

Thanks -

John
 
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Rick Hufnagel

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I've been sitting on two of these, one key and one stem, for some time now. Finding a Longines case is not exactly going to happen unless you get really lucky. I figure someday one will be sitting on a mart table that will fit (or close to it). Maybe not. But, they are still nice movements to work through and enjoy!
 

John Hinkey

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Working on 3D printing a custom case for a couple of my orphaned Longines movements:
1654036438931.png
1654036454693.png
So this is basically a 3-part open face case (no clamshell) with sapphire crystals over the dial and the movement (which I don't have any detail of).
The winding stem is a bit murky on how to do that easily w/o using one from an actual case.
A lever set movement is a challenge.

I'm working on getting a FDM 3D print. An SLA-type print certainly can do this level of detail, but the available materials are kind of crap for making an attractive case.

These sapphire windows are only $35 each in this 1.500in diam. x 0.040" thickness size and is virtually unbreakable, especially mounted in plastic covers.

Working on the colors and more design details. Screws are M1.4 stainless.

Thoughts?

- John
 

Ethan Lipsig

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John, I am not a movement collector, but I might become one if there were a ready supply of 3d printed cases to protect and display them. I hope your efforts are very successful!
 

John Hinkey

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John, I am not a movement collector, but I might become one if there were a ready supply of 3d printed cases to protect and display them. I hope your efforts are very successful!
I'll let everyone know how this goes. It may take a few months to work this out. I found a few more aesthetically interesting movements (movement and/or dial) on ebay that are apparently working and either have no case at all or are in a terrible ugly case and are candidates for putting in a 3D printed case to bring back to life.

Here's the latest version with the hands and a quick 2mm thick bow:
1654062966624.png
 

John Hinkey

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The movements made for the US market may fit US standard cases. It is worth measuring the dials to see if they match US sizes
Unfortunately this particular Longines movement dial and main plate diameters are 40.75 & 40.60mm respectively, which doesn't correspond to a standard American case size (check marked rows) according to this chart:
1654142665432.png

Hence the problem finding decent cases for these. Plus many of these Longines movement can be found only with really beat up silver (sterling or 0.800 silver) cases for $500 or so as opposed to $250 or so just for the movement (including the dial and hands).

So even if these movements were a standard size, it would still be difficult/expensive to find one that fits ESPECIALLY for a lever or pin-set movement.
 
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mosesgodfrey

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...So even if these movements were a standard size, it would still be difficult/expensive to find one that fits ESPECIALLY for a lever or pin-set movement.
For the odd sizes, look for dust rings that neck it up. Or 3D print one!

For standard, my reco is to look beyond Longines for cases. I’ve sourced many handsome sterling, niello and coin cases from no-name watches for well under $100 that are correct period and style for my orphans. Some under $30. Most Longines for US import were cased here anyway. And those no names are where you’ll find a higher saturation of pin set. Lever set is often a manageable case mod.

You’ll have some misses on sizes, but for the right (cheap) price you can afford to miss. Plus, having a quality case on hand—accurately measured by you—will be all too easy to fill.
 
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John Hinkey

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For the odd sizes, look for dust rings that neck it up. Or 3D print one!

For standard, my reco is to look beyond Longines for cases. I’ve sourced many handsome sterling, niello and coin cases from no-name watches for well under $100 that are correct period and style for my orphans. Some under $30. Most Longines for US import were cased here anyway. And those no names are where you’ll find a higher saturation of pin set. Lever set is often a manageable case mod.

You’ll have some misses on sizes, but for the right (cheap) price you can afford to miss. Plus, having a quality case on hand—accurately measured by you—will be all too easy to fill.
Yeah, I thought about the next size up in cases, for my particular case it would be a size 14 or 16 for the first Longines movement pictured above, but I have the problem of cases not coming with the winding stem - particularly since it requires a female square hole winding stem and crown that will fit.
I suspect I would have better time fitting in the movement with the size 14 as then I have a chance that the bezel will fit closely enough for the lever set.
So where does:
  • One find size 14s or 16s coin silver or gold-filled hunter cases for level set movements?
  • One find a compatible (both with the movement and the case) winding stems?
Thanks -

John
 

svenedin

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Very interested by your ideas for pocket watch cases. I have many orphan movements and I gave up looking for cases for them long ago. They sit in drawers in plastic movement cases similar to Petri dishes. It's shame but I have far too many complete watches anyway! On the other hand, a rugged case that was waterproof too would be marvellous.
 
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John Hinkey

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Very interested by your ideas for pocket watch cases. I have many orphan movements and I gave up looking for cases for them long ago. They sit in drawers in plastic movement cases similar to Petri dishes. It's shame but I have far too many complete watches anyway! On the other hand, a rugged case that was waterproof too would be marvellous.
Yes, my idea is to maybe figure out how to quickly make interesting modern cases for these movements that show off the dial and the movement and still be a fine time piece. Some made for myself, some sold to others - either the case and the movement together or make custom cases for each movement.
I'm trying to get a demo from a 3D printer manufacturer to show how fine the surface finish of the case materials will be as well as how well the parts will fit together (dimensional accuracy).

Stay tuned.
 
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John Hinkey

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If it is possible to print a hand gun that works, surely a well sealed watch case shouldn't be too difficult.
Oh, for sure.
For me I want to make sure it will look good - i.e., have small enough layer lines that it's not noticeable and be durable.
Also, I want to keep the printed case near in size to what it would be for a metal case.
The winding stem and case tube are difficult to print because of the traditional thin metal in this area, so it needs to be thicker when made in plastic.
The winding stem might have to be special made metal because of the high torque during winding if I can't find donor winding stems that are compatible with the movement.
The other thing I need to incorporate are the internal thin metal spring strips that are used to keep the movement stable/centered in the case. These can potentially be printed integral with the case (hence the beauty of 3D printing).

So the first printed version might not be pretty, but once you figure out all the details re-printing a final version is easy.

- J
 
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svenedin

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There’s also the issue of positive and negative set watches. My orphans are a mixture of both. Positive set would be easier as all the setting components are in the movement.
 

John Hinkey

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There’s also the issue of positive and negative set watches. My orphans are a mixture of both. Positive set would be easier as all the setting components are in the movement.
I have not heard the term "positive set" and "negative set" - please explain more!

- J
 

Dr. Jon

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Positive set watches have a setting detent that engages the setting yoke. The pendand does all the work. A thicker ring on the stem lifts teh setting mechanism.

Negative set watches have spring which in the movement which drives the stem out to the setting position. The stem has a notch cut around it. When the pendant is in, a spring holds the notch notch keeping the stem down in the wind position. These holding springs are a disk type in a sleeve which threads in the pendant. This system was used in most American pocket watches with stem setting. I do not think this English French or Swiss used it except in rare one-offs.

If you convert an American case to hold a Longines it may he useful to remove this setting sleeve and spring from the pendant, which is easy to do with a special sleeve wrench.

BTW if you want to get into case making Steffan Pahlow has published a book on making cases. It is far more modern that the Martin Matthews methods and include an example of one made of plexiglass.

It covers all the critical fits and how to achieve them. He has also posted a series of videos on a case he made for a fairly complicated watch.
 
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John Hinkey

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Positive set watches have a setting detent that engages the setting yoke. The pendand does all the work. A thicker ring on the stem lifts teh setting mechanism.

Negative set watches have spring which in the movement which drives the stem out to the setting position. The stem has a notch cut around it. When the pendant is in, a spring holds the notch notch keeping the stem down in the wind position. These holding springs are a disk type in a sleeve which threads in the pendant. This system was used in most American pocket watches with stem setting. I do not think this English French or Swiss used it except in rare one-offs.

If you convert an American case to hold a Longines it may he useful to remove this setting sleeve and spring from the pendant, which is easy to do with a special sleeve wrench.

BTW if you want to get into case making Steffan Pahlow has published a book on making cases. It is far more modern that the Martin Matthews methods and include an example of one made of plexiglass.

It covers all the critical fits and how to achieve them. He has also posted a series of videos on a case he made for a fairly complicated watch.
Thanks for the reference to Steffan's stuff. Unfortunately it seems his book is unavailable at the moment.
What a craftsman!
 

Dr. Jon

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The NAWCC library has two copies in German one is available for loan to since you are a member.

The books is lavishly illustrated so not being able to read German is not a deal breaker, especia;l;y if you watch his YouTube videos on making a case.
 
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John Hinkey

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Expanding this to other orphaned pocket watch movements.

I just purchases a cool-looking Tavannes with great dial and the stem.
1656287556782.jpeg
1656287585146.jpeg
which should look very nice once cleaned up. This is stem set/stem wind and so enables a more simple 3D printed case design.
It will wind and does run just a bit - I just got it yesterday and the balance seems fine, but there is hardly any power making it to the escape wheel since it take about a second for the escape wheel to move if you push the pallet fork back and forth.
So hopefully this just means a new mainspring and a full cleaning.

I have two other Tavannes pocket watch movements (between them I'd make a running version) that I have my eye on over at ebay that seem to be good candidates due to the dial+hands and very nice movement details, though they are case set/stem wind versions that I will need to find the correct Tavannes-compatible stem and case

So I'm going to 3D print cases for my Longines spares (maybe two of them) and perhaps two Tavannes pocket watch movements.

I'm having a test 3D filament print done this week on just one part and we'll see how that goes.

- John
 

John Hinkey

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Hey John,

Measure that Tavannes, you might be able to get it into an American case. A number of their movements were available as positive or negative set and available overseas. It's worth a look.
Thanks for the idea. What specific measurements do I need to ensure that this movement will fit into an American size case if all I have is the case size (12s, 16s, etc.)?
Thanks -

John
 

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