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American PW questions on a repair job

calchan

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Dec 8, 2009
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so my pocket watch was loosing 15-20 seconds a day and occasionally lock up, before i brought it into the repair shop. i brought it into the repair shop Fast-Fix watch repair, they are a huge chain. i told them about my problems and dropped it off, a week later they said it was done, i picked it up and tested it at home. the pocket watch doesn't lock up anymore be when i tested it over 3 days it was fast more then a minute a day. i brought it back in and waited another week. when i picked it up they said they have been testing it for a week, but when i have had it back it has lost 30 seconds over the night.

my question is how accurate can a watchman get an old pocket watch to be? it is a 1910 21j elgin pocket watch adjusted in 5 positions, is it possible to get it in the range of it loosing or gaining a couple seconds a day or is that not possible with such an old pocket watch. i also don't want to complain so much and bring it back to them but i did pay them $180 for a total overhaul and i want it to be accurate.

also can someone just tell me how to make the watch accurate, do i just pluck at the spring or something. i am currently trying the audio-city program to see if the watch is accurate but im still trying to understand it.
 
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Woolshire

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You should expect that watch to perform to +/- 30-60 sec/week. They should be able to show you the trace from the timing machine...and NO, don't "pluck at" the hairspring! :eek:
 

calchan

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Dec 8, 2009
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im loosing trust with this repair shop, the face of the watch is still dirty, i just cleaned it. i have found that Fast-fix jewelry and watch repair chain are JA Certified Bench Jewelers, but are they certified watch repair? do you need a certification to work on watches? and what certification should i look for?

thank you Woolshire for the response, i am very warry of this chain does anyone else have any watch repair experience with Fast-Fix jewelry and watch repair?
 
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Kevin W.

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I would have started with getting someone from the mb to repair and do the work on your watch. many of these places perhaps can do watch repair, but not antiques.
And i dont think i would have paid them if they returned the watch in the condition you say.Do they warranty their work?
 

calchan

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Dec 8, 2009
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yes they have a 6 month warranty on their work, i already brought it back to them once and i am debating if i should bring it in again. i am very displeased with this company and branch. they said they "tested" it for a week, but when i brought it home it was fast...

also wht do you mean by "someone from the mb" Veritas? what does mb stand for?
 

Kevin W.

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mb means the message board here. Some people like Kent Singer repair watches, his company is The Escapement. he might be a good person to help you.
I dont recommend these ma and pa jewlery stores in malls, had bad experiences there.
The watch is capable at working at a very accurate rate.
 

calchan

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Dec 8, 2009
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thank you two for responding to my post, i am happy to hear that this watch is still able to be pretty actuate so i do have the right to complain to them about their work. in the regards to what Woolshire said do you think that it is okay for me to ask for the trace from the timing machine even though i don't know how to read it? or should i just ask for it to see if they even tested it?
 

Kevin W.

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If it were me i think right now i would walk away from these repair guys.Or tell them you want the watch adjusted to what it time keeping its capable of.
I have very little patience with retail places that repair watches and do not know what they are doing.
 

Kevin W.

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It could not hurt to ask .Perhaps they did not do most of the job the way it should have been done .Meaning do you know for sure the watch was disasembled for cleaning?
 

calchan

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Dec 8, 2009
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its hard for me to tell, i do give them the benefit of the dought that they did. when i brought it in the balance staff was rotating some what slow, which is one of the reasons why i went to them, and it is rotating relatively quicker then when i brought it in. i also noticed the spring in the balance staff looks darker so perhaps he greased it.
 

Kevin W.

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Calchan perhaps if you have pictures of the watch others will comment on their thoughts.
I know some places just put the movement in a ultrasonic and do not take it fully apart.
 

calchan

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Dec 8, 2009
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i trust them, also there is tarnish on the gears in which i do not think is removable, so it is hard to tell. also you can just call me by my first name: cal
 

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th90a9

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I don't know if you noticed this but the adjustment on the balance regulator is set at the fast position. Maybe, just maybe, if you were to adjust it towards the slow end, about midway, you could get it to run slower. If I'm correct that it is running fast. Tom
 

Kevin W.

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Hi Cal, the movement does not look that shiny to me for being recently cleaned. And as mentioned the regulator all the way to one side. Usually when a watch is timed the regulator is set at the half way point.
I cant tell for sure but around the pivots and jewels it may or may not be too clean.
Did these people claim to know how to service antique watches??:confused:
 

ben_hutcherson

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The fact that the regulator is all the way over to fast, and the watch is still running slow, says it all. They didn't fix it properly, and I personally would be asking for my money back.

This is a very high grade watch, and it deserves proper service. Hopefully, what you're seeing is the result of a bad dunk and swish, and not a sign that they took the watch apart and really messed something up.
 

Kevin W.

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Yes Ben that,s what i think they did. They obviously lack knowledge of proper repair methods.
I took a quick look and googled them, they are a franchise.
I wonder if any , qualifications their repair people have or maybe they farm the job out?
 

calchan

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Dec 8, 2009
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thank again, they do not have any watch repair certification, but only a jewelers one, this is "Fast-Fix jewelry and watch repair" is a huge chain. i will be asking for a refund. i also have no idea how to ajust the balance regulator.
 

Dale

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Yes Ben that,s what i think they did. They obviously lack knowledge of proper repair methods.
I took a quick look and googled them, they are a franchise.
I wonder if any , qualifications their repair people have or maybe they farm the job out?
I can tell you that a few years ago, in some of the jewelry trade magazines, I saw hundreds of ads for this Fast-Fix franchise. The tone of the ad was something like, "No Experience Necessary!" I've never seen one of these places in Michigan. I would have low expectations of their service. Was there a discussion upfront with the employee of the business in regards to what type of timekeeping performance you could expect from the piece when they were done with the job?
 

Kevin W.

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Cal there are people here who can do the work required for you.
I looked and we have this chain in Canada.I sent them a email and asked what they charge for a clean and oil and how is it done. Will be interested to get a reply.
Most jewelery stores i know of can change a battery and change the band. And that,s about it.I know of only a few here i would take a antique rail road watch to.
 

calchan

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Dec 8, 2009
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I can tell you that a few years ago, in some of the jewelry trade magazines, I saw hundreds of ads for this Fast-Fix franchise. The tone of the ad was something like, "No Experience Necessary!" I've never seen one of these places in Michigan. I would have low expectations of their service. Was there a discussion upfront with the employee of the business in regards to what type of timekeeping performance you could expect from the piece when they were done with the job?
i was expecting a good job, for it to loose very little amount of time, i was thinking between fast fix and another standalone watch repair shop, fast fix quoited me 2 weeks and the standalone quoted 4 weeks. at that time i really just wanted it to be accurate so i went with the faster quote, and also i though they were legitimate since they were in a large shopping mall. when looking back i should of went with the standalone. i will be asking for a refund form fast fix, if i am able to get it i will be going to the standalone watch repair shop and get them to work on it.
 

Kevin W.

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Any reason Cal you dont wish to send it to someone who repairs them here on the mb?
I went the mall route once and did not make that mistake again.They broke the balance staff and told me it would not run as the jewels had been stolen from it. Yep been there before.
 
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calchan

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i plain to take it to the standalone, they are certified. if this doesnt work i will send it to someone on this mb
 

Kevin W.

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Ok Cal.I have seen places here that say they are certified.I would like to see their certification. Its one thing to say it, and another to prove it.
 

Dale

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i plain to take it to the standalone, they are certified. if this doesnt work i will send it to someone on this mb
I recommend taking the watch to whoever you are comfortable with and, if I may, I'd like to offer a few suggestions.

- Let them know that you'd like the watch to be completely cleaned and oiled all over again

- Before agreeing to have the work done, find out what type of timekeeping accuracy they expect the watch to provide

- Ask if they are replacing the mainspring or reusing the original. Of course, replacement is better but will cost more.

- Be patient. You mentioned that you went with the fastest quote the first time around. It's not unusual for a good watchmaker to take months or more to turn a difficult repair job around. Anyone that can guarantee a watch will be turned around in two weeks is asking for trouble. Even Rolex takes 4-6 weeks. And they don't need to order parts from an outside supplier!

- Don't put too much faith in certificates. I know one horrible watchmaker that is a graduate of the Rolex watchmaking school. I know great watchmakers with no certification at all.

Hope this helps!
 

calchan

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Dec 8, 2009
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went to the repair shop, asked for a refund. he refused to give me a refund, debated a little bit said he is willing to give half refund. i refused, he is wiling to take another look at it, also he said he did a good job on it...
so what he did is he set the watch to one of the clocks in his shop and said he will check it tomorrow and see if it is fast or not. (if he says that it isnt fast at all, ten i know hes lieing) another thing is i asked him for a trace form a timing machine as prof when i get the watch back, when i asked that his eyes poped out a little bit, he was surprised and just said yea yea. when i get it back i will test it and also try to get the certified watch repair shop the standalone one to give it a look and ask his opinion if the watch was worked on. the one thing i fear is that he will adjust the time of the pocket watch before i get there to see how accurate it is. overall im very displeased.

i need some help form you fellows and tell me a way to school him when i pick up the watch again. il will bring up the balance staff regulator and try to catch him on that. i also need a crash course on traces
 
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Ancient Mariner

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I think you should have taken the half refund he offered, pocketed the watch and ran- not walked -out of that place. Then spent a little time searching around for a knowledgeable, reputable repairperson.
I'm just sayin'...
 

Skutt50

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I would not trust such a guy. IF I would let him check the watch for another day it should have gone into an envelop which was sealed and signed by both of you. You should then attend the opening the next day.
 

calchan

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I would not trust such a guy. IF I would let him check the watch for another day it should have gone into an envelop which was sealed and signed by both of you. You should then attend the opening the next day.
wow that is an ingenious idea! if i have to bring it in a 4th time i will definitely do that!!!
 

ben_hutcherson

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Asking him about a timing machine trace was a great idea. Definitely ask about the regulator(by the way, it's just a "regulator", not a "balance staff regulator"). Also, press him for details about just what exactly he did in the service. A proper service, at a minimum, should include the following:

1. Full dis-assembly, including each of the individual cap/hole jewel settings(a total of four of these on your watch).

2. Careful inspection of the pivots and jewels for signs of wear, scoring, chipping, cracking, etc, and replacing or repairing any damaged parts found in this

3. Cleaning all jewels with sharpened pegwood

4. Cleaning all pivots in pithwood

5. Running the plates and wheels through a cleaning machine. Most shops will use ultrasonic, but an older mechanical machine is also perfectly adequate. This should be done using proper commercial cleaning solutions.

6. Final inspection of wheels, pinions, pivots, and jewels for any remaining dirt or crud, and removal with pithwood as appropriate.

7. Disassembly, cleaning, and greasing of all keyless works parts(the winding and setting mechanism).

8. Removal of the mainspring from the barrel. The mainspring should be inspected for setting, and, if set, replaced. If the old spring is reused, it should be cleaned, greased, and reinstalled in the barrel.

9. The gear train should be reassembled, and carefully oiled with the right amount of oil of the proper oil in the proper places. All wheels should be checked for proper endshake and side shake, and the gear train checked for backlash.

Yes, this is a lot of work, but it's the minimum that should be done for a good, thorough service. Don't accept anything less, especially for the kind of money you paid.

If the shop does all of the above, and they should have no problem telling you about it. Many "quick" shops today remove the dial and hands, and drop the whole movement in an ultrasonic bath. They then follow this up with oiling by hand, or even worse run the movement through "sololube" which coats everything in oil. Although this will generally get a watch running, it won't fix it properly. If this is what the shop does, they may either dodge the question, or claim that what they do is "better."

Having the other shop look at it and evaluate it is a good idea. They should definitely be able to tell if the watch has been recently cleaned.

Like I said, I just hope that the shop hasn't really messed something up to the point where it's going to cost a whole lot more to fix it. Cleaning intact isn't good for a watch in the long term, but shouldn't have hurt anything in the short amount of time that you've had it back.
 

calchan

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:D thanks for all the support, I'm going to get this *guy*. sry put some that was bad to say i guess, started with a B and ended with a D

also when asking about the regulator, what is the best way to bring it up to catch this guy? should i just ask why isnt it in the middle? not to the far end towards the F.
 
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Skutt50

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I have no good answer on how to approach the issue of the adjustment.

You could however also ask him in which position(s) he tested the watch....... He should have tested it in at least three. Dial up, Dial down and Pendent Upp.

If he did not clean the balance jewels this may have a large impact on the accuracy in different positions.

And to get even more technical........

Another thing to watch out for is if the hairspring is mooving freely between the pins of the adjustment arm. You should see this with a good magnifier. If the hairspring is not evenly round the adjustment may result in quick and random changes in accuracy. (E.g. you try to slow down the watch and move into a part of the hairspring which leans against one pin and the watch quickly gains a lot of speed.)
 

LarFure

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Let's face it,you got screwed and no amount of arguing will get your money back or,get your watch fixed at this place. If you can get half the repair money back from them take it and run. Then chalk it up as tuition in the school of hard knocks. I'll offer my services to you to do this repair right or,maybe someone else can do the same for you but,do not waste your time with this place any more
 

Kevin W.

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Cal at this point i would get the watch back, asap and get someone else who is capable of doing the job. Dont waste any more of your time and let this joker work on your watch.
 

rodstan

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Just noticed this interesting thread,
As I understand it Cal , you have a 100 year old watch that probably has done 30 or more years of constant service in its 100 year lifetime and it is now running a minute a day error? I seem to remember that balance staffs wear and give sideshake after way less time than this.It is quite possible that your watch is showing signs of wear in both the pivots and train wheels, no amount of cleaning and pegging will remove wear,so I would suggest a balance staff replacement as a first step.I must admit the price was perhaps a little high for a clean and service( at least by my standards) but one can only do so much to a watch that is high jewelled and worn.Perhaps if it were timed to 3 positions for daily use the rate could be set at a better rate, I think its chronometer status days are well passed.I am sorry to disagree but I think the work done was probably done to best standards for the age of the watch albeit the price was high.
I get this problem quite often when expectations are set higher than what is practicably achievable without major replacement of parts(which in my case is quite impractical).
I wish you luck in resolving your difficulties, I am only a 3rd generation watchmaker with 35 years experience--- I would tell u from the start probably 10 to 20 seconds per day at best for your watch and probably half what u paid:)
Regards
Rod
 

rodstan

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yet again upon reflection of your question,
The timing trace on a paper printout should be a perfect singular straight line with no dots to either side to indicate wear to the pallets etc in all five positions of the pendant and no variation in amplitude( a wavy printout like a sinusoidal curve) to indicate wear in the train wheels after 100 years of existence.I get current model Rolex's and IWC's that dont meet these parameters.
I wish you luck in your endeavours.
regards
Rod
PS -- a little experimentation with the regulator may resolve your problem if you are carrying the watch pendant up in your pocket or hanging it from a hook.:)
 

calchan

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thank you rod but the thing is that i brought the watch in when it was slow 10-20 seconds off a day and now it is off a minute and more a day. it is just the fact that he made the watch worse in the respect of performance.

i appreciate the offer LarFure but the watch is in the shop and i am giving the guy a third chance, i will P.M. if i do need your service :D
 

Kevin W.

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Any watch needs to be properly cleaned and oiled before timing it.
The problem here is the the shop he took it to.
 

LarFure

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thank you rod but the thing is that i brought the watch in when it was slow 10-20 seconds off a day and now it is off a minute and more a day. it is just the fact that he made the watch worse in the respect of performance.

i appreciate the offer LarFure but the watch is in the shop and i am giving the guy a third chance, i will P.M. if i do need your service :D
My offer still stands. I know I can do better that what has been done to your watch.
 

rodstan

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hey again,
I missed the key phrase <brought the watch in when it was slow 10-20 seconds off >-----yes it should rate better than that.
We have similar watch repair facilities here where the watch technicians do batteries and bands, all other work including mechanicals are sent to a centralised repair shop.One thing that I have found all too often is that the main repair facilities dont have any timing machines and or lathes.They are used to high volume quartz repair and old mechanicals are treated as a novelty.The expense of having accurate timing equipment is treated as an un necessary overhead.

As an aside-- I dont do any outside trade work anymore because I used to send the repaired watches back to jewellers etc and the mechanical watches kept coming back because they had stopped :). Tempers flaired after a while, me from frustration , and the shops claimed my watchmaking was substandard. Quartz watches are ticking when you remove them from the envelope, mechanicals have usually stopped.
Unfortunately , the shop assistants didnt know that you had to wind a mechanical watch,and an automatic was beyond comprehension. I was asked by the shops owner if wind ups were a new invention based on a seiko kinetic. Even the owners who had inherited grandpas watch didnt know how they worked and since they didnt work left the watches for a new battery.
and yes that was a true story and happened many times over.
Find a trustworthy watchmaker who is competent in repairing and be kind to him/her.There are people here who have offered help and their skills are worth everything in maintaing a reliable working watch.
best of luck.
Regards
Rod
 

Kevin W.

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I cant say a franchise to do a fast watch repair is a good idea,unless you want a hamburger at Mcdonalds.
 

calchan

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Dec 8, 2009
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well for an update i just got my watch back form the shop, he gave me the trace. i uploaded the photo, sorry i do not have a scanner. may i get an option on this trace. also what is a reliable source of time i have been comparing the watch with http://www.time.gov/timezone.cgi?Pacific/d/-8/java .
 

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le arsi

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well for an update i just got my watch back form the shop, he gave me the trace. i uploaded the photo, sorry i do not have a scanner. may i get an option on this trace. also what is a reliable source of time i have been comparing the watch with http://www.time.gov/timezone.cgi?Pacific/d/-8/java .
If this is really the trace of your watch, that "watchmaker" is fooling you around since the first day you claimed your watch. As I looked at the trace it shows that the watch has not been touched by a real knowledgable watchmaker. The problem was not corrected and this is usually the result of a short cut method of a person pretending to be a watchmaker- dismantling the hands and dial, dismantling the balance and the pallet fork letting down the mainspring and submerging the whole movement in a solution then dry it up. Reassemble the pallet and balance and dial without oiling the train under then time the watch against a wall clock in his place then when the scheduled day comes you took the watch, you did not noticed he just readjusted your watch to correct the time because it is not in time and while you walk away he's praying for a miracle that the watch cured itself. My God! Dont let this person ever touch your watch again!
 

calchan

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Dec 8, 2009
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over the night i timed it it is now 1 min 43 seconds fast, when i picked it up it was accurate, should hanging the watch affect it that much? it is adjusted in 5 positions.
one thing is my uncle wants to bring this guy to small claims court, do you know any one that i can get a third party watch maker to look at this watch and give a option and testimony. i live in the bay area of California. the thing is i kind of don't want to bring the guy to smalls claims, even though i have a semi high chance of winning.
i might just lie to my parents and uncle that it is accurate, and take your offer LarFure and let you look at it, if the offer is still valid.
 
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calchan

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Dec 8, 2009
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i need a way to prove that a pocket watch can keep time reasonably keep time with in 30 seconds a week, now the only thing is that the guy may have tested the watch when it is laying down were i actually us the watch for its intended us and keep it in my pocket. is it still reasonable for it to keep the time within 30 seconds a week?
 

Kevin W.

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I dont understand why you went back to the same guy if you did.
You were offered help here and did not take it.
Why waste more time and money with court, just run away and do it right.
 

calchan

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Dec 8, 2009
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i understand i talked to one of my friends father and he said it is a it silly, so im not going to take him to court im just going to the guy and going to ask for a refund again that is that
 

LarFure

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i understand i talked to one of my friends father and he said it is a it silly, so im not going to take him to court im just going to the guy and going to ask for a refund again that is that
calchan,
I sent you a PM yesterday.
 

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