Scrap or Repair? 2x 14K Swiss Repeaters circa 1890

Scrap or Repair?

  • Scrap

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Repair

    Votes: 6 100.0%

  • Total voters
    6

svenedin

NAWCC Member
Jan 28, 2010
1,145
185
63
Surrey
Country
Region
I have 2 Swiss repeating pocket watches. My grandfather and great-grandfather as well as my great-uncle were all watchmakers or clockmakers. These watches were "put on the side" as they needed too much work to get them right. Decades ago, my father asked my uncle Dan to try to repair them but by then his eyesight was failing. So they have sat for 50 years in a safe hardly ever seeing the light of day. Out of general interest, my grandfather would make balance staffs on "the turns" and sometimes he would work at home on the dining table. He would appropriate my grandmother's wedding ring for plating work and her poor ring got thinner and thinner. It looks like he spilt a drop of mercury on the back of one of the watches. They had little concern really for "health and safety"!

I had a watchmaker look at them about 10 years ago. He had them for 2 years and eventually returned them as too much work that he did not have time for.

To me they are not very exciting. Continental pattern cases which are no favourite of mine and rather coppery, quite thin gold. They seem middling quality and not top-end. On the other hand, I have no other repeaters in my collection and I would love a working repeater. There is also the emotional feeling that I would love to get them going after my father had been unable to find anyone to do it.

I have invested nothing in these watches as I inherited them so even if the cost of repairs is high, I had no initial outlay. However, if I did scrap them I would either want the actual gold used for something I would wear regularly or use the money to fund a good repeater that I can use and enjoy.

So obviously it is very hard to comment in a forum post without actually handling and examining a watch but in general what are members' thoughts? Worth investing a lot of work or scrap?

Watch 1

Is a quarter repeating, centre seconds flyback chronograph. This watch runs (badly). I suspect it has a cracked balance jewel or damaged staff pivots as it is very unhappy in certain positions. It will repeat but the repeating mechanism is very stiff. The chronometer will not start but the relevant parts do move. The plated crown is corroded and there is something amiss with the keyless work (nasty feel to it).

IMG_5710.jpeg IMG_5711.jpeg 9B9E93C5-A34F-4244-AB53-74E41BA38837_1_201_a.jpeg F11C96AE-2CC2-489E-ABBF-9CB305C47676_1_201_a.jpeg 7DFFDCC3-2F95-4409-8176-98A3DE4A6F95_1_201_a.jpeg 4D5DE24D-6037-4B3E-882B-DF89F8FF3764_1_201_a.jpeg

Watch 2

Is a minute repeating pocket watch. This watch runs well but although the mechanism makes a noise and runs the hammers do not move.

IMG_5716.jpeg IMG_5717.jpeg 20084F92-30A7-401E-B078-0EC5F9CDEB7E_1_201_a.jpeg A5B5EDE9-3589-4101-8277-F37A7418B6AA_1_201_a.jpeg 2EFE3DEA-FBB6-4332-8241-9F3285B411F7_1_201_a.jpeg
 

Ethan Lipsig

NAWCC Gold Member
Jan 8, 2006
2,391
2,146
113
72
Pasadena
Country
Region
In the U.S., I'd expect it to cost at least $2-5,000 to restore either watch, and possibly more if parts have to be made for it. By way of example, I just was quoted $3,500 to service a grande et petite sonnerie quarter repeater that is in much better condition than your watches. I doubt that either of your watches would be particularly valuable post restoration since neither is from a well-known maker and neither is top quality. However, because these watches have significant sentimental value to you, economics should be less of a factor than they normally would be. I do not have a U.K. or European watchmaker to recommend, but I am sure other posters to this board could recommend someone qualified to work on complicated watches, I suggest that you get estimates for restoring both watches and seriously consider restoring at least one of them.
 

Skutt50

Registered User
Mar 14, 2008
3,788
211
63
Gothenburg
Country
Worth investing a lot of work or scrap?
In my oppinion: Definately not scrap!

There must be collectors out there looking for watches with complications and willing to pay better than the scrap value. Now if it is worth investing in a renovation is another story. You need to find someone giving you a quote for the job and then evaluate the situation.

I don't know anyone who can do the job but hopefully someone here on the board does.......
 

Kenny S.

NAWCC Member
Apr 12, 2020
205
315
63
56
Not far from South Park CO
Country
Region
I have to agree with the above sentiments. Even if you don't repair them, I would keep them. Once you scrap them, they're gone forever, and nothing can change that. You can always hang onto them and decide to fix them (or not) at a later date. They are wonderful keepsakes at any rate.
 

4thdimension

NAWCC Member
Oct 18, 2001
2,597
398
83
Country
Region
I have a hard time believing you would not get more for these whole than melted. -Cort
 

gmorse

NAWCC Member
Jan 7, 2011
12,337
2,037
113
Breamore, Hampshire, UK
Country
Region
Hi Ethan,

I suggest that you get estimates for restoring both watches and seriously consider restoring at least one of them.
I'm sure that Stephen could find someone in the UK who didn't charge 'Rolex' prices for repairs, but the fact remains that he would never recoup restoration costs if he sold them, however modest by comparison.

Regards,

Graham
 

svenedin

NAWCC Member
Jan 28, 2010
1,145
185
63
Surrey
Country
Region
Graham has kindly given me a watchmaker contact. These watches are way, way beyond my skill level. They are in "last chance saloon" rather than death-row. They've already been to two or possibly 3 watchmakers over the years who wouldn't even touch them let alone give a quote.
 

Roy Horrorlogic

NAWCC Member
Mar 7, 2017
384
101
43
Country
Not sure if this duplicates what has already been suggested but G.M. put me onto a British watchmaker called Seth Kennedy who quoted me less than some of the numbers mentioned in preceding posts in order to recase as well as service a beautiful Moulinie repeater movement which I have. Most of his work appears to be in repairing and servicing timepieces of this era - and looks very good indeed.
As for scrapping the case, NO! I have boxes full of movements which resulted from this sort of short-term-ism. In every example the watch would surely have increased in value to outstrip the scrap value. Please, don't do it.
Roy
 

svenedin

NAWCC Member
Jan 28, 2010
1,145
185
63
Surrey
Country
Region
Not sure if this duplicates what has already been suggested but G.M. put me onto a British watchmaker called Seth Kennedy who quoted me less than some of the numbers mentioned in preceding posts in order to recase as well as service a beautiful Moulinie repeater movement which I have. Most of his work appears to be in repairing and servicing timepieces of this era - and looks very good indeed.
As for scrapping the case, NO! I have boxes full of movements which resulted from this sort of short-term-ism. In every example the watch would surely have increased in value to outstrip the scrap value. Please, don't do it.
Roy
I take your point but it isn't really "short-term-ism". It's 2 watches sat broken for 50 years owned by 2 generations of my family and looked at by a minimum of 3 different watchmakers..........If it was short-term-ism they would have been scrapped long ago and I wouldn't even be asking here. Yes Seth was recommended to me and I have been in touch with him. I have yet to send the watches to him for a diagnosis and prognosis.
 

oldetymes

Registered User
Feb 5, 2007
35
0
6
Hi Stephen - just catching up with your post/thread. If you have not yet found a repairer that you are satisfied with I would suggest you send to me. I restore pocket watches and work with an old master on the difficult ones. Look forward to hearing back from you

Dave Morrow, CC21
 

svenedin

NAWCC Member
Jan 28, 2010
1,145
185
63
Surrey
Country
Region
Hi Stephen - just catching up with your post/thread. If you have not yet found a repairer that you are satisfied with I would suggest you send to me. I restore pocket watches and work with an old master on the difficult ones. Look forward to hearing back from you

Dave Morrow, CC21
Thank you Dave. The watches are actually packed up and ready to go to a watchmaker called Seth tomorrow. I'll wait to hear what he has to say but will certainly bear you in mind. As I handled them to pack them carefully my immediate emotion was "don't scrap me!".

Stephen
 

dshumans

NAWCC Member
Sep 17, 2009
441
62
28
I live in USA, but I specialize in repeaters. The minute repeater would be more fun to own and worth more when repaired. If you have no luck there and want to ship it to me it sounds exactly like something I can repair, and since I only charge $70/hr repair costs are usually reasonable. Here is an example of a minute repeater repair with similar symptoms that cost about $300 total, but I'd have no idea how much it would take to repair yours unless I see it. Hopefully, you'll get it repaired there without having to ship it to USA, which would probably cost $50 each way, insured. If you need help, contact me at dshumans@gmail.com.
Best Regards,
Doug
 

svenedin

NAWCC Member
Jan 28, 2010
1,145
185
63
Surrey
Country
Region
I live in USA, but I specialize in repeaters. The minute repeater would be more fun to own and worth more when repaired. If you have no luck there and want to ship it to me it sounds exactly like something I can repair, and since I only charge $70/hr repair costs are usually reasonable. Here is an example of a minute repeater repair with similar symptoms that cost about $300 total, but I'd have no idea how much it would take to repair yours unless I see it. Hopefully, you'll get it repaired there without having to ship it to USA, which would probably cost $50 each way, insured. If you need help, contact me at dshumans@gmail.com.
Best Regards,
Doug
Thanks Doug. The watches are now with the watchmaker that Graham recommended. I have already had a preliminary report which with the watchmaker's permission I could share here. For now though, in brief summary;

The quarter repeater is repairable but has numerous faults and bad old repairs. Including a badly repaired staff with evidence of glue, poorly shaped replacements springs, solder, a centre seconds hand from a wristwatch etc.

The minute repeater is much more problematic. It is missing the quarter and minute snails on the cannon pinion. In other respects it is in better shape than the quarter repeater. Finding parts would be extremely difficult and making parts costly. It could be repaired to time only function reasonably easily.

So I have said yes go ahead and repair the quarter repeater and as for the minute repeater the jury is out. If parts could be found then yes it can be repaired. If parts have to be made this could be prohibitively expensive.
 

svenedin

NAWCC Member
Jan 28, 2010
1,145
185
63
Surrey
Country
Region
This the view under the dial of the minute repeater. The arrows point to broken or badly repaired springs. The main problem is the missing minute and quarter snails on the cannon pinion.

Blumenthal.jpg

This is the other side of the movement

2EFE3DEA-FBB6-4332-8241-9F3285B411F7_1_201_a.jpeg

So to help save this poorly minute repeater a) Can anybody identify the movement and maker? b) Does anybody have any suggestions on how to find the missing parts? Even "junk" repeating movements are expensive and finding the right donor movement is going to be a tremendous challenge.
 
Last edited:

gmorse

NAWCC Member
Jan 7, 2011
12,337
2,037
113
Breamore, Hampshire, UK
Country
Region
Hi Stephen,

Making a part like this from scratch, which combines the quarter and minute snails together with the freedom piece, (aka 'surprise piece'), between the two and the pin underneath which indexes the hour star wheel, would certainly be prohibitively expensive.

IMG_0261.JPG DSCF3904.JPG DSCF3905.JPG

Regards,

Graham
 
  • Like
Reactions: 4thdimension

svenedin

NAWCC Member
Jan 28, 2010
1,145
185
63
Surrey
Country
Region
Hi Stephen,

Making a part like this from scratch, which combines the quarter and minute snails together with the freedom piece, (aka 'surprise piece'), between the two and the pin underneath which indexes the hour star wheel, would certainly be prohibitively expensive.

View attachment 608669 View attachment 608671 View attachment 608670

Regards,

Graham
Understood. So the only hope is to find the parts. They will exist somewhere. Somewhere in the world there will be a trashed watch with those essential parts intact. So this is now an appeal to anybody who reads this. Please check your drawers, your parts “boneyard”, your orphan movements. Help this watch live again and sing once more. Let’s hope the reach of the internet results in a miracle!

Enrico, can you help identify the movement please?
 
Last edited:

svenedin

NAWCC Member
Jan 28, 2010
1,145
185
63
Surrey
Country
Region
Enrico has very kindly informed me that both of my repeaters were made by Paul Aubert. He sent these pictures too. Thank you Enrico!

ch22775.jpg Immagine.jpg
 
  • Like
Reactions: D.th.munroe

Forum statistics

Threads
164,923
Messages
1,435,154
Members
85,879
Latest member
deeqdacad
Encyclopedia Pages
1,101
Total wiki contributions
2,872
Last edit
Rockford's early high grade movements by Greg Frauenhoff