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Servicing a JLC?

Eldhus

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Feb 13, 2020
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Hello Forumers,

About 1 1/2 to 2 years ago, I bought an old Jaeger LeCoultre wrist watch from a charity web site. (It turned out to be from sometime in the mid-1950's with a 478/C movement.) I paid $530 dollars for it in sad shape - it only had half a leather band on it, and the half that was there was white from powdery mold. The crystal on it was beyond cracked - it had a triangular shaped hole in the crystal. Accordingly, I took it to a well-respected jewelry store in the area that is a JLC dealer and has its own in-store watchmakers to have it serviced. They replaced the crystal, put a new (non-JLC) band on it, and cleaned and serviced it. The cost for this service was $400, so in total I had $930 into a watch that I could probably resell (if I wanted to) for between $450 to $650. That really didn't matter to me; I was happy to rescue an old watch from oblivion into a respectable daily-wearer that, except for some very mild yellowing, had an extremely spotless dial face.

Now, it has been losing 60 to 90 seconds per day, which I felt was unacceptable. I took it back to the same jewelry store and asked them to see if they could adjust the timing to bring it more in line. They called back to say that they could not do it in-house: they would have to send it to JLC to service, and would get me an estimate of repairs from JLC. I thought this was a bit odd, but I approved them sending it to the company service center. Today, the jewelry store called and gave me JLC's estimate - $1,475 ! JLC wants to replace the crystal, do a polishing, a service and cleaning, and "bring it up to factory standards". HOLY SMOKES! Obviously, I said no - I don't want a new crystal, I don't want it polished, it doesn't need a cleaning, all I want to happen is for it to be adjusted to keep better time. (If I wanted to spend $1,475 on a watch I would put it towards the $5,300 a new JLC Reverso in stainless steel would cost.)

So, my question to you folks is whether you could recommend a reputable service person who would be able to perform the adjustment I want done without rebuilding the whole watch? Thanks.
 

gmorse

NAWCC Member
Jan 7, 2011
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Hi Eldhus,

Obviously, I said no - I don't want a new crystal, I don't want it polished, it doesn't need a cleaning, all I want to happen is for it to be adjusted to keep better time
If your watch was serviced only two years ago and it's now losing more than a minute a day, (which it presumably wasn't immediately following that service), something has changed. The watch hasn't moved its own regulator! I wonder why the first jewellers felt they had to send back to JLC a watch which their own watchmaker had been competent to overhaul such a short time before? The lubrication shouldn't have deteriorated after such a short time, so what could cause this changed state?

One conclusion is that they didn't service it properly the first time, another is that the environment in which you've worn it has caused some deterioration. Very few watches of this age are proof against dust and dirt ingress, let alone moisture, and all of these can play havoc with a watch movement. A random splash when washing the hands, or even being in a humid environment can be enough to start corrosion.

In summary, adjusting the watch to a better rate is addressing the symptoms when the cause may be more serious.

Regards,

Graham
 

roughbarked

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Dec 2, 2016
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Old watches usually require some efforts to restore to original timekeeping. Any watchmaker trained in working on watches should be able to make it work well but this may require replacement of some parts. Which would be part of bringing it up to factory standards. This series was originally classed as chronometer standard.
"After 1915 the 'Suisse des Associations de Fabricants d'Horlogerie' (Association of Swiss watch manufacturer) defined a chronometer as a precision watch, which was regulated in different positions and at different temperatures and "might" get a certification. Thus, the term "chronometer" was no longer protected. Only 1951 the chronometer definition was again changed by the Swiss watch industry. A watch was only allowed to be called "chronometer", if it had received an official certification by an independent test office. 1952, the International Commission for the coordination of the work of chronometric observatories established that a chronometer was a precision watch that was regulated in different positions and at different temperatures in order to obtain a official certification."

bidfun-db Archive: Watch Movements: LeCoultre 478

JLC 470 - Watch Wiki: The Best Watches and Watch Brands
 

Eldhus

Registered User
Feb 13, 2020
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Thank you both for the replies -

gmorse, perhaps I spoke incorrectly when I called it my "daily wearer". I do wear it regularly, but NEVER in a situation where it could get dirty or banged. For gardening, exercizing at the fitness center, fishing, etc., I REALLY have a daily wearer (- a beater really) - an old Timex Indiglo quartz that has the chrome coming off yet still keeps on ticking.

As far as it keeping time when it was first serviced, I have had to daily adjust the time right from the beginning, it's only recently I decided to address that issue.

So - any suggestions on good service people for it?
 

gmorse

NAWCC Member
Jan 7, 2011
12,837
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Breamore, Hampshire, UK
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Hi Eldhus,

As far as it keeping time when it was first serviced, I have had to daily adjust the time right from the beginning, it's only recently I decided to address that issue.
That rather points the finger back to the initial service don't you think? If that resulted in a losing rate, you really should have returned it to them straight away. I don't suppose they offered any sort of guarantee of their work? Anyway, it's very good to hear that you don't expose it to unnecessary risks during wear.

As you can see I'm a long way away from you, and I have no direct experience of any watchmakers on your side of the pond, but I'm sure that other members here will be able to recommend some reliable repairers. You should be prepared to have to pay a little more than just for a quick adjustment.

Regards,

Graham
 

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