Should a fusee watch be fully or partially wound?

Greg Burton

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Jan 29, 2018
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I have read two different schools of thought on how to fully wind an English chain driven watch. One is that the watch should be fully wound to provide full power. The other is that due to the age and fragility of the chain, it should be wound only 60% of the way. I’m curious what members who have collected verge and lever fusee watches think about this dichotomy of opinion.
 

gmorse

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Jan 7, 2011
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Hi Greg,

I’m curious what members who have collected verge and lever fusee watches think about this dichotomy of opinion.
If the watch has been recently overhauled and properly assessed, it can be fully wound with no more risk than any other watch of a similar age. However, if that isn't the case I would be very cautious about winding it at all! If the chain or the fusee ratchet are at all suspect it won't matter how much wind it's subjected to, it could break at any time. (I don't collect them but I've worked on a good many).

Regards,

Graham
 

aucaj

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Feb 2, 2021
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It is my experience that unless the chain is corroded; the generally only break due to mishandling or abuse. And if the watch spring is pre-tensioned too much, then a full wind might reach the end of the chain before the fusee stop. This can cause undo stress on the chain.

Usually all these watches need is a good cleaning and oiling to begin ticking with the slightest wind.
 

gmorse

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Hi aucaj,

And if the watch spring is pre-tensioned too much, then a full wind might reach the end of the chain before the fusee stop.
Surely you mean that a full wind might result in the spring being tight on the barrel arbor and unable to wind any further before the fusee stop can act?

Regards,

Graham
 

aucaj

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Feb 2, 2021
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Hi aucaj,



Surely you mean that a full wind might result in the spring being tight on the barrel arbor and unable to wind any further before the fusee stop can act?

Regards,

Graham
Yes, that is the condition I am describing.
 

CZHACK

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Apr 28, 2005
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Hi aucaj,



Surely you mean that a full wind might result in the spring being tight on the barrel arbor and unable to wind any further before the fusee stop can act?

Regards,

Graham
I have read two different schools of thought on how to fully wind an English chain driven watch. One is that the watch should be fully wound to provide full power. The other is that due to the age and fragility of the chain, it should be wound only 60% of the way. I’m curious what members who have collected verge and lever fusee watches think about this dichotomy of opinion.
I own a dozen or so carriage and skeleton fusee clocks and many fusee pocket watches. I wind them about 3/4 of a full wind and that has worked for me for the past 30 years.
 

John Matthews

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Sep 22, 2015
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Greg

Of my collection of 200+ watch the vast majority are fusee driven. I can say with absolute certainty that it is impossible to generalise. As Graham has already said it depends upon the condition of the watch. The condition is not static, changing over time depending upon both the how the watch is stored and used. You need to be able to assess the condition of the watch and make a decision accordingly - and even those with far more experience than me, begin the wind and the chain breaks! It just ain't an exact science - proceed with caution even with recently serviced examples, is my advice.

John
 

gmorse

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Hi CZHACK,

That suggests that your collection is well-maintained, and/or perhaps you don't run all of them all the time?

Regards,

Graham
 

SKennedy

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Jan 5, 2017
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Assuming a serviced watch: If I were just wanting to wind it occasionally and have it ticking away for a bit to enjoy watching/hearing it work, or to wear it just for an evening 'do' or similar then I would only half wind it. It seems unnecessary risk to strain both chain and spring to a full wind if you don't really need to.

But, obviously when they were new they were fully wound every day and expected to keep decent time between necessary cleaning. A watch in good condition ought to be capable of that same use today but then you should expect to deal with the possibility of a chain or spring breakage. These days it is more difficult to find someone to repair a fusee chain than it would have been in Victorian times so your decision may depend on how easily you could get it repaired if it needed it.

I have fusee watches that I wear from time to time and wind them fully since I want them to last 24 hours+ when I use them.
 
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CZHACK

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Hi CZHACK,

That suggests that your collection is well-maintained, and/or perhaps you don't run all of them all the time?

Regards,

Graham
Hi Graham. All the clocks are out/running and I clean/oil myself. PWs only wind/run when showing/discussing with others. Carry PW on occasion but not the fusee. Not sure why I started the 3/4 wind but like I said works for me/my collection. Semper fi.
 

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