To repair, or not to repair.

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by Joseph Short, Jul 1, 2019.

  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  1. Joseph Short

    Joseph Short Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Oct 9, 2010
    383
    67
    28
    Male
    Systems engineer
    Framingham Mass.
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    I was given this Southbend grade 215, model 2, serial number 569986.
    It is obviously missing the click, and maybe more that remains unseen.
    But I am in love with the damasceen pattern, and it's in a nice Sterling silver case.
    The dial isn't in perfect condition, and I could possibly find another movement to put in the case.
    What are the deciding factors when considering the restoration of a watch?

    1557079811085.jpg 1557079834850.jpg 1557079857136.jpg 1557079876619.jpg
     
  2. Rick Hufnagel

    Rick Hufnagel Just Rick!
    NAWCC Member Donor Sponsor

    Oct 25, 2018
    1,053
    1,269
    113
    Male
    Plumber
    Pittsburgh pa
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    It's hard to say untill you open it up and check it over. I'd say availability of parts and cost of labor are deciding factors, weighed against how great your desire for the watch is.

    It might just need a click.
    It also might need a click, balance staff, Bal hole jewels, and 6 train jewels.

    You just can't tell without inspecting it.

    If you like it, and it's going to bring you enjoyment for some time to come, at least check it out. I don't know anything about south bend, but it looks to be a nice watch. Love the case!
     
  3. Joseph Short

    Joseph Short Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Oct 9, 2010
    383
    67
    28
    Male
    Systems engineer
    Framingham Mass.
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    The watch was given to me by a family member, and no history about it is known, so the sentimental value is not there.
    I don't think that there is any historical value or added horological interest associated with the movement either.
    But I do really like the way the movement is damasceened, and the pattern of the lettering/engraving as well.
    Might just be easier to find a decent running movement of the same grade and swap it onto the case.
     
  4. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
    NAWCC Member Sponsor

    Jan 12, 2017
    4,249
    1,775
    113
    New York State
    Country Flag:
    This is the $10,000.00 question, does it make sense to restore a watch.

    I have spent more money on some of my watches than it would cost to buy
    a nice running example in the first place(with money left over).
    Would I do it again? No in some cases, other watches I would absolutely do it again.


    If you find a parts movement for your watch, I would assume it wouldn't
    be too hard to have your watch brought back to life. Will it cost more
    than it's worth, probably but sometimes the process is part of the enjoyment.



    Rob
     
  5. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Mar 2, 2012
    1,463
    489
    83
    Male
    Scientist
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    What are the deciding factors when considering the restoration of a watch?

    They're all pretty much personal preference.

    First question is, "How much do I like this watch?" Do I find myself WANTING to have it back up and running? Do I find myself going back to look at it?

    Second question is, "Is there anything special about it?" Like, for instance, a really nice case and no other screw marks? Then it's likely original and that may warrant restoration.

    Third question is, "How bad is it?" How many things are wrong with it? Are any of them beyond my capabilities? If so, do I like the watch enough to pay a pro to do the work?

    There's no hard and fast answer to this. It all depends on factors that are unique to the individual. I spent an entire day working on a completely ordinary 7j, 18s Elgin pocket watch movement of which hundreds of thousands were made over 20 years, and I still don't know why I did. It's nothing special in any way. And it was THE DIRTIEST movement I'd ever seen. It was like it had been lubed with a combination of candle wax and axle grease.

    I'm not sure I've helped your decision, but that's how it goes.
     
  6. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Mar 2, 2012
    1,463
    489
    83
    Male
    Scientist
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    My PERSONAL opinion is that you have an attractive, fairly high-grade movement, in an uncommon sterling silver case that's in great shape and MIGHT be original (can't see other screw marks), and overall appears to be in pretty good shape. In your shoes, I'd repair it, and keep it. But I really like the color of sterling silver...
     
  7. John Cote

    John Cote Director
    Director NAWCC Member

    Aug 26, 2000
    4,003
    359
    83
    Photographer
    Midwest USA
    Country Flag:
    Adding to what GeneJockey said above as perhaps a 4th factor...How much can you buy a nice working example for as compared with how much it would cost to fix it.
     
    Christopher Burris likes this.
  8. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Mar 2, 2012
    1,463
    489
    83
    Male
    Scientist
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Adding to what John said, remember that the 'nice working example' probably needs service, too.
     
  9. Peter John

    Peter John Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Sep 4, 2018
    268
    93
    28
    Male
    Watch and clock repair
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    #9 Peter John, Jul 3, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2019
    And with the ‘nice working example ‘ you don’t have the satisfaction of being able to say ‘I brought this trashed, non-descript watch back to life’. There is a really deep sense of accomplishment in this. I have done both, replace with working example, and bring something that is really not worth much back to life. I have a greater sense of satisfaction with the latter. I would try to repair this watch. Peter
     
    Rick Hufnagel likes this.
  10. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
    NAWCC Member Sponsor

    Jan 12, 2017
    4,249
    1,775
    113
    New York State
    Country Flag:
    I agree, "there is a really deep sense of accomplishment in this."


    Rob
     
  11. Ethan Lipsig

    Ethan Lipsig Registered User
    NAWCC Gold Member

    Jan 8, 2006
    1,787
    545
    113
    Pasadena
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Joseph, I don't know whether you have the skills to restore this watch yourself. If you do not have those skills (skills I lack), you would have to pay someone to restore the watch for you, If so, you almost certainly would spend more than the restored watch will be worth. You might not have Rob's or Peter's "deep sense of accomplishment" merely for having paid for restoration; I wouldn't.

    You might have a hard time finding a professional watchmaker to undertake the project. They are getting scarce. Competent watchmakers generally prefer routine projects that aren't likely to present unexpected problems or require hard-to-find parts because they find it hard to charge enough to make such projects worth taking on if they can fill their workdays with less troublesome or more remunerative undertakings.

    You asked for the "deciding factors" in favor of restoring a watch. I'd say go ahead with the restoration if (a) you can do the work yourself, would enjoy doing it, and you don't care whether restoration is economically worthwhile, (b) the watch had significant sentimental value (which you say it does not have), (c) it likely would be the best example you can get of something that would be an important component of your collection, or (d) it is a scarce and highly collectible watch.

    As to the last point, I understand South Bend 215s to be near the lower end of South Bend's 16-size range and not railroad grade. I think they are little sought by collectors. Your watch, if restored, will never again be all original, something serious collectors want, nor will it be a pristine example (e.g., the dial has an aged patina). If you really want a South Bend 215 for your collection, I strongly suspect better examples that don't need restoration will regularly turn up on the market at modest prices.
     
    Joseph Short likes this.
  12. Peter John

    Peter John Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Sep 4, 2018
    268
    93
    28
    Male
    Watch and clock repair
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    I agree with all of that. I was assuming that the OP would be doing the restoration themselves. If someone else needs to do it the ‘deep sense of accomplishment ‘ is not really there for them. I think that is the difference between collecting or accumulating and being part of personally bringing back the past. Peter
     
  13. Joseph Short

    Joseph Short Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Oct 9, 2010
    383
    67
    28
    Male
    Systems engineer
    Framingham Mass.
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Well, in all honesty, I have just enough skill in this area to make a bad situation into a horrendous situation. So I would not attempt a restoration project on my own.
    But I would truly love to learn how to properly clean and repair my watches...
     
  14. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Mar 2, 2012
    1,463
    489
    83
    Male
    Scientist
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    You'll find lots of good advice on this in the Watch Repair forum, as well as other forums. As far as getting started, best thing to do is READ! You can get ahold of the Bulova Watchmakers School course book on Ebay, and you should also find the Chicago Watchmakers School book there, in PDF form. The more you read and understand before turning a screw, the better.

    But speaking of turning screws, Bulova and Elgin watchmaking schools back in the day started their students out just unscrewing large plate screws, manipulating them with tweezers, returning them to their place and screwing them down again to train the hands to the kind of dexterity needed for watch repair. The first 5 lessons of the Elgin course, if I remember correctly, only got you as far as removing and replacing the balance and balance cock in a 16s movement.

    So, my suggestion would be to pick up a nonrunning 12s or 16s pocket watch movement, preferably 15j (because the pivots go back in jeweled holes more easily), and start the same way. Make sure you know how to let the power down, if the mainspring isn't already broken! And don't skimp on tweezers, screwdrivers, or magnification!
     
  15. Joseph Short

    Joseph Short Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Oct 9, 2010
    383
    67
    28
    Male
    Systems engineer
    Framingham Mass.
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Genejockey, thank you for the great advice. I have actually begun in a very similar manner.
    I have some practice movements, and a few pairs of nice tweezers, proper screw drivers. Several books, and even a set of DVDs on watch repair
    My only problem now, is time. Ironic, isn't it...
     
  16. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Mar 2, 2012
    1,463
    489
    83
    Male
    Scientist
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Finding a stretch of several hours, with no interruptions, nothing else to do, and with yourself alert and focused but relaxed is difficult anymore.
     
    johnbscott likes this.
  17. Rick Hufnagel

    Rick Hufnagel Just Rick!
    NAWCC Member Donor Sponsor

    Oct 25, 2018
    1,053
    1,269
    113
    Male
    Plumber
    Pittsburgh pa
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    The first movements I did were 12s, 7 jewel elgins. Took them apart, cleaned and oiled and reassembled. Many times over. That third wheel still gives me problems going back together sometimes!! Anyways, it takes a while to get used to tweezers and magnification. I built a little paper wall around my table at first to keep parts that shot out of my tweezers at light speed from landing who knows where. After a while it becomes second nature to pick up and manipulate parts with tweezers. Just takes practice.

    Best advice I got is pretty much what genejocky said above. Don't cheap out on tools, and don't start by working on something you care about.... Because your probably going to break it.

    It's rewarding for sure. The first time I dropped the balance back into one of those little 12s elgins and it took off running.... That was a grand day. Still have the watch, I'm sure there's a quart too much oil in it, and its not very accurate, but it was an achievement!

    Good luck!

    IMG_20190703_170850188.jpg IMG_20190703_170938521.jpg
     
    johnnypocket likes this.
  18. johnbscott

    johnbscott Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Feb 25, 2007
    347
    165
    43
    Male
    Country Flag:
    With this I thoroughly agree.
     
  19. topspin

    topspin Registered User

    Dec 14, 2014
    1,308
    91
    48
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    I vote for getting it fixed up. The dial, movement and case are all lovely.
    Might want to start by buying up a spares movement, especially if its winding wheels are in good condition.
     
  20. Joseph Short

    Joseph Short Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Oct 9, 2010
    383
    67
    28
    Male
    Systems engineer
    Framingham Mass.
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    I am a little concerned about what might be, or not be between the plates.
    The watch came with a tiny wheel that looks almost like it would fit in where the click should be. This gear is loose in the case. So, perhaps another movement of the same type would be my best option.
     

Share This Page