Where do you start?

Discussion in 'Watch Repair' started by James J Nicholson, Jan 26, 2020.

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  1. James J Nicholson

    James J Nicholson Registered User
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    Jul 19, 2019
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    Hello All,
    I have been seriously collecting for about a year now and have a question for the members on how they got involved in the repair end of collecting, I usually buy something once a month and find it very costly to spend upwards of $400.00 every time I have a watch restored. How did you guys start out and what are the basic must have tools of the trade? I'm especially interested in how you guy's see all these little parts and screws I don't think a loupe would work for me. any insight would be most appreciated. Thanks, James
     
  2. 4mula1fan

    4mula1fan Registered User

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    A good magnifying visor, a good set of screwdrivers, and a good pair of tweezers. That gets the ball rolling.
     
  3. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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    I am going to move this good conversation to the repair section.



    Rob
     
  4. Samie Smith

    Samie Smith Registered User
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    #4 Samie Smith, Jan 26, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2020
    400.00 dollars that seems like a lot to spend if all a watch needs is cleaning and even if it needs a staff and new mainspring that is way to high a price to pay.
    As has already been posted get a good loupe ,,I myself use a optivisor more than I use a loupe get a pair of Dumont #3c and number # 5 tweezers and some bergon screwdrivers ,,there is also a lot of good books you can buy online that covers watch repair and ask questions here on the nawcc if you need help..

    I would start with 16 size watches that are 15 or 17 jewel movements these can be bought on ebay for a cheap price don't start with 7 jewel watches the best watchmaker can have trouble getting a worn out 7 jewel to run right
     
  5. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    1. Good tweezers. Cheap tweezer tips slip out of alignment and the cap jewel screw you're holding gets flicked into oblivion. You don't need new ones, but if you get used ones, as I did, you need a stone to dress the tips and a demagnetizer because they will get magnetized by a harsh word. #3 or 3C, and #5.

    2. Screwdrivers. You need them from 3mm down to 0.5 mm. You don't need to spend go for the highest quality here to start, if you have a stone to sharpen them, and you maintain them - here again the stone comes in handy.

    3. Magnification. I like my clip on loupes, because the working distance and focus work well for me, because of my....

    4. Bench. It doesn't need to be an actual watchmaker's bench! BUT you need your work surface at upper chest height, NOT at desk height! Look at any of the videos of watchmakers working - the work is IN FRONT of their faces, not BELOW. If you're looking DOWN on the work, your face is trying to occupy the same space as your tools. Also, a chest-height work surface provides rests for your arms, so all your movements are confined to wrists and fingers.

    I agree with getting old pocket watch movements in 15 and 17j, but I'd actually suggest 12s over 16s, because 16s watches are more sought-after, so the movements are more expensive. 12 are only slightly smaller, but are cheaper. Avoid 18s full plate watches like the plague! Not forever, just at first - they're tricky to take apart, but they're infuriating to put back together.

    Elgin and Bulova's watchmaker schools both started the same way - repeatedly unscrewing, removing, manipulating, and replacing plate screws. This trains the hands and eyes to the small movements and very limited force one needs to apply in watch repair. And, frankly, it will tell you whether your hands are steady enough. When I started, I was as fumble-fingered as you might imagine, tossing screws everywhere. Now, I sometimes pick up the small parts with the tweezers, and still holding them, transfer the tweezers to my left hand for placement.

    Once they'd done plate screws a while, they moved on to removing bridges and the wheels under them, and replacing them. Slowly you built up to disassembling the whole thing and putting it back together.
     
  6. Rick Hufnagel

    Rick Hufnagel Just Rick!
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    I'm with Mr. Genejocky.

    I learned to basically clean a and oil movements by picking up the items he listed, and buying a pile of 12 Elgin movements.

    It takes quite a bit of time just to get used to working with magnification.... Then trying to be comfortable picking up screws and such with tweezers without launching them Into another dimension.


    Your going to break things, do not learn on anything you care about.
     
    4mula1fan likes this.
  7. James J Nicholson

    James J Nicholson Registered User
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    Thank You for all your insight and guidance. Samie, unfortunately I live in NY, everything is way overpriced here and I am lucky just to have found someone who does this type of work and he is right smack in the middle of the Diamond Center in Manhattan. He is the only game in town even at $400.00 bucks a pop. Even the major auction houses use his services.
    Now for the most important question, How did you guys learn the basics and then the more advanced repairs? I figure back in the day I used to build engines, watches have moving parts gears and the like, I should be able to figure it out with some guidance and insight from you guys. Thanks, James.
     
  8. Chris Radek

    Chris Radek Registered User
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    Oh my, use the mail! That's way too much money.
     
  9. richiec

    richiec Registered User
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    I was a mechanic also. started out with crude pliers, auto store small scerwdrivers, 3 in 1 oil and worked my way up by buying books, reading the message board, buying catalogs, junk movements, etc. I am still a hobbyist but know better than buying a low grade, non working movement.
     
  10. topspy

    topspy Registered User
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    Also YouTube. There are tons of videos on all aspects of watch repair. Some are better than others!
     
  11. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    Books. You can get the Army's TM9-1575 Technical Manual as a free download, and there's A LOT in there!
     
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  12. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi James,

    Topspy is perfectly correct, there are tons of videos available; the problem is, knowing enough to separate the masters from the idiots! Just because someone's wearing a white lab coat doesn't necessarily mean that they know what they're talking about.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  13. heifetz17

    heifetz17 Registered User
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    I initially invested a few hundred in the proper tools. I have a large assortment of precision tweezers, a nice set of jeweler’s screwdrivers, a crystal lift, a crystal press, a movement stand, and I use an eyeglass loupe although I don’t care much for it, so I may look for a visor. Then I bought a baggie of old mechanical watches at an antique store for $8 and just started rebuilding them until I got more and more familiar. I started with smaller movements first so now when I work on larger movements like 16s it’s even easier!
     

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