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How does your watchmaker sign his work?

by Jordan Ficklin

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As a watchmaker I strive to leave no marks in a watch. It is always my goal to return a watch to a state that is like new. Some watchmakers will scribe a repair mark in the case back. Other watchmakers use a permanent marker to write inside the case back. I leave nothing. But the subject of this post is actually the unintentional marks that a watch repairer leaves inside a watch to let you know they have been there.

The following images come from a single watch. This watch had been “repaired” less than 6 months before the customer brought it to me. It was making a funny noise. It seemed to me that the oscillating weight was hitting the bridges and case back. The prior “repairer” supposedly had replaced the oscillating weight axle. The watch needed a full service at significant cost due to the damage caused by the condition of the axle.

This is why the weight was hitting the bridges and the caseback. The axle should be a straight cylinder at the top but you can see that a large step has been carved into it.

This is what carved the step. This jewel should be clean and clear but it is not. It probably came out of some old pocket watch. Why did they take it out of the old watch, because it was no good. Why did they put it in this watch? I guess they didn’t have the patience to get a new jewel. They cost about $5.00 and are readily available. Even if you don’t have access to Rolex parts, jewels are pretty much jewels.

The inside surface of this jewel should be a mirror polish but it has a deep jagged crater which acts as a ruby saw (almost as hard as a diamond saw) cutting through the steel with no trouble.

And here is another signature of this fine repair person. When the oscillating weight is installed there is a clip that rests here holding it in place. To remove the clip you should use a plastic stick or a piece of wood to slide it out of the way. You can remove it with tweezers as well if you are careful, but this deep of scratches and this quantity is the work of someone who doesn’t even care if they leave a scratch on the watch. It’s obscene!

So, how does your watchmaker sign his work? You may never see it but hopefully he is careful and considerate. Hopefully he takes the time to do the job right so that he doesn’t damage your cherished timepiece. Please, seek out professionals, for your watch’s sake.

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