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Third day of Watchmaking – Pocket Watch Goodness

by aimeri

I have to start this post by apologizing for not having pictures to show. I’ve had the chance to work with some very nice pocket watches this past weekend and I wish I could share them with you guys. I will try to take pictures of them next weekend if my mentor have not finished working on them yet.

With that out of the way, let’s start the real post:

If you have been following my adventures on learning the art of watchmaking you should know that last time I tried it was not really all that great. Springs being lost, and frustration all around. Well, thanks to MikeTheWatchGuy I’ve started using a piece of pegwood to hold the spring in place while removing it from the movement and lo and behold, I’ve not lost one spring at all this weekend! Thank you very much for the tip!

What my mentor had me doing this weekend was taking apart a few pocket watches that he wanted to clean and service, and he thought that it would be a good opportunity for me to learn about Railroad Grade pocket watches. And learn I did. I took apart 4 pocket watches, without losing or scratching any part of the movement! I worked on a Hamilton, an Illinois Watch Co. and two others that I can’t remember the name, but where the old type, with what looked like two decks. I find it hard to explain, but they had two levels, like if the bridges were raised by very tall screws. After doing that I started cleaning the movements with the cleaning machine, and we ordered two mainsprings, one for the Hamilton and one for the Illinois Watch Co. but the other two are too old, my mentor said, and he will have to do some research to see if he can find suitable mainsprings for them. By then it was really close to 3 so we were about to wrap up for the day, but my mentor decided that I had time to take apart two Hamilton wrist watches, the smaller ones so he could start cleaning them for another time.

Taking all those watches apart was really fun and I barely noticed the time flying by, and the only time I even wanted to stop was to listen to my mentor’s lessons about the history of the safety pin on the railroad grade pocket watches.

On our next session my mentor will start teaching me about oiling and I keep asking the names of all the parts but it is hard to remember, so we might touch on that again too. One thing that I am sure of is that I am getting much more comfortable dealing with the tweezers and all the small parts on a watch.

I will definitely try to get pictures of the movements I am working with and the brands and models too.

4 Comments

  1. Posted October 10, 2009 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    Needless to say, I was shocked to see my name when reading this blog entry. I actually helped someone that’s taking a real course?? Your instructor didn’t use this tip? I figured it out on my own and never saw it in the dozens and dozens of books I’ve read.

    You can call it the “WatchGuy spring handling technique” :-)

    I am eager to hear comments on how to put springs back in place, in particular the setting spring as it has the most tension compared to the click. I use pegwood for that one too since the spring often springs out and spins around the pegwood as I try to slide 1 leg of the spring into place.

    I have not tried using my bent needles, some rather large, to help with this insertion. Perhaps that would help. I do use a 90 degree bent needle to remove a click spring. Put the pegwood in place and use a small bent needle to pop one of the legs up. Works every time for me and I still haven’t lost a spring this way yet.

    I’m happy I was able to contribute something to a real watchmaker’s education.

  2. Posted October 13, 2009 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    MikeTheWatchGuy: Well, this is the beauty of this blog! Everybody helps everybody and this way we keep on moving forward and learning new things. As soon as I learn more about putting springs back, I will write about it. Unfortunately it may take some time. I think I won’t be able to see my mentor for the next month. :(

  3. Posted October 13, 2009 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    If I may suggest, check out this ebay seller:

    http://stores.shop.ebay.ca/Watchpartsrus__W0QQ_armrsZ1

    I’ve bought a couple watches from him. He has quite a few project watches that are decent price.

  4. Posted June 21, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    I would love to see some of the pocket watches you’ve collected or worked with over the years. Maybe post a few photos on CollectorsWeekly.com’s free new Show & Tell feature?

    http://www.collectorsweekly.com/stories/new?c=pocket-watches/

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