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Modern Repair of a Vintage Watch

by Jordan Ficklin

Vintage Elgin Pocket Watch
The problem with this 18 size Elgin pocket watch was that you could set the hands backwards but not forwards. The cause was that when you pulled out the stem the rocking cam would move enough to allow the setting wheel to engage the minute wheel, but not enough for the winding wheel to disengage from the ratchet wheel. This meant that if the watch was fully wound you could not turn the crown in the winding direction to set the time.

Why didn’t it disengage? A hundred years of wear meant there wasn’t enough metal to push the cam far enough to disengage. The traditional repair would probably involve remaking one of the parts so that they interacted correctly. The modern repair involves using the laser welder to add some steel where the steel had worn down over time. The end result is a working watch.

Do you think this is a “good” repair or not? I’d like to know.

P.S. the difference in cost between the two repairs is probably several hundred dollars. It’s not inexpensive to manufacture a new part.

P.P.S. If you know what to call these parts let me know. My knowledge of nomenclature for American pocket watches is limited.

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