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To oil or not to oil . . .

by Jordan Ficklin

That is the question when talking about pallet arbors. I was trained in the tradition that unless you are dealing with an extremely humid climate and a dust-proof case then the answer is no, you don’t oil pallet arbors. You really want the pallet arbor to be as free as possible to rock back and forth.

For those who oil pallet arbors I understand that an extremely light film is applied to the arbor as a rust preventative more than as a lubricant.

Whether you are a believer of oiling pallet arbors or not the following photo is NOT the way to do it.

You may want to click on the photo to get the full effect. What you see here is oil in the pallet arbor sink and flowing up on top of the pivot. Also you’ll notice oil on the top of the pallet fork. Whoever serviced this watch last used enough oil on the pallet arbor to take care of most of the gear train.

5 Comments

  1. Joe
    Posted January 8, 2012 at 4:22 am | Permalink

    Ive heard that the japanese actually designed their watches and calculated the mainsprings with an oiled pallet fork pivot. Im curious to know if thats true or not.

    In any case, lol @ photo :P

  2. J.Peter
    Posted January 8, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know a whole lot about Japanese movements, but the technical guide for the 7S26/36 does show oiling the pallet arbor.

  3. Posted January 9, 2012 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    I learned never to oil a anchor arbor. Unless a tech spec says so, which is not the case for the Swiss manufactured movements I know: ETA series, AS, PE, Landeron, Valjoux etc, Neither a French one I know: HP.

  4. J. Mitterando
    Posted January 10, 2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    My Teacher (Read Grandfather) Taught me to NEVER oil pallet arbors. I don;t know about Japanese movements either. Although I suppose if the tech specs call for it then it should be done. On a side note, @ J.Peter, LOVE how you named the image file “Butcher”!! :)

  5. David
    Posted July 21, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Just a question of time before that oil migrates into the fork, which will _kill_ the amplitude, killing the reserve de marche. About the “film” to prevent rust, might as well just clean it in benzine, that will give a tiny tiny film of grease on the pivots, taking care of that.
    The only real reason why you’d oil your pivots is to cheat, i.e. you have too much amplitude and cant be bothered to pull the pallet stones out a little. Or the movement has a way to strong barrel spring, and pulling the pallets out won’t cut it, either way, you are cheating(or repairing someone elses cheat!)

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