“Why might I be writing about automobile problems?”, you ask. Well, its an analogy. We draw incredibly incorrect analogies between cars and watches all the time when it comes to service. We do it to prove a point, your watch needs to be serviced regularly even if the reasons are in fact quite different than the ones that apply to your car.
This post isn’t about regular service however, it is about when things break. If your car gets a flat tire you stop and change it so you don’t have to buy a new rim. If it makes a terrible noise you get to the mechanic as soon as possible so it doesn’t do further damage. Well, with your watch it is the same. If you feel a grinding that is different when you wind the watch, have your watchmaker check it out. If your crown comes out, take it to your watchmaker, don’t try and put it back in your self.
The following photos come from a single watch:
The setting wheel post on this caliber is known to wear. If caught soon enough the post can be turned down and a bronze sleeve installed to reduce the likelihood of further wear. In this case the post is worn too far to fit a bushing. I think it is possible (although I can’t confirm it) that incorrect service may have exacerbated the problem in this case. As the post wore the setting wheel was able to shift which would have made setting the watch more difficult.
As you can see from the “collateral damage” that it got so difficult that it broke several teeth off of one of the setting wheels and half of the teeth off of the sliding pinion, but that wasn’t enough. With all of those components all jammed up the stem pilot broke off and then the stem broke off at the threads. This allowed the crown to come out from the case.
When the crown came off in the watch owner’s hands he clearly made several attempts to screw it back in to the watch based by the number of circles carved into the mainplate around the hole for the stem.
The morale of the story is, when something in your watch just doesn’t feel right. Go visit your watchmaker and you could prevent several hundred dollars worth of damage.