From the sublime to the rusted…

I have had quite a few watches come in over this last year with various problems, some that were quite serious and it was touch and go if the watch could be saved. But before we look at the bad, let’s look at some good.

Here is a vintage Longines chronograph – a thing of beauty even though the dial is a little rough:


The movement is the Longines CH 30 column wheel chronograph movement. The watch most certainly needed servicing, and in addition the minute counter jumper was bent, so the minute counter did not work properly. Here you can see it is twisted and not even engaging with the minute recorder runner:


The watch was disassembled as all watches are that come in, and here is a shot of the movement in it’s disassembled state:


Of course the blued steel mainspring was replaced with a white alloy spring. Unfortunately during the disassembly process, one of the shoulder screw snapped off (all the screws were VERY tight) and I had to soak the plate in alum to dissolve the broken screw:


I managed to find a new shoulder screw (was not an easy thing to locate) and also a new Longines white alloy mainspring. I could not locate a new minute counter jumper, so I would have to try to straighten that and hope that it didn’t snap.

Once the movement was assembled, I used the microscope to check and adjust the chronograph controls:


And since the minute counter jumper cross section is very thin like a balance spring, I used the same techniques for shaping it that I would when truing a balance spring in the flat. So #5 tweezers and careful manpulation had it back in it’s original shape, and thankfully it stayed intact.

The damage done to this jumper happened when the owner opened the watch to look at the movement, so I made a point of taking a nice macro shot so he could leave the watch closed (I hope!), and simply look at the movement photo if he wanted a reminder of what the movement looks like:


It’s quite a beautiful movement, and certainly from a time when Longines was one of the best. Here is a video that shows the movement. The video shows the movement running, and the first action is to start the chronograph. I let it run for a few seconds, and then demonstrate the Retour en vol (flyback) operation, where the chronograph can be returned to zero without first stopping the chronograph. Then the chronograph continues to run until the minute counter turns over, and then I stop and reset it.

Now going from this lovely movement to something that is at the other extreme. Some time ago I received an email from a Speedmaster Pro owner who had an unfortunate event – he went swimming in the ocean with his watch while on vacation, and did not realize that a pusher had come off the watch. The watch was flooded and due to his location, he could not do anything with it for a few days.

He sent me some photos that were not good, but regardless I agreed to at least have a look at the watch to see what could be done. Earlier this year I was sent a Seamaster chronograph with a Cal. 1164 (ETA 7750 base) that was one solid rusted mass, and for that one the only option was a brand new movement from Omega. However with this one the movement was in good enough shape I thought it could be salvaged.

The watch was shipped up, and this is what the dial side looked like when it arrived at my shop:


I removed the movement from the case, and this is what the movement looked like:


I removed the hands, and as you can see the dial has some staining from the rust – my plan was to salvage this dial if at all possible:


With the dial removed, you can see that there is a lot of rust on he dial side:


I started disassembling the movement, and the extent of the damage can be seen in the following few photos:







Before I ran the watch through the cleaning machine, I cleaned most of the loose rust off the parts. In many cases the parts that looked very rusty were brass – the movement plates are rhodium plated brass on this watch – so the rust was only sitting on the surface. I wanted to clean as much of this off as I could, but still I waited until my cleaning solutions were ready to be changed before running the movement parts through the first time (they required several trips through the cleaning machine). Here is he watch fully disassembled before the first run through the cleaning machine:


Unlike the brass plated parts, many of the steel parts were indeed rusted. This is the hammer and it required a lot of hand cleaning to remove the corrosion:


Of course not every part could be saved, so this photo shows some of the parts that had to be ordered in:


After many hours of hand cleaning, machine cleaning, and replacing parts, the base movement (without the chronograph parts in place) was ticking:


A quick check on the timing machine – my primary interest is that the balance amplitude is adequate, and it is:


Note the green film on the screen – this is a loaner machine while mine is out for regular calibration.

So now the time consuming part really starts – cleaning and installing the chronograph parts – here is the dial side completed:


With each part I used over, I had to make sure that the operating surfaces were in good condition, and after that all evidence of rust must be removed, and lastly I tried to make them look decent cosmetically – only so much can be done on these parts though:


Here is the train side with the chronograph parts installed:


The white paint on the existing hands was really stained, so the only option here is a new set of hands:


Here they are installed:


The case was very dirty, so it required cleaning and polishing the crystal:


New pushers were needed:


I also installed a new crown – here the movement is in the case and you can see the new pushers and crown:


Looks pretty good compared to when it came in:


The owner of this watch was very pleased with the end result.

Thanks again for reading my blog, and remember my main web site is here:

Cheers, Al


9 Responses to “From the sublime to the rusted…”

  1. Jason Says:

    That longines movement is beautiful, I hope to one day have a chronograph that nice!

  2. Watch Lover Says:

    The end result looks great!

  3. kimnkk Says:

    Wow, that longines is beautiful! Hard to imagine Longines put that much decoration into a movement that was to be covered up. Its no wonder the owner wanted a peek!

    Those days must be long past… i can imagine only PP and ALS and those likes would decorate a covered movement.

    Nice work on the speedy too! I have a 3750.50 speedy like that and would never go swimming with it but now i can sleep a bit better knowing there are still watchmakers that love what they do and put meticulous effort into their work! Great stuff!

  4. Seiko SKX007 Says:

    The result is great, but the process itself it’s much more Incredible!

  5. Ravi Says:

    Nice work. Thanks for Sharing the Information…

  6. Old brands vs new brands - Page 3 Says:

    […] and it's pretty apparent when looking at the older watches. Just look at this old piece. Gorgeous. From the sublime to the rusted… | Archer Watches Blog Reply With […]

  7. Matt S. Says:

    Al, You brought that Seamaster back from the dead. I enjoy reading your blog and appreciate your passion for your craft and skill. Kudos!

  8. Help identify Longines Says:

    […] maybe I should've just started with google =) From the sublime to the rusted… | Archer Watches Blog Enjoy the pics nonetheless. And my new 3777 pilot chrono. Waited three years for this one! […]

  9. Fred Hines Says:

    Loved this article, reread it several times. Please keep us in the loop. I have several old pocket watches from the early to mid 1900’s , would love to have them serviced. I hope that is something you are interested in.

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