Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

I’ve been busy!

November 6, 2017

So I have not updated this blog in quite a while, and some have wondered if I am still in the business of repairing watches.  I am but the volume of work out there is very large so I really don’t have a lot of time to update this blog.

I do get the odd project in that is something other than just a standard service, and those tend to be watches in bad shape, like a 1978 Omega Speedmaster I received from a customer in the US.  The watch had been sitting in a drawer for over a decade and when he tried to use it, the watch would not wind or set.  It turns out that it had water get inside the case before he put it away, and that of course lead to a lot of rust.  Fortunately the rust was somewhat selective and didn’t affect the entire movement, so this one could be restored without having to replace some critical, and costly, parts.

Rather than show just a few photos of it and write a lot of text, I tried something different this time – I made a slideshow of the service, showing most of the steps involved.  It ended up being very long so I cut the time per photo to just a couple of seconds – might be too quick but you can always pause the video if you want to look at a particular photo closer.  It’s on my YouTube channel, and the link is here:

1978 Speedmaster Mechanical Restoration

I call this just a mechanical restoration because I didn’t do much in the way of cosmetic work.  The reason for that is to keep the costs down at the request of the customer, but also to preserve the history of the watch.  All the mechanical parts were assessed to see if they could be used again, required some sort of repair, or had to be replaced.  I cleaned off contamination that would cause further problems down the road.  So the movement was made fully functional and performs much better than Omega specifications call for, but other than replacing the crystal, crown, and pushers, I didn’t do anything else to the case or bracelet, like refinishing.

Hope you enjoy the video and I hope to get some time to add a few more things to this blog in the coming months.

Cheers, Al




Bringing A PAM 091 back to life

December 26, 2013

So I received this PAM 091 for service a while back, and it was in rough shape. The watch was not running, and the dial had an odd colour to it:


Here using a Panerai specific die to open the case back:

As soon as I opened the back, the familiar smell of WD40 came from inside the case – not a good sign:

I started the disassembly, noting that there was a lot of “fluid” on the movement parts, which was the WD40:

Having a closer look at the balance area, some serious issues were noted – not only is the watch full of WD40, but there are fibers all over, one leg of the Incabloc spring is not seated, and the most serious is that the balance spring is broken near the stud:

You can also see that there is wear on the automatic bridge, so the condition of the oscillating weight bearing is suspect:

So on with disassembling the watch:

The WD40 seemed to stop on the back side of the date indicator, so this is a good thing as it did not affect the paint on the indicator or seriously damage the dial:

Now completely disassembled:

Ready for the cleaning machine:

Looking at the reversing wheel, it has some serious wear on it – new one on the left compared to the one from this watch, and you can see that the teeth are nearly gone on the old one:

New mainspring installed:

Pegging all the jewels and bushings:

Now assembling the base movement:

New balance complete:

Installed and running now:

Checking timing in 6 positions:

Result looks very good:

Completing the assembly:

Dial and hands installed:

Case is cleaned, and the movement is installed into the case:

Oscillating weight bearing needed replacement:

Checking and oiling the bearing, using the damping test:

Next timing and power reserve checks:

The watch ran great, and is now back with it’s owner:

I’m not quite sure who sprayed the watch with WD40, or who was poking around inside it and damaged the balance spring, but clearly if your watch needs work, these are not things that will help it’s condition any. Anyway, thanks for looking!

Cheers, Al

From the sublime to the rusted…

December 19, 2012

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

It’s been a while

December 3, 2012

Well It has been a busy 12 months or so. The launch of the Sterling model has kept me busy filling orders, and also the servicing side of the business has been extremely busy. I have serviced some interesting watches and made some extensive repairs that I will be sharing with you all soon.

I will be setting aside some time to put together a post or two in the coming weeks.

Cheers, Al

More service work

December 8, 2010

I thought I would show a few more of the watches I have had in for servicing in the last while.

First – two vintage Rolex models.  This first one is a Royalite from the 1940’s, and in addition to a full service, the client requested that I have the hands relumed to match the lume on the dial.  Here is what the watch looked like as I received it:

I sent the hour and minute hands out, but I refinished the second hand myself.  Here is the final result:

Next up is a 1680 Red Submariner.  This watch had a few issues, including a cracked oscillating weight:

So I sourced a new weight, case tube, crown, mainspring, and did the service:

Next is one of two Zenith pocket watches I’ve serviced recently.  This one came to me with an interesting modification (bent piece of steel screwed to the barrel bridge) due to a broken ratchet wheel screw:

In the end a new barrel arbor had to be fabricated for this watch.  The end result was very nice:

Next is a vintage Omega Seamaster 300.  A very nice model with the somewhat rare arrow head minute hand.

A new crystal was installed, as well as a new case tube and crown:

The rotating bezel was restored by another party, and here is a shot my client sent me of the completed watch:

I’ve serviced a few Omega Speedmasters as well, including this MkII model:

A new dial and set of hands were installed on this watch:

Next is a modern Oris with a power reserve complication:

Now a Panerai 112 that had a broken mainspring:

The last one for this post is a vintage Tissot Navigator Chronograph:

If you have any requests regarding servicing, or about the Archer Watches line, please contact me at: (at)

Cheers, Al

Some recent service work

June 1, 2010

I thought I would show some of the wide variety of watches that I have serviced over the last few months.  All of these watches received a complete service.

First a vintage Zenith – the client requested a full service and reprint of the dial (done by a supplier):

Next a wonderful vintage Omega from the 1940’s:

A vintage ladies Glycine watch with a white gold case that was fitted with diamond and sapphire stones.  The dial was very dirty:

The end result was very nice:

Next up is a modern Oris:

And now something different – a vintage quartz watch.  This is a Seiko King Quartz that received a full overhaul:

This is a vintage Tudor hand wound watch:

This is a Sinn 856, which is equipped with a 24 hour function:

Next a Tag Kirium Chronometer:

And this is a Panerai 196 chronograph:

This Kobold diver was tested (and passed) at a pressure of 100 BAR after servicing:

I hope you enjoyed seeing a small selection of the work over the last while.  If you have any questions regarding servicing, or the Archer Watches line, please contact me at:

Cheers, Al

Aero CS Stop Seconds Video

March 5, 2010

Here is a short video to show how the stop seconds function works on the Aero CS.  To set the watch against a known time source, simply pull the crown out.  When the seconds hand reaches the 12 o’clock position, it will stop.  You can then set the minute and hour hands as needed, push the crown in to start the watch, and you are set.

If you would like more information about the Aero CS or any of my watches, please email me at:

Cheers, Al

Archer Aero CS launched

January 8, 2010

The latest model from Archer Watches is the Archer Aero CS.  This limited edition of 20 pieces builds on the very successful Aero line, adding many new features.

Case – the 42 mm diameter case is made of 316 stainless steel and features sapphire crystals front and back. The front crystal has an anti-reflective coating inside and out, and the back crystal also has this coating on the outside. The case has a brushed finish, and features a large Flieger crown for easy winding and setting (other crowns available upon request).

Movement – based on the ETA 6497 hand winding movement, this example has many additional features. First is the central seconds complication, complete with stop function at 12 o’clock. When the crown is pulled to the setting position, the central second hand will travel to 12 and stop to allow for accurate synchronization to a known time source.

The movement also features blued screws, Côtes de Genève, and rhodium plating.  Additional perlage finishing has been done to both sides of the movement as well. The crown wheel and ratchet wheel have snailing decoration added. The screwed balance is made of glucydur, and the hairspring has been upgraded to Niravox 1 quality. A Swan’s neck regulator has been added for fine adjustment of the watch’s rate.

Dial/Hands – the dial and hands feature strong Super-LumiNovA for easy reading in dark conditions.

Strap – The Aero CS is available on a brown or black 22 mm Jürgen’s pilot strap, or on an optional brushed stainless steel bracelet.

For more information on this model, please email me at

Cheers, Al



Servicing a Doxa dive watch

October 16, 2009

I recently received this Doxa Sub 600T with the complaint that the watch would not run for very long. 

Doxa 600T_0013 copy

The owner had also complained that the bracelet end link didn’t fit tight to the case on one side, and when I removed the bracelet I found out why.  The spring bar just fell apart on my bench, so very fortunate this didn’t happen while the watch was being worn:
Doxa 600T_0015 copy

Opening the case, the ETA 2824-2 is seen:

Doxa 600T_0016 copy

Here the hands and dial have been removed:

Doxa 600T_0022 copy

Now I start removing the calendar:

Doxa 600T_0026 copy

Here the winding/setting mechanism has been removed:

Doxa 600T_0027 copy

Now to the top plate, and the ratchet wheel has been removed.  I wanted to point this out as here there is a boss that is part of the barrel bridge that the ratchet wheel rides on.  You can see the black material where the green arrows are, and this is material that has worn off the boss at the spot indicated by the red arrow.  This movement can wear a great deal here so one reason why regular service is a good idea, even if the watch appears to run well:

Doxa 600T_0029 copy

Carrying on with disassembly:
Doxa 600T_0031 copy

Here the base plate has been stripped of all parts:

Doxa 600T_0034 copy

And everything is apart now and placed by function in the storage trays: 

Doxa 600T_0037 copy

But they don’t stay there long as up next is the cleaning machine:

Doxa 600T_0039 copy

Doxa 600T_0040 copy
Here I am applying the braking grease to the mainspring barrel:
Doxa 600T_0045 copy
Here the new mainspring has been installed in the barrel:
Doxa 600T_0047 copy

And the barrel is back together as a unit and set aside ready for the movement at a later time.  The next thing I do is lubricate and install the balance jewels, and install the balance to check the hairspring.  Here you can see the spring as it goes through the regulating pins, and it’s too far to the right and touching the inner pin, where it should be centered between the pins:

Doxa 600T_0052 copy

Here the spring has been adjusted, with attention being paid to the overall centering/spacing of coils from above.  This required rotating the hairspring stud and also manually manipulating the spring:

Doxa 600T_0053 copy

Now the balance is removed and the assembly can begin, so here the barrel and barrel bridge is in place:

Doxa 600T_0054 copy

More reassembly:

Doxa 600T_0057 copy

Doxa 600T_0058 copy
Doxa 600T_0059 copy
Now we are at the point where the escapement needs to be lubricated, and the pallet stone I will oil is shown in the small blue circle:
Doxa 600T_0060 copyAfter that is complete, I place the balance cock and the balance fires right up:

Doxa 600T_0061 copy

I then check and oil the reversing wheels, and assemble the bridge

Doxa 600T_0066 copy

So now to assemble the calendar:

Doxa 600T_0069 copy

Now it’s time to put this back together, so the dial and dial spacer are first:

Doxa 600T_0088 copy

Then the hands are pressed on, paying attention to the date change so that it’s within the tolerances:

Doxa 600T_0090 copy

Now the watch is cased:

Doxa 600T_0094 copy

And I install the auto-winding bridge:

Doxa 600T_0096 copy

And onto the timing machine for initial regulation:

Doxa 600T_0097 copy

Once that’s done, time to close it up and do some extended timing and power reserve tests:

Doxa 600T_0099 copy
Doxa 600T_0103 copy
Ben Debaufre_0024 copy

The next step is checking the water resistance of this watch.  For this I use 2 machines.  The first is the Witschi Proofmaster S dry pressure testing machine.  This machine is set to the dive watch program, which first subjects the watch to a -0.7 Bar vacuum, and then a +10 Bar pressure.  The watch is constantly measured to detect deflection in the case, and through those measurements determines if the watch is water resistant.  Here the watch is ready to be mounted in the chamber:

Doxa 600T_0104 copy

And here the test is complete, and I have magnified the results screen and inset it into the photo:

Doxa 600T_0106 copy copy

But we aren’t done yet.  This watch is rated to 600 m or 60 Bar, so a test at 10 Bar won’t really tell us if it’s performing as it should.  For that we use a wet testing machine.  There is some risk with this second test, as the process basically involves trying to force water into the case at high pressure:
Doxa 600T_0108 copy

The watch is placed in the holder, and then into the test chamber.  The test chamber is filled with distilled water to the very top:

Doxa 600T_0109 copy

The lid is placed trying not to allow any bubbles inside the chamber:

Doxa 600T_0110 copy

The watch is tested at a higher level than it’s rated capacity, so for a 60 Bar watch, the machine is set to 70 Bar, or just over 1,000 pounds per square inch:
Doxa 600T_0111 copy

The watch is left at this pressure for 2 hours, then I come back and lower the pressure, and remove the watch:

Doxa 600T_0115 copy

The watch is dried off and placed on a heating station that heats the watch to 47 degrees C:

Doxa 600T_0116 copy

30 minutes later, I return and place a few drops of room temperature water on the watch crystal:

Doxa 600T_0117 copy

I wait a couple of minutes and then wipe the water off.  If the watch has leaked the inside of the crystal will have fogged, but this one is clean:

Doxa 600T_0119 copy

The bracelet was mounted and the watch returned to the client.

I hope you enjoyed seeing how a modern dive watch is serviced.  If you have any questions or would like to have your watch serviced, please contact me at

Cheers, Al


July 14, 2009
Here are some before and after photos of a few watches I’ve restored.

The first example is a Youngs Jewellers model from the 1970’s.  Youngs is a chain located in Canada that sold watches under their own name at one time.  This one had the crystal replaced, the case replated, and the A. Schild 1713 automatic movement serviced.

Youngs watch before

Youngs watch before

Youngs watch after

Youngs watch after

The next example is a vintage Venus manual wind watch.  This watch had the Fontainemelon movement serviced, the crystal replaced, the dial was cleaned, and the case was chrome plated as it was in terrible condition as received.
Venus watch before

Venus watch before

Venus watch after

Venus watch after

Next up is a vintage Bulova from the 1950’s.  Many times there is a debate regarding the need or desire for having the dial of the watch refinished.  My approach to redials and case polishing/plating is to be conservative, and only perform these things if the watch is in very bad condition, or if the client specifically asks for this service.  In this case the need to have the dial done was quite evident.  For this job the case was plated, the missing crystal was sourced and installed, the missing second hand was sourced, the dial was stripped and reprinted, and the movement was serviced.  The result is quite dramatic.
Bulova watch before

Bulova watch before

Bulova watch after

Bulova watch after

This is another vintage Bulova, but this time the case was in good shape so rather than replate it, all that was required was a light polish to bring back the shine and colour.  The movement was serviced and the crystal was replaced.
Before - left                     After - right

Before - left After - right

This watch is a WWII era military watch made by Vertex.  Vertex was one of twelve makers who produced these watches under contract with the British military.  On this case the dial was in good shape, but the luminous material on the hands at the number markers was no longer glowing and the customer wanted that material to be functional.  So instead of having the watch redialed, the dial/hands were sent to have the luminous material redone.  A tint was added to the new luminous material in order to give it an aged look rather than using the bright white that is typical.  The movement was serviced and the watch looks very good after the work was done.
Vertex watch before

Vertex watch before

Vertex watch after

Vertex watch after

I hope you enjoyed this look at some watches that have been restored.  If you have any questions I can be reached at
Cheers, Al