Home Continuing Series Historical Horology Historical Horology: Repairing A Watch

Historical Horology: Repairing A Watch




One nice thing about our watch “hobby”, specifically with the mechanical side of things, is that it’s an old one.  This is why you can get a book that was originally published in 1948 and reissued today, and still learn practical and valuable lessons.As you can tell by the graphic up there, the book is Watch Repairing as a Hobby by D.W. Fletcher (Amazon link).  While this book was published over 60 years ago, there are still some valuable things you can learn – even if you don’t ever plan to take your watch apart.

This is in large part because Fletcher, prior to getting into the aspects of how to a actually do a repair, takes the time (well, as much as you can in a 60-some page book) to walk you through how the movement itself works.  Once that understanding is down, he goes into some of the problems that can occur (most likely dirt), and how to go about fixing them.

And when it comes to fixing, he walks through ways that aren’t going to required massive amounts of specialized tools – just some basic tools and supplies you may already have, or could probably come up with fairly affordably.

For me, it was an enlightening, and quick, read.  And while I’m not quite ready to take apart one of my own watches, there is a part of me that’s tempted to pick up some cheap mechanical from eBay to see if I can get it apart and back together, without any bonus pieces left on the bench.

What do you, our readers, think?  Would you ever take apart your own watch for maintenance?  Or, if you have gone this route, is there a particular watch (or movement) you’d recommend to a newbie (like me) as being easier to work on?  Let me know in the comments, or in an email.

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  1. Not long ago I decided to ramp things up a bit (not enough stress in my life, I guess). I wanted to put together my own watch. I practiced (unsuccessfully a few times) on some cheap pocket watch movements from ebay. That’s where I would start. I then moved on to a cheapo $25 Chinese watch. From there I bought an ETA 2824-2 movement and all the parts I needed. I’m actually wearing the watch I built today. The first few times working on a movement will drive you near insane (though you probably already are if you are even considering doing it), but it does get exponentially easier!

  2. My dad had a Rado diastar that stopped working. Movement was a 2824 i think, found many similar looking movts, so im gusessing. Anyways, got some basic tools, opened it up and started disassembling it ! no training, no book, no guidance. Just logic and careful removal. FIXED IT ! and couldnt feel better about myself !

  3. Yeah, starting w/ larger stuff helps. Also, pay really really close attention to where each part is precisely placed. You can put something back together, but one little misalignment and you’re back to the drawing board. I took a picture of every step with my phone. That helped, but I still messed up once. The date wheel click looked like it was at the same level as the wheel, but there was a part of it that rested below. Didn’t know until I had to redo it twice!

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