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I am just wondering what kind of watch would be good for me starting out as a complete beginner and not knowing very much about watches. I having been looking on eBay but not knowing what I'm looking for.

Help would be much appreciated 

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I agree. Pocket watches, mechanical alarm clocks and desk clocks are good, as they have nice big components and are less likely to be damaged.

 You might also like to look on ebay for the really cheap basket case hand wind watches, or perhaps some second hand Chinese mechanicals.

The big skeleton movement Chinese manuals and automatics come up regularly, and I've picked up a couple of the last few months for less than £4.00 each. Citizen and Seiko manual winds and automatics are another option, but they tend to be slightly more pricey.

Also worth considering are Indian HMTs which are a bit of a favorite of mine can be had for a few quid. The ones with the most hideous repainted dials from India, often go for rock bottom prices.  The HMT manual and HMT automatic watches  are clones of some of the good quality Citizen movements, and they are pretty robust mechanisms to play about with. Quite forgiving, and not much money if you come a cropper while learning on them.  

Edited by AndyHull

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Hi Callum   As already mentioned anything you can pick up for a pound or two, preferably time only movements, no day date movements as this adds complications, better to understand the basic movement first then progress as the confidence improves. The criteria being that if you mess up there in no great damage done. We have all been there and done our fair share of cockups!. More to the point gather the best you can afford now and replace with better ones as time goes on. welcome to the world of Horology. 

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My advice is to purchase cheap watches sold as "for repair" on eBay. You will learn awful lot trying to bring them back to life and if it all goes wrong you still have them for spares. 

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All sound advice and I particularly second Andy, the HMT watches are simple 17 jewel hand wind citizen clones, nicely made and good to work on. (A favourite of mine).

They're plentiful and cheap on eBay, don't forget to trawl car boots and such. They're not as common these days as most watches are cheap quartz junk but occasionally you do find a mechanical fixer upper.

Pocket watches are great starter movements. The bigger the better.

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So pocket watches are the the best for starting and learning the basics then progressing up to bigger watches. 

I was also wondering wether you can do custom pocket watches (swapping out the parts to better and more technical parts) 

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I picked up a naked Chinese copy of an ETA 6498 pocket watch movement off of eBay for ~$40US.  Followed that up with a Chinese ETA 2824 clone movement for the same price.  Then a genuine Miyota 8215 for ~$30US.

Now I'm sourcing dials, cases, and hands and turning them into functional watches.

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9 hours ago, Callum281 said:

So pocket watches are the the best for starting and learning the basics then progressing up to bigger watches. 

Well, progress to SMALLER watches.

The dirty little secret is that mechanical watches are actually NOT all that complex of machines.  What they are is TINY.  A pocket watch movement will be ~50% larger than a wristwatch movement.  So it's easier for a beginner because the parts are larger.

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Do the best with having cheap Chinese movements...  They are on eBay or AliExpress...  You can be a professional with these and Mark's videos only for $400... This is my personal cost but I don't think it would be changed so much for anyone... Then you can try on Seiko and Citizen movements like me...  

You can also find cheap chronograph movements on eBay for $120-130 ...

 

 

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I started by getting a few of these kinds of job lots on eBay and starting a scrap collection. And just have fun with them. I've actually never touched a pocket watch. I jumped in at the deep end. Sometimes you find really cool things in these job lots that you end up wanting to restore. It's addictive!

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I actually dove right in, when I first started. My first watch was an 8215, serviced it and adjusted it over and over again LOL....until I got to close to text book on 3 axis. I also have serviced or repaired just about every family members' watch..lol. Then I felt encouraged so much so I bought an ETA 2824-2, dial, hands, crown, stem and case all from German and Swiss sources. Mark's videos helped me along and I built my first from parts. That is now with my dad and he loves it. It is big with high contrast dial and hands. He put away his constellation Rolex (primarily because he can't see it without glasses). The 2824-2 keeps such good time, my dad hardly ever adjusts it. He winds it  and most of the time it winds itself just fine.

I have since built 5 of the above mentioned with different cases, dials, hands, crowns and bands. I am now at a point where I am machining my own dial blanks in my workshop. Working towards finding ways to create my own custom dials with water transfers, laser etching, chemical etching...etc tying to find the best results. Soon I want to try out the Sellita movements, they are cheaper than genuine ETA and from what I hear work just as well.

20190118_215204.jpg

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If you want to do wristwatches, keep it simple , no day or date . just the basic three hand movement. All manually wound watches operate on the same principles.So look for ones that are cheap and complete.All stainless steel , screw down back cases are a plus. watches that are advertised as "over wound " are usually good candidates for service. They have generally stopped due to lack of lubrication.As far as movements go AS 1187  or AS/ST 1686 movement watches are cheap , plentiful and robust. As mentioned HMT watches are similar and they come with a sturdy case.Another citizen based watch is the caravelle by bulova  the 11dp movement and the HMT movement are virtual clones but the cases are lousy. Don't buy a watch where the seller does not show you whats inside.  Pay careful attention to the pictures to see that there are no obvious missing parts and pay particular attention to the hairspring. If it looks like a bowl of spaghetti, pass it by.

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