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quantieme

Why does this barrel say do not open

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Hi all, I have strippedDown a vintage zodiac mystery watch to service it, someone had flooded it with oil but I’ve come across this written on the spring barrel, do not open, obviously by the state of it it needs to be opened for the spring to be cleaned or replaced but why would it say do not open what is likely to happen.?

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Edited by quantieme
Forgot to add pictures

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Theoretically these were sealed "for life" hence the do not open warning.

I've seen it on Zodiacs but I believe there were others that had such mainsprings...

I'm curious so know whether they are, indeed, good for prolonged periods of time (decades) or did they still replace them every 5-10 years.

Also, if you open one, can you close it back safely ?

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1 hour ago, Chopin said:

Theoretically these were sealed "for life" hence the do not open warning.

I've seen it on Zodiacs but I believe there were others that had such mainsprings...

I'm curious so know whether they are, indeed, good for prolonged periods of time (decades) or did they still replace them every 5-10 years.

Also, if you open one, can you close it back safely ?

Yes ,that’s what I would like to know, so do I open it or not, judging by the state of the watch it has never been serviced and  actually when you look at the lid of the barrel the outer edge of the barrel looks to have been folded tightly over the lid so I think unless Someone tells me differently I’m going to leave it. I hate doing that but I can’t take the risk that like you say  will the lid go back on.

BD7698C0-8CD8-437B-9BB0-5ADEDD442307.jpeg

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I'm not familiar with these watches, but as a guess I would say they are like Seikos, that is the consider the complete barrel a sealed unit that should be replaced each service, but as you cant get new barrels that idea no longer works.

Wait for someone else to confirm but I'm betting there is nothing special about the barrels.

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As far as I know watchmakers would just replace them entirely but as Tmuir points out, this is difficult in modern times because a new mainspring barrel might not fit.

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Some barrels that says do not open but  can be open . Some don't . Zodiac is one of them. The walls are som thin they will break if you try.  And they slant inwards to grip the barrel wall. Trust me i have tried. One problem is that they are rare as a chicken teeth. 

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Here is my tuppence worth. Clean the rest of the watch, re-fit the barrel. See if it works. If so... stick. If not, then, and only then look at how to open the barrel in a non destructive manner. If that is not possible, then you would need to start hunting down those hens for their teeth.

The only "technical" solution I can think of and this is a worst case solution, if you have absolutely no other option,  would be to very carefully drill two tiny holes in the face of the barrel with a spade drill,  to allow you to flush it out with cleaning fluid, then add a couple of drops of oil. That way you get some cleaning done without killing the thing.

Edited by AndyHull

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13 minutes ago, AndyHull said:

Here is my tuppence worth. Clean the rest of the watch, re-fit the barrel. See if it works. If so... stick. If not, then, and only then look at how to open the barrel in a non destructive manner. If that is not possible, then you would need to start hunting down those hens for their teeth.

The only "technical" solution I can think of and this is a worst case solution, if you have absolutely no other option,  would be to very carefully drill two tiny holes in the face of the barrel with a spade drill,  to allow you to flush it out with cleaning fluid, then add a couple of drops of oil. That way you get some cleaning done without killing the thing.

I agree with the first part but not with the second. Isn't said or even likely that the barrel is dirty inside. And if you drop some oil inside I'm afraid it will go anywhere not just where it should, according to very old school, a minimal amount on top and bottom only.

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2 hours ago, jdm said:

I agree with the first part but not with the second. Isn't said or even likely that the barrel is dirty inside. And if you drop some oil inside I'm afraid it will go anywhere not just where it should, according to very old school, a minimal amount on top and bottom only.

Indeed, hence my assertion that the idea was an absolutely worst case option. If the spring feels tight/gritty/dirty and gives poor performance, and you have no way of opening it, that isn't going to destroy it anyway.

If you have nothing to loose, and all other options are exhausted, then it might be worth a try. Otherwise, if it 'aint broke, don't fix it.

Edited by AndyHull

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The upper edge of the barrel wall is ‘spun’ over the cap making removal not as easy as conventionally fitted caps. That said not impossible to remove. The difficulty arises when you need to reassemble. Should be possible in a lathe, using a raced bearing or piece of brass to spin back in place. From what you say about if being flooded with oil, it would seem the mainspring needs cleaning at least or maybe even replacing. Do you have access to s lathe? Regards


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Sorry for late replie but i have been Away at a Watch fair.  every dealer I spoke to about that watch even ones that had that particular model said don’t touch it. I have taken Seiko barrels apart before and replaced the springs no problem at all but they’re just a normal barrel this one has definitely been peened over . I do have a lathe but still don’t fancy doing it and I know from searching that that barrel is obsolete so l am sticking with my original plan, I have cleaned it all and will just put it back together and see if it runs ok. If it doesn’t I will seriously consider taking the barrel apart but m1ks I think it is a battle I might lose.

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Sorry for late replie but i have been Away at a Watch fair.  every dealer I spoke to about that watch even ones that had that particular model said don’t touch it. I have taken Seiko barrels apart before and replaced the springs no problem at all but they’re just a normal barrel this one has definitely been peened over . I do have a lathe but still don’t fancy doing it and I know from searching that that barrel is obsolete so l am sticking with my original plan, I have cleaned it all and will just put it back together and see if it runs ok. If it doesn’t I will seriously consider taking the barrel apart but m1ks I think it is a battle I might lose.

Sounds like a good plan to me. At least you know how to open / close if you have to.


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Still working and keeping good time.
2244F0DA-73AA-4A0D-80D1-2A235BA9E43F.thumb.jpeg.688fd17b77050f575bd8bc60a17897a0.jpeg
061DEA85-3753-4B6C-B2BC-C05C3C86CC8B.thumb.jpeg.5bacd4d9bf0069bac3e08a89063c94f8.jpeg
C0A6B5E6-8936-452E-A3C8-328B5BAD8718.thumb.jpeg.c2bcc9336c73a4d97a15aef4d500adc8.jpeg

Those indicators (I’m reluctant to call them hands) are certainly a bit different. Very interesting watch! Thanks for sharing the photos.


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On 5/20/2019 at 4:41 PM, AndyHull said:

Re-fitting the hands must be an "interesting" process.

they are just plastic discs and you just line them up as you would normal hands but they were a nightmare to refit and try and keep level, the hour one was loose on the pinion and i had to tighten the hole and i spent a good hour on the seconds disc as there was only a gap of about 1mm between that and the minute disc before i realised that i was fitting it upside down DOH! hence no gap because there is about a 3mm gap between each disc to make sure they do not rub together and that is why the watch is so deep about 15mm. i wasnt happy with the rotor because it was very black and pitted but that was the best i could clean it. on the whole it didnt turn out to bad considering the state it was in originally .

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Balance complete made life easy for the repairman plus better results technically.

Barrel complete made life luxurious for the producers and lets be honest to ourselves, better results techically.

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