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MrRoundel

Need crystal advice on Wittnauer Electronic case.

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Greetings all. I have been working on a Wittnauer transistorized watch, ESA9154. It is a 12 ligne with a commensurately sized case. While I don't have it running yet, I hope to soon. In the meantime, I decided to attack the case. It needed a crystal to be nice. I figured that it was friction fit so I smacked it with a plastic hammer from the back. It came out without too much force, but seemed to have left material behind, with glue, in the bezel. There is a stylized reflector sits to the inside of the crystal. It remains with the case. This seems like it's by design.

Two questions:

1.) Does anyone have any experience with the type of case? It's a Wittnauer model 6519, FWIW. ~32mm crystal diameter. 

2.) The reflector looks like it's rodium coated. Would it be harmful to it or the gold-plated bezel to soak it in acetone or DNA to soften the clue and clean the groove?

 

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Edited by MrRoundel

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I wouldn,t soak,  radium absorbs acetone or water based liquids, gets runny and spread all over the reflector.Melt the crystal remaining in the groove, with a heated needle. You should be careful not to touch the reflector with hot needle.

A screwdriver blade wide as the groove works better. Just melt and bring out the crystal in pieces, continue the same for cleaning the groove.

 

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Thanks, Nucejoe. I'll see how that works. However, since the removal you describe sounds labor intensive, I'll probably wait to see if I get the watch running first. Thanks again. Cheers.

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I've had a couple of crystals leave behind a thin plastic ring like that. I must admit I simply attacked it (carefully) with a scalpel and removed a small wedge from it, then dragged the rest out (also carefully) with tweezers.

As to rhodium, I think about the only thing I might not soak that in would be liquid mercury. It is almost completely inert, and very corrosion resistant.  However, if it turns out to be something else, aluminized plastic for example, then it may dissolve in acetone, so tread carefully.

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Whatever you do ,be patient with it.I was just playing with a transistor movement today.very simple electronics.a transistor ,two resistors ,a capacitor  two coils two magnets a battery and a switch are used to turn the balance into an electric motor. I was looking at a wittnauer on eBay today.but I think I am going to stick with Japanese movements...1.5 volts

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Thanks, AndyHull, I appreciate the tip. But since I have no idea, short of breaking a bunch of thermometers. of how to get liquid mercury, I guess I'll go the patient route. It's another case where I should have checked in before I knocked the somewhat presentable crystal out. What were they (Wittnauer) thinking anyway? I mean crystals are such a common replacement item, you'd think they would have made them more replaceable. Go figure.

And yankeedog, yes, they are fairly simple electonically. I don't know why they seem so finicky to me. I have an ESA 9150 in another Wittnauer. I cleaned it last year. I remember when I got it, I found about 3 screws stuck under the balance to the magnet(s). But for some reason screws don't seem to stick to the balance in the 9154 that is not running. I'm wondering if it's not running because someone demagnetized the magnets?

There does seem to be more than a few of these movements around that are in very good condition. One might wonder if they are in such condition because people gave up on fixing them. Perhaps after someone demagnetized the balance or something.

Is there magnetism present in the balances on these watches without a battery being installed? It sure seems like the balance in the 9154 isn't very magnetized even with a battery in it.

And yes, the batteries that these ESAs call for are no longer available. The ones they are supposed to take are 1.35V, but today you can't get anything but 1.55V. I can't help wondering if that's why my running 9150 seems to run pretty fast all the time? Cheers all.

 

Edited by MrRoundel

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Well, I tried the heated needle trick for an hour or so, but maybe got through 4 minutes of crystal edge removal. If I had 2 full work days to do it, and wasn't occasionally skipping out of the groove and scratching the rhodium, I'd have continued with that. There was no getting it to spin towards removal, as it was well glued down. However, with the movement not cooperating with its resurrection, and the eons it might take to remove what was left behind of glue and plastic, I decided to go the nuclear option.

What I couldn't tell, is how the rhodium reflector was held in. There was a very small space at the bottom that a razorblade might have fit it. However, with the way things (needles and screwdrivers) were scratching that rhodium, I decided that this too was a bad idea. So I broke out the acetone.

I knew that acetone worked well with the plastic beads used for preserving fossils, FWIW. I figured that it would eventually break down the acrylic crystal and glue, so I gave it a long soak. Unfortunately, there were some stripes that were painted on. They added to the interesting look of the watch, so I was sorry to lose them. They had looked like they were actually recesses formed in the rhodium. That's what fooled me.

Well, after that long soak, both the rhodium reflector and what was left of the crystal and glue came out nicely. I'm not happy about losing those white lines, but it really was ridiculous to have to melt the plastic away a millimeter at a time as each needle becomes a little softer with heat.

If I had it to do over again, I would probably try to get a razor blade or Exacto under the reflector to see if it would pop out. That way the white lines would be intact. Another thing one might attempt is using a heat-gun on the case, getting it very hot, but not glowing, and seeing if it softens the glue and plastic enough to get it out. Bear in mind that case will be very hot, so use something to insulate yourself from burn pain.

This particular Wittnauer case number is #6519. So if you ever get to do a crystal replace on it, you might consider using the X-acto. Just be careful, as it could easily slip and scratch the rhodium and/or slice your body part. Cheers.

 

 

Edited by MrRoundel
Typo correction

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The needle was just to give the idea. 

The amount of heat a body can contain depends on its mass.  Needle hold little heat, therefor heats up to glow and cools down quicky, a nail holds more heat, or a scrap screwdriver with the tip sharpend to get in the groove. 

Sorry for failing to mention this the first time.

 

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Thanks, Nucejoe. I did try heating a screwdriver tip. And yes, it did retain the heat for a touch longer, but not enough to make much difference. I felt my choices were destroy the rhodium reflector by scratching and prying, or do the acetone soak. Losing the minute lines is a shame, but that's life.

But seriously, what was Wittnauer thinking when they designed such a case, using a plastic crystal that's nearly non-replaceable? Had I have known of this design, I would have left the scratched up crystal in the case. But I knew it would really look good with a new crystal.

BTW, there's another of the same design for sale now on that auction site. The crystal on it is worse than mine was. It's terrible actually.  I wouldn't be surprised if owner(s) over the years took it in for replacement, and found out that nobody wanted to do it.

I don't think Wittnauer was around much longer after this watch was made. If they were becoming known for such lame designs, as far as servicing, I can see why the company went away. Thanks for all the help, folks. Cheers.

Edited by MrRoundel

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Those white lines would be tricky to re-create. I suspect they are pad printed on to the ring, since it is not flat, so silk screening is out.

You couldn't even use a laser or inkjet decal, since they are white, the one colour that laser and inkjet printers generally don't do.

The only trick I could think of would be a 3d printed disk with raised ridges, used like a pad printing stamp. Even then it would take a lot of experimenting to get it right.

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I just saw an auction for the same model watch that looks like the minute marks are gone on it as well. So I'm not the only one who had to resort to the acetone soak. It's really sad that it doesn't seem to be able to be removed safely, as it looks a lot better with the minute marks. Again, what was Wittnauer thinking? 

It may also be that people can't find the right crystal, and end up buying one that is slightly small so that requires the glue-in. It's not easy to find the crystal with the date magnifier in it. I ended up ordering one without the magnifier. It's a bit of a gamble, being that the watch still doesn't run. Cheers.

No affilation. For example only.

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On 5/20/2019 at 7:25 PM, MrRoundel said:

Thanks, Nucejoe. I did try heating a screwdriver tip. And yes, it did retain the heat for a touch longer, but not enough to make much difference. I felt my choices were destroy the rhodium reflector by scratching and prying, or do the acetone soak. Losing the minute lines is a shame, but that's life.

But seriously, what was Wittnauer thinking when they designed such a case, using a plastic crystal that's nearly non-replaceable? Had I have known of this design, I would have left the scratched up crystal in the case. But I knew it would really look good with a new crystal.

BTW, there's another of the same design for sale now on that auction site. The crystal on it is worse than mine was. It's terrible actually.  I wouldn't be surprised if owner(s) over the years took it in for replacement, and found out that nobody wanted to do it.

I don't think Wittnauer was around much longer after this watch was made. If they were becoming known for such lame designs, as far as servicing, I can see why the company went away. Thanks for all the help, folks. Cheers.

Soldering gun?

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