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SSH

Art Deco Elgin Questions

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Hi all, 

I have a vintage ladies Elgin cased watch (see photos) that I'm planning to repair as a Christmas gift to my fiance. The movement works fine (runs ~7-8 hr on a wind) so all I really need to worry about are the cosmetic items. I'm not planning on touching the face, and replacing the band hoop won't be an issue. I'm a former jeweller and can do the metal work easily enough. But I have a few other questions:

Removing and installing the crystal? It appears to be plastic (it's domed) and I don't want to damage it. How should I remove it and where should I go for crystal cement?

The stem sits at an odd angle? Any way to fix this or is it a live-with situation?

Winding? I didn't feel any stop or clutch and I'm concerned about over-winding. Any guidance on care and feeding? The watch will be used as a dress up/date night accessory only.

Band? I've found some nice metal spring bands. But what about leather bands? Where can I find one if I go that route?

Thanks!

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1 hour ago, SSH said:

I have a vintage ladies Elgin cased watch (see photos) that I'm planning to repair as a Christmas gift to my fiance. The movement works fine (runs ~7-8 hr on a wind)

i think you mean "it runs", I suppos you have not tested it on a timegrapher or equivalent application, but from a watch repairer point of view, that is a must. 7-8 hours is not even nearly enough for practical usability.. In other words, if it needs to be used then mov't will need total service (full strip down) and very likely a mainspring replacement. Nobody expect performances from this type of watch but I think is reasonable and rewarding to bring them to the original specifications. Unfortunately ladies mov't are more challenging to work on due to their small dimensions, so I do not recommend you start with it, you need to do various full and medium size before.

1 hour ago, SSH said:

so all I really need to worry about are the cosmetic items. I'm not planning on touching the face, and replacing the band hoop won't be an issue. I'm a former jeweller and can do the metal work easily enough. But I have a few other questions:

Removing and installing the crystal? It appears to be plastic (it's domed) and I don't want to damage it. How should I remove it and where should I go for crystal cement?

Just don't remove unless is needed.

1 hour ago, SSH said:

The stem sits at an odd angle? Any way to fix this or is it a live-with situation?

Looks like you haven't even removed the stem? It is bent, you can try straightening it or just get a new one after the mov't is identified.

1 hour ago, SSH said:

Winding? I didn't feel any stop or clutch and I'm concerned about over-winding. Any guidance on care and feeding? The watch will be used as a dress up/date night accessory only.

It must stop when winding otherwise it wouldn't run. Normally it gets a tighter a bit before winding stop. It takes a bit of force to over-wind, which simply means you have broken something.

 

1 hour ago, SSH said:

Band? I've found some nice metal spring bands. But what about leather bands? Where can I find one if I go that route?

From the pics I can't even see if it has fixed lugs, or what. In that case you need and open ended strap.

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That's a nice little watch and definitely salvageable. You need to know what you're doing before fixing it up entirely, though.

The crown... either the stem is bent or the crown tube that the stem goes into is bent...

What do you want to to with the crystal ? Replace it or just clean/polish it ? Hypo GS cement is probably what you're after. It takes a bit to dry up and it's transparent.

Maybe you didn't wind it up to the maximum (don't do that until you've inspected and serviced the movement; it's an old watch...). Usually if there's something broken inside it won't wind at all (the mainspring will uncoil each time you wind it once you let go of the crown).

I'm guessing these came on a leather strap. You'll need one that can be installed on fixed lugs. I think they're called open ended straps.

Edited by Chopin

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Thanks for the responses:

JDM: You're right that I haven't timed it out, and "it runs" is probably a fair assessment. I'm not sure how long to expect it to run or even if I wound it fully. I was being careful and it never hit a stop or stiffened up.  I probably just stopped winding early.  Over ~8 hr it stayed within one minute of accurate, and it probably won't ever be worn for more than 4 hours so I wasn't worried about speed.  That said, I'm sure it will need professional service sometime soon, and I don't plan to do that myself.  You are correct that it's beyond my skill level.  As stated I'll only be handling the cosmetic work.  If you have any recommendations for finding a skilled watchmaker (I'm not aware of anyone left in my town since the guy that used to work in our shop passed away) that would be useful in the future.

Regarding the crystal, Doing the solder repair for the lower lug will require removal of the crystal, which is why I asked the question. I don't plan to replace it (it's in good shape), so careful removal will be required. Chopin covered the crystal cement question (thanks!). I've done plenty of crystals over the years, but primarily on modern watches.  How should I go about removing this one?  Any special tools or warnings about what not to do?

I haven't removed the stem yet.  I just pulled the watch out of my box of goodies and tested it the other day before posting.  It spins true (no wobble) so I'd lean towards Chopin's suggestion about a bent crown tube instead of a bent crown/stem, but I'll investigate over the next few days when I remove the movement. 

By "fixed lugs" I assume you mean no spring pin?  That is correct.  This is the case repair I'll be performing.  One hoop is missing so I'll be fashioning a new one and soldering it in place. The broken ends of the lug are visible in one of the pictures.  ...  I think a leather band will look best.  Any suggestions on brands/styles/sources for vintage bands?  We used to sell cheap spiedel replacements, which I never liked. Does anyone make good quality reproduction bands?

Thanks for the help everyone.

 

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12 hours ago, SSH said:

That said, I'm sure it will need professional service sometime soon, and I don't plan to do that myself.  You are correct that it's beyond my skill level.  As stated I'll only be handling the cosmetic work.  If you have any recommendations for finding a skilled watchmaker (I'm not aware of anyone left in my town since the guy that used to work in our shop passed away) that would be useful in the future.

Look, it's not that difficult. $200 worth of tools, that includes the convenience of a standalone timegrapher, otherwise if you can do with an app subtract $100 or so. Half a dozen normally sized old watches, you can get a whole lot on Ebay for $20 or so. Check Andy Hull's  running topic for very real examples. Watch Mark Lovick's videos, even better enroll in his HD course, and in few days of work on these you will be ready to service the ladie's if you still want to.
Cosmetic / basic refurbishment is OK to begin with but not so exciting after a while, you will have to get into polishing metal and glass, replacing crystals and gaskets, matching straps etc, that's all nice and absolutely needed on most pieces but not really "watch repair".
If you start sending watches to a professional that will set you back a very minimum of $150 a pop, IMHO that is worth only if the piece has an objective value of ten times that much, and not very sustainable for the average beginner enthusiast.

Edited by jdm

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Wait, one of the lugs is broken off ? I hadn't noticed.

Given that you have to make it identical to the others it'll be tricky... As jdm said, this can cost quite a bit of money...

Regarding the crystal, it's quite possible that it has cement already so pushing it out will probably be tricky and I advice proceeding with caution.Study the edges a bit, see if you spot any glue or residue. When trying to push it out, do it slowly and correctly so as not to break the crystal.

Glass presses have all sorts of changeable dies. Usually round but there are some for rectangular/uneven crystals as well. Look it up, you'll understand what I mean.

An example:

3ae9669655e2ca066b31f49328066c0d11407828

Edited by Chopin

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Thanks Chopin,

Making the new lug really isn't much of an issue.  Just a matter of skillful metalsmithing, which is in my wheelhouse.  Believe it or not, we rarely used our glass press when I was a professional jeweler, and didn't have anything but round dies so I hadn't thought about it for this case.  I work out of my garage shop these days and don't have a press, but I can make a one off set of dies to use in my little arbor press pretty easily.  I'll examine the case carefully after I remove the movement and proceed with caution.  If there's cement present does that change the process, or just the amount of force needed?  I'm more worried about damaging the case than the crystal, but obviously want to preserve both if possible.

BTW, this is all being done in my very limited spare time so progress is slower than I'd like. Bear with me on progress reports.  It's easier to ask questions than to do the actual work!

Thanks for all the help and advice!

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12 hours ago, jdm said:

Look, it's not that difficult. $200 worth of tools, that includes the convenience of a standalone timegrapher, otherwise if you can do with an app subtract $100 or so. Half a dozen normally sized old watches, you can get a whole lot on Ebay for $20 or so. Check Andy Hull's  running topic for very real examples. Watch Mark Lovick's videos, even better enroll in his HD course, and in few days of work on these you will be ready to service the ladie's if you still want to.
Cosmetic / basic refurbishment is OK to begin with but not so exciting after a while, you will have to get into polishing metal and glass, replacing crystals and gaskets, matching straps etc, that's all nice and absolutely needed on most pieces but not really "watch repair".
If you start sending watches to a professional that will set you back a very minimum of $150 a pop, IMHO that is worth only if the piece has an objective value of ten times that much, and not very sustainable for the average beginner enthusiast.

Thanks for the tip.  I honestly hadn't given it that much thought.  I probably won't make the jump in the short term since I have too many obligations already, but it's good to know it's easier to get up to speed than I had realized.  I'll probably have a lot of home time next winter due to changing family obligations so maybe I'll make the jump then. 

Appreciate the help!

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