Very odd to have a plastic liquefy in that manner! Typically, plastic gets harder and brittle over time, especially when exposed to the oxygen in air. I have only ever seen plastic liquefy like that when exposed to certain solvents, even then, only certain types of plastic. I suppose it's possible someone used an adhesive of some sort to immobilize the movement in a half assed attempt to replace a lost or missing spacer prior to your fathers ownership.
Adjusted for inflation, your fathers watch cost him $131.43 in today's money.
Hi the problem with rules they have to be policed and not every one obeys.
Quote "rules are for the guidence of wise men and the obeyed by fools " cant remenber who quoted it I am not sure wether it was Winston Churchill UK wartime Prime Minister.