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Hello!

I'm new to watchmaking and I'm really excited to get into this hobby in the new year. I've been an enthusiast for a while and I'm also mechanically inclined - I think there's a lot of crossover between car guys and watch guys, I'm one of them ?

I'm looking for a bit of help with getting started. I've done a bit of lurking on the forum already for advice for first-timers and tried to apply that to my buying strategy, I'd love to know what everyone thinks. See below for a snip of my shopping cart. I already have a cheap movement holder, case knife, opener, loupes, tweezers, and some other miscellaneous things. I just want to get started. For now I'm trying to keep the quantity of tools down and the quality up so if there is something essential that I'm missing please tell me!

I also have a couple of general questions (having never taken one apart before):

How do you keep track of screws?? I hope that's not too much of an obvious question but I can already see myself cross threading something or putting something in the wrong spot.

For my first teardown and buildup I wasn't planning on doing any cleaning or oiling. Is this a bad idea? My reason is simply to keep my scope small and not have to buy expensive oils and cleaning supplies. 

My first victim is going to be a Adolf Schild 1194 simply because I have it already, it works, and it doesn't have any complications. I haven't found any technical guides yet so for now my plan is to just record the breakdown, be careful and patient, and see what happens! 

Thank you all in advance for your help. Wish me luck!

 

 

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It's amazing the number of folk that get blinded by price! They think expensive means it must be good and cheap means it must be bad, what a load of b*****cks. There are cheap tools and expensive t

Cheap screwdrivers and cheap tweezers avoid. The screwdriver blades will break the tweezer ends will go out of shape that is if the points measure up In the first place and snap. Buy the best you can

What about the Bergeon 7812 Watchmakers Quick Service Kit? It would be 35 pounds over your budget (e.g. Cousins), but there won't be any waste in there.

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There is a lot of good information already on this forum if you use the search function. I think Mark in person has posted in the subject. I guess you have already done some research to compile the list you have so far.

To address your specific query, you are missing some kind of magnification from your list (unless you are young and have good eyesight). You are buying top-end equipment from the start, which is a good strategy If you have the funds, but then I don't follow your logic on saving money on cleaning and lubrication. It is essential to keep your watch running well, and basic cleaning fluids (lighter fuel) and oils (low viscosity, medium viscosity, grease) are available. I would choose different tweezers (pattern 2 in steel, but I use 1AM in brass most of the time) and you will need finer screwdrivers than 1.0mm for wristwatches.

AS movements are good to work on. They were designed to be serviced. You might struggle with the size to begin with. In that case, get yourself something larger to practise on. See Mark's beginner course.

Good luck!

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3 minutes ago, Klassiker said:

There is a lot of good information already on this forum if you use the search function. I think Mark in person has posted in the subject. I guess you have already done some research to compile the list you have so far.

To address your specific query, you are missing some kind of magnification from your list (unless you are young and have good eyesight). You are buying top-end equipment from the start, which is a good strategy If you have the funds, but then I don't follow your logic on saving money on cleaning and lubrication. It is essential to keep your watch running well, and basic cleaning fluids (lighter fuel) and oils (low viscosity, medium viscosity, grease) are available. I would choose different tweezers (pattern 2 in steel, but I use 1AM in brass most of the time) and you will need finer screwdrivers than 1.0mm for wristwatches.

AS movements are good to work on. They were designed to be serviced. You might struggle with the size to begin with. In that case, get yourself something larger to practise on. See Mark's beginner course.

Good luck!

Thanks very much for the input! I've got some cheap loupes from Harbor Freight which I was going to use for magnification. I have 2x, 3x, 5x, 7x, and 10x. 

Regarding cleaning and oiling, I was thinking just to put those purchases off for a bit and try to focus on the breakdown and buildup a couple of times before I finally clean and lube everything. Though I suppose it doesn't give me much benefit to skip that step for the purposes of learning. 

Thank you for the screwdriver tip tip - I wasn't sure what sizes to be looking for. I thought I saw a post say that 1.0-2.0 was a good set to begin with but maybe I misunderstood. 

Is tweezer style choice largely dependent on preference? The business end looks very similar between style 1 and 2 to me. Is your more frequent use of brass due to magnetism or softness of the metal or both? 

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So, first of all, apologies for not reading your post properly. You already mentioned the loupes and a few other tools.

Keeping track of screws: also covered in many other threads. Experts just know what goes where. The rest of us put components in their functional groups, together with the relevant screws, in separate storage compartments and photograph them for later reference. You cannot take too many photos as a beginner. Cross-threading is not really a danger, but mixing up left- and right-hand threads is. The screws with three slots are always left-hand. Sometimes the crown-wheel screw isn't marked, but is almost always lh. Usually, if you get things mixed up you can work out which screws go where, e.g. thread diameter, length, flat head or countersunk, the bridge you want to fit needs three screws, and you have three identical ones left, that  kind of thing.

Screwdrivers: lots of differing opinions, all valid. My 1.0 and 1.2 get  the most use, but I have down to 0.5 and up to 3.0 in different sets, and use them all occasionally. Many members have several overlapping sets and shape the blades to fit different slot widths. A nice snug fit is important to prevent damage to the screw head and slipping out. If I was beginning again I'd buy a budget set of 9 or 10 sizes (Cousins have an own-brand set which I've seen recommended) with replacement blades, and then a sharpener set (simple rolling holder and stone) for the same money as your Bergeon set.

Tweezers: very personal. I have found that brass grips better and doesn't leave as many scratches, so thats why I prefer them for general use. They need more care though, as it's easier to damage the tips, and they wear faster, so need re-dressing more often. A good-quality set is essential. You can't go wrong with Dumont, and I cannot recommend cheaper alternatives. In steel, pattern 2 is slightly more slender than 1 but still sturdy enough. At the tips they will be very similar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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From your list above, I would NOT get the Rodico "premium". get the regular blue/green stuff. The gray "premium" is very sticky and it pulls apart like bubble gum. I tried one piece (glad I didn't get a case) and I NEVER use it. Useless waste of money.

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Thanks so much for the input, guys

@Klassiker I can see how a bigger range of screwdriver sizes would be helpful, have you used the cousins set before? I've seen it so many times on this site not to skimp on screwdrivers and to just get the best that I can. Is there any wisdom in buying a few separate screwdrivers to supplement a set? 

@Tudor Thank you for the warning about the premium rodico, this is exactly the type of thing that I would have no way of knowing and would make my first experience that much more difficult.

 

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4 hours ago, PTricky said:

I can see how a bigger range of screwdriver sizes would be helpful, have you used the cousins set before? I've seen it so many times on this site not to skimp on screwdrivers and to just get the best that I can. Is there any wisdom in buying a few separate screwdrivers to supplement a set? 

The advice people give about "always buying the best you can afford" is in my opinion a bit glib. Sure, if you can afford the absolute top of the range you will usually be rewarded with top performance. If you are a wealthy individual, you probably don't mind paying top prices. It gives peace of mind if nothing else. Could you get the same (or very similar) performance for less money? Usually, in my experience, yes you could. Can you get fit for purpose tools for less? Almost certainly.

That said, I haven't used Bergeon or Horotec screwdrivers. Maybe I'm missing out on something. I haven't used the Cousins ones either, but I am sure they will work at least as well as the ones I have, which I am very satisfied with. The thing about screwdrivers is, the potentially expensive part (the body, or shaft with the rotating cap on the end) doesn't contribute as much to the performance as the relatively cheap blade. It is crucial to use a blade which fits the slot of the screw. If you don't have that, then you will damage the head of the screw, the surrounding parts and possibly the blade. Even with the cheapest screwdrivers, this fit is down to you, not the manufacturer.

My "best" set is from Beco Technik GmbH (0.5/0.6/0.8/1.0/1.2) and cost under 40 Euro with anti-magnetic blades from uhrenwerkzeuge24.de.That was a mistake, as they are much too soft for general use. I quickly replaced the blades with some good quality steel ones. The bodies have a rotating plastic cap with a plain bearing and are colour-coded for size. Beco sell a set of seven with steel blades, 0.6-2.0mm for under 40 Euro, and that is the set I should have bought in hindsight. This size range is more or less ideal. I also have a set from Holex (0.9/1.2/1.8/2.3/3.0/3.5) which are very basic, all-chrome bodies and non-replaceable blades, but I trimmed them up and even they work fine. I use the 1.8 and the 2.3 quite often.

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Was just given the three watches today (seen below) by a family member, all not running and all needing some cosmetic work.

The Timex on the very right is a manual wind and it doesn’t work. This marks the first of my projects that isn’t a quartz movement that just needs a battery. I had been looking for an automatic or manual wind that isn’t running on eBay for my first service, but I hadn’t found one yet and I didn’t think I’d get one so soon. I’ve been thrown in the deep end.

My tool collection so far: teezers (no.3 and no.5), case back opening kit, crystal press kit, movement holder, rodico, magnifying headband (instead of loupe), rubber blower, dial cover with parts tray, spring bar tools, watch band kit. 
I do have a precision screwdriver kit but it’s not specific for watches and I think it only goes down to 1.0mm. Suggestions for a starter set are appreciated!

I know I’m going to need a crystal lifter for that Timex as the movement comes out the front. 
I know I’ll need some oil and something to apply the oil, but I’m not sure what kind and if they differ based on movement. 
I will also need some cleaner for the parts, I’m not looking to get an ultrasonic cleaner yet as it’s a bit out of my budget. 
I will need tools to remove and apply the hands on the dial, I know opinions differ widely on what tools are the best so I appreciate any suggestions. 
Will need a mainspring winder but these seem so expensive everywhere I look. 

Do I really need a timegrapher? I’m not looking to invest hundreds of dollars into one yet and I’m not too fussed about my watches running fast or slow. What are the downsides to not having one besides the watch not running accurately? Are there any decent alternatives to a timegrapher?

Anything else I’m missing?

I am on a budget here so anywhere I can safely cut corners right now I want to, especially considering these are personal projects so perfection isn’t key. Thanks!

F245F2D1-B3B9-4A88-A756-AEA3AD31F085.jpeg

789A6924-F30C-4E59-894A-B936E880E8D8.jpeg

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1 hour ago, DanteFalcioni said:

Was just given the three watches today (seen below) by a family member, all not running and all needing some cosmetic work.

The Timex on the very right is a manual wind and it doesn’t work. This marks the first of my projects that isn’t a quartz movement that just needs a battery. I had been looking for an automatic or manual wind that isn’t running on eBay for my first service, but I hadn’t found one yet and I didn’t think I’d get one so soon. I’ve been thrown in the deep end.

My tool collection so far: teezers (no.3 and no.5), case back opening kit, crystal press kit, movement holder, rodico, magnifying headband (instead of loupe), rubber blower, dial cover with parts tray, spring bar tools, watch band kit. 
I do have a precision screwdriver kit but it’s not specific for watches and I think it only goes down to 1.0mm. Suggestions for a starter set are appreciated!

I know I’m going to need a crystal lifter for that Timex as the movement comes out the front. 
I know I’ll need some oil and something to apply the oil, but I’m not sure what kind and if they differ based on movement. 
I will also need some cleaner for the parts, I’m not looking to get an ultrasonic cleaner yet as it’s a bit out of my budget. 
I will need tools to remove and apply the hands on the dial, I know opinions differ widely on what tools are the best so I appreciate any suggestions. 
Will need a mainspring winder but these seem so expensive everywhere I look. 

Do I really need a timegrapher? I’m not looking to invest hundreds of dollars into one yet and I’m not too fussed about my watches running fast or slow. What are the downsides to not having one besides the watch not running accurately? Are there any decent alternatives to a timegrapher?

Anything else I’m missing?

I am on a budget here so anywhere I can safely cut corners right now I want to, especially considering these are personal projects so perfection isn’t key. Thanks!

F245F2D1-B3B9-4A88-A756-AEA3AD31F085.jpeg

789A6924-F30C-4E59-894A-B936E880E8D8.jpeg

Timegrapher is cheap but good software that you can load on your iPhone app. Other than that I made a YouTube video on tools to give you an idea of what you may need in the future.

Small Watchmaking Tools https://youtu.be/aMFVjq39y98

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I find the timegrapher extremely useful but it is not essential at the beginning. You need to get good screwdrivers, oil, and a way of applying oil. I have a Horotec set of screwdrivers that has proved itself very useful. Don't skimp on the screwdrivers or tweezers especially! You also need some way of cleaning parts - a small jar of lighter fluid and a paintbrush should do it. pegwood would also be handy to get old oil out of jewel holes.

One thing that is important to say is that the Timex may not be the best choice for the first one to work on. They are not designed to make service easy - in fact, I have heard they are quite difficult. I would strongly recommend getting a Chinese clone of the ETA 6497 / 6498, which can be found on eBay for less than $50. I don't recommend trying to fix something until you can get back together and working something that was working in the first place - if you have no idea why something isn't working then it will not be clear whether you have assembled it properly or not.

Edited by JohnC
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15 hours ago, DanteFalcioni said:

Do I really need a timegrapher? I’m not looking to invest hundreds of dollars into one yet

About 110 USD and absolutely needed if you are serious about working on mov't or just correct regulation.

15 hours ago, DanteFalcioni said:

 and I’m not too fussed about my watches running fast or slow.

Really. A mechanical watch is an instrument of precision, normally  both owners and repairers want them to be accurate. Isn't just fast or slow, the strumentini tells you a good the health status of  the mov't.

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For a starter screwdriver set, one of the six packs of the French-made ones worked well for me starting out. I think it was 30 USD a couple of years back. I just added sizes later as I needed them. I still use them as I've dressed them for wide-slot screws. I use another set of Horotecs, which I prefer, for narrow slotted screws.

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Hi  Have a look at Watch O Scope sit there is a lite version which is free but no printing, you also have to build or obtain an amplifier and stand  I have build both and they work ok no problem    worth looking at for sure

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On 1/6/2021 at 5:18 AM, JohnC said:

I find the timegrapher extremely useful but it is not essential at the beginning. You need to get good screwdrivers, oil, and a way of applying oil. I have a Horotec set of screwdrivers that has proved itself very useful. Don't skimp on the screwdrivers or tweezers especially! You also need some way of cleaning parts - a small jar of lighter fluid and a paintbrush should do it. pegwood would also be handy to get old oil out of jewel holes.

One thing that is important to say is that the Timex may not be the best choice for the first one to work on. They are not designed to make service easy - in fact, I have heard they are quite difficult. I would strongly recommend getting a Chinese clone of the ETA 6497 / 6498, which can be found on eBay for less than $50. I don't recommend trying to fix something until you can get back together and working something that was working in the first place - if you have no idea why something isn't working then it will not be clear whether you have assembled it properly or not.

Thanks so much for the reply John! I'll definitely have to look into getting a working movement to practice with, I actually already have a Seiko 6349 23J (which actually might just be a 6309 17J but with the 6349 bridge) that is running, do you know if this movement is easy enough to start on compared to the ETA 6497 clone?

I'm looking into getting a good set of screwdrivers now, I might go for the Horotec set. On the subject of oiling, do you have any personal recommendations for oiling tools? I've seen a variety on Cousins and they don't seem too expensive in general unless you opt for the automatic ones.

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@DanteFalcioni I think you can get by with the cheap dip oilers for now (the set of 4, although you probably won't use the big ones). You need Moebius D5, 9010 (for 4th and escape pivots), 8200 for mainspring, and 9415 (for pallet stones). You also need some heavy grease like Molykote DX for the cannon pinion.

About the movements, personally I would start with a manual-wind with sub-seconds and no date complication. Just the most basic watch, if I can put it that way. It doesn't have to be a 6497. For example, the ZIM 2602 is dirt cheap (although again, it may not run that good to begin with because it's an old Russian movement). The upside of the 6497 is that it's a pocket watch movement, and the parts are nice and big. Not that you won't get a calandar mechanism back together with enough pictures, it's just going to be more of a challenge and not that illustrative while you're trying to understand how the basic machine works.

I would also do yourself a favour and buy a combination India stone or Carborundum stone, plus one of the little wheely screwdriver sharpeners. It's easy to nick or break the blades and there's no sense replacing them every time.

Mainspring winders are something to keep a look out for, but not absolutely positively necessary as they are expensive and you can teach yourself to wind the mainspring back in by hand. This is generally frowned upon as it tends to distort the mainspring, but if you're focused on the expenditure right now then it doesn't hurt to learn the skill. Some people may disagree forcefully with this.

Good luck! It's an exciting thing - just savour it!

Edited by JohnC
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On 1/6/2021 at 12:18 PM, xyzzy said:

Depending on your ability with computers, there is free software that should be able to do everything you might want from a timegrapher, https://github.com/vacaboja/tg

I found the microphone from my phone earbuds works quite well.

 

On 1/6/2021 at 12:55 PM, watchweasol said:

Hi  Have a look at Watch O Scope sit there is a lite version which is free but no printing, you also have to build or obtain an amplifier and stand  I have build both and they work ok no problem    worth looking at for sure

I'll definitely take a look at these options until I spend the money on the timegrapher. Thanks!

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2 hours ago, DanteFalcioni said:

 

I'll definitely take a look at these options until I spend the money on the timegrapher. Thanks!

Get something like this guitar mic pickup. You can find it even cheaper than Walmart offers:

https://www.walmart.ca/en/ip/Cergrey-3m-6-35mm-Audio-Jack-Clip-on-Microphone-Piezo-Violin-Acoustic-Guitar-Pickup-Clip-on-Mic-Pickup-Piezo-Pickup/PRD18DFNMN9XGMP

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

I’m starting off in the hobby. I’ve got the generic Chinese repair kit and I tackled a large pocket watch movement last night. I’m going to need a loupe and headband to go with it though to work on the seiko 7s26a that I purchased for repair. Any tips on which one to buy and where to buy from. I’m trying to keep a budget so I don’t break the bank right out of the gate. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Welcome. As a fellow newbie, the selection and collection of tools can be daunting. Folks here are very friendly and there is a lot of good information to be found once you get the lay of the land.

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Dear all,

Bellow I attached a list with tools I intend to buy at first. I would prefer to keep it in a 300 Euro budget so I need to make some choices. Hand setting and removing tools, Bergeon loupes 4X and 10X, rodico, peg wood, dust blower, Bergeon oilers as well as oils (in lower quantities) I can find locally at good prices. Those are around100ish euros.  

The other tools are way too overpriced locally so I had to look for international online shops. Cousins are not an option post-Brexit, not necessarily because of import taxes and VAT but because of the fees courier companies are charging to take care of all the import procedures...

Therefore, I found an alternative site in Germany (not sure if i’m allowed to post links). If you have any other suggestions they are greatly appreciated!

Movement holder: no reason not to go with Bergeon 4040 since this is most likely the only one I’ll ever need.

Tweezers:  decided to go with at least one quality main tweezers, a no.2 Dumont, and a set of 5 brass ones

Screwdrivers: A set of 9 made by Beco Technik. Another option would be to go for a set of Bergeon, 5 screwdrivers,  0.5 to 1.2 and a couple of Beco Technick for the rest. No rotating stand  and considerably more pricy. Does anyone have any experience with the Beco ones?

Snap back case opener: Victorinox seems to be standard. By some accounts the blade is a bit too thick, do you have any experience with the tool? Now I use a blunt pocket knife which seems actually pretty good to me.

Screw on: there are two options: 2 pin “pocket” style for around 13euro or 3 pin for 50 euro more. Both models are in the picture bellow. Does anyone have any experience with this particular brand? Both items have really good reviews on amazon, however they obviously address different buyers with, I guess, different expectations. The 2 pin one seems easier to use, tree pin one is more secure but more clunky? Is the difference in price worth it for a hobbyist like me? Now I use a rubber ball which works pretty much every time and I go to a watchmaker when that’s not good enough...

Thank you all for your time!

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  • 3 months later...

Hi everybody,

I have a watch. The current clock is broken, since it meant special to me I wanted to fix it so that I could continue using it, what I need to do is how to open it. So which tools do I need to buy? Where did you buy it?

Thanks everyone.

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