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Ernest Borel (Fhf Cal.150)

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Here's another one of my recent(ish) projects.

This one is an Ernest Borel all stainless steel cased watch probably dating from around the 1940's, housing a 17 jewel FHF Cal.150 with shock protection. Ernest Borel are probably best known for their cocktail watches and kaleidoscope dials, but this is a more sober example.

 

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A bit scruffy with a badly cracked crystal obscuring the dial and not running at all.

 

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The back is also a bit scuffed and the whole thing is rather dirty. The crown just keeps turning when you wind it so a broken mainspring is the likely problem.

 

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With the back off everything looks very dry and there's a fair bit of dust and fluff in evidence. Apart from the usual carnage to the barrel bridge around the set lever screw and some scratching to the escape wheel cock there doesn't appear to be much abuse, and the hairspring looks OK which is always a good sign.

 

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Out of the case and no longer obscured by the damaged crystal the dial and hands look quite good, with just a light even patina to the dial and the first signs of corrosion on the hands. The lume is all there too (and it's radioactive!!!).

 

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With the dial off everything is quite clean and with no sigh of rust. Also no sign of lubrication either though. Notice the simplified shock protection spring when compared to the top of the balance, and also the minute indices used to time the movement against a standard clock in the factory before the dial was fitted. No need to let down the mainspring on this as there's no tension in it at all.

 

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With the set lever bridge removed the layout of the keyless works can be seen.

 

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With the dial side stripped the movement is flipped.

 

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Balance removed and put to one side.

 

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Pallet fork, ratchet wheel, and crown wheel removed. There is a little bit of wear to the plating below the crown wheel but nothing excessive. The plating beneath the ratchet wheel is intact and in good order. End shake and side shake on the train wheels is fine too.

 

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Barrel and train bridges out of the way and the train wheels are there in all their glory.

 

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And the main plate is now stripped. No plating wear below the barrel and the lower pivot hole is nice and round.

 

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The underside of the bridges and escape wheel cock. Again, no damage to the plating and the barrel arbor pivot hole is not worn. Plenty of black goo around the centre wheel pivot hole.

 

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With the lid off the barrel the reason for the watch not running is very evident. The mainspring is of the old blued steel type and has snapped (as these are prone to do). This will be replaced with a white alloy spring which should be much more reliable. There is also a fair bit of dried grease around.

 

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The balance is reinstalled to the stripped main plate and the balance jewels removed. Everything is now ready for the cleaner.

 

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And there it all is fresh from the cleaning machine. A quick inspection under the microscope shows the pivots and the pinion leaves have no sign of excessive wear so everything is good for reassembly.

 

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The new mainspring ready to go into the barrel.

 

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First the escape wheel goes back in and once the cock is installed, the cap jewels are oiled and assembled. then the rest of the wheel train goes in.

 

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Train bridge installed and the train tested for free running. All is fine so the pivots are oiled and the the barrel goes back in.

 

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 The barrel bridge is fully reassembled, the keyless works are back together and a couple of clicks on the crown gives very good recoil at the escape wheel. Pallet fork in, pallet stones lubricated, balance back in and beating.

 

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With the movement ticking away the case gets a very light polishing and a new crystal. The lighting in this pic is somewhat vicious in picking out the scratches from what I presume to be a previous polishing as the scratches on the bezel can only have got there with the crystal removed. It's tempting to go for a mirror finish but the risk of rounding the otherwise sharp edges and dulling the engraving on the back is too high, and in daylight the scratches are not really an issue.

 

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The movement goes back into the case and the retaining ring replaced before the back goes on with a new gasket.

 

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And there it is.

The dial was treated to a light dabbing over with rodico and the hands were lightly buffed to remove the surface corrosion that was just beginning to show.

 

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And on the Timegrapher a thoroughly acceptable result for a 70+ year old watch.

 

This one went on eBay just before Christmas and somewhat to my disappointment only managed £33. Still I had had my fun with it and was happy to sending it on its way in the knowledge that it really was in good shape and that, if looked after, it could still be ticking for a very long time yet. I do think that the buyer got an absolute bargain though.

 

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Another wee gem saved from destruction. You've done a great job Mark, I'm sure your excellent photos and text will help others down in the future save more vintage watches. :-)

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That's an excellent job - wish I'd spotted that on eBay - I'd have been very tempted!

 

If you ever do a similar job on a watch of the same vintage, PM me - that really is my period.

 

Cheers,

 

Will

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Thanks for all the comments Gents.

 

That's an excellent job - wish I'd spotted that on eBay - I'd have been very tempted!

 

If you ever do a similar job on a watch of the same vintage, PM me - that really is my period.

 

Cheers,

 

Will

 

Will, I do have a number of pieces of similar vintage in the pipeline so I shall definitely bear you in mind when they are ready to go.

 

Great work Mark and your photos shine. I would have worn that one for a while before letting it go, it's a keeper.

 

Actually Charlie I did want to keep this one but to put not too fine a point on it I needed the cash. Also, although I do have a modest collection I am much more of a tinkerer than a collector.

 

For anyone who is interested my photographic set up is really very simple. I have an old Canon PowerShot A720IS compact camera set up on a table top tripod. It is set up in aperture priority mode with the aperture set at f8 (smallest available) and the focus set on macro, flash switched off.

The shutter speed is invariably longer than 1/5 of a second so I use the 2 second self timer to take the picture without any shake.

My bench is in front of a large north facing picture window so daytime lighting is just natural daylight, otherwise I have a couple of tungsten filament lamps that I work by and an LED lamp which I use for really close work as it doesn't generate any heat.

The only thing I have to remember to adjust is the white balance depending on lighting (daylight or tungsten) as the auto white balance can be a bit iffy. Then I just crop the images on the PC to exclude any irrelevant details.

The only problem that I have with this setup is that there is a small scratch on the camera lens which, if the lighting is just wrong, results in feint flare across the picture.

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I'll have to stop being a lazy bugger and stop the handheld at 800asa nonsense. Thanks for sharing your technique Marc.

I can't really complain about the fare as the camera cost me all of £4 at a car boot sale :-)

Would that be the bus Fare? :-)

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I'll have to stop being a lazy bugger and stop the handheld at 800asa nonsense. Thanks for sharing your technique Marc.

Would that be the bus Fare? :-)

Oops!!!! where the "L" did the "L" go? :wacko:

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