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Parts Availability


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I am just starting out and I would like to know which watches to accept for repair depending on parts availability? The only distributer I know of is Caskers, I am sure there are many more.

 

With all the problems I've been hearing about manufacturers shutting down parts availability to non-CW21 I would like to know which brands should I focus on that are still friendly to the independent watchmaker?

 

Is there such a list?

How do you guys deal with this problem?

 

Since I am going to commit much time and money I would like to see a profitable light at the end of the tunnel.

 

Al Takatsch

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Hi Al,

 

We have a section where you can find supliers we have used/discovered at some time.

 

As far as brands/movements to service, I would say it depends, some people just want their watch fixed and would pay accordingly and no, I haven't seen a list for what you are asking. My suggestion is, until you get the hang of it, according to your market/location demand, (it is then when you will find where the real profit is) just check out suppliers and what they stock (I went with a service chart and entered most interesting numbers (search feature) into cousinsUK.com just to see availability). Also, ofrei.com will probably get almost anything for a price (they don't list much).

 

Also, what you can't get locally can probably be sourced abroad, in which case there is a waiting period your customer might or might not want to do.

 

Just some of my thoughts on this, which you might already have considered.

Edited by bobm12
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Hello Altaka welcome to the forum! I get parts from Ofrei, Borel and Cousins. I am not a professional watchmaker at all, in fact I study molecular medicine and focus on pain management and addiction science, but yes I do have an account with all three of these material houses. J Borel ships very quickly to NYC, but you've got to have the parts number. If you want harder to get Omega parts, I have ordered parts from CousinsUK that no one supplier here in the U.S has been able to get. Before I got into watch repair I sent my Omega chronometer caliber 504 for repair and the guy ( I won't say the guys name but he specializes in Rolex and he is on the web) told me there weren't any more parts for this caliber and that he didn't have anyone he knew of to ask... I needed an hour wheel. Well I told him I'd figure it out and sure enough I got the part for him and had it shipped to him from Cousins UK within a week. My watch got the hout wheel and he got info on a material house that he didn't know of. Now I do my own overhauls. I'm quckly building up my portoflio--Are you looking for an apprentice? 

 

JC

Edited by noirrac1j
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Thanks Bob and JC, I'll keep your information handy and learn this parts situation. This is new for me, any parts for clocks I would repair or make myself. Watches are completely different and I look forward to learning this trade with its similarities and differences.

 

JC,

I returned to NY a year ago hoping to restart my clock business I ran in Maryland. But due to my disability and needing a powered chair I cannot find parking for my van at my home or at the customer location to service Grandfather clocks, which is the mainstay of my business. Taking a cab everywhere is not going to cut it.

To keep myself busy  I've been a part time clock instructor as well as giving demo workshops at NAWCC meetings in Long Island promoting my repair video's on 20 different clock movements.

 

Al

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Thanks Bob and JC, I'll keep your information handy and learn this parts situation. This is new for me, any parts for clocks I would repair or make myself. Watches are completely different and I look forward to learning this trade with its similarities and differences.

 

JC,

I returned to NY a year ago hoping to restart my clock business I ran in Maryland. But due to my disability and needing a powered chair I cannot find parking for my van at my home or at the customer location to service Grandfather clocks, which is the mainstay of my business. Taking a cab everywhere is not going to cut it.

To keep myself busy  I've been a part time clock instructor as well as giving demo workshops at NAWCC meetings in Long Island promoting my repair video's on 20 different clock movements.

 

Al

Hello and sorry for the delay in returning your message. Well that is fantastic that you're a clock instructor. I've been a watch hobbyist for some time. I have a watch collection containing some 20 examples of vintage timepieces--mostly Omega, but It is only recently that I've started working  the movements and such. I have been making great strides in my practical knowledge. just last night I finally reassembled a Waltham automatic with day and date function after having to order a new mainspring for it. This is the first time i've worked on an automatic with these complications and I was able to reassemble it with only a few little glitches which I was able to trouble shoot and solve, and it is running strong/keeping time as well! I've been putting my projects on the Watch repair site, but since I do pretty much a watch every couple of days, I've decided to lay low unless I have something special or some challenge to share. I live in Brooklyn but I travel daily to Manhasset to North Shore University Hospital, which is where I do my research. I am a student at Hofstra University School of Medicine working on my PhD in molecular medicine with pain management as my focus. I also completed three years at Brookhaven National Laboratory as part of my training. I'd really like to go to one of your demo workshops. Are you in Nassau county or Suffolk?

 

JC 

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Hello Altaka,

Welcome to the forum from me. I am a hobbyist and unfortunately the cash flow for me seems to be directional ie away from me. But it is a good hobby. I am sure that you will gain advice from one of our more established members. I started by trying to keep to Bulova Accutrons (hummers) and Tissot but eventually succumbed to the lure of others. Good luck in your quest.

Vich

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Hi Vich,

I agree with money outflow, its tough not to spend too much.

I have many tools from my current business which will work fine in the Lilliputian world of watches.

Lubricants, tweezers, screwdrivers, higher magnification, parts catalogs, practice movements, non ammonia cleaners are big on my list to attain first

It'll be quite a Ride!!

 

Al Takatsch

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Hi Vich, unidirectional cash is part of the hobby, mate! How is the timer project going! Any watches on your list at the moment?

 

@Al: Al you might want to visit the thread about lubricants, I believe there are some you might already have that can be used in watches if you do the right substitutions. Also there are cheaper alternatives. Regretfully, oils are expensive but, looking at the bright side, they last a long time so it is almost a one shot deal. Did you decide on the magnification issue?

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Hi Bob,

For lubes I settled on Mobius 8200 and 9010 which should handle most of my needs

On magnification, I'll be adding a flip down 2.5 power to my Optivisor 3 power

I'm also getting a 4 an 7 power eyeglass loupe, that should give me a start.

I like the idea of a stereo dissecting micro scope but its a bit rich for my blood right now.

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Al how are you? Yes the lubes you chose will get you through for now. I would suggest you get a minimum of 10x for a loop--Bausch&Lomb makes a nice one for about $20.00. I sometimes stick it on a pair of 1.5x reading glasses with Rodico to get a free hand when placing pallets and balances.

 

Joe

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What is the movement with the most compatible parts for it online (movement-parts/cases/dials) (even for the next 50 years, if it even possible to know that)?

I'm trying to assemble a watch from parts and with this movement every time that something goes wrong I have a good chance to find the parts I need, or if i'm tired of my watch design I can just buy a new case/dial/hands/strap and have a new one (there will be a lot of options to choose from, so you prob will get what you are looking for).

From my search it seems that 2824-2 is the winner (it also have clones - sellita sw200-1, seagull st2130,and another 2 bad ones, which means more parts in the net)

And how sturdy the movement you suggesting is? can I run/jog with it everyday without breaking it (only servicing it (clean + oil) from time to time)?

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Anthony L of No BS Watchmaker fame lists the 2824 as one of the three most popular automatic watch movements out there, so I would think that with a large installed base out there then parts availability should be good for many years.

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6497 has been around the block a few times. Copied by the Swiss & Chinese.

The parts are generally interchangeable & readily available.

 

It's a much better base to start until you get the skills and confidence to move to automatics.

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3 hours ago, phydaux said:

Anthony L of No BS Watchmaker fame lists the 2824 as one of the three most popular automatic watch movements out there, so I would think that with a large installed base out there then parts availability should be good for many years.

Found it - ETA 2824, 2892, & 7750, it is the second source that say the same, and from search on the net for cases it seems that the 2824 and 7750 are more popular (in the cases regard)

2824 vs 2892 - From my understanding its base quality is better than the 2824 base quality, it is thinner and have a clones from seagull and sellita too, the only problem is that, from my searches, there aren't many cases available for it online (so i guess there aren't many dials or other parts aswell).

2824 vs 7750 - 7750 is more pretty/classy imo and it seems the net is full with dials/cases for it, you can do a really nice looking watch with it, the only problem is that it don't have a good (cheaper) Chinese clone (I want to fix and service the watch myself, me being a beginner I think it is the best to work on a cheaper one (with upgrade option to the ETA)) plus it have more moving parts so I guess it is less sturdy from the 2824 (I want a watch that I can swim or lets say play tennis with)

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If I'm looking for watches to restore for fun, one thing that would get very un-fun in a hurry is if I need a part that is practically unobtainable. Are there any suggestions, rules, generalities out there for how to avoid watches that would have me falling into a prolonged parts hunt, or otherwise ensure parts are especially easy to come by?

Edited by spectre6000
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I would start with a Seiko 7009 or 7s26 plenty of spares still available and loads of used ones on ebay. Cousins in the UK for parts.

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I look at it as variants in a family Lot, buy several piece of the same caliber or variants to it, be it complete movements and/ scraps. You would then have a full list of spare parts sort of become your own parts supplier and have some extra to share. You save on numerous shipping charges, no waiting for spare parts to arrive and when you forget where a part goes, you can look on another exact caliber. Above all if you suspect a part faulty you can replace with another one, sort of pracrical elimination. You sort of specialize on the caliber and wouldn,t be limited to just what is abundant on ebay. You can put tovether a movement out of the besr of the bunch to build your own watch. Advantages are simply too many to list. Good luck.

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The only thing I’d avoid is anything obscure. Most parts aren’t too hard to get a hold of - I usually break down watches for spares rather than buy individual parts. 

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OK... So, this seems like yet another automotive hobby parallel. Specializing in a particular make/model brings the ability to build a parts stash... 

Are there any makes or movements that lend themselves especially well to this strategy? Plentiful, and with a lot of variety. The small block Chevy/VW Type 1(/Mercedes V8 at the upper end) that sort that found its way into just about everything everywhere? ETA movements obviously jump sharply into focus, but that's mostly in a fairly recent paradigm, and there's the unknown of parts availability.

I feel like my sweet spot up front will be the 50s/60s or thereabouts at the moment, but that's likely to change. I know I want a really cool pocket watch at some point too...

Edited by spectre6000
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Industrialisation brought interchangeability of parts, but I’m guessing that you are probably more interested in watches from a later period, anyway.

People will have their own favourites in terms of being a workhorse, but most of mine would date from the 40’s/50’s. Examples are the Omega 30T2 and later variants (the 200 series), the Longines 12.68, JLC 450 and later variants and also the IWC Cal 83 and 89. 
 

Since you are over the pond, you’ll have ample supply of American movements like Waltham and Elgin which are superb. Superbly made, as good as the Swiss, and in some areas better. 

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1880's to 1910's Elgin 18,16 or 12 size pocket watches! They're tough, reliable, simple and as common as Chevy's. Each model series parts are interchangeable. A few parts are somewhat more ubiquitous to size groups such as mainsprings, hands, dials and cases. In my opinion, Elgin pocket watches are the Chevy, Small Block V8's of the watch world. 

Edited by FLwatchguy73
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20 minutes ago, rodabod said:

Industrialisation brought interchangeability of parts, but I’m guessing that you are probably more interested in watches from a later period, anyway.

I'm interested in nearly all things mechanical. Over coffee this morning, I was pouring over all the fusée watches on Swiss/German eBay. What's the roundabout decade(s) to avoid before if one is only minimally tooled, aka fully reliant on parts interchangeability or availability?

24 minutes ago, rodabod said:

People will have their own favourites in terms of being a workhorse, but most of mine would date from the 40’s/50’s. Examples are the Omega 30T2 and later variants (the 200 series), the Longines 12.68, JLC 450 and later variants and also the IWC Cal 83 and 89. 

This. What can you tell me about these movements and the watches they're found in? Are new/new old stock parts readily available, or would I be solely reliant on donors?

5 minutes ago, FLwatchguy73 said:

1880's to 1910's Elgin 18,16 or 12 size pocket watches! They tough, reliable, simple and as common as Chevy's. Each model series parts are interchangeable. A few parts are somewhat more ubiquitous to size groups such as mainsprings, hands, dials and cases. In my opinion, Elgin pocket watches are the Chevy, Small Block V8's of the watch world. 

Do you mean the parts are interchangeable across series, or within? Same question as above: what about new/new old stock for these movements/donors only?

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1 minute ago, spectre6000 said:

Do you mean the parts are interchangeable across series, or within? Same question as above: what about new/new old stock for these movements/donors only?

Within a series. With the exception of a few parts across the size range in the specific parts list I mentioned previously. The exception to this rule would be high jewel count movements vs low jewel count movements within a series. Jeweled pivots are typically a different size than un-jeweld pivots. It's a lot to learn honestly, It's not something that's easy to just jump into blindly. If you stick with one series within a size group, you should be fine. Really, I think that's the case with any watch brand/ model series.

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I don't think your question really has necessarily a good answer. So one solution would be always purchase a minimum of two identical watches preferably three. Then you can cannibalize from the other watch. But if they're expensive watches is going to be expensive.

Perhaps a more important question is is how hard is it to learn how to find parts? Or where would you find parts if you needed them?

The other thing of course is do your homework. If you're looking at a particular watch Google it see if other people are having problems with its sea of certain parts are an issue is everyone complaining they can't get this then avoid that watch. But there's also eBay subparts that might be considered unobtainable for the last a very long time subtly will show up on eBay is new old stock. So maybe a watch that was deemed unfixable at one time may be fixable now because parts become available.

 

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It's definitely a unique domain... When I would buy a new and unfamiliar car, I would typically find the most active/hospitable forum (doesn't seem applicable by make/model, but this appears to be a really good one) and the most comprehensive parts house. I then went through a list of parts commonly needed to get an engine running well, brakes, and whatever other subsystem seemed pertinent. It seems like there is likely a parallel, but maybe I'm looking at things from too abstract a perspective. 

So, in that light, what parts are on the "make sure it's available" list? There seems to be a faction within watchmaking that says a new mainspring is a must every time, and there's a faction that clearly doesn't consider it necessary. I've seen how one specs and sources a mainspring (though not where from yet), so while I'm on the "not always necessary" side of the line, I feel like I can probably make that happen. I feel like I'm not likely to be looking for plates or bridges (chassis equivalent). Cases are interchangeable (like body parts) to a degree and if you know what you're doing. Balances do the most movement, and seem generally somewhat exposed, but I also feel like a totally roached balance puts a movement directly in the "art" bin for parts; this could go either way... Jewels seems pretty interchangeable and reasonably universal. Wheels don't seem very exposed, but I think needing a new wheel means a donor movement (without significant tooling). 

If I'm evaluating a watch for acquisition, and don't want an expensive piece of drawer art, what parts should I try to make sure I can source? I've seen a few of the major US horology supply places (Esslinger, OFrei, and a few others), but from what I gather, a lot of the parts are in private stashes and gradually finding their way to eBay (as hinted at above). Is eBay generally considered the source?

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