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Vintage Lucien Piccard Dufonte restoration

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This is my first attempt at resurrecting a broken mechanical watch.

Bought this on ebay for a total cost of $20.00.  The seller had acquired it from a retired watchmaker's estate and it was definitely not working.  I don't know the exact age, but it's certainly nothing recent.  The movement suggests 1960's.  It is a man's watch, but is the same size as the ladies automatic my wife has.

I'm including the "before" pictures from the ebay listing and a couple of pictures of the watch now that I've got it working.

First impression

When I first opened the watch, I had no idea what I was looking at.  I didn't know what this movement was.  I'm not familiar with older movements and especially not manual wind movements.  So I began looking around online for info on swiss movements.  By sheer luck I came across a page that had a picture of this movement.  It's an FHF-96:


This watch is a front-loader and so I had to get a tool to pull the acrylic crystal before I could do anything else.

Once I finally got it open, I began stripping the movement down, carefully taking pictures of everything since I didn't expect to find anything remotely like a how-to on getting it back together again.

Repair process

  • All old parts got a bath in my $30 ultrasonic cleaner using distilled water and dish detergent.
  • Rinse in distilled water
  • Dip in alcohol (except balance and pallet)
  • Set out to dry.
  • Balance and pallet got one-dip
  • Crystal got worked over with polywatch, saving it.
  • Case got scrubbed down with toothpaste then rubbed down with nevr-dull
  • Put it all back together, including new parts
  • D5, 9010, 9415 and molykote where appropriate.
  • Put it on the timegrapher and let it sit in various positions for a couple of days
  • Regulate it
  • Profit!

Faults found

  • The center wheel was stuck to the mainplate.  Would not turn.  I got it free and examined it.  Corroded.  The mainplate itself was okay however.  No jewel where the wheel got stuck.
  • The set spring in the keyless works was missing.  I suspect that the watchmaker used this as a donor.
  • The crown was also missing.

Parts ordered

  • Center wheel
  • set spring
  • mainspring
  • barrel
  • barrel arbor
  • stem
  • Set of 300 crowns from ebay
  • Leather strap

Mistakes made

  • When working on the movement, I accidentally screwed the balance in while the staff wasn't seated properly, putting stress on the staff 😞 😞 😞  I assumed that I'd ruined the staff, but discovered that the balance still swung freely and didn't wobble.  I still think there was damage from this, which I'll get to later on.
  • I put the mainspring in upside down.  I'm a newbie, and so I assumed the new mainspring should be inserted into the new barrel the same way I'd seen on all the youtube videos, with the colored side of the shim facing up.  Nope.  I'd put the spring in backwards, which means that the barrel arbor won't catch.  Since I don't have the tools yet to rewind mainsprings, I re-used the existing mainspring

Problems encountered

  • I couldn't open up the end stones on the balance or mainplate.  I don't yet have the skill to deal with these competently.  My novodiac tool is too big.  So I couldn't clean or oil these.  I've got additional tools on the way, but they are not here yet.
  • The balance will sometimes start beating erratically, causing the watch to gain.  I know this from the timegrapher.  It tends to start doing this if I tap it good, or shake it.  It will, after a while, settle down and beat correctly again.  I suspect that this is due to damage to the balance shaft, described above.  Or maybe because I couldn't deal with the endstones.  I'll have to get these open to find out for sure.


  • Polywatch works miracles.  I thought for sure the crystal was done for, but I bought some polywatch just to see what would happen.  I ended up keeping the crystal.  It isn't perfect, as can be seen in the photo below, but is definitely usable.
  • Nevr-dull is great for getting brass shiny again.  I got a can of this and used it to clean up the corrosion on the case where the gold plating had worn through

Status after restoration

  • The watch keeps good time....most of the time.  I'm wearing it right now, and when it is not acting up its beat error is 0.1 and it runs between +20 and -35 seconds a day in various positions.
  • The balance may be damaged a little.  Not entirely sure yet.  I'm not done dealing with the end-stones and I may be able to resolve this yet.


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Edited by LeeReynolds
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  • 2 weeks later...

well done and nice dial. 

How good of grade this ST96 is in dufonte?

I am looking at an automatuc dufonte for about 100 bucks and wonder about the grade of its ETA movement.


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