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Illinois open face pocket watch case open


I recently acquired an Illinois pocket watch that appears to have a screw on front and back. I was able to unscrew the front with great effort.  A lot of dirt and grime dropped out.  I need to get the back off.  There are no grab points so, I have tried a rubber ball and failed.  If it was a bolt, I would use heat, but that’s not an option.  I am afraid to use penetrating oil for fear of damaging the porcelain face.  I am assuming that the watch is in the 100 year old range but won’t know until I get the serial number off the movement.  

it is clear, the case has not been opened in a very long time.


What is the best way to open it?


Edited by thecodedawg
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HI Welcome to the forum, as Oldhippy remarked the supergue and  nut  method work on extra stubborn cases and the nut is the removed using acetone (nail polish remover). Had to resort to it a time or two and it has so far worked .    good luck

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Absolutely, I can attest that superglue + nut works very well.

I cleaned both surfaces with IPA (the case back and the nut) then applied super glue and left it for a day.  I then applied superglue around the nut at the point of contact to further solidify the connection and I left it for a further few days.

I then put the watch in a vice using an old leather strap to protect the sides.  I didn't want to put too much pressure on the watch so I only tightened it a little.  I tried the nut with a large spanner and the whole watch started to turn in the vice so I tightened it a little more.  I repeated this process until finally the back started to unscrew.

Now the nut and spanner are included in my watchmaking tools!

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1 hour ago, thecodedawg said:

Its a good thing my American self knows enough of the Queens English to know what spanner is.  So, should I go with a 3/4 or 1/2 nut???  Thats a joke because metric system 🙂

Oddly, the nut I used was a 13/16 inch.  For no other reason that is was the biggest one I had at hand.

Good luck, post back your results.

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13 hours ago, thecodedawg said:

I am afraid to use penetrating oil for fear of damaging the porcelain face.

you do not have to dip the watch in to the penetrating oil. A small amount applied to the edge works just fine. Typically if it's an American porcelain dial they will withstand almost anything. previously for porcelain dials I would say they withstand everything except in another discussion group somebody discovered their porcelain tile was painted and it did not do well. But typically the American porcelain dial can actually be washed. But in not supposed to be dipping the watch and the penetrating oil just a little bit on the crack.

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now that it's open we didn't get a picture of the movement? It's not a requirement but where watch repair group it's always nice to see the inside of a watch. then congratulations for getting it open.



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11 minutes ago, Tudor said:

For the English watches, a Whitworth nut is required to be superglued on...

Or it won't open.

Well technically I used a steel flange nut. 

After spending 2 hours cleaning jewels under my 1970's microscope and 10x loupe, I serviced it and reassembled it without the mainspring. It's coming in a couple of days.  

The last person to service this tightened down every screw overly tight.   They lost one of the case mouning screws and the bridge over the minute wheel as seen in the thrid pic has two cross threaded screws that destroyed the treading.  Right now they only have friction holding them in place.  I have no way to re-thread them right now.  


 Here are your pics





Edited by thecodedawg
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10 hours ago, watchweasol said:

Hi Dawg  its looking good,  thay chip on the dial at the  6 position,  Have a look at a product called Milliputty which can be used for dial repairs. Origionally used for ceramic repairs.

The chip is hidden very well by the bezel.  But cool, I will look that up.  


BTW.  I go by codedawg becuase when I am not golfing or learning about horology, I  write software for a living.  

Edited by thecodedawg
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I gotta say, is there anything prettier for an old watch geek than a decked out antique movement?  I look at the mirror polish on wheels atop the barrel bridge, the Geneva stripes all along the plates, the gentle swoop of the spring atop the regulator, little areas of gold plating here and there; I could lose track of time staring at it even though it is a timepiece

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On 11/19/2020 at 9:14 PM, thecodedawg said:

Well, I got the new mainspring.  Its ticking away at +2 seconds a day dial-up.  This is my first success story.  Thank you all for your help.  It goes with me everywhere right now.  

Good job!

A long time ago I bought a "set" of three old pocket movements for spare parts. But... decided to simply repair them. One of the movements was same as yours. Last week I finally replaced the broken balance staff. Obviously, someone previously already went through this exercise leaving hammering marks on the balance. After some truing & poising things look promising. 

Did you install GR6880-TB mainspring?

IMG_9525 - Copy.jpg

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On 11/20/2020 at 2:40 AM, oldhippy said:

Great news. A word of warning if you do heavy manual work its best if you don't have it on your person, as that type of work could cause the balance staff to break.   

And if it breaks - what can be more "fun" than replacing the balance staff? What could possibly go wrong? 🙂🤔

IMG_9537 - Copy.jpg

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