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Hello all!  This is my first post, and I apologize in advance if this has been covered.  I did some searching and reading and still wanted to ask a couple questions.

My background - I just started collecting watches last year.  I've gotten kind of obsessed with mechanical watches, and really wanted to try tinkering a bit.  I recently bought a timegrapher, and I've regulated all of my mechanical watches (all new watches).  I managed not to break anything, and I have greatly improved the accuracy of all my watches.  I felt pretty good about that, so I started collecting a few very cheap vintage watches to work on.  For my next step up in my comfort level of working on watches I removed a few movements and crystals from the cases and buffed the old acrylic crystals and made the old watches look a lot better.  That's super simple stuff - baby steps.  My timegrapher says the old watches I've bought are in dire need of attention.  One is +100 spd dial up and then -300 spd crown down, or something like that.  Very low amplitude, 5 ms beat errors, a screen that looks like snow...  running, but just barely.  With the giant swings in rate in the dial positions, these are obviously beyond a little tweak of the regulation arms.  I did the crystals so I can admire the vintage dials, but now it's time to step it up.  I've paid less than $10 for some of these, so they will be great practice watches for the next step.

So thinking about the next step and trying a service - which I guess would be a complete tear down, clean, lube, and re-assembly - this will take more equipment than I have.  Speaking of what I have, I mostly just have basic low-end tools - stuff for sizing bracelets and opening cases.  I do have a case press I got when I couldn't get a press-fit case back back on a watch, and I have the generic model 1000 timegrapher.  I don't have anything for pulling hands off or re-seating hands, or a movement holder yet - those are basic things I plan to get soon.  (Messing with the hands scares me, but I'm going to have to get over it!!)

 I really don't want to shell out a ton of money on equipment and oils for a first go at a service.  After all - I may hate it, or I may find out I don't have the eyes, dexterity, or patience for it...  so spending $200 to see if I can improve the performance of a $5 watch doesn't seem practical or smart.  I need to do this on the cheap, and if I have success and I enjoy it, then I can maybe get better stuff.  

If I choose my least favorite and cheapest of these old watches to tear down, is there an alternative to a very expensive-looking parts cleaning machine for cleaning the parts?  Can I just throw them in a jar of something and swish them around?  If so, what solution should I use?  I read a post where a guy said he used lighter fluid, but that seems like it would leave an oily residue..  

For an oiler, can I get away with using a 28G hypodermic needle?  I've read a lot about the oils and I think I know what route I'll take there to start.

OR - maybe as a first step I should just try to take one apart and put it back together without cleaning or oiling?  I could do that with the tools I have on hand (once I get something for the hands, and a movement holder).   All my old watches are simple with no extra complications.  One doesn't even have a seconds hand.  They should be good learners.

Any advice on the questions above, or anything else is appreciated!   I watch a ton of Mark's videos.  He makes it all look so easy, and I know that's just due to his expertise.  I'm sure all of it will be very challenging!  Thanks in advance!

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Welcome Jason enjoy the forum. The tools and oils for servicing watches are not cheap but you have a dilemma. You can purchase cheap screwdrivers and be selective in the oils but if you get the bug you will have to purchase again. You could purchase used tools from eBay. The two oils you almost certainly need is Möbius 9010 & D5. However there is an oil named “Anchor” which is sold as a general purpose oil watch oil.  Sold on eBay and is cheap but it might be OK I have never used it but it is only £5 

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Hello and welcome Jason,

I'm in a similar boat to yourself, though I have caught the bug now. I've started out with the cheaper tools. I only tinker with cheap watches. I've managed to disassemble and reassemble a few now, and I'm pleased if I get one working and keeping reasonable time. Gradually building up to more complex things as my confidence grows. Much along your line of thought.

From experience I can vouch for the Anchor grease and a number of their tools which are functional, there are better out there for sure. I'm slowly upgrading as needs and budget allow. I was cleaning the movements by hand, using little jars of lighter fluid and IPA. I recently invested in a cheap ultra sonic cleaner, which has improved the cleaning by a long way, even if the buzzing is annoying. 

Enjoy and have fun

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On 3/4/2021 at 7:08 AM, watchweasol said:

Hello Jason and welcome to the forum.    Find attached two documents for you, hope you find them of interest regarding your new hobby. They will give you the basics to start with.


Wow, those are FANTASTIC resources, thank you so much!

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