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Illinois Watch Co. pocket watch stuck screw off bezel

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A friend gave me this Illinois Watch Co. pocketwatch to check out, and the serial number dates it to 1883. I unscrewed the back with my Bergeon 8-ball, and tried to do the same for the bezel so I could set the time.

It unscrewed with very little effort, then stopped dead. Upon inspection, the bezel is racked as if it were cross-threaded, but I never did anything but turn it counter-clockwise.

Now it won't turn at all. What would you do from here?



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I have a pocket watch that does that when I try to get the threads lined up before closing the case by rotating the case back counterclockwise while applying a little pressure with the 8-ball. Not sure why, but it gets stuck and misaligned like yours. Only way out is more counterclockwise rotation. As soon as it breaks free, put the 8-ball away and gently line everything up by hand to thread the back on properly. Now I only use the 8-ball to break the case back loose or for final tightening. Everything else is by hand gently and carefully.

Best of luck.

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4 hours ago, JohnR725 said:

Cross threaded and screwed up threads on pocket watches unfortunately is all too common. Sometimes some penetrating oil helpful otherwise you just keep screwing it together and trying to screw it apart.

I was afraid this would be the answer.  I will try a drop of oil, and also may try a method I saw where you hot glue an appropriately sized jar lid to the bezel and use that to turn it. I feel like it would be better than the ball in this case since I won't have to apply downward pressure on the threads to generate friction, like with the ball.

A drop of P'Blaster and the hot glue got it done. Really interesting that you need to take the bezel off to set the watch and pull out this little lever.






To add a little historical info: I own a brewery, and one of my customers brought this in for me to look at. It was his grandfather's, and no one knows the last time it was used.

I wound it up and it sprung right to life. Not only that, but it looks better than a lot of more modern watches I've had on the timegrapher. Not bad for 140 years old!

Here's a little video of it merrily tick-tocking away.


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