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I have now successfully repaired 5 watches and I find it immensely satisfying.  See the picture of the 4 pocket watches.  The 2 Pocket Ben’s are Style 4 from 1939 and 1941.  They used screws, not rivets on these models  so I could disassemble them almost completely.  I disassembled, cleaned, reassembled and lubricated them and they are running well and keeping good time.   I also changed the mainsprings.  The gold pocket watch was my uncles and had issues in the keyless works that I was able to repair.  That was particularly rewarding as I can now pass that on down through the family.   Keeps great time.  The silver watch had a damaged hair spring that was not removable so I sourced a complete balance and replaced it. That has been running well also.  Finally, not pictured, I replaced the quartz movement in my 40 year old Chronosport Atlantis dive watch.  That has been my only wrist watch repair and I have been wanting to try some more .  So I purchased a vintage Sovereign man’s wrist watch with some issues to try my hand at restoring it.  Now for my question and this is embarrassing.  I can’t figure out how to open the case.  I have attached pictures.  I believe it is a snap on case but I cannot find anything looking like a tab or slot to insert a pry tool into.  I looked at pictures of Sovereign watches for sale that have the case back off and I don’t see any evidence of it being a screw on.  My simple question is how do I open this thing?  Thanks for your help!

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Latetothegame said:

…I believe it is a snap on case but I cannot find anything looking like a tab or slot to insert a pry tool into…

It‘s a snap on for sure! Some case backs don‘t provide a slot for the knife.

Edited by Kalanag
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Posted (edited)

This case is tight.  I can’t even get the edge of a razor to penetrate slightly into the seam between either the case back or bezel.  Pushing very hard with a razor blade is a dangerous activity so I quit while I was ahead.  I attempted to hot glue a lever to the case back to pry it off.  That has worked for me before but nail I used ripped through the glue.  I’m going to try that approach again but I’m not very hopeful.  

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Edited by Latetothegame
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So, the end of the crown just pulls off?  Sorry for my ignorance on this.  
Even if that is correct, I can’t get the bezel off either. However, it would still be nice to now where to focus my efforts.  
Thanks for your help!

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Posted (edited)

Even if this back cover could come off, it will be impossible for the dial to come out via the back as the diameter of the dial is bigger than the opening at the back.

If ever the back comes off, it is to release the winding stem. In quartz watches, a similar design like this is to allow access the battery.

Edited by HectorLooi
Grammar
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8 hours ago, Latetothegame said:

So, the end of the crown just pulls off?  Sorry for my ignorance on this.  
Even if that is correct, I can’t get the bezel off either. However, it would still be nice to now where to focus my efforts.  
Thanks for your help!

Yes, assuming it's a split stem. You have to pull straight out or you could damage the stem or tube. If it's not a split stem, then you'll break the stem or worse. In any event I'd make sure first by working on getting the bezel and crystal off. That way you can confirm it's a front loader. I think I see a notch for a case knife in one of your pictures, but you should first clean off the gunk.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sovereign was the 3rd-tier brand made by Benrus (Benrus > Belforte > Sovereign) and nearly all of their watches from this period were front-loaders.  Many Sovereign watches had aluminum cases, but this one is more similar to the Belforte versions which were partially stainless steel.

If I was working on it the first assumption would be that it is a front-loader, so you should definitely try to remove the crown and split portion of the stem. If it comes out, then you can use a crystal lift of one style or another to take out the crystal, after which the movement can be tilted out. 

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Thank you all for your input.  I have continued to attempt to remove both the bezel and back case over the past several weeks.  I have made absolutely no progress. Except in the area of case damage,  where I have actually made considerable progress.  I have attempted to follow Geotex’s advise to  remove the crown and split portion of the stem.  I have pulled at what I consider to be a dangerous force with no success.  I may just be a chicken but it didn’t come out.  I have ordered a bezel removal tool and am waiting for its arrival.  Geotex, are you saying that if it is a front loader that the bezel WON’T come off or that it’s just not necessary to remove the bezel because the movement will fit through the crystal opening?  Every similar (not sure about their date of manufacture) Sovereign watch that I can find for sale on eBay, that includes pictures of the movement, shows the watch with the back case removed and the movement in the case. To be clear, that’s only two or three watches.  See pics.  Thanks again for your help.  

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It was someone else who actually marked the red circle.  I tried the red circle per his recommendation but didn’t make any progress.  Most of my effort has been focused on removing the complete back as per your blue line but I haven’t made any progress there either.  I have also focused quite a bit of time on the bezel.  Neither will budge.  I have just Super Glued a large nut onto the center of the case back and will try that approach as soon as it cures.   I have seen that approach work on very stuck case backs on YouTube.  As I mentioned, I have a bezel removal tool on the way also.  

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Hadn't looked though your post from it's origins and looking at the side photos the centre as
marked with the red circle does now look correct. I hadn't realised how raised it was.

Good luck with the nut and glue.

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LTTG - As for the two pictures you posted, those do not have their backs removed, they are both actually a poor-man's display back (a thin case with crystals on both sides) that was sold by the Benrus brands at the end of their life. They switched away from ETA movements but valiantly tried to show off the jewels of their Seiko and other non-Swiss components as a defense against the electric/electronic watches and the pin pallet competition. It's not surprising you didn't realize that because they are admittedly weird...

I'm only giving you the best advice that I can. They used mold marks to simulate joints in the side of the case, so you could do some scrubbing and polishing there with magnification to see if it's a real joint. However, I think the giveaway is the location of the lettering. Here is a photo of two one-piece cases I have, and it can be seen on both of them that "Waterproof" is centered between the lugs and the stem hits right at the M in "Anti-Magnetic," which seems identical to yours.  Removable case backs don't act like that. So,  I'd still focus on pulling the stem if it were me. 

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This doesn't take just a little effort. Benrus actually suggested careful use of side-cutting pliers. But use of a stout tweezers will work. There is also a bulky Presto-style tool made just for this, but they aren't really necessary. Just be careful because the crown can go flying!

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Hang on. If this a Japanese type movement, many of the Seiko front loaders i have worked on will not have a split crown, but a gap between the dial and the case, hidden by the bezel, that is just enough room to slide a small screwdriver or oiler to press the release lever. I think getting the bezel and crystal off is paramount at this point.

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Geotex, wow on the poor-man’s display back.  Didn’t see that coming.  Thanks for letting me off the hook for not realizing it.  I greatly appreciate your time and advice.  I am trying follow all of the advice people take the time to provide but being a relative novice I am not always sure of exactly how to execute it.  I don’t want to go too far in the wrong direction. I have already found out how that ends.  Your evidence regarding the wording on the case backs is compelling.  It’s placed exactly the same as mine.  What’s the odds that three watches could have case backs removed and replaced repeatedly and all end up in the exact same position.  They are identical except for the fact that some idiot super glued a big nut in the middle of mine.  
Now, considering the last comment by Eccentric59, does it make sense to pull the Crystal to check to see if it has a Seiko movement with a release lever before I commit to using pliers on the crown?  Nothing to lose with that approach I guess.  

Thanks to everyone again for your time!

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Rule of thumb I have is that if the dial is larger than the case back (or the thing pretending to be a case back) then it is probably a front loader. Appreciate it's sometimes not easy to tell, but lots of times it's obvious and you kick yourself for not realising it earlier.

Edited by Waggy
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If it's a push on back then it could have a notch in it for the stem which would mean the wording position
would stay the same across all watches no matter how many times the back was removed.

I've never seen a watch of this era, even a front loader, that doesn't have a removable back.

 

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1 hour ago, AndyGSi said:

If it's a push on back then it could have a notch in it for the stem which would mean the wording position
would stay the same across all watches no matter how many times the back was removed.

I've never seen a watch of this era, even a front loader, that doesn't have a removable back.

 

They do exist, i had a Lucerne front access a couple of years ago that had a false looking screw down case. 

6 hours ago, Latetothegame said:

Geotex, wow on the poor-man’s display back.  Didn’t see that coming.  Thanks for letting me off the hook for not realizing it.  I greatly appreciate your time and advice.  I am trying follow all of the advice people take the time to provide but being a relative novice I am not always sure of exactly how to execute it.  I don’t want to go too far in the wrong direction. I have already found out how that ends.  Your evidence regarding the wording on the case backs is compelling.  It’s placed exactly the same as mine.  What’s the odds that three watches could have case backs removed and replaced repeatedly and all end up in the exact same position.  They are identical except for the fact that some idiot super glued a big nut in the middle of mine.  
Now, considering the last comment by Eccentric59, does it make sense to pull the Crystal to check to see if it has a Seiko movement with a release lever before I commit to using pliers on the crown?  Nothing to lose with that approach I guess.  

Thanks to everyone again for your time!

At this stage if you are positive that the case and back are in one piece and the split stem is unsure then start thinking about pulling off that crystal. If its waterproof then it should have an armoured ring but in any case there is some good height on the sides to try a crystal lift tool. If it wont budge then some double sided tape stuck to your bench , place the watch face down and let the tape set for an hour before pulling up. If the crystal has a distinct dome to it look for a good matching surface to press into to get a positive seating for a good adhesive contact.

I have even had a small suction cup pull off a crystal before.

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Posted (edited)

I don’t know if these pics will help to figure this out but it’s just a bit more information to consider.  Here are pics of the crown, stem and case opening.  Let me know what you think.  That opening looks perfectly round.  Thanks.

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Edited by Latetothegame
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Posted (edited)

The mystery has been solved.  Geotex was correct.  As I had mentioned, I had ordered a bezel removal tool to see if that would work.  While I was attempting to remove the bezel, the already cracked crystal cracked some more and fell off.  As I was shaking out the loose pieces from the dial, the dial tipped and came halfway out of the crystal opening, stopped only by the split stem still being place.  At that point  I decided to fully commit to the side-cutting plier approach to popping off the crown and stem.  One good firm prying move and it came right off.  
see attached pics.  That was last night.  The watch is now fixed and awaiting a new crystal and band.  The case is in fact, a one piece case.   The crumbling crystal revealed a near perfect beautiful dial.  I’m keeping this one.  Thank you to ALL for your time and advice!

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Edited by Latetothegame
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