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New To Watch Repair.... Thank You

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I started down the path of DIY watch repair after a visit to a local Watch/Jewelry shop to inquire about having my old Omega cal. 420 serviced. The shop did not service Omegas locally, and informed me that it would cost $1400 to have it sent in and serviced at an Omega authorized service center. Needless to say, this was out of the question as the watch is only worth about $300 - $500.


I stumbled on Mark's YouTube channel while researching how to service a watch, I then proceeded to watch every video on his channel.  Afterwards I had enough courage to try watch repair, just not enough courage to try it on the Omega, which was a special inheritance from my grandfather.


I picked up an old Elgin 7 jewel grade 291 pocket watch that did not run but seemed to have a good balance (moved freely when rocked) at a local antique store. After receiving all the tools I ordered from Amazon (screwdrivers, tweezers, crystal removers, movement/case holders, and loupes) and Otto Frei (Rodico, oilers, Moebius oil/grease) I went to work disassembling the Elgin.


While trying to get the front bezel off the watch, I dropped it!  :angry:  


Needless to say the balance did not move freely any more. When I finally got the bezel off and the watch disassembled, the balance shaft had one pivot bent, and the other one broken off! Undeterred, I turned to eBay and bought another 291 movement (good balance but worn out fourth wheel bearing on the main plate). I disassembled the spare movement and scavenged the balance and jewels from it.


After that, I cleaned all the parts in lighter fluid and rinsed them in alcohol (not the pallets). After watching a few of Mark's videos again, I reassembled the movement applying the oil and grease, following Mark's example. To my surprise, it ran after I got it back together. I fully wound the watch and let it run, after 24 hours and it only lost 3 minutes, not a bad result for an old pocket watch.  ;)


Still not ready to try my hand at servicing the Omega after my fumbling with the Elgin, I figured I would try servicing my old Ball-Waltham model 1894 pocket watch. I inherited the Ball from my grandfather as well. Over the years that I've had the watch I could only get it to run for a few minutes before it would stop. I disassembled the watch, cleaned the parts and reassembled the watch without incident. I fully wound the Ball and let it run, since it does not have any hands I cannot measure its accuracy, but I was impressed when it was still running over 40 hours later.  B)


With two watches under my belt, I felt it was time to take my chances with the Omega.


I disassembled the watch without any issues, but after cleaning and inspecting the parts, I found the keyless works were roached. There was severe rust on almost all the steel components. I made a significant effort to scrape and remove the rust, I even resorted to a rust dissolving chemical. In the end the parts were rust free, but the surfaces were rough due to pitting and basically unfit for use.


I managed to find an incomplete Omega 420 movement on eBay and I was extremely pleased with the condition of the movement when it arrived as I was able to source all the parts I needed from it. With all the parts on hand, I reassembled the watch.


With assembly complete, I fully wound the Omega and it ran for about 6 hours... not a good result.  :huh:


I took the movement out of the case and removed the hands to make sure neither the case or hands were causing the movement to stick. This time it only ran for only 3 hours before stopping. After fully winding it again, I watched the balance closely and noticed that the balance spring was not flat, in fact, it looked to be hitting the balance wheel! I removed the balance and removed the hair spring, with the spring sitting flat on the bench, the end of hair spring was bent upwards, almost at 45 degrees.  :angry: 


I was upset at first, but then I remembered... Mark has a video for that  :biggrin: 


I re-watched his video on fixing bent hair springs and then spent the next 2 hours coaxing the spring back flat.


When I reassembled the watch it ran for 48 hours, while only gaining 2 minutes over that time.


I could not be more pleased!  :jig:


Overall the cost breakdown was:


New crystal, hands, crown, stem, and band: $130

Parts movement for keyless works: $15

Tools from Amazon: $130

Moebius Oil/Grease: $100


Total cost was $375, well south of the $1400 the Omega certified service center wanted.


I wanted to give Mark a very big Thank You :thumbsu: for taking the time to put all his information together and making it available to everyone here, and on YouTube. 




My Grandfathers Omega:









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Welcome to the forum Jerry.


Congratulations on your successes, for your first three forays into this enterprise to have been so positive is impressive; I don't think I'm alone in confessing to the destruction of at least half a dozen victims before I managed to get one running.


Don't forget on your cost breakdown that although you spent $375 you still have almost $230 worth of tools and oils to lavish on future endeavours, which makes the cost of servicing your Omega even less.


Nice watch by the way.

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Welcome to the wonderful world of horology Jerry, and what an impressive start. That was an excellent introduction, and I hope you continue to contribute to the forum in such great fashion.

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all i can say (besides "welcome") is "great job!". you've got to feel a good sense of accomplishment after doing that.

we've all contributed to our share of damaged goods, i'm sure. i still haven't been brave enough to tackle my seiko 6139 chrono. not just yet. i don't need that to be one of the latest carcasses that i've contributed to.

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Hi Jerry and welcome.


You have followed the path just about how I would have suggested it. Starting on more forgiving pocket watches is ideal. You have made an investment in yourself as well....confidence means a lot. I guess now after servicing the watch you need to consider what's next. If you decide to continue I recommend the following.


1. Buy some books on watch repair. Amazon is cheap enough and has a good supply and keep finding videos

2. Be prepared to be bitten by the bug...advanced tools can be a bit expensive, but starting out ones are freely available at low cost.

3. You will break more things and lose many parts. I think it took me a couple of years to get reasonably competent with tweezers, how tight is too tight etc.

4. Get a good workspace free from distractions....you can really zone out!

5. Tell your friends, this is the way I got started. Most of my workmates have given me watches for repair/overhaul they get a service for free or parts cost and you get the experience.

6. Your friends will tell their friends and pretty soon you will have s steady stream of watches coming in that would otherwise sit in drawers due to normal retail repair costs.

7. About 7 years ago when I started the dollar was better from here and I used to buy all the older US watches (Elgin, Hamilton, Bulova etc) and practice on these often simple movements.

8. Seikos are usually pretty cheap as well...I used to go for the workhorses and also the high-beats...

9. Always strive to be the best you can be. If something's not right, then its not right. Keep going even if you have to take everything apart and start again (I had to do this many times).


Anyway, that's just my thoughts, apart from this you will certainly impress people who would never be so brave and ultimately have the greatest pleasure in restoring something that had great sentimentality for someone who could not afford it to be done elsewhere...


Go well.


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