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Crystal Press vs Crystal Lift


VWatchie

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This is my first question on WatchRepairTalk and I’d like to know when to use a crystal lift and when to use a crystal press?

I’m in the process of cleaning up and servicing this "Wostok Made in USSR" watch which I believe was manufactured in the beginning of the eighties and that I got off eBay for about $25. As can be seen, the crystal is pretty badly scratched and I want to remove it from the case and then sandpaper it according to the following method. I want to remove it for two reasons. Firstly, I want to avoid scratching the case while working on the crystal, and secondly, I want to be able to reach the edge inside the case the holding the Roman numerals so that I can better inspect it a clean it. As far as I can tell the crystal is an acrylic crystal without a tension ring.

For this crystal, I believe a crystal lift (which I don’t have) is the right tool? I do have a crystal press but I don’t dare to use it on this crystal. My guess is that a crystal lift is used for acrylic crystals without a tension ring and that a crystal press is used for acrylic crystals with a tension ring and for crystals in mineral glass and sapphire? Anyway, I’m just guessing here and really don’t know so I’d really appreciate some facts about "Crystal Press vs. Crystal Lift".

I’ve also contemplated just trying to remove the metal edge holding the Roman numerals from inside the case, but as far as I can tell having had a close look in my stereomicroscope (40X), the inner rim of the watch case holding the Roman numerals is an integral part of the case, i.e. not removable. I don’t have a camera for my stereomicroscope so here’s a macro shot (iPhone with macro lens). Perhaps it is indeed removable and it’s only an optical illusion? What do you think? It certainly won’t budge one bit when I try to pull it and wiggle it.

Best regards

 

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You are correct that crystal lift tools CAN be used for acrylic crystals without a tension ring and a press for the others however people usually use a crystal lift tool mostly for watches that are front loaders (they have no case back and you HAVE to remove the crystal first so that you can reach the other components; sometimes you can remove the crown as well if it's a 2 piece, sometimes you have to remove the hands and then the dial and then you can start disassembling it).

Unfortunately the photos aren't helping me in some ways but I do have some suggestions.

Normally you could just use a crystal press however you have not removed the chapter ring (which I can't tell how is to be removed) and this means that you would have to use a very small dye and this can cause the crystal to crack and break since you would be pushing it out from the center where it's more prone to crack and not from the sides. You probably understand what I'm trying to say. Then again, it depends on how tight the crystal is in there. Perhaps try just a bit of force and see if it comes out...

If the chapter ring doesn't come out from the back then it obviously comes out from the front. Have you checked the side of the case ?

Some watches have a metallic bezel that either covers the edges of the crystal or is attached/glued to the crystal and you can just pry it off with a case knife. After that the chapter ring can be removed.

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16 hours ago, Chopin said:

You are correct that crystal lift tools CAN be used for acrylic crystals without a tension ring and a press for the others however people usually use a crystal lift tool mostly for watches that are front loaders (they have no case back and you HAVE to remove the crystal first so that you can reach the other components; sometimes you can remove the crown as well if it's a 2 piece, sometimes you have to remove the hands and then the dial and then you can start disassembling it).

Unfortunately the photos aren't helping me in some ways but I do have some suggestions.

Normally you could just use a crystal press however you have not removed the chapter ring (which I can't tell how is to be removed) and this means that you would have to use a very small dye and this can cause the crystal to crack and break since you would be pushing it out from the center where it's more prone to crack and not from the sides. You probably understand what I'm trying to say. Then again, it depends on how tight the crystal is in there. Perhaps try just a bit of force and see if it comes out...

If the chapter ring doesn't come out from the back then it obviously comes out from the front. Have you checked the side of the case ?

Some watches have a metallic bezel that either covers the edges of the crystal or is attached/glued to the crystal and you can just pry it off with a case knife. After that the chapter ring can be removed.

3

I wasn't really aware of "front loaders", and in those cases, a crystal lift is, of course, a must. I'll get me one those for this watch and for future needs. Would you know if a crystal lift also can be just for acrylic crystals with a tension ring, or is it a bad idea? Having seen a few YouTube videos on how to use a crystal lift, it seems a very nifty tool!

I'll stay away from the crystal press in this case. I don't want to take any chances, and after all, I'll be getting myself a crystal lift, and while waiting for it to arrive I'll service the movement and clean the other parts.

No, not really, but I have now! As shown in the pictures, the case looks like it consists of two parts. One part holding the crystal and the chapter ring (thanks for the correct term), and the other part holding the movement. Looking at the outside of the case it looks like these two parts have been screwed, pressed, or perhaps glued on to one another, or, is it indeed once piece simply designed to look like two, hmm... I wonder if these parts can be separated? Oh well, once I get the crystal off, maybe the chapter ring can be removed. I guess I shouldn't try to pry it, right?

Again, thank you very much for your input and suggestions!
 

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3 hours ago, VWatchie said:

I don't seem to be able to edit my previous post!? Could it be that I closed the browser and then reopened the page?

There is a time limit for editing posts. Unless the mistake is something terrible, don't worry about it.

To answer your question, the case is one part, not two. Chances are that if you press the crystal out with your thumb, it will pop off.

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One note about the crystal lifts: There are different schools of thought on whether to buy a good brand-name used lift/vise, or an inexpensive non-branded lift. I went with a Vigor that was sold as new-in-box. It ended up working well, but not until after I had to take apart the vise and replace a part. The Vigor has a rubber ring/band that applies spring-pressure to the jaws. They get old and set, and will not serve their purpose. I used an O-ring in it's place and it worked fine.

I think that the condition of the end of the jaws is very important. The jaws on mine were nearly perfect, and it did a hassle-free job. I paid fair amount for mine, but it was 1/3-1/5 the cost of a new Vigor or Bergeon. Your mileage may vary. Good luck with your Wostok. Cheers.

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22 hours ago, MrRoundel said:

One note about the crystal lifts: There are different schools of thought on whether to buy a good brand-name used lift/vise, or an inexpensive non-branded lift. I went with a Vigor that was sold as new-in-box. It ended up working well, but not until after I had to take apart the vise and replace a part. The Vigor has a rubber ring/band that applies spring-pressure to the jaws. They get old and set, and will not serve their purpose. I used an O-ring in it's place and it worked fine.

I think that the condition of the end of the jaws is very important. The jaws on mine were nearly perfect, and it did a hassle-free job. I paid fair amount for mine, but it was 1/3-1/5 the cost of a new Vigor or Bergeon. Your mileage may vary. Good luck with your Wostok. Cheers.

I contemplated for a long time what to order and in the end decided to get me one of these. Expensive yes, but I treat myself to very little otherwise in life so I thought, "why not"? I'm sure it will work well, and I wouldn't be surprised if it will outlive me and have several owners before its days are over. Also, I have this Poljot coming in and I'm planning to change the crystal. I'm sure it will come very handy then. Thanks for you input!

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I hate to disappoint you, but I don't think that he crystal vise will work on that Poljot, as it has a cushion-shaped crystal. I believe the vises like your Bergeon only work on round crystals. I don't see how it would be any other way by the design. Not that you wont' be able to change the crystal. You just won't be able to use your new tool to do it. Good luck.

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Well, I hope you're wrong about that, but we'll see when it arrives, and when I have the Poljot. I simply assumed "Round & Shaped Glasses, Bergeon 6400" would include cushion (tonneau, and oval) crystals, and the tool do looks different from their other version for "Round Glasses, Bergeon 4266". Anyway, I'll update the thread once I have the facts. Thanks for your input!

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2 hours ago, VWatchie said:

Found this Bergeon document and to me it sure looks like the claws of the Bergeon 6400 can grip acrylic crystals of various shapes (round, cushion, oval, tonneau, etc.) whereas the Bergeon 4266 is for round crystals only.

There are very few non-round watches without a case-back. For this reason a tool capable to grip these crystals would be used very rarely if at all.

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So, if I understand you correctly, for watches with a case back, a crystal press is always the preferred tool for all types of crystals? I was under the impression a crystal press would or could ruin an acrylic crystal without a tension ring if it was re-fitted by pressing it on to the case.

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8 hours ago, VWatchie said:

So, if I understand you correctly, for watches with a case back, a crystal press is always the preferred tool for all types of crystals? I was under the impression a crystal press would or could ruin an acrylic crystal without a tension ring if it was re-fitted by pressing it on to the case.

As mentioned above with vintage watches (and others) it's very possible that no tool is needed to remove a crystal.

When using a press use nylon dies and/or a clear bag to avoid marks.

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The claw tool can work on non-round crystals as well.

You can use the crystal press on all types of glasses except those that are glued onto the case (makes sense of course...). That includes both tensioned an non-tensioned acrylic crystals.

The claw tool is more of a crystal removal tool since in the case of front loaders you can't push the crystal out. But you will be able to use it to put back the crystal as well... Just that it doesn't work on sapphire glass, mineral glass, tensioned ring crystals, etc. Only on simple acrylic crystals.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Having received and tested the "Bergeon 6400 for various shapes", I can now confirm that it indeed works with various shapes (maximum width 45 mm). It feels like a really solid tool and it works very well. Expensive yes, but I can confirm that it does its job. Lifting the old crystal off and setting the new the crystal in on the Poljot was a job made very easy and fast with this tool.

The only thing I'm not perfectly happy with is that the arms that grab the crystal are pretty hard to push all the way out to 45 mm. It feels like the inner diameter of the rubber seal is too narrow. Perhaps a bit of silicon on the rubber seal might make it a bit smoother!? Then again, it's not every day we need to lift a crystal that large.

As already discussed, the needs for a crystal lift are limited. Nevertheless I'm happy to have one in my "arsenal of tools".

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  • 5 years later...
On 2/4/2018 at 9:28 PM, VWatchie said:

The only thing I'm not perfectly happy with is that the arms that grab the crystal are pretty hard to push all the way out to 45 mm. It feels like the inner diameter of the rubber seal is too narrow. Perhaps a bit of silicon on the rubber seal might make it a bit smoother!?

Five and a half years later I can confirm that a bit of silicon grease on the rubber seal makes a huge difference! 🙂

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