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DPhillip

Broken LeJour Chronometer

Question

 

I have this LeJour chronometer my father gave me in 1982.  I know it has a Valjoux movement but I am not sure if it is from the 50s, 60s or 70s.  I am hoping it can be fixed.  I wore it a lot in the 80s but it eventually it stopped working and one of the small hands fell off.  It turned out the watch just needed a cleaning.  A reputable, reasonably priced watch repair professional in the town I lived in took care of both about 10 years ago - I think I paid $10 US.  A few years later I moved a significant distance away and I noticed the watch had stopped running again.  Early this year I took it to a watch dealer who sent it to an outside repair operation; that person took it apart and told me it would be expensive to fix, over $120 US.  I did not trust this and decided to take it back to the person who had cleaned it in the past.  He got it running almost immediately - apparently I was not turning the crown hard enough to wind it.  I guess I was thinking the resistance the crown gave me was a jam of some sort, but apparently it is normal for this watch.  But he also told me that two screws that fixed the movement in the case were missing - the movement was bouncing around inside.  So the person I had taken it to just previously apparently lost them - the movement was never loose in the past.  

After returning home I made a big mistake.  I wanted to see where the screws were supposed to go in the case and removed the movement to do so.  This required pressing a detent and pulling the crown out.  But I forgot to press the detent when I replaced the stem.  This pushed several gears out of line - and maybe did actual damage, I am not sure.  I took it all the way back  to my repair expert and he reassembled it, but he said parts to fix it are unavailable.  He is very elderly and sick so is now out of the picture.  I really want to fix this watch - what do you think and do you have any suggestions?

 

Many thanks!

Duane

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Hello Duane,

Welcome to the forum. That is a very nice watch you have there. Where are you located? I believe the two register LeJour without date is powered by the Valjoux 7733. This movement is good quality and there are parts available for it. If you forced the stem back in without pressing the detent, then you've probably damaged the setting lever and spring and who knows what else within the keyless works. Its certainly worthwhile to get it repaired.

The cost of a manual chronograph overhaul here in NYC is about $300-$450 depending on where you go. I know in europe the price range is 300- 400 euro. Premium brands command as much as $600 for an automatic chronograph with day and date.

J

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Thanks Noirrac1j - I am actually in Frederick, Maryland.  This is good to hear. We actually have a watch repair shop in town where they do their own work on the premises.  However, I took it to someone else in the same mall based on a recommendation by the watch counter salesperson at our local Macy's - and they sent it out to be looked at.  It came back with the movement loose, and a repair estimate of $120.00 when there really wasn't anything wrong.  I then took it miles away to a watch repair person who had cleaned it before for practically nothing , and he showed me nothing was wrong except the loose movement which apparently was missing locating screws.  When I broke it I took it back, but I think by then he was so sick he could not invest the time and effort.

This is a manual chronograph; I am learning that while it isn't a premium brand it still is pretty darn nice and well worth fixing.  So I am encouraged.  But not sure I should ever be the one to touch it again, having cost myself up to $400 by being too curious!  DP

 

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2 hours ago, DPhillip said:

Thanks Noirrac1j - I am actually in Frederick, Maryland.  This is good to hear. We actually have a watch repair shop in town where they do their own work on the premises.  However, I took it to someone else in the same mall based on a recommendation by the watch counter salesperson at our local Macy's - and they sent it out to be looked at.  It came back with the movement loose, and a repair estimate of $120.00 when there really wasn't anything wrong.  I then took it miles away to a watch repair person who had cleaned it before for practically nothing , and he showed me nothing was wrong except the loose movement which apparently was missing locating screws.  When I broke it I took it back, but I think by then he was so sick he could not invest the time and effort.

This is a manual chronograph; I am learning that while it isn't a premium brand it still is pretty darn nice and well worth fixing.  So I am encouraged.  But not sure I should ever be the one to touch it again, having cost myself up to $400 by being too curious!  DP

 

Its unfortunate your friend is too sick to help you get the watch repaired. That other place where you took it and they lost the case screws? That isn't a real watch repair shop in my opinion. Your chronograph is very nice, so I suggest you try to get it looked at by someone who knows how to repair/overhaul mechanical chronographs. Some watch repairers will work on mechanicals, but not chronographs because they are at a high level of difficulty, hence the higher price. It is not possible to take pictures of the keyless works without removing the  hands and dial, but If you open it up again maybe you can get some good up close images of the movement? A repair by someone who knows what they're doing won't be cheap, but there are many good resources here, so maybe someone can make a suggestion or something.

 

J

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OK - I will see what I can do over the Labor Day weekend.  The gentleman I mentioned - he had a small jewelry and watch repair shop in a small town in Maryland for decades - his prices were really fair.  He was around 80 and probably would never have retired - but unfortunately his illness forced him to.  Yes - I guess losing case screws is not the hallmark of a reputable watch repair shop.  I am actually pretty handy - I even do some welding and auto repair on my own old car - but I think I failed to recognize my own limitations on this one.  (What better motivation to join this site and learn something, however...)

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I finally was able to take a couple of photos - hopefully these are close and clear enough to trigger some thoughts.

I am not sure if seeing the opposite side of the movement is useful.

I have a macro lens so if needed I will try again with that.

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If they are of assistance to anyone, here are multiple shots of the movement outside the case - including some on-edge shots showing at least one gear out of line.  That gear is pushing the watch face upward.  I do not have any tool as yet to remove the hands - I suppose if I did the gear - perhaps more than one - could fall out?

Thanks for your opinions on this.  The crown can be reinserted but the stem must be passing by at least one gear.  

D

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Sorry to come in so late but when I see pics of chronograph movements I can't help myself.  ;o)

Something has gone wrong in the keyless works.  My guess is the screw for the Setting Lever sheared off and the lever has come free under the dial, or the Sliding Pinion is standing on end.

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At the very least this will require removal of all the hands and the dial and that will require work by a trained technician.  You might want to use Google/Yelp to search for "watch repair/clock repair" as you're looking specifically for someone with experience repairing mechanical watch movements.  The gentleman who originally repaired the watch for you but has since retired might be able to refer you to someone as well.

Unfortunately, the service probably won't come cheap (I'm pretty sure @noirrac1j is spot on with his estimate) but that cost usually includes cleaning and lubrication.  You can expect a bit extra for parts replacement.

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I agree with @RyMoeller , problem is in the keyless works and specifically that setting lever/screw. Most watchmakers won't repair that without also including a full overhaul. This is because to fix the problem you have to power the watch down, remove all hands and remove the dial, and at that point why not just disassemble the movement.  They don't want to take the chance that if they fix only the setting lever, that something else will go wrong and you'll be back in a month.

J

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Gentlemen, thanks for answering.  As it happens we do have a serious watch repair shop in Frederick, MD where I live.  I will check their policy/price for an overhaul.  I used to live in a town a half hour from here and that is where the older gentleman I mentioned had his shop.  He undoubtedly would have charged less for this repair.  Of course, that is now moot.  There was nothing wrong with the watch except the missing case screws, until I had to go exploring.  Jeez, I feel like I totaled a classic car.  The shop in Frederick charges almost $20 for a quartz watch battery install and at least $10 just to open a case, so how high they might go on this worries me.  There are antique stores around here (plenty of them - the civil war was fought in this area) and some of the vendors sell and even repair antique watches.  I was thinking of checking at least one of them out to see if they could do a chronometer repair.  But yes, sounds like I need to bite the bullet.  You will notice the face is bent up where a gear has pushed upwards - I am hoping that is not permanent.

Another watch I have is an Elgin Shockmaster that works perfectly - but the back of the case is missing.  It was my father's and he says the case back unscrewed and disappeared while he was out for a walk in a wooded area - he never could find it.  I have been told it is nearly impossible to find a case back.  Do you have any suggestions, such as try and find a complete, different case that will take the movement?  

Thanks again on the input.  As for Nucejoe, I won't know what parts are needed specifically until the chrono overhaul starts - which a pro really needs to do.  I guess I will stick to other hobbies where I can't do as much damage, like welding and model airplanes.  

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On 9/20/2018 at 5:08 PM, DPhillip said:

Another watch I have is an Elgin Shockmaster that works perfectly - but the back of the case is missing.  It was my father's and he says the case back unscrewed and disappeared while he was out for a walk in a wooded area - he never could find it.  I have been told it is nearly impossible to find a case back.  Do you have any suggestions, such as try and find a complete, different case that will take the movement? 

Finding just the caseback will be difficult.  You probably can find a donor watch on eBay though.  You'll have some leftover bit which can be used any number of ways. ^_^

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After several months I am coming back to this string to get an opinion if possible - I finally visited my local, professional watch repair business to discuss my broken LeJour.  They get good reviews locally.  I laid out the issue and asked if they had a specific chronometer overhaul cost and to see what they thought would be involved.  They have not seen the chronometer yet.  

The good news is that they don't charge to look at the piece to give an estimate (I thought they did); however, they were not willing to give an overhaul price.  They certainly seemed interested in working on it. They would look at it and give me some options, with possible repair, overhaul and parts replacement ranging up to $700.  Also, they told me to consider replacing the movement outright.

Thoughts?  $700 sounds high for Maryland (I was hoping for $400-$500 tops) but maybe that is the way it is.  Also, replacement of the movement sounds extreme, especially as I consider it to be part of the watch.  I know they made a lot of 7733s back in the day, but I do not know if they are very available as complete running units today, or what they cost.  I have not had much luck identifying any online so far.  I have not had time to look that hard yet though.

Thank you kindly,

Duane

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Here in Switzerland a good watchmaker would charge around 5-600 plus parts. Maybe a bit more depending on city. 700 isn't crazy high but kinda high especially since:

Replacing the movement is a ridiculous idea, any replacement would require a complete overhaul anyway. That's a red flag in my opinion.

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1 hour ago, nickelsilver said:

Here in Switzerland a good watchmaker would charge around 5-600 plus parts. Maybe a bit more depending on city. 700 isn't crazy high but kinda high especially since:

Replacing the movement is a ridiculous idea, any replacement would require a complete overhaul anyway. That's a red flag in my opinion.

You mention 7733....is this a Le jour chronometer, or is it a chronograph? $500 to $600 for a chronograph overhaul + Parts is within the normal range. The suggestion that the movement be replaced would raise a flag for me as well, especially since the Valjoux 7733 is quite a  desirable, robust movement.

J

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After several months I am coming back to this string to get an opinion if possible - I finally visited my local, professional watch repair business to discuss my broken LeJour.  They get good reviews locally.  I laid out the issue and asked if they had a specific chronometer overhaul cost and to see what they thought would be involved.  They have not seen the chronometer yet.  
The good news is that they don't charge to look at the piece to give an estimate (I thought they did); however, they were not willing to give an overhaul price.  They certainly seemed interested in working on it. They would look at it and give me some options, with possible repair, overhaul and parts replacement ranging up to $700.  Also, they told me to consider replacing the movement outright.
Thoughts?  $700 sounds high for Maryland (I was hoping for $400-$500 tops) but maybe that is the way it is.  Also, replacement of the movement sounds extreme, especially as I consider it to be part of the watch.  I know they made a lot of 7733s back in the day, but I do not know if they are very available as complete running units today, or what they cost.  I have not had much luck identifying any online so far.  I have not had time to look that hard yet though.
Thank you kindly,
Duane
Here you can get an unbranded 7733 for $260 + shipping ... the seller says it's new old stock fully working but needs an overhaul.
You could buy that movement and try to service it yourself.
If you fail ... you loose about $300
If you achieve to service it ... you can swap the movements and enjoy your Lejour again ... then service and repair the original movement, swap again and keep the unbranded one for spare parts.

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I'm sorry - I think I meant chronograph guys - it has a stop watch feature.  Is that not normal for a 7733 movement?

I have no idea if a 7733 meets the definition of a true chronometer.

Thanks for the input so far!  It is interesting an unbranded 7733 is available but I would really prefer to fix the original if possible.  Question is who.  I just have a certain vibe from this place that worries me.


D

 

 

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I didn't see the pictures until after I posted and it is a Valjoux chronograph. I suggest you keep the original movement, and now I see that the original problem was in the keyless works: either the setting lever or the sliding pinion is out of place. That problem isn't that major and doesn't justify replacing the 7733 movement, which by the way, has to have the Valjoux maker's mark and caliber number: 345810069_ScreenShot2019-01-02at10_09_27PM.png.225913bc07d5ca9e20d35027b7fff24e.png357078414_ScreenShot2019-01-02at10_18_03PM.png.8968fcffc63bf4875fcd084945d3f713.png

If it doesn't have this, then its a clone and there's no way to tell if the parts are 100% interchangeable with the genuine. Keep looking for a reputable watch repairer.

J

Edited by noirrac1j

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@DPhillip
One !!! really !!! important point if you decide to buy a "new" 7733 is to check which version you buy.
Those movements were produced with 3 variations of the sundial at 3:00 :
- 30' - like your Le Jour
- 45' - Yema sold one for soccer fans
- 60'

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I'm sorry - I think I meant chronograph guys - it has a stop watch feature.  Is that not normal for a 7733 movement?
I have no idea if a 7733 meets the definition of a true chronometer.
Thanks for the input so far!  It is interesting an unbranded 7733 is available but I would really prefer to fix the original if possible.  Question is who.  I just have a certain vibe from this place that worries me.

D
 
 
Sorry ... I think I forgot to put the the link to the unbranded 7733
https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.fr%2Fulk%2Fitm%2F143053114803

It's exactly the same movement as your's.
The only difference IMHO is that the bridge is not branded.
I guess your movement is branded "Anguenot Frères" so if you decide to go the "swap way" you still can "brand" the "new" 7733 using your bridge.

One thing to consider is that the LeJour chronographs were originaly produced by Lip or Yema in France with Swiss Valjoux movements (see the LeJour/Yema LeMans below).
So using any 7733 movement will be legit and a working 7733 for $300 shipped is not a bad deal.

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I didn't see the pictures until after I posted and it is a Valjoux chronograph. I suggest you keep the original movement, and now I see that the original problem was in the keyless works: either the setting lever or the sliding pinion is out of place. That problem isn't that major and doesn't justify replacing the 7733 movement, which by the way, has to have the Valjoux maker's mark and caliber number: 345810069_ScreenShot2019-01-02at10_09_27PM.png.225913bc07d5ca9e20d35027b7fff24e.png357078414_ScreenShot2019-01-02at10_18_03PM.png.8968fcffc63bf4875fcd084945d3f713.png
If it doesn't have this, then its a clone and there's no way to tell if the parts are 100% interchangeable with the genuine. Keep looking for a reputable watch repairer.
J


I'm 100% OK with you but the seller has almost only new old stock parts and movements from Yema, so this is certainly not a clone but a legit Valjoux.
When I wrote "unbranded" I refered to the bridge, which is branded "Anguenot Frères" on LeJour chronomètres (see pic below), and not to the Valjoux brand or the 7733 caliber number.

d37f85f5a163be11b559b27bef0becdb.jpg

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I would be suspect of a movement swap.  The Valjoux 7733 is no longer in production so any swap would be with a used movement (unless an NOS Poljot 3133 was shoehorned in there).  My concern is that the watchmaker knows servicing a chronograph is labor intensive and might be looking to eBay as a shortcut.  A used movement brings new uncertainties to the equation too.  You wouldn't let your mechanic treat your car that way.

A secondary concern is that the watch is already valuable and probably will continue to appreciate.  A movement swap may cause the piece to be looked upon by collectors as a Franken-Watch which would severely devalue it.

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Wow,

Everyone, thanks for all the input - I appreciate it, to include such speedy replies.  Nicklesilver, I will try one of the watch repairers in the list you sent - thanks again.  Manodeoro, thanks for your suggestion - I will keep it in mind.  I prefer to try and save the original and I hope I did not torpedo it completely.  I like the photo you sent.  Noirrac1J, hopefully the situation is not that bad as you suggest.  I will re-post on here once I find someone to work on it - this may take some time.  RyMoeller, yes, the shortcut concern with ebay is a concern.  But in fairness, I have not shown the folks at this shop the watch yet, or even a photo.

Ironically I served on tanks and armored personnel carriers in the Army wearing this chronograph and never once damaged it - even in a jeep accident where it - and my hand - went through the windshield glass - a thick leather band took the brunt of the impact and the glass shards.  But when I tried to take it apart... 


D

 

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Wow,
Everyone, thanks for all the input - I appreciate it, to include such speedy replies.  Nicklesilver, I will try one of the watch repairers in the list you sent - thanks again.  Manodeoro, thanks for your suggestion - I will keep it in mind.  I prefer to try and save the original and I hope I did not torpedo it completely.  I like the photo you sent.  Noirrac1J, hopefully the situation is not that bad as you suggest.  I will re-post on here once I find someone to work on it - this may take some time.  RyMoeller, yes, the shortcut concern with ebay is a concern.  But in fairness, I have not shown the folks at this shop the watch yet, or even a photo.
Ironically I served on tanks and armored personnel carriers in the Army wearing this chronograph and never once damaged it - even in a jeep accident where it - and my hand - went through the windshield glass - a thick leather band took the brunt of the impact and the glass shards.  But when I tried to take it apart... 

D
 
DPhillip ... is the chronograph bridge on your movement marked "Anguenot Frères" as I supposed or else ?
As far as I know that was the only branded part on those movements (with Heuer, Tudor, Breitling, etc) the other marked parts being the main plate (Valjoux mark + 7733 caliber ref) and the train wheel bridge (seventeen 17 jewels).
That's why I suggested to source a NOS 7733 (some can still be found in Jura/France) and put your chronograph bridge on it ... a swap that would not create a Franken in my opinion.

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