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Revisiting an old hobby


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Hello from Scotland.

I recently re-awakened an interest from my youth in watches and clocks. Strangely the catalyst was searching for a replacement hand for a Starrett  dial indicator that I picked up for pennies on ebay and which I though might be useful for leveling the bed on my 3d printer. It was missing the dial hand, which looked very like a watch second hand, so that led to a search for a suitable donor watch. Needless to say I then got distracted by the vast array of old time pieces to be had for pennies, and grabbed a couple of basket cases.

The first one was a Sicura Voyageur. It only says Voyageur on the dial, but it has all the hallmarks of a Sicura, with the seahorse emblem on the caseback, and the remains of hands that look like the Sicura "Marine Star"

It was in a sorry state, but after a quick clean, polish and minor overhaul it's Rondo-matic heart is now ticking away nicely. I'm awaiting a suitable second hand for that, currently on the slow boat from China, and it has parted company with its bezel, which I may fabricate a replacement for if I get the time. The problem there is that I can't find another "Voyager" to compare with, and Sicuras had a variety of different bezels. 

I found WRT by watching some of Mark's many excellent Watch Repair Channel videos, many thanks for those Mark.

I have a couple of other basket case watches ordered from ebay. I set myself an artificial ceiling of £4.04 per watch (although I have already blown that a couple of times), as I figured that there was a lot of fun to be had from resurrecting an item destined for landfill and costing less than a trip to the coffee shop.

My day job involves computers, and I dabble in electronics as a hobby, which means I'm fairly patient, and used to dealing with very small fiddly components, and already have a bunch of small tweezers, screwdrivers, clamps, magnifiers and so on.



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4 minutes ago, diveboy said:

Welcome Andy,

I don't think I could stick to your £4.04 per watch budget either.

look forward to seeing future projects!


I'm not sure I'll be very successful either, but its interesting to see what comes up at rock bottom prices.
I'm waiting for a Remington Electra and a Sindaco from ebay, both were £2.99 plus p+p
The Sicura blew the budget at £5.05, but the Roxedo brought the average back down at only £2.00
I'm a bit of an automatic fan, so maybe I'll limit things to Automatics at £4.04 or less.

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4 hours ago, Geo said:

Hi Andy, and welcome Andy from another Scott.  £4.04 budget, now there's a precise number.  With that degree of precision you should do well in this game.

Where do you hail from, I'm based in Dundee.

We are just the other side of Perth, so not too far away.
The 404 is inspired by 404 errors (a geeky reference, to web servers, specifically 404 not found). I thought it a suitably low number to save me from going bankrupt immediately, although there is the obvious risk that since the price point is low, there is likely to be something seriously wrong, or failing that, I'll be tempted to buy a whole bunch, and I'm pretty sure my wife would object if I start filling the house with more "junk".
Well at least they don't take up much space. :biggrin:

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Speaking of Scotland, and way too many clocks and watches, one of my childhood memories, one that inspired my interest in clocks and watches, was frequent visits to "the museum" in Chambers street in Edinburgh when visiting my grandmother in the capital. This would have ben mainly back in the 1970s and early 1980s (showing my age).

There was a large clock at the west end of the main entrance gallery on the second floor, which was cased in glass with its inner workings exposed.This, and all of the other engineering marvels, the working engineering scale models of steam locomotives for example, kept me fascinated for hours, and led to me picking up various striking clocks and other gadgets from jumble sales, to take apart, and sometimes even fix. A good learning exercise for young hand and mind co-ordination I would suggest.

The museum also showed several horological themed exhibitions aver the years, with lots of clock and watch mechanisms on view.

I haven't been there in recent years. I wonder if they have anything of this nature planned in the near future.


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Continuing on the theme of clocks and watches is Scotland, it might surprise some to learn that  we have a long history of clock and watch making, that extended well in to the late 20th century, with Dundee's TImex factory being one obvious example.

Casting the let a little further back in time, this might prove interesting to some of us who don't belong to the all to common current tl;dr mindset. 



Edited by AndyHull
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404 error for today. :D

Another one jewel pin lever.

This one has had a hard life and an unfortunate demise. Whoever last looked at this had cross threaded the case back, so it took quite a bit of ingenuity and not a little brute force to get in without further damage. The balance spring has been beaten up at some stage and it refuses to tick. I'll need to find out how to develop my spring massaging skills if I want this one back in the land of the living.

I did however clean up the dial and remove a huge number of scratches from the acrylic. The nickel plating is not bad, and the body was relatively "hygienic", so a bit of a polish has made it reasonably presentable if not actually functional .. yet.

Cost.. £2.99 plus a very reasonable £0.79 p+p
Anybody know what the mechanism is?   




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Also a budget busting £7.10 secured a "spares or repair" Citizen 21 jewel automatic.

Not one of the many on offer from India, although I was tempted to see if they are as good value as they appear, I suspect they might be a bit of a lottery. 

Clean, polish, wind, run. still going strong 12 hours later, and claiming -10 to -3 sec/day on timegrapher.

The strap looks like it is the original Citizen, and the whole thing is in not bad shape considering its age. (I'm not sure the same can be said of me :blink: ).  I'll take a look inside later.



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Another 404 error.  In fact it made it past the winning post with £1.05 to spare.

This time a Sindaco 17 jewel Ronda 1215 based example. I would guess from the styling that from the early 1970s
It goes for short periods, several minutes sometimes. I suspect the movement is in need of a good clean.

The watch itself however is immaculate. 




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The stopping when face down issue appears to be related to the balance. If I back off the balance bridge screw by 1/8 of a turn or so, then it goes a little better. I suspect either the pivot is worn, the bearings are gummed up.. or possibly, both. I'll take a crack at cleaning and inspecting some time in the next couple of days. 

The previous issue, in case anybody didn't guess was that someone had been fiddling with the balance, and it was miles out of beat, as well as running really slow. I suspect that someone fiddled with the balance in the hope of fixing the stopping issue, but instead made matters worse. With a little care, it does run, but getting the beat error stable and consistently below 1ms is almost impossible. Perhaps cleaning, or replacing the balance will bring it back to fully functional.

For comparison, here are a couple of snapshots of the Sicura Voyager, cleaned and adjusted. I think I'm beginning to get the idea when it comes to setting the balance up.



SicuraVoyagerTG at 2018-10-25 14-57-40.png

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Another member of the class of 404RIMG0427.thumb.JPG.44109717802159fecbf0591d5a0c1628.JPG

This one might however prove a a little more challenging, owing to the invisible balance made, no doubt from pure, refined 100% "unobtanium". 



A bit of a shame really as I like the vintage look of the thing. Oh well, you win some, you loose some. :biggrin:

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I still find it amazing that unscrewing the rather scratched and unassuming back of something that cost £0.99p reveals such a miniature engineering marvel.

Now the electronic engineer in me knows that there is far more engineering in a quartz movement, but somehow the difference is akin to the difference between a steam locomotive and one of the modern nondescript, overcrowded articulated sets of three plastic filled buses that passes for a train these days. 


I bring you the latest member of the 404 club.. and one that actually works (although not extensively tested).


Granted the years are showing somewhat on this old face, but I suspect the same can be said for mine.



But ignore the slight crustiness and cast your eyes instead inside, where there ticks a small marvel of human ingenuity.


I'm not sure what the numbers signify, perhaps the 20th week of '47

Question, if I decided to do any work on this, how would I set about adjusting the beat?
How easy would it be to get parts?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Budget blown by a whopping  £0.95p, but I think I'll make it an honorary member of the 404 club. :D

Listed on ebay as "not working - ticks for a few seconds", I picked it up for £4.99 (plus p+p)


It was miles out of beat (clearly someone had been fiddling with things they shouldn't have touched) , and evertthing was in dire need of a clean and fresh oil.

What started off as rather tatty Seiko 5, with a crystal with a circular crack round the outside, and scratches that looked like an ice rink,  responded to a little TLC, a clean, a little light oiling and a facelift in the form of some stainless steel burnishing.

 My attempt to remove enough scratches to actually be able to read the dial, was more successful than I expected.


The strap spent a day in some turps substitute, to dissolve the grime, followed by a strip down and a clean with detergent, then a heavy grit burnishing back to a brushed look, followed by two finer grit polishes in the same direction, so restore the original satin finish

It has been going fine, and keeping good pace with the Sicura for the last 24 hrs, and while it doesn't  look 100% new, it is now a pretty tidy addition to the collection.

It does need a new crystal, which I'll look for when I have some spare time. 

I'm awaiting a Made in Scotland Westclox and a 1971 Timex Automatic, both within the £4.04 budget.  I also picked up a Sylvana TV faced automatic, but it might defeat me. It needs a crystal and the movement might have a worn balance jewel, which is possibly beyond my repair capabilities. Watch this space for more.

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Another 404 club member.


The Silvana TV faced automatic got a quick look over tonight.

My fears about worn balance jewels were not far off the mark, There was a rather disgusting black blob of something on the balance adjuster, which only became apparent when the auto-winder was removed. I initially thought the thing might be too badly corroded to save, but the gunk came off fairly easily.

Dismantling this particular watch was a bit of an education in itself.

The watch splits in half, rather than the back coming of, and the movement is removed from the front of the rear half of the case. This necessitates removing the crown, as without doing this, the split stem refused to cooperate. All in all a bit of a faff.


The movement was fairly grubby, with what I take to be old cigarette smoke or something similar so I gave it a whiff of Ambertron Electronic de-greaser, since the little ultrasonic cleaner is in the attic. I removed the autowinder and let down the mainspring, then set about carefully cleaning and oiling the rest. It didn't get a full strip down, I may do this later when I have more time to spare.


From stone dead, (and I do mean dead, the balance would barely move) to balanced, adjusted and ticking away nicely probably took about an hour and a half all told.

I still need to re-fit the winder and finish cleaning up the case. I also need to figure out what to do about the split "crystal", I've fudged it together for the time being with some clear acrylic nail polish, but it will need to be replaced if I can find something suitable. Otherwise I may have to get creative. 


I'll post more, once I have it all back together.


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To save any wild guesswork, the movement is an ETA 2472RIMG0451.thumb.JPG.7fec2003429579f193e2cbc915f5ba35.JPG

Here is a close up, prior to de-gunking. That little screw on the left, holding down the autowind decided to do a disappearing act, the moment I touched it with the tweezers. Fortunately it mysteriously re-appeared after much hunting, sitting in plain sight, next to the screwdriver I had unscrewed it with.
I'm sure quantum effects are operating on screws this small, and they pop in and out of existence at random:unsure:.

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I put it all back together and it runs, however there are a couple of issues.

1) Obviously the crystal. Where would I source one in such an odd design?

2) When fitted, the crystal is loose, so presumably *something* is missing. Would that something be a sealing washer or disk does anybody know?

3) The lacquer on the dial is damaged, how best to repair this?

4) The mystery screw is actually the wrong side, hence its tendency to jump out of the hole and vanish, this means that the autowinder doesn't fit correctly and this appears to cause drag on the mainspring, reducing the beat. I will have a dig around in the junk to see if I can find a screw with the correct thread. If not, is it possible to purchase a selection of watch screws for this and future projects?

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