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Revisiting an old hobby


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I also picked up a very 1970s Newmark EB88XX 17 jewel, unloved for £1.20


It looks like it is in desperate need of a clean, and no doubt a service.
With a decent band on it I suspect it will scrub up like new.

Stick it on your wrist and pretend you are an extra from The Sweeney (or perhaps Colombo, if you are one of our friends on the other side of the pond).

OK The band will cost more than the watch, but nobody's perfect.

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I picked up a couple of other possible members of the 404 club, and a bunch of random quartz stuff in the same job lots.

I'll post details of anything else that I think might be of interest (including some cheap Chinese automatics, even cheaper when they arrive on ebay, used), when I get some spare time.

I'll also rip apart the £0.78p "cheapest new analog quartz on ebay" as soon as time permits, so we can all see what you get for your "not very much" money, and figure out if you are better off gambling on a 404 club mechanical. 

I know which side of the argument I am likely to come down on, but lets not judge till we have the offending item on the operating table.

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Well I'm back from holiday, so I can take a look at some of the stuff in the "unloved from ebay" pile and see what is what.

The first is a "Time" branded quartz with a Japanese movement. I actually only bid a pound on this, because it has a leather strap, that appeared to be unworn. The watch however turns out to be quite presentable and now has a new battery and is running fine, so I may put the strap back on and wear it as is.

We also have a "Greville" and a Citizen. Both in need of quite a bit of cosmetic work. The Greville also appears to be missing its second hand, so I'll see what I have that matches.

Both the mechanicals are running, but no doubt need a service.

I also looked out a replacement strap for my brother in law's HMT, I'll post more pictures of that as and when I get the time to repair it.

The other watch in the picture is the Q&Q automatic which I posted about in "WOT" this morning. It is still going strong and keeping good pace with the "Time" quartz.



"Time" quartz -  Those small corrosion marks between 5 and 6 o'clock are not really noticeable, except at extreme closeup.


The "Greville" - Needs some dial cleaning, possibly a second hand if I am not mistaken, and a service.



The Citizen - I forgot to take a picture of the smashed exhibition case back, but in addition to that, it needs a service.



Rouges gallery - Milanese band on the HMT is from my junk pile. The photo is not one of my better shots. Not only is it fuzzy (camera shake I think), but I've cropped it pretty badly, but you get the idea. All of these watches are "404 club" candidates.

There are a few more 404 watches still untouched, but these are all I have had time to look at so far.

Edited by AndyHull
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There are a couple of separate threads that discuss custom dial making, but rather than clutter them up, I thought I would place some of my own designs in this thread. After all this thread is pretty random as it is, so a little more randomness isn't going to matter much.

You are welcome to "borrow" these designs for personal use, but if you decide to do anything commercial with them, PM me first, so we can come to some arrangement. The original artwork is layered, and higher resolution. 




The images are some rather stunning cloud formations on Jupiter from the NASA Juno space program -> https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/juno/images/index.html

I may do a little more planet and solar system themed artwork if I get the time.

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Just in case you thought all I did all day was play with photos, here is a 5 minute fix, which I performed during my lunch hour.

The watch in question is another quartz, but this time a Casio AQ-230 which was part of the pile of junk from a while back.
Initially I thought that someone had cherry picked the module out of it, because none of the buttons moved, and the thing felt very light.

However when I popped the back off to check, it turned out that some wild eyed baboon had attempted to change the battery and in the process had "done 'er a damage". The watch I believe is made of "resin" i.e. metalised plastic, which is why it feels so light. 

One of the battery contacts was displaced, and the spring steel plate had been dislodged from the PCB, so I set too with a small screwdriver and some magnification and soon had it all back in the shape that the manufacturer intended. While I had it apart, I also removed the babbon's lunch crumbs, which they had thoughtfully added to the dial side of the watch.

In went the battery, beep went the watch, and bingo, another member of the "404 Club".

I'm fixing things so fast I've run out of straps and pins, so this one will have to wait for the next batch of cheap pins from China.

This watch appears to be still in production and you can pick it up from Amazon for around $30.00, so that probably makes it the most modern watch I own.


That white metal tab was floating around inside when I opened the watch, here it is, safely back under the PCB, ready for re-assembly. RIMG1162.thumb.JPG.5a0e968a738a4bec61df541d947f9e41.JPG


It beeps, but it has no backlight. Engineered to a price, like everything else these days.

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Citizen takes to the drink.

I took a quick look at this poor specimen. It is a Citizen C200 Analog/Digital Chrono Alarm.

It looks like it has not only suffered water ingress, but also some weird attempt to rework the board which has most probably let out the "magic smoke". If you look carefully at the "black blob" controller it appears to have some heat related bubbling on the epoxy. Not ususally a very good sign in my experience.

Furthermore if you look on the left of the board there is a surface mount resistor (the black rectangle marked "101") which has had some random rework done, possibly in the hope of fixing a damaged track.

I may get out the soldering iron and tack on a couple of wires to power it from the bench supply, and stick it under the microscope, to see if I can coax any life from it, but given its value, I suspect I will simply pop it back in the scrap pile.




Well I guess you cant fix them all.

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More barrel scrapings...

This time three old "Hong Kong specials". It is hard to believe that this disruptive technology almost killed the Swiss watch industry. All three were stone dead. I coaxed a bit of life out of two of them, but the third had clearly had one drink too many, so despite my best efforts, it remained stubbornly blank. 

I doubt if they well ever adorn my wrist, but they were in the heading for the "rob it and bin it" pile, and I had nothing to loose by trying.

The dead one is still heading for the junk box, and will maybe donate its band to the cause at some future juncture.


One time when being green is not a good thing.


Green snot removed, and contacts cleaned.


It lives.


Not a good sign.


Gunk removal in progress. Notice that some of the lettering on the PCB simply fell off.


Two blinking, one stinking.


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Is there any way to open a plastic cased Swatch. I have a couple of dead ones in the junk pike. On needs a crown, the other needs the battery contact replaced.

However it appears that the Swatch ethos is "thou shalt not repair thy Swatch". Good for driving up sales no doubt, but not good for those of us who are at odds with the disposable society. I don't want to bin them if there is a chance I could get them working.

Has anybody got any idea how to get in to these gadgets without using a tin opener?

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Well the good news is that I now know what is inside a "disposable" Swatch, but the bad news is, that it was beyond repair.

There is some very clever engineering going on here to keep the costs down, including heat staking the parts together on to the plastic frame, and making part of the frame from the "lead frame" of the controller IC.

The crown, stem and adjuster gear are all fabricated/welded as a single item, so if you pull the end of the crown too vigorously, it parts company irreperably with the stem, this saves a number of machining operations, including putting a thread on the stem presumably.

The actual watch is pretty conventional in its construction, but the "enginnering to a price" makes it almost impossible to repair.

I guess if it were a family heirloom I might make a stab at it, but since it was basically free with a bunch of other stuff, I don't feel the need to invest much more time in it.

The major fault on this example was the broken I.C. leadframe, leg which formed one of the battery contacts. The other issue it had was that the day/date adjust was unreliable, and had developed a nasty crunching noise, which was down to a damaged plastic gear.

Dismantling it was simply a case of knocking the ends off the various heat staked pins, but re-constructing it would require some ingenuity, since the pins would have to be replaced, glued, perhaps with hot melt glue, or small self tapper screws put in their place.












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Another scruffy member of the "404 Club" got a bit of a scrub, lube and polish.

At 41mm lug to lug and 45mm across the crown, this is a bit of a monster.

I complain about a lot of the recent watches looking like copper frying pans, but it seems the 1970s started the trend for huge wristwatches. I have a couple of other jump hours, but they are positively petite by comparison. 

I didn't appreciate quite how big it was when I bid on it on ebay. It actually took 25mm pins in a 24mm strap, which resembles an old tire. I had nothing else remotely large enough. The strap came from one of the really junk watches (a fake Tag).

The movement is yet another EB 8800 variant. With a little care I got it sitting at +/- 20s per day on the timer, so it could be pressed in to service, but I really don't know if I have the strength to lug around a boat anchor and a car tire, I think I may stick with something a little more refined. 








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I picked up a little blue Three Star - Orient Crystal - 21 Jewel, a couple of months back.

When it arrived, I gave it a quick clean and service and attempted to get it working to my satisfaction, but no matter what I tried, it was pretty erratic and the autowinder was not doing its thing.

This evening I had another shot at it, and  I am finally happy enough to order a new crystal, which I have done,  and give it a polish, which will need to wait for another day.

I will need to wear it for a few days once the crystal is fitted before I can say I'm completely satisfied, but it is now running a lot better than it was.



All that is left to do tonight is to set it to the correct time and date, leave it running, and check it in the morning. Hopefully we have yet another recruit to the "404 club".

Edited by AndyHull
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Well, the Orient is still going strong. It hasn't missed a beat, and is bang on target, when compared to the Swatch, which is on my other arm. I ran a few more iterations of the Jupiter clouds dial through Gimp, then settled on a target watch to act as my first victim. This is a large, cheap square faced Chinese quartz number, which calls itself an Eiger, for some bizarre reason.

I took some closeup pictures of the dial, which I had carefully extracted from the watch, and used these to give me my dimensions.

Then I went to work... or should that be play..

This is the first draft that I feel is reasonably close to what I am looking for.


Below is the original dial.


Now all I need to do is wait patiently for the decal paper to arrive, and see if it looks presentable in real life.

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I tweaked a few things, softened up a few edges, improved the drop shadow and added in some text and the Voyager spacecraft.



Whether I can coax this level of detail form my inkjet printer on the decal paper remains to be seen.

This image includes the transparency layers, alpha channel etc, so it about 5.6Mb compared with 2Mb or so of the jpg above.

Edited by AndyHull
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Recently I picked up a couple of Timex automatics, one with date, one without. The one without, was a bit of a gamble as it appeared to be missing the winding stem, but otherwise looked immaculate. The one with the date was in a pile of other "stuff" and it too is missing its winding stem. If anybody has got a big pile of Timex winding stems they don't know what to do with, let me know.

The other day I stripped them both down and prepared them for a good clean and lube. In the process, I managed to misplace one of the winder balance weight screws. (My entropy containment field generator must have been switched off at the time ;) ).

So undaunted I grabbed an old Timex ladies movement that appeared to have been for a swim (also from the same pile of junk) and gave it a quick dink in the magic de-grunging bottle then disassembled it, in the hope of finding some similar screws.

There are four nearly identical, and one with a shorter reach, but the same thread, so I'll clean those up and re-use at least one of them, depending on how many more slip into a parallel universe in the course of re-assembling the two automatics. 

Since I was in dismantling mode, I also popped out the main spring barrel to see why the thing was locked solid and wouldn't even attempt to wind.

I wonder if this wins a prize for the most pieces it is possible to break a main spring in to while still in the watch.


I'm sure someone here will have seen one in even more bits.



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2 minutes ago, AndyHull said:

If anybody has got a big pile of Timex winding stems they don't know what to do with, let me know.

Depending on the pile you need I have a small pile of around 20-30 ....

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What can I say... A Greville 21 Jewel Swiss made basket case. It arrived sans glass, and sporting only two hands.

I have the watch running, with a temporary crystal on it. It took a couple of dunks in the cleaning bath and some careful work to remove the existing internal grime, but it does run. I'll let it bed in for a day or two then see if I can make it run as well as its 21 jewels should allow.  It needs a second hand, and I should have something suitable, but that poor dial. :wacko:

The textured  plastic dial appears to have been eaten by grey mold. Something went an interesting shade of blue when I touched it with some bleach based surface cleaner. The silvering on the letters is long gone, and the black print has seen better days too.

So unless this level of "patina" is your thing, then some creative thinking is required for this one.

On the plus side, it would be pretty difficult to make it any worse, so I'll need to see what I can come up with.

Oh.. and the plating on the case is in a terrible condition. What more can I say? It only cost a couple of quid though.






That mechanism is a much healthier colour than it was when it arrived. I don't see any of the thumbprints on it now either.

I presume that shock protector spring rotates to remove it, but It didn't want to budge, so I very gingerly cleaned and it oiled from the other side. Not the best solution, but I didn't want to damage the balance, and it does seem to have done the trick.

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On 3/1/2019 at 8:37 AM, AndyHull said:

I only need a pile of two. Do they come in specific lengths, or do they come oversized, and you cut them to suit the watch?

Do they come with crown affixed, or is the crown screwed on after the fact?

I have hundreds if not thousands of vintage Timex stem crowns.

what you need to do is read the dial code at the base of the dial.  This than can be referenced in one of two catalogs to determine the proper part. 

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On 3/1/2019 at 8:42 AM, HSL said:

They seems to be like one size fits all for the different movements.
Just pop your adress in my inbox and I'll send you a bunch for further examinations..

not really one size fits all.  there are many differences.  The dial code at the base of the dial is the key.

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