Repairing A Wind-Up Watch

How to repair a wind-up watch.

Watches that require winding are masterpieces of craftsmanship.They can keep accurate time for years with such regular use and maintenance. Many famous names in the world of watches started out as humble repair-people. It needs dedication, a love for the art and craft, and a few sharp, clean and precise tools.

The first step is to establish a clean and well-lit work area with a bench. You have then to assemble tools. A magnifying device, sharp non-magnetic tweezers, screwdrivers sized for watch repair, pliers of various sizes, nippers, files, a demagnetizer, cleaning solvents and oils, are essential.Add an emery cloth, a knife, hands-remover, adhesives and measuring tools. A lathe, an ultrasonic cleaning machine, a truing caliper, a jewel tool, polisher, grinder and a timing machine, will enable you to carry out more complicated repairs, but need significant investment.

Open the watch cover with a knife. Soak disassembled parts in solvent for up to 4 hours. An ultrasound machine can be used before the solvent wash to remove gross dirt. Now remove the watch dial with a knife and either refinish or replace it. You will need to remove the hands to get at the dial. Use a hand remover with a puller. Use oil to loosen the hands. Store the hands in a plastic wrap to prevent them from flying apart from the puller. Now turn your attention to the movement. Remove it and examine it closely from the sides. A fitted ring may surround the movement to keep dust away. This ring must be removed to expose the dial screws. Store the dial screws with care, as they are small and difficult to find.


It may be necessary to replace the crystal. It may be made of glass, plastic or synthetic sapphire. They be round or have another fancy shape. It is worth searching for a crystal from the original manufacturer. Glass crystals with plastic tension rings are commonly available. The replacement crystal may be a bit large and will need filing and polishing on the sides to make for a perfect fit.

More complex repairs need skills that come with years of training by working with masters. It would be best to take a course before attempting more than a cleaning and crystal-replacement project. There are associations and many publications from which one can choose to acquire the advanced skills needed for exhaustive and multi-step watch repairs. Try and refer a watch that continues to malfunction after routine cleaning, to a person who has sufficient experience and confidence as well as a track record to match.

It is time to reassemble your wind-up watch. Do make it a point to wear it on occasion, wind it everyday and teach someone in your family to look after it as well. Since you have a workbench and some precision tools, you could consider setting up a service for friends and other enthusiasts, to give vent to a hobby that some pursue with passion.

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