If you are an antique pocket watch or wristwatch collector, you know how important it is to keep your watches serviced. Keeping it clean and lubricated will keep parts from rusting and wearing out so your watch will run correctly indefinitely. It’s a worthy goal that all antique pocket watches should be preserved; and be serviced and repaired by qualified watch repairers and watchmakers.
There are a few different types of pocket watch movements and each one is unique to repair.
The very first pocket watches, since their creation in the 16th century, up until the third quarter of the 19th century, had key-wind and key-set movements. A watch key was necessary to wind the watch and to set the time. This was usually done by opening the caseback and putting the key over the winding-arbor or by putting the key onto the setting-arbor, which was connected with the minute-wheel and turned the hands. Some watches of this period had the setting-arbor at the front of the watch, so that removing the crystal and bezel was necessary to set the time.
In the 1850s, the stem-wind, stem-set movement did away with the watch key which was a necessity for the operation of any pocket watch up to that point. Stem-wind, stem-set movements are the most common type of watch-movement found in both vintage and modern pocket watches. The mainstream transition to the use of stem-wind, stem-set watches occurred at around the same time as the end of the manufacture and use of the fusee watch, which made use of a cone-shaped pulley with a helical groove around it, wound with a cord or chain which is attached to the mainspring barrel. Fusee chain-driven timing was replaced with a mainspring of better quality spring steel allowing for a more even release of power to the escape mechanism.
Mandatory for all railroad watches after roughly 1908, this kind of pocket watch was set by opening the crystal and bezel and pulling out the setting-lever, which was generally found at either the 10 or 2 o’clock positions on open-faced watches, and at 5:00 on hunting cased watches. Once the lever was pulled out, the crown could be turned to set the time. The lever was then pushed back in and the crystal and bezel were closed over the dial again. This method of time setting on pocket watches was preferred by American and Canadian railroads, as lever setting watches make accidental time changes impossible.
Much like the lever-set movements, these pocket watches had a small pin or knob next to the watch-stem that had to be depressed before turning the crown to set the time and releasing the pin when the correct time had been set.
Many pocket watch repairs just require a cleaning and overhaul, which consists of a professional watchmaker taking the watch apart, cleaning the gears and parts, and re-lubricating them. This is a very intensive process that takes hours of work. Other times, pocket watches may need parts replaced. Some parts can be made by a watchmaker, but some need to be ordered from the watch manufacturer. It is possible that your pocket watch cannot be repaired if parts are unavailable.
There are over 100 reasons why your pocket watch won’t run. One or more of it’s 200 parts may be broken, rusted, miscalibrated, unoriginal, previously improperly serviced, under lubricated or even just tired. It’s safe to say that pocket watch repair is very complicated and isn’t the easiest job, and should probably be handled by people with lots of experience.
If you need help with fixing your watch, trust a professional.
Times Ticking has been in operation for more than 30 years, since 1982. We have performed watch repair for customers both locally and internationally. If it Ticks! We KNOW it! Our team of watch repair technicians have a combined experience in watchmaking of over 120 years.
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