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Entries in mending (1)

Sunday
Aug112019

More precious

Last year for my birthday, my lovely wife bought me a pocket watch. 

Pocket watch

I love it. I love the cogs, the colour, the weight of it. I love that it's mechanical so I never have to worry about it stopping on me. I love that it goes with my waistcoats, or just in a jean pocket. Love it. 

Unfortunately, it pretty quickly became apparent that there was a problem with it. The hour hand didn't stay in time. The minute hand would stay spot on, but throughout the day the hour hand would drift an hour behind, then catch up again. Or if I set it when it was an hour behind, it would drift an hour ahead and then back again. 

Now, I do like a challenge, and did I mention that I love this watch? So I did what any ex-engineer would do, and started googling for fixes. I pretty quickly found that the best fix for this issue was to change the entire movement. Although you could potentially just change out the damaged hour wheel, it's not easy. Potentially at this point I should just have taken it to The Clock Workshop, but where's the challenge in that? So instead I started looking for replacement movements. 

Well, you need pretty precise measurements to replace a movement like for like. So my first stop was to work out how to remove the movement and measure it properly. I had to find the tiny push button to remove the stem, then pull the whole lot out of the plastic mount it came in, and finally remember how to use my vernier callipers. Once I had my measurements (27.0mm diameter, stack height 6.8mm) I had to find a suitable replacement. 

This was when I made a second discovery about my watch. Not only was it mechanical, but this funky bit on the back that looks a bit like a challenge for Indiana Jones to run through means that it's actually an automatic watch.

Pocket watch

So in theory, it winds itself as I wear it and move. This also explained why I couldn't find the 'stop winding' point. Automatic watches have a mechanism to prevent over-winding, so you never hit that hard stop that you do with mechanical ones. 

I now had the measurements and knew I needed an automatic, three hand, 12 hour, skeleton movement in gold. I strongly suspected it was a chinese movement. I found Watch and Clock Parts, who stock the movements in the UK but had no pictures of the Chinese ones to compare to my watch. Fortunately Esslinger had more pictures (and some really helpful videos!), so I finally plumped for one to get it shipped. 

Swapping out the movement was pretty straightforward. Switching the hands across was a pain in the arse. I need better eyesight for that (or a magnifying glass!). And the last bit that was more finickity that I was expecting was getting the face aligned properly. But the movement is now swapped, and the watch is keeping good time so far.

Pocket watch

The watch face looks better aligned in real life, I promise.

Clarkie was pretty upset when she realised that the watch wasn't working. But it's actually probably given me more pleasure to fix it than just owning it ever would have. The new movement isn't identical to the old one (pics here, if you want to try to compare/contrast), but if anything I think I can see more movement through the watch now. And I know so much more about how it works - I love it even more!