This Angelus is called a Chronodato for obvious reasons, it features a 2 register chronograph with a 45 minute register, plus windows for the day and month, and a center pointer for the date (1-31 are printed at the far outside of the dial). This watch was received in fairly poor condition, and really didn't do anything correctly. It couldn't be wound, as the winding pinion was loose in the case. It was not possible to set the hands properly as there was too much wear in the setting/winding mechanism. The day/date would not change by itself, as a pin was missing to drive this function. And, the chronograph didn't function either. I think the correctors were the only thing that worked. The movement was very dirty, and had some rust. I completely disassembled the watch, even further than what is shown the photos. I made two new bushings for the stem to correct wear so that the watch would wind and set smoothly. I also made a pin for the date mechanism (which was missing) so that the day/date would change properly. It needed quite a few parts, including a new stem, crystal, mainspring, and set bridge.
Antique Gruen Curvex Watch Repair
This is a vintage Gruen Curvex, probably from the late 1940s. It is a dedication watch and was given to my customer's father when he retired from the police department. Aesthetically it was in poor condition, but the mechanism was in pretty good shape, and the case didn't have any significant wear (this is a white gold-filled case). I did a complete overhaul on the movement and replaced a few parts, including the mainspring. The crown was not correct on this watch, it was a waterproof style crown on a non-waterproof case, so I replaced that with something more correct. I also had the dial refinished, and replaced the crystal with a new old stock period glass crystal. The crystal is very curved, and therefore tends to reflect everything making it difficult to photograph.
This is a vintage LeCoultre automatic alarm watch with date. The biggest problem with this watch was that the dial feet had been broken off. This caused the dial to be loose inside the case, and the hands would catch on the dial and cause the watch to stop. Someone did a bad repair job where they tried to soft (lead) solder the feet back on, and there was also glue reside. Neither one of these is strong enough to work, especially since the surface area of the bond is pretty small. Only high-temperature solder or welding will work properly in this application.
The dial feet have to be very precisely located, otherwise the date won't line up properly or the alarm disk won't be centered. When you get the dial hot enough to melt the silver solder it will burn the finish of the dial, so the dial also had to be refinished after the feet were replaced.
It also needed quite a bit of work to the movement. I found a similar bad repair job on the automatic bridge, where a locating pin was filed off. I replaced that pin and a nearby broken jewel, and overhauled the movement.
Omega Seamaster Repair, Tiffany Signed Dial
This vintage Omega Seamaster DeVille was missing its bezel. This is not an uncommon problem, but it doesn't have a simple solution as most of these bezels are no longer available. So, this bezel had to be custom-made. There really isn't any other reasonable solution to this problem. I serviced this watch, and installed a genuine Omega crown as well.
This is a non-branded quarter repeater with a simple chronograph. It has the words 'Repetition Chronograph' on the inside dust cover, but there is no real brand name associated with the watch. It is in a 14K gold case, and is probably from the early 1900's. As received, it didn't work - the watch would run but only for a minute or two, and the repeater didn't work at all. It was extremely dirty, and needed about 3 different cleaning processes just to get it right. Also, the sweep second hand was missing, the crystal was missing, and the pusher crown was rusted and frozen. In order to supply a second hand, I had to make a special long tube to fit this watch, and then attach that to a vintage sweep hand I had in the shop. I had to repair the inner workings of the pusher crown, as those are not readily available anymore, especially not in this size and quality.
Marcel Cane ( Lemania ) Chronograph Watch Repair This is a small brand watch that was purchased by my customer while travelling overseas. Obviously, one of the pushers was missing, and the manufacturer was no longer in business so a factory replacement pusher was simply not available. It is actually a very nice quality watch, using a Lemania hand-wound movement (very similar to the one used in the Omega Speedmaster Man on the Moon watch, Omega cal 861). The case is solid 18K, and has a nice heft and a hinged back. I fabricated a new pusher from solid gold. I didn't have a single piece of gold that was quite thick enough, so I soldered a small block using hard plumb solder (i.e 18K plumb solder contains 18/24 gold content for an exact color match, whereas a lot of 18K solder actually has about 12-16K gold). You can see how oxidized gold gets when heated by the purplish hue in the third photo. The pusher I made actually fit the case a bit better than the original, which you can see in the last 2 photos.
Rolex Red Submariner, model 1680 Vintage Rolex sports watches have become very popular recently, and the red Submariner is one of the most desirable. This one has a more interesting story than most, as told by my customer:
"It's the only watch I have used since a friend gave me it in 1974 and has a lot of sentimental value to me. I have put it through its paces; it has dived to 180 feet, locked out of submarines, made hundreds of parachute jumps, gotten pounded in big surf, suffered temperatures from 20 below to 120 above, and been in combat with me during my 30 years as a Navy SEAL."
The customer sent me the watch without a bezel, as shown in the photos. He had two bracelets with it, neither of which were attached to the watch, presumably because both had problems with the fliplock clasps and wouldn't stay closed properly. I did a complete overhaul, with new crown, tube, back gasket, crystal, and a few movement parts. I also supplied a new bezel, insert, and bezel spring. I repaired both bracelets, replaced the riveted pin holding the fliplock, and adjusted the clasp for solid operation.
The owner Rick W. from Virginia Beach, VA commented:
The watch and bracelets arrived yesterday. Immediately unpacked them and saw that everything looked just perfect. Slipped it on, still cold from the mail. It started running right away and I let it reach wrist temperature, then set it by the atomic clock. It has kept perfect time since then.
I keep looking down and admiring this watch I have worn since 1974. It was in very rough shape when I sent you it, but you completely restored it so that now it both looks brand new and has the sentimental value of an old friend.
Thanks, Tom...you are the man.
Vintage Rolex Bubbleback Repair
This is a pretty typical repair of a vintage Rolex Oyster Perpetual watch. This watch didn't run very well, the crown didn't screw down, and the rotor / autoweight rattled in the case because the rotor axle was broken. These watches represent an early (and somewhat unrefined) design of an automatic winding mechanism. They tend to have 2 main problems. The first problem is that the rotor axles break due to a relatively small lower pivot, and due to the fact that the rotors themselves are rigid. There is no provision for shock protection of the autowinding mechanism. (if you scroll down to the Rolex with the later 1030 movement, you will see that the autoweight has cuts in it which help the rotor flex and absorb shock.) The second problem is wear in the unjeweled plates. On this watch, I added 6 jewels total to the autowind mechanism to correct this wear. This is by far the best way to solve this problem. Again, if you scroll down to the Rolex with the 1030, you will see that they eventually went to a fully-jeweled design.
Incidentally, the dial and hands on this watch appear to be in original (not refinished) condition, but on closer inspection I realized that this dial is an older refinish. It has a nice patina, and we decided to leave it alone.
Vintage Rolex Transitional Bubbleback Repair, Caliber 645 movement, early 1950's era
This watch is typically called a 'transitional bubbleback'. It is a bit bigger than the above watch, and the case is no longer straight between the lugs (where the strap fits). You can see the evolution of their autowind mechanism, where Rolex started to add jewels to the autowind section. You'll also see that the rotor is slightly larger in this watch, presumably to help the watch autowind more effectively. This watch also has the 'Super Oyster' crown (winder), which did not screw down. This design didn't work very well, especially compared to their earlier screw down crown designs. The 'Super Oyster' crown was only in production for 3 years.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual restoration, 1950's era, caliber 1030 movement
On many watches I spend a fair amount of time on the aesthetics. This job was quite opposite in that I spent almost all of my time on the movement.
This watch had great sentimental value to its owner. It was a gift to his father, who was a sea captain, by his crew. Unfortunately, the owner got the watch wet (which is a bad idea for vintage watches), and the watch leaked. He then took the watch to a few different 'Rolex repair facilities' (his words, not mine), and no one could fix the watch. What is even worse is that one of the places that looked at the watch basically stole quite a few parts from the movement.
Parts for this particular watch are very hard to come by, as this Rolex caliber 1030 movement was only produced from about 1950 to 1957. In contrast, the successor to this caliber was the 1500 series which was produced for 20 years. Eventually, I had to go to about 8 different suppliers (plus my own inventory) to obtain all of the required components. Including screws, this watch needed 42 parts!
Photo 1 shows the watch as I received it. Basically, all of the sweep second parts are missing, as are most all of the autowind parts. Photo 2 shows the movement after cleaning, with quite a few new parts already installed. All of the components on the white background are also new (as they were all missing).
Photos 3 and 4 show the finished watch. You'll note that quite a bit of the rhodium plating has worn off the movement, this is pretty common on watches that got wet. It is primarily an aesthetic concern only.