This vintage chronograph was received in very bad shape. It was missing a pusher, the lug at 2 o'clock was bent, and the movement was rusty. After inspecting the movement, I realized that it would need a lot of parts. Beyond the obvious, I found most all of the wheels would need to be replaced due to rust and bad pivots. I decided to source a replacement movement that I could use for parts. This is a good idea as it is less expensive to buy a complete movement than it is to buy the individual parts. It also helps me estimate the cost to repair, as it puts a price cap on the cost of parts. Most of the original movement was unuseable, but the overall originality of the piece is still intact as the replacement movement is an identical replacement to the old one. It is a Landeron 248 movement, if you are interested.
I overhauled the new movement, and used some of the plates and miscellaneous parts from the old movement. I applied new luminous to the dial, hands, and bezel. I also replaced the crystal, both pushers, and the caseback gasket. I turned the sealing surface on the caseback, as that was badly damaged from a botched attempt to open the caseback without the proper tool.
After the customer received his watch, I got this very kind e-mail:
I received the watch today, I am amazed at what I took out of the box! Out of my current collection I think this will get the most wrist time and one of the only ones immune to the chopping block when things get rough. Now I have no fear in buying that beater chrono or watch, because I found a watch maker that can make them whole again and get their hearts beating once more. The craftsmanship is of a very high level, but what truly sets your work apart is the outstanding customer service you provide every step of the restoration process, and your willingness to answer any and all questions. I am currently hunting down a Wittnauer professional chronograph 242T and trust me when I say I don't care what condition it's in if the price is right, it will be showing up at your doorstep! Thanks, Wade from Hawaii
Vintage LeCoultre Futurematic Wristwatch Repair
I repair quite a few old LeCoultre watches, including alarm watches and Futurematics. This watch was received in decent aesthetic condition, though the lugs were bent inward quite a bit. I assume someone wanted to fit a 16mm band to this watch which was designed for an 18mm, so instead of buying a properly-sized strap they chose to bend the lugs. Stupid, but it happens. Also, the case back was loose. The dial had been refinished previously. I think the dial could be better, but it was not bad so we decided to leave it alone. The movement had quite a few problems. I replaced the driving wheel and added 2 jewels to correct some wear in the autowind section. I also replaced the rotor bearing, which was worn and not original.
These movements are pretty unique in that the watch actually stops autowinding when the power reserve is full. There is a relation between the reserve indicator and the autoweight, so when the mainspring is fully wound a hook engages the autoweight and stops it from moving.
Because of this unique design, most watchmakers do not know how to properly service these movements. There are special procedures to get the reserve indicator, mainspring preload, and autoweight hook to function correctly. I have factory documentation on this movement describing these procedures, and I have developed a few of my own techniques to restore these watches to proper functionality.
"Stewart Warner", made by Chelsea, Car Clock Repair
This is a clock from a vintage Pierce Arrow automobile. The owner of the clock also owned the car, and was having the car completely restored. This was very dirty when I received it. It needed a thorough cleaning and a new mainspring. I didn't take any 'before' photos, these are just shots of the completed car clock repair.
Patek Philippe Minute Repeater
This is an example of a high-end repeater repair. The photos show how many parts are in these movements, and just how complicated they are. Consequently, the costs to restore such a watch are also high.
Panerai Chronograph, Zenith El Primero movement
This customer had taken this watch to another watchmaker and supposedly had it repaired. It wasn't right the first time, so he took it back again. It stopped again after taking it in a second time, so he eventually contacted me. It needed a cleaning and some adjustments to the escapement (which was why it kept stopping). I also adjusted the flyback mechanism, as the hour recorder wasn't zeroing-out properly.
Movado Astronic repair, automatic, triple chronograph, triple date, with moonphase. Model HS 360
These watches are fairly rare, and very complicated to fix. There are just a lot of parts, and a lot of buttons (two chrono pushers, plus correctors for the triple date mechanism).
The bracelet on this watch was also broken, a few links came apart and the buckle needed repair. I made a few new pins for the links.
These watches were made for Movado by Zenith, and the movements are based on the well-known Zenith El Primero. You'll note the Panerai watch above used a similar movement (less the triple date moonphase mechanism). The Zenith El Primero movement was also used by Rolex in their first automatic Daytona chronographs.
This watch is almost identical to the Zenith Espada.
Vintage Omega Constellation Repair
This Omega Constellation restoration was pretty straightforward. I refinished the dial, cleaned and refinished the hands, new crystal, etc.
Vintage Rolex Cosmograph Chronograph repair, model 6239 This watch had a missing pusher cap, and the movement was slightly loose in the case. The bracelet probably isn't original to this watch, but it was a genuine Rolex bracelet from about the right era. The clasp wasn't closing properly, as the two tangs had broken off. I serviced the watch, replaced both pushers (to get an exact matching set, and so they'd be water resistant). I also used some high-temperature solder and made two new tangs for the clasp. I also repainted the bezel, as a lot of the black paint had fallen out over the years.
These early Rolex manual wind chronographs used a modified version of the well-respected Valjoux 72 movement. This was the Rolex 72B version.
I've repaired quite a few vintage Heuer chronographs, both the automatic caliber 11 and caliber 12 versions, and the earlier manual wind chronos using the Valjoux 23 / Valjoux 72 movements. Here are two photos of the finished watches. I didn't take 'before' photos of these.
Bracelet for Heuer Autavia chronographs
Here are two photos showing what most people call 'bracelet stretch'. This is really a misnomer, as the bracelet looks like it has stretched, but it has really just worn. You can see from the photos that both the links, and the bars that support the links, have worn considerably. In order to really fix this problem, you'd essentially have to replace all of the links and all of the worn bars. The only thing left would be the outermost links at each side. There's no practical fix for this kind of wear.
You'll see the same type of wear with most all watch bracelets, including Rolex and others. Gold or two-tone bracelets are even more susceptible to wear, due to the fact that gold is quite a bit softer than stainless.