Classic watches, watchmaking, antique tools, history, vintage ephemera and more!

Learn about mechanical timepieces and how they work, the history of the American watch industry and especially all about the Elgin National Watch Company! Check back for new content daily.

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Question Box

From Horology magazine, November, 1937

Question Box

Rusty Hairsprings

Dear Sir:

Would you please send me information or print in your Question Box about care of hairsprings regarding rust. I believe this would be of interest to other horologists close to the sea coast as I am.
1. Is there any way to treat a hairspring so it will not rust when used in a damp climate?
2. Is there some way to save a hairspring that has one or two rust spots on it?
3. How would you clean and care for the hairspring of a watch that has been in water but was brought in before rust has started, say in a few hours?
Yours truly,
R. S. P.

Answer: There is no way to prevent a steel hairspring from rusting if it is subjected to dampness. Many modern watches are made with hairsprings of nonrusting material such as elinvar, nivarox, etc.

Very little can be done with a spring which has already started to rust. It may be carefully cleaned and heated in oil but in time thr rust will spread and completely ruin the spring. 

A watch which has been in water must be cleaned as soon as possible. If rust has not yet started no particular treatment other than a careful cleaning job is necessary. In such a case a watch cleaning machine will undoubtedly do a more thorough cleaning.

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