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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Creative Repair

One of the interesting things about restorations on very old watches is the history of watchmakers that have gone before. In the early years, even with factory made watches, it was much more cost effective to fabricate or repair a part than to obtain a factory original replacement. Basic materials were also sometimes in short supply. Watchmakers kept quite a bit less material on hand than one might expect.

I'm always finding creative repairs in watches. As these are part of the history and character of the piece, I feel it's important to keep those repairs in place, if at all possible. Sometimes that works, and sometimes it does not.

This first photo shows a balance cock from an 18 size Elgin pocket watch. The hairspring was intact on this watch, but it had slipped out of the stud. In this photo the stud is still locked into the cock by it's set screw, at the end in the lower part of the photo. The reason the hairspring slipped out is also clear on inspection. In stead of the usual brass pin slipped into the stud with the spring end and finished off on each end, some creative watchmaker used a sliver of wood! In fact, the sliver of wood is still there, in the stud. Well, that's not going to work...

This second photo shows another interesting repair on a different watch, also an 18 size Elgin. The photo show the dial side of the lower plate. This watch is a particularly old key-wind model that has one case screw. On the other end of the movement from where that screw goes, a pin sticks out, which mates to a hole in the case. The movement is thus held secure from two sides.

On this watch it appears the the pin broke off or was worn away. The watchmakers has soldered a small finger of steel into the edge on the dial side of the plate to replace the pin.

My Grandfather always said, you never know what you will find in a watch until you get in there.

Find more "creative repairs" here.

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