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.

Although this is technically a blog, the content is not generally in a time-based sequence. You can find interesting items throughout. Down the page some is an alphabetical word cloud of keywords used here. A great way to dig in is to look through those topics and click anything you find interesting. You'll see all the relevant content.

Here are a few of my favorites!

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Waltham 18 Size P. S. Bartlett

 Left to right; center wheel, 4th wheel, 3rd wheel and escape (not the order the run in in the watch actually, but that is the whole train).

There was quite a bit of rust at the center of the watch, affecting the hands and freezing the cannon pinion to the center wheel shaft, and the minute wheel to the cannon pinion. I managed to get them all apart and cleaned up. Other than the hands, which are pretty bad, and I'm not sure about them yet, the various other parts have cleaned up well and will work fine.

The base plate on this movement features the replace slot and all the screw holes to support the shipper mechanism that most stem-set Walthams have. This watch is lever-set. But this run of plate could easily be used for either stem or lever set models. A retail watchmaker, if they had the parts, could also make the change.

This bottle goes back to the teens or '20s. I happen to know where it came from. There's still plenty left though.
A paste of diamontine and oil, and a shaped stick, with the lathe, provide the best means to reduce a balance staff pivot.

This is the old and broken staff in the lathe to be removed by cutting away the back hub.
When it is nearly all cut away, the balance wheel can be broken free with the staking set.
 Here is the balance wheel, the new staff, the roller table (single roller type) and the hairspring ready to be assembled.
I use an inverting staking tool. This is handy because I can just take the stake just used to finish the rivet, invert it, place the assembly in the other way, and press the roller table in place. The roller table is friction fit, using a special stake with a slot to clear the roller jewel.
To complete the balance assembly by installing the hairspring, the last two stakes used are simply inverted again and the hairspring collet press in place. The hairspring rotation is then given a fine adjustment so the stud falls in the right place, and assembly is then ready to use.
The weight of the balance wheel should be even on all side. This ruby jawed vise is used to check that.
It should sit in any orientation without turning to any particular side downward - indicating a heavier side.

This is a Waltham 1892 model, P.S. Bartlett signed 18 size, 17 jewels, lever-setting

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