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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Authored by SKX

Hi all,

The following are a series of articles I've written in which I hope to introduce those interested in our hobby to basic watchmaking. I hope that this will give you guys a good introduction and the confidence you'll need to further explore this wonderful hobby of ours. Enjoy.

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Absolute Beginner's Guide To A Movement Service, Part 1: Tools And Materials.

In reply to Ken who asked, here is the procedure I use to rebuild a movement. The movement will be a 6105 as my earlier photos of a 6309 are pretty ordinary.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a watchmaker! I am a hobbyist! Do not try this on an expensive watch or on your friend's watches! This tutorial is designed for those who just want to rebuild their own movements for fun and practice. Leave the real watch repairs to the professionals. Having said that, I have several watches which I have rebuilt myself which are running strongly and accurately, and I encourage everyone to give this a go. If you have the right tools, good eyes, a steady hand and a methodical approach, you can rebuild your own movements, and I must say it is an extremely satisfying experience to see the movement spring into life. If any real watchmakers are reading this, please chime in at any point to correct what I am doing. Be gentle though.

Right. Now that that's out of the way, the first thing you need is a work area where you won't be disturbed, and good lighting. Bear in mind that you ARE going to drop parts on the floor, so thick carpets are not recommended. You also need a PC and a digital camera. Buy a parts box; I get mine from Spotlight in Australia, they sell Art/Craft/Homemaker kind of stuff, and have these great boxes for putting your crafty things in which cost about $5. You will see it in use in Part 2. An ultrasonic cleaner is a bonus; you can buy small ones at a reasonable price.

Tools. As with everything, you usually get what you pay for, so buy the best you can afford, particularly screwdrivers and tweezers.

Here's my basic set:

At the top, the caseback opener. I like these as they are light and easy to use, but care must be taken not to let the tool slip and damage your case back.

From L to R, 1.0mm and 1.2mm screwdrivers, tweezers, case knife (for removing bezels), stiff brush to clean the case before you open it, springbar remover, a needle, hand setting tool, and a hand made stem release pusher. I know people who fashion hand setters out of various bits of plastic tube, but the real tool makes a particularly tricky job a little easier. At the top, a piece of x-ray film and hand remover tool. The film is to protect the dial when you're using the hand remover. The needle pushed into the cork is my oiler. Crude, and not particularly effective, but it does work. I need to buy a real one. Small bowl for cleaning parts, a clean cloth, all sitting on a paper towel.

You will also want:

A tub of grease for the stem tube, and a greaser. This is great, it is two pieces of sponge impregnated with grease. You drop your gasket in, screw the lid back and forth a couple of times, and your gasket has an even coating of grease. You also need a case holder, some watch oil, a movement holder, cotton buds, and a blower.

Cleaning fluid. A watchmaker recommended this product to me.

It seems to do the job and evaporates cleanly. The WD-40 is for releasing stuck click balls. Never use this to lubricate any part of a watch.

Next, the crystal press. If you are serious, buy one of these, but is not essential:

And lastly, magnification.

I can't use a loupe, I use the headset. It stays in place, and you get binocular vision of what you're doing. I use the loupe only for the really tiny stuff. This one came with a steel band to hold it in place against your eye (and it works if you wear glasses as well, as I do), which I have duct taped to the loupe as it kept coming off.

I'll let you go off now to collect all of that, and I'll get started on Part 2.

Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Authored by Isthmus

Absolute Beginner's Guide To A Movement Service, Part 2: Disassembly and cleaning

Before we dive straight into the movement, we should consider screwdriver and tweezer technique. You should always operate your screwdriver like this:


You must develop a sense of touch when replacing screws, as too much pressure before you get that first thread in will send your screw flying. It is worth practicing removing and replacing screws before you get too far into the movement. When handling screws in your tweezers, I recommend holding them by the thread just under the head of the screw. This way you can hold them firmly, and as the screw will be close to 90 degrees to the tweezers, you can easily drop them in their holes. Practice picking them up and putting them down. Always work over a piece or two of paper towel, and keep the parts low. This will reduce bounce when you drop a part and hopefully they won't roll too far. Keep your keyboard covered as this is a favourite place for parts to hide.

First you will remove the bracelet/strap using the springbar tool. This can be really easy or quite tricky depending on the springbars and the bracelet/strap you have. Rubber straps can be really difficult particularly if they are new and stiff, but you have to just try to push them back far enough to be able to get to the spring bar. Compress the spring bar and remove the bracelet/strap.

Next, remove the case back. Be careful not to let your caseback tool slip and scratch the caseback. Covering the caseback with tape will help here.

With the caseback removed, release the stem. This procedure varies between movements, but we are talking about 6105/6309 models here, so the release button is easy to find. It is different on 7002/7S26 which uses a small lever, only visible when the crown is pulled out (to the first position I think?). Here's where it is on 6105/6309s.


You can see the button just to the left of the tip of the tool. Depress this gently and remove the stem.

Now turn the watch face up on your palm. A gentle tap on the case should have the movement out. You'll find the movement holder ring with its spring as well, so put these into the parts box.

Replace the stem carefully, giving it a gentle wiggle back and forth so that it correctly engages the clutch wheel and goes in all the way. Don't use any force. Mount the movement in the movement holder face up.

Remove the hands. This can be done by gently lifting the hands one at a time with tweezers, but you do risk bending them. It is better to use a hand removal tool. If you do, get a piece of x-ray film or similar, cut in roughly the shape and size of the dial, and cut a long V shape into it so that the point of the V is in the middle of the piece of film (see picture in Part 1). Slip the film under all three hands, then remove the hands.

Next, remove the movement from the movement holder, and locate the two small screws on the edge of the movement which secure the dial. Loosen them by about 3/4 of one full turn and carefully remove the dial and its holding ring. Replace the movement in the holder dial side up. Now for the movement itself.

OK, to start off you will need the service manual for your movement. These are readily available in PDF format, but drop me a line if you need one. Have this open on your PC. Have your parts box open next to your work area. The service manual will show you the correct sequence of disassembly and reassembly. You start with the top of the watch (i.e., the dial side), and the crown/stem must be installed.

There's nothing too complicated about the disassembly. Just take care and do one component at a time in the order documented in the service manual. One of the tricky bits on any movement with a day wheel is to remove the C clip that secures the day wheel. You can try to gently prise this up with a needle to get it started, then slip a small screwdriver under it to remove it completely.

What I did when starting out was to remove the screws and the component they were securing, and keeping these separate in a compartment in the order you removed them. This way you will always keep the correct screws with the right component. Each time you remove a component, take a photo. You will end up with 15 - 20 photos which you can use in the reassembly. Here's a photo of the parts box I talked about in Part 1, you can see that it is possible to put an entire project into one box:


To start with, do not attempt to dismantle the balance wheel/cock at all, just keep it in one part. Don't dismantle the diashock or remove the cannon pinion. Try these when you have more experience as they can really ruin your day if they go wrong. Unfortunately however, if you are working on a movement with water damage, the cannon pinion/centre wheel/hour wheel are often rusted together and will need replacement anyway.

When removing the balance wheel, pick it up together with the balance cock by holding them together with your tweezers.


Invert it onto your bench, then locate the wheel back into its jewel with careful nudges of your tweezers. You can then handle it by the cock (no giggling please) without damaging the hairspring.

Once fully disassembled, all the parts need to be cleaned. Get a small shallow dish and add some Shellite (or whatever). Put the parts from one compartment at a time into the dish and let them soak, give them a wriggle every now and then to remove the grime and old oil. When you get sick of this, remove the parts and place on your paper towel to dry. While they are drying, add the next compartment of parts to the Shellite. When dry (give them at least five minutes), put them back in the parts box in the same compartment they came out of. The main plate will need more drying time to get all the Shellite out of all the nooks and crannies. Brush out all the jewels with a toothbrush moistened with Shellite. If any stains remain, give them a gentle scrub with a cotton bud dipped in Shellite. Make sure to give them a good rinse in the Shellite bowl after this, and make sure no strands of cotton have been left on the part.

Don't clean the day or date wheels though, I'm sure Shellite will dissolve the paint. Don't immerse the barrel either as we're not going to open it up. Just clean any marks on the outside with a cotton bud dipped in Shellite.

To dry the balance, hang it on a needle stuck into a piece of Rodico. Make sure the wheel is hanging vertically so that the spring is not distorted.

This has to be completely dry or the coils will stick together.

As you are cleaning the parts, examine them for any obvious signs of damage. As we are not watchmakers we can't know all the problem signs, but look for broken and missing teeth on each wheel and pinion, missing axles, that sort of thing.

Here's a bunch of parts drying on a paper towel.

I hope this all makes sense! That's all for Part 2. We'll finish it off in Part 3.

Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Authored by SKX

Absolute Beginner's Guide To A Movement Service, Part 3: The Rebuild

Sorry for the delay folks, I have been struck down with swine flu and am still recovering. This is a really long post, sorry about that too.

The pictures used here will be of a 6105 as the ones I took of my 6309 were pretty ordinary. The movements are similar, with the big difference of course being that the 6105 has no day mechanism. But you should get the general idea. I intend to update this with a more "blow by blow" series using a 6309, but for the time being, this is all I have.

OK, you should now have the movement in bits, all cleaned, your photos of the disassembly and the service manual open on your PC, and a clean work area in front of you. The service manual will show you where you have to apply oil as the build progresses. A real watchmaker will use several different oils for different parts of the watch, but for our first builds, buy some general purpose oil. Your parts supplier will give you some direction here. I have used Moebius 9010 so far, and it is obviously working, but it's probably like putting engine oil in your gearbox or vice versa. Not guaranteed for another 30 years anyway. You only need a tiny droplet of oil, barely visible even through a loupe. I use the head of a needle in the absence of a real oiler. Dip the needle in your oil, and wipe of any excess. The eye of the needle will hold a little oil, and you can dab it on from this. If you apply too much, mop up the excess with a small piece of paper towel.

Reassemble the watch in the order documented in the service manual. You will start with the keyless works, and all the day/date setting parts. First though, install the stem and the clutch wheel. Hold the clutch wheel in position with tweezers, with the pointy end facing inwards, then insert the stem all the way in.

This picture shows the completed clutch wheel/setting lever system. You start by installing the clutch lever, and set it so that it lies in the grove in the clutch wheel. Install the setting lever, then the setting lever spring, and loosely install the setting lever spring screw. Make sure the end of the spring engages the post on the setting lever as shown in the picture. Once this is all in place, tighten the screws, then test it by pulling the crown out to the first and second positions and back again. This will give you an idea of how the whole thing works. You can see that the clutch wheel moves in as you pull the crown out.

This picture shows the nearly complete top side of the movement. It will look different to your 6309: there is no hour wheel bridge, and the date movement parts are plastic. But you should get the general idea. Be careful of the date jumper when installing. Hold it in place with a toothpick, and carefully click the spring end into the movement. Note the installation of the Intermediate date wheel, the pinion side faces down so that it meshes with the gear on the date setting wheel. Note at this point - the hour wheel carries the hour hand, and the cannon pinion carries the minute hand. The cannon pinion fits over the shaft of the center wheel, so it must turn when the center wheel turns, but it must also slide on the shaft when you adjust the time. This is why I have suggested that you don't remove these parts when starting out. If the cannon pinion is too loose, the minute hand will flop about. If too tight, you will have trouble setting the time, and risk damaging other parts. If either of these parts need replacement, they are generally sold together as a pair. The second hand is carried by the long shaft of the fourth wheel which we'll get to later.

Holding plate now installed. OK, now you can see what the date jumper does. It causes the date wheel to snap to just the right position. You know that problem when the date is not correctly centered in the date window? It could be caused by a worn date jumper, or the jumper has slipped out of contact with the date wheel. Ditto with the day wheel on your 6309. You can see a hole in the tip of the jumper. You can insert a needle into this hole to retract the jumper to set it correctly against the teeth of the date wheel. The day jumper on a 6309 does not have this, and is a bit trickier to set correctly. Use patience and you'll get it in. Important when replacing that C clip that retains the day wheel - make sure that the chamfer faces down so that you can get something under it when you need to remove it again. At this point test all of the setting mechanisms by pulling the crown out to the first position, and make sure you can set the day/date correctly. Then pull it out to the second position, and observe the cannon pinion turning, and the day/date changing as you pass midnight. Rotate the crown anti-clockwise to advance the time of course. It can take a few goes to get it all right.

Once complete, remove the movement from the holder and install it the other way up.

Movement showing the center wheel.

Now we're getting to the fun part. I have skipped a few steps here, but I'm sure you will catch up. Things to note: you have to ensure that all these wheels are correctly located in their lower jewels. The Third wheel should be pretty much flat against the center wheel bridge, and the fourth wheel flat on top of the third wheel. That's not how they'll end up, but for now that's where they should be. Also observe the hacking system. The end of the lever sits in the groove in the clutch wheel, so as the crown is pulled out to the second position, the lever moves to the left (in this picture) and actually contacts the balance wheel, stopping the movement. You can see that to install a hacking mechanism in a 6309 all you need is the centre wheel bridge and the lever itself.

Here we can also see the complete power train. The barrel contains the main spring which drives the whole movement. The barrel drives the center wheel, which drives the third wheel, which drives the fourth wheel, which drives the escape wheel.

Install the train wheel bridge. This is about the hardest part of the procedure for the beginner, in my opinion. You have to get the three wheels (3rd, 4th and escape wheels) located in their jewels in the bridge. In a 6309 you need to install the click first, so if you are doing one of these, bend the click back and lock it behind the edge of the main plate just next to the barrel, so that it is out of the way of the bridge. Now carefully position the bridge, aligning the screw holes correctly. Install all three screws, and give them one full turn so that they hold the plate in the correct position, but so that there is absolutely no pressure on any of the wheels yet. Now pick up the entire movement in the holder in your left hand, and look in under the bridge at the three wheels. Apply gentle downwards pressure to the top of the bridge with one of the fingers of your left hand. Now get a needle and starting with the third wheel (ie the one furthest away from you), gently move the wheel until it appears perfectly square to the main plate, back and forth in the two dimensions, until you will hear/feel it go "click" into its jewel. When this is done, move on to the escape wheel, then the fourth wheel. Keep the pressure on the top of the plate, so when all three wheels are in their jewels you can grab your screwdriver and loosely tighten the screws. This literally took me three weeks to do on my first go! I can now do it in about 15 seconds. This can be easy, but I bet the first time you try it will take a while, and involve much bad language. Right, once the screws are loosely tightened, see whether you can see the three stems in the three jewels on top of the bridge. You just want to confirm that they are in before tightening the screws completely. If you are sure, tighten the screws firmly. Observe where the bridge meets the main plate, it should fit perfectly. If not, one of the wheels is not in place and you've probably destroyed one of them! If all is well though, slowly rotate the barrel clockwise with a screwdriver, and you should see the three wheels spinning. This tells you all is well.

This is almost my favorite part. Install the ratchet wheel and the click. Note that the 6309 click is not secured by a screw like the 6105. Now you can wind the mainspring (clockwise) with a screwdriver using the ratchet wheel screw. Just give it one or two turns.

The movement will spin freely, assuming you have done everything right so far. This looks brilliant.


Now the next hard bit. Install the pallet fork into its lower jewel. There is no easy way to do this. Put the pallet cock in position, and loosely install the screws. Again, no pressure on the pallet! You just want the screws to hold the pallet cock in the right position. Now move the pallet back and forth until the cock drops into position and the pallet is correctly located in its jewel. It should of course be contacting the teeth of the escape wheel. If you think you have it in, apply gentle pressure downwards on the cock, and see if you can nudge the fork back and forth with no up and down motion. Once you are sure it's in correctly, tighten the screws.

Now for the next really hard bit. Install the balance wheel complete with balance cock. This should be sitting upside down in the parts box, with the wheel sitting in its jewel. This will ensure that the wheel is in the correct position relative to the balance cock (assuming the hairspring is not bent). Take it out and place it in the palm of your hand. Then grip it in your tweezers holding the wheel against the cock so that it does not move, and with the tweezers in the position you will use to insert it in the movement. Have a think about this before you start. Invert it, then install - under the fourth wheel, align the cock with its pins and screw hole, in approximately the right position. Install the screw and once again only give it about half a turn, just so the threads are engaged and the cock is held in the right position. Now gently pursuade the wheel into its jewels, with a little pressure on the balance cock until it sits correctly in place. Hold the balance cock and carefully swing the wheel back and forth a few times - not far, just a quarter of a turn at most - and make sure it picks up the pallet fork. If all is in properly, the wheel will swing freely and the pallet fork will move in time with the wheel. If not, take it out and start again. This just comes with practice. Once this is working correctly, fasten the screw. Now the really fun part!

Wind the main spring again with a screwdriver in the ratchet wheel screw. Give it a good wind, at least half a dozen turns. If the movement does not start immediately, gently tap the balance wheel to get it going. Then shout "It lives!" as the movement starts to work. At this stage any kind of rejoicing, including dancing, punching the air and saying "Alright!" etc is acceptable. You've done well and you should be proud! If the movement will not run, well you've either done something wrong or you have a broken part. Have a drink before considering your next move. However, if all the tests done along the way have succeeded, the movement should be running. Now just sit back and watch it run for at least 10 minutes.

We're not done yet though, we need to put the winding mechanism back on. As you know, this comprises the winding bridge, the transfer wheel, and the "magic fingers".

Install the parts, and loosely install the screws. With tweezers, open the magic fingers through the holes in the winding bridge, and ensure that they have engaged the teeth of the transfer wheel, not trapped underneath or on top of it. Move the ratchet wheel slightly to make sure that the transfer wheel has correctly engaged it, then tighten the screws. Check that the bridge is fitted snugly to the main assembly - if it is not, then repeat the previous step. Once complete, wind the ratchet wheel again and ensure the transfer wheel turns with it. Finally, install the rotor. Wind the rotor in both directions and ensure the transfer wheel turns and winds the barrel. I tend to do this later as the movement is easier to handle without the rotor installed. While you're here, move the adjustment lever to the middle of the range to set a starting point for final regulating.

Now remove the movement from the holder, and replace the dial holding ring, then install the dial, locating the dial feet in the two retaining screws. Tighten the screws and mount the movement back in the holder, dial side up. Pull the crown out to the second position, and advance the movement until the date just starts to change. Turn it back a little bit. Now you can set the hands to midnight and the date/day will change correctly. Install the hour hand, pressing it down firmly but not too firmly. Check that it is exactly parallel to the dial. Repeat with the remaining hands. You can set the second hand anywhere of course. Make sure they are all parallel and can rotate without touching each other. This is not always as easy as it sounds. When done, remove the movement from the holder. Remove the stem, being careful not to damage the hands. There is a little tab on the dial at 2:00 that engages a cutout in the chapter ring, make sure that this is in the correct position. Balance the movement on the tips of three fingers, then get the case, align the stem tube correctly, and lower the case on to the movement. Once in, make sure the chapter ring is aligned, if not you can move it from inside the case. Once everything is straight, replace the stem and screw it in. This will hold the movement snugly. Replace the movement holding ring and its spring, pop the case back on and you're done. Easy! You did remember to oil everything, right?
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