Wristwatch restoration, servicing and repair

Archive for the ‘Diver’ Category

Heuer Monnin (FE Cal. 4611A)…

An iconic diver to kick off the New Year, a Heuer Monnin.

(Click pictures to enlarge)

The Monnin is something of an enigma in the Heuer back catalogue, as the time-line of its production history hasn’t been fully determined.

What is known is that in the mid-late 1970’s Heuer were being approached regularly by diving enthusiasts asking why there was no Heuer diver? Recognising a potential gap in the market, Heuer approached the French manufacturer G. Monnin to re-brand one their existing diver’s watches so they could test the market. Monnin agreed as they were already doing the same for other manufacturers (you’ll see almost identical watches from other brands such as Alfex, Bessa and Le Cheminant) which suited Heuer perfectly as it gave them an entry into the diver arena without the pre-production cost of tooling.

To say the watch was a success is an understatement. At a time when Heuer was struggling to stay afloat during the quartz revolution, the sales of the Monnin saved the company. To quote Jack Heuer from a recent interview “…and would you believe it, these watches started selling like crazy. The company came out of trouble because of these watches. You know, Bo Derek wore one; we have it now in the museum”.

The earliest printed record of the Monnin is this Heuer catalogue from 1979 which featured the watch on the cover.

(Picture: OnTheDash)

Much of the confusion around the Monnin exists because the dial, hand and bezel insert designs were changed during the brief production cycle, resulting in a variety of combinations being used in the watches sold.

Comparing the watch in this post to the picture above it has all the hallmarks of an early model. A ‘cathedral’ hour hand, the early style bezel insert and the ‘professionel’ text is in lower case letters on the dial.

Curiously, the subject of this post also has a second hand with a large lume ‘lollipop’ whereas most of the automatic Monnins have a much smaller one like in the picture above. The owner says that this second hand has been fitted since new – he had the watch bought for him as an 18th birthday present by his father in the late 1970’s (from Harrods no less!).

For comparison, here is a picture of a later model with the Rolex Submariner style bezel insert, a ‘Mercedes’ hour hand and a dial with capitalised text and “Made in France” printed at the bottom.

(Picture: Heuerville)

The watch in this post received regular maintenance throughout its life, but due to the caseback not being fully screwed down after a movement service, the watch suffered an ingress of sea water during a dive several years ago. On returning to the surface the owner immediately unscrewed the caseback by hand and rinsed the watch out with fresh water in an attempt to minimise the damage.

Fast forward to the current day and after hearing the story I was still expecting to see a significant amount of rust. With the caseback removed, some rust was evident but I was expecting it to be worse.

The calibre in this watch is the French Ebauche (FE) cal. 4611A. A Swiss mid-level 17 jewel automatic with a beat rate of 21,000 bph. This calibre was only used in the Monnin as the calibre was replaced by the ETA cal. 2872 when production moved to Switzerland and the watch became an ‘official’ Heuer model, the 844.

With the automatic winding mechanism removed, the signs of rust were increasing; several of the screwheads were rusty and the balance cock / regulator showed signs of corrosion. Seeing this, I was already concerned about the condition of the pivots on the train wheels and other delicate steel parts…

Sure enough, with the train bridge removed I could see that all the train wheel pivots were corroded, along with the balance staff pivots, the mainspring, the barrel arbor, and several parts in the automatic winding mechanism. Here are some of the parts that we beyond salvation.

Thankfully, parts for the FE 4611A are still available, so the majority could be replaced without a lengthy search this time. Some effort was still required to remove rust from other parts, but the movement could then be cleaned and rebuilt.

From a cosmetic perspective the lume on the dial and hands were largely unaffected by the salt water, but the dial did have some staining where water had dried on the surface.

Deciding what to do in these situations is never easy as attempting to remove any staining can make it worse, or damage the dial print or paint. After consulting the owner we decided to re-wet the stain and try to remove it. As the dial dried I was pleased to see that the staining was disappearing before my eyes… phew!

With the movement back up and running, the case was cleaned and the watch rebuilt. Finally a new caseback gasket was fitted… and the caseback secured properly this time.


** Many thanks to Nigel Glen for letting me feature his watch on the blog. **

Seiko 6105-8119…

It’s been almost three years since I’ve written about a Seiko on the blog, so let’s have a look at this vintage 6105 diver.

(Click pictures to enlarge)

Replacing the 62MAS, Seiko’s first ever diver, the 6105 was produced from 1968 until 1977 and has become something of a Seiko legend. Having seen a rise in popularity over the last few years, values have steadily increased and all original examples in good condition are now highly prized by Seiko enthusiasts.

The watch was produced in two flavours, the cushion cased 6105-8110/8119 seen here, and also a slimmer cased model, the 6105-8000/8009.

You may see the cushion cased model referred to as the ‘Captain Willard’, so named because Martin Sheen wore the same model in the 1979 film Apocalypse Now.

Unfortunately time hadn’t been kind to the subject of this post and it arrived in poor cosmetic condition. Still in the possession of the original owner who logged hundreds of hours of diving whilst wearing the watch, it was finally replaced in the late 1980’s and has been resting in a drawer since then.

Although the case was in decent shape, the crystal was heavily scratched and as is common to many 6105’s, the lume had deteriorated and the resulting ‘rot’ had eaten away the plating on the hands and frames of the hour markers. You’ll notice too that the SEIKO logo is also heavily tarnished.

With the caseback removed I was pleased to see that the movement was still in good condition with no sign of rust or heavy wear, just a few patches of light tarnish on the winding rotor. The movement in this watch is the cal. 6105A, a 17 jewel automatic which runs at 21,600 bph.

The movement required no more than a routine service, so the majority of the work on this watch was cosmetic.

As can be seen in the dial shot above, the tarnish on the hands and dial markers was extensive, so much so that the chrome plating on the hands had been completely eaten away. Consequently, the owner opted to replace them with a set of 6105 aftermarket hands on this occasion.

The hour markers had suffered too but not to the same extent, so with the old lume carefully removed and a little work done to clean up the tarnish, the new hands, dial markers and bezel pip could all be re-lumed to match. The last job on the dial was to replace the tarnished logo.

The case was then stripped down, cleaned and rebuilt with new gaskets for the crystal, bezel and caseback, but the crown gasket proved to be problematic.

The crown gasket on the 6105 is a known issue as the original crowns were never designed to be serviceable and Seiko never supplied replacement gaskets for them (the whole crown would have been replaced as part of a service). When the crown is made, the gasket is inserted first, a thick metal washer is then pressed over the gasket and the edge of the crown is then crimped/folded over to seal the gasket and washer inside.

The only way to fit a new gasket is to prise out the washer, replace the gasket and try and re-insert the washer – I’ve never attempted the manoeuvre myself, opting to either stick with the original crown, or fit an aftermarket replacement. Here’s a picture of a crown from the internet that has had the ‘operation’ and while it worked, the result isn’t pretty.

Genuine NOS (New Old Stock) crowns can still be found for the 6105 and one was included with this watch, but as the gasket inside is already 30+ years old it is known for them to have hardened in storage, and unfortunately that was the case here.

In the picture below the crown on the left is the original crown in which the old gasket is barely visible after decades of being stretched around the case tube. In the NOS crown on the right, the gasket is clearly visible and, with some silicon lube and moderate pressure, it should slide over the case tube making a tight seal. However, on this occasion the gasket was as hard as rock, rendering the crown useless.

Thankfully the seller of the NOS crown had some more in stock and the gasket in the replacement crown was still soft, so the watch could finally be rebuilt and fitted with a new Seiko strap to finish the job.


** Many thanks to Paul Stevenson for letting me feature his watch on the blog and also to Paul Briggs for his sterling work as the middle man. 😉 **

Gruen Precision Diver (Gruen Cal. 560 RSS)…

Like the Philip Caribbean 1500 I wrote about a couple of months ago, this Gruen Precision is another diver that you won’t see very often.

(Click pictures to enlarge)

Capitalising on a patent granted for an improved safety pinion, Dietrich Gruen founded the Columbus Watch Manufacturing Company in Ohio, USA in 1876. Using movements imported from Switzerland, Gruen produced good quality pocket watches for the American market, and went on to introduce the first stem-wind pocket watch into the USA. His watches proved popular, and in less than a decade he decided to take on new partners and move to larger facilities, after which the company quickly grew to 150 employees and were producing 300 watches per day.

However, all was not well behind the scenes and after a series of disagreements with the other partners, Gruen and his son (Fred) left the company in 1894 and formed the partnership “D. Gruen & Son”.

After a successful period creating watches for the US military, in 1917 the company moved to a new custom built factory in Cincinnati named “Time Hill”. Between 1921 and 1958 they produced the majority of the watches that Gruen are famous for; the Veri-thin range of pocket and wristwatches, the rectangular Quadron range, and undoubtedly their biggest success, the Curvex.

Introduced in the 1935, the Curvex was the first watch with a curved movement to better match the profile of the wrist.

After the death of Fred Gruen in 1945, the company began to lose focus and despite achieving its highest sales figures to date, it was sold by the family in 1953. The company then entered a turbulent 5 year period which saw high level mismanagement, and the legal battles between the board members and stock holders often made newspaper headlines. The company changed ownership several times in quick succession and was slowly stripped of its assets, the huge debts eventually forced the company to lay off employees and close down manufacturing facilities – incredibly, all the factory records prior to 1958 were considered ‘no longer of any use’ and were destroyed.

The company eventually found a new owner based in New York and mechanical watches were manufactured again under the Gruen name. As well as ‘Precision’ dress watches, several diver’s watches also were produced. Here are a few more examples.

Unfortunately, Gruen’s ‘phoenix from the ashes’ story ends before it really got started as the company was swept aside by the quartz revolution and was forced to close its doors for the final time in 1976.

The calibre inside the watch in this post is a Gruen cal. 560 RSS. Although Gruen did produce their own calibres, by the time this watch was produced all the manufacturing facilities had been sold off and Gruen were sourcing calibres from other manufacturers and re-branding them as their own. The base caliber of the 560 RSS is a 17 jewel Bidlingmaier ebauche, with an added automatic winding mechanism (a 23 jewel version was also available).

Although running on arrival it wasn’t possible to set the time, and cosmetically it was in pretty rough shape with poor lume throughout. Though it’s not immediately obvious from the pictures above, the lugs had also been bent inwards at some point – in all likelihood by some ‘genius’ with a pair of pliers as the case still had deep gouges on the outside of the lugs… correctly sized spring bars must have been in short supply that day. 🙁

As the damage was pretty bad, the case was sent out for restoration while I completed the rest of the work.

During the movement service the problem with the keyless works was quickly uncovered; a click spring had been fitted which was way too big, preventing the stem from being pulled all the way out to set the time.

A click spring of the right size quickly put things right and the rest of the service was straight forward, so it was on to the cosmetic work.

As is clear in the first picture, the lume had fallen out of the hands and had deteriorated badly on the 3, 6 ,9 and 12 hour markers (the other hour markers are painted triangles). Ordinarily all traces of the old lume would be removed first before re-luming, which was no problem with the hands, but on the dial the lume on the hour markers was rock hard. So, rather than risk damaging the dial or the painted markers underneath the lume, a new layer of vintage cream lume was applied on top of the old. Not ideal, but given the situation (ie. the chances of finding a replacement dial being zero!), it was the right choice.

With both the servicing and cosmetic work completed, and the case back from the restorer, the watch could finally be rebuilt. However, that isn’t the end of the story as an unexpected problem occurred during testing.

As part of the post-service checks, every automatic watch is tested on a winding machine to ensure that the winding and calendar mechanisms are working correctly. During this testing, the Gruen kept stopping at irregular intervals, and on opening the watch I found that the winding rotor was jammed. It only took the slightest nudge to get it started again, but it hinted at a bigger problem with the automatic winding mechanism.

It’s not uncommon to see some wear in an automatic winding mechanism, especially after decades of daily use, but in this case the wear was not obvious without magnification. The picture below shows one of the transfer wheels at 30 times magnification and as you can see, the tops of the teeth in the top right quadrant have worn away.

At 90 times magnification, you can see that some teeth were in particularly poor shape, and some even had grooves worn into them which were causing the rotor to jam.

As parts for this calibre are long discontinued, I tried to reshape the worst of the teeth with a cutting broach to at least get the watch up and running until a donor mechanism could be found. Despite several attempts it didn’t work as the wheel was just too worn, and the rotor continued to jam while on the winding machine.

Thankfully a donor movement was quickly found in the US and arrived after a couple of weeks. The winding mechanism on the donor proved to be in better condition than the original, so the whole mechanism was stripped, cleaned, lubricated and installed to finally finish the job.


** Many thanks to Daniel Spiegel for letting me feature his watch on the blog, and to Paul McRae for his work on the case. **

Philip Watch Caribbean 1500 (ETA Cal. 2724)…

It may be winter but this yellow dialled Philip Watch Caribbean 1500 reminds me of warm seas and sandy beaches.

(Click pictures to enlarge)

The Philip Watch company have a history dating all the way back to 1858. They were founded in Naples by François Philippe, a Swiss expatriate who worked with numerous members of the Swiss community to create watches using the skills they had learned in the Jura mountains. The trademark “Philippe Watch” was first registered with the Naples office in 1923 and the company followed the path taken by many watch companies, specialising first in pocket watches and subsequently producing wristwatches.

I’m sure it won’t have escaped your notice that the “Philippe” name is very similar to another famous Swiss watch brand with an equally long history, though the two companies are not connected. In order to avoid any confusion, an agreement was made with Patek Philippe in 1947, and the company name was changed from “Philippe Watch” to “Philip Watch”.

Philip Watch are still trading today and they are now based in Milan. They produce mainly quartz watches these days (including a Caribbean diver), though they do have a small number of automatic models in their line up. You can see the current range on their website here.

The watch in this blog dates to the late 1960’s or early 1970’s when Philip had a number of models in their Caribbean range; the 500, 1000, 1500 and 2000, all available in a variety of dial designs/colours.

The watch is housed in a one-piece case (yes, another one!), so the outer bezel has to be levered off and the split stem/crown unscrewed and separated to allow access to a crystal retaining ring which is screwed into the case. Once this ring has been removed, the crystal can be lifted out and the watch removed from the case.

The name ‘Caribbean’ comes from the construction of the case which was developed and patented by a company called Jenny in 1963. Similar to Squale who I wrote about a few months ago (here if you missed it), Jenny was another company who produced high quality watch cases and sold them under licence to other manufacturers. Consequently, in addition to Philip and Jenny themselves, you’ll see the Caribbean case used by Aquadive, Ollech & Wajs (O&W), Eisenhardt, Jaquet Droz, Perona and Fortis to name but a few.

On the back of all 1000m Caribbean cases is the name, the Jenny ‘fish’ logo and also the words ‘Triple-Safe’.

In order to survive at such great depths, the watch has an extra thick acrylic crystal and three case gaskets – hence the ‘Triple-Safe’ branding. The gaskets can be seen on this disassembled Jenny case.

The large step on the watch crystal is effectively sandwiched between two gaskets, one around the movement in the case and one on the inside of the crystal securing ring (highlighted by the blue arrows). The case also has additional gasket on the upper edge, i.e. under the outer edge of the securing ring. All Caribbean cases are fitted with a screwdown crown for extra security.

With the watch out of the case it’s worth having a closer look at the dial. You could be forgiven for thinking that it is covered in dust, but on closer inspection you can see that the dial paint has reflective elements in it – an effect I’m going to call ‘yellow crackle’. Very nice!

The movement inside this watch is an ETA cal. 2724, a 25 jewel automatic which was made between 1969-1972 – a significant calibre for ETA as it was their first with a beat rate of 28,800 bph. Although several other manufacturers were already producing calibers with beat rates of 36,000 bph, at that time 28,800 bph was still considered ‘high beat’, so the dial on this watch has ‘Hi-Swing’ printed on it to recognise the fact.

Aside from needing a service, the watch arrived with a few other minor issues; the date changeover wasn’t working correctly, it wouldn’t wind manually, and it had problems with the action of the crown.

On closer inspection it was found that the crown was damaged and needed to be replaced, and that the stem was a fraction too short. You can see in the picture below that the original stem assembly on the left has a stem extender fitted (the box section in the middle of the stem). The stem, crown and case tube were all replaced to put things right.

The movement was looking much better after a service with just a hint of wear on the winding rotor due to the watch not being properly secured in the case. You can see in the movement picture above that the spacer is encased in a ring of what Jenny called ‘Pneulastic’ – a kind of soft plastic which acts as a shock absorber. However, as is often the case with aged plastic, it has a tendency to shrink and so the watch becomes loose inside the case. A simple shim was all that was needed during reassembly to secure it.

With no cosmetic work to do on this one, all that remained was to clean the case and rebuild.

Anyone attracted to this kind of watch may be interested to know that Jenny was relaunched in 2012 and is now producing a re-edition of one their vintage models. Although the watch doesn’t have a true Caribbean case (the company opting for a regular screwed caseback instead), it is certainly reminiscent of the original, and is available in five different designs – sadly no yellow crackle!

More information can be found on their website : http://www.jennywatches.com/


** Many thanks to Ed Boyce for letting me feature his watch on the blog. **

Scubapro 500 (ETA Cal. 2784)…

Kicking off 2014 is a new name on the blog – Scubapro.

(Click pictures to enlarge)

Scubapro are a company famous for providing professional diving equipment. Founded in the USA in 1963 by diving legend Gustav Dalla Valle and Dick Bonin, an ex UDT/Navy SEAL team member, the SCUBAPRO name was bought from the bankrupt company Healthways for the princely sum of $1.

Building on previous endeavours, Gustav and Dick released their first product, the Scubair 300 regulator almost immediately, and followed it in 1965 with the Jet Fin, one of their biggest successes which is still in production today. All of their products were branded with the Scubapro name and the now legendary ‘S’ logo.

As the company grew, they also made significant developments in the diving mask arena, using their own rubber plant to refine the production of silicone masks which minimised the chance of allergic reaction. The popularity of the silicone mask was given a major boost when Jacqueline Bisset wore a Scubapro mask in the 1977 movie “The Deep” – the clear silicone provided better light on the actresses face.

Built on a reputation for quality, their range of products steadily increased and Scubapro became the world’s leading supplier of professional diving equipment. The company is still trading today, and they celebrated their 50th anniversary last year. (www.scubapro.com)

One important piece of equipment for any diver is of course a watch, and Scubapro collaborated with several companies over the years to provide accurate, reliable wristwatches able to withstand the rigours of the sport. There have been quite a few examples over the years, some of which were co-branded, or re-branded versions of existing production watches.

The watch in this post dates to somewhere around 1980 and as this page from the 1978 Scubapro catalogue shows, the watch was also available with a black bezel insert, and also with an upgraded chronometer graded movement and a solid gold case and bracelet – is this the ultimate ‘bling’ diver? (There is some debate as to whether the gold model was ever made, so anyone if has one, please let me know.)

By 1983 a quartz version and an analogue/digital model had also been added to the line up, the watch being very similar to the Breitling Pluton 2100 and the Chronosport UDT. There are other less commonly seen examples too, like this Pierce – it’s quite likely that the same company made all these watches.

Getting back to the subject of this post, the watch arrived in poor running condition, with a hazy crystal, and with the screw down crown jammed solid. Removing the caseback revealed an ETA cal. 2784 in decent condition and our old friend, emulsified gasket.

A jammed crown is never a good thing, and I was worried that the crown had been cross threaded or worse, had rusted into the case tube. Given the poor state of the caseback gasket, rather than risk damaging the crown by trying to force it free, I opted to heat it first to see if it was just the crown gasket that had also emulsified.

Sure enough, my assumption proved correct, so once the watch was out of the case and the gasket mess had been cleaned up, things were already looking better. The movement was in decent condition and only needed a routine service, so once the case was cleaned and a layer of dust cleaned from the inside of the crystal, the job was complete.

It’s not clear exactly who made the Scubapro 500. The watch is often compared to the Aquastar Benthos 500, citing that many of the casing parts are shared between the two models. However, putting the two watches side by side, it’s obvious that the cases are completely different.

Whoever made it, it’s undoubtedly a great watch.


** Many thanks to Dominic Goodbarn for letting me feature his watch on the blog. **

Aquastar Seatime (A. Schild Cal. 1902)…

As regular visitors will know, I’m a big fan of Aquastar’s vintage watches. Here’s another of their excellent divers, the Seatime.

(Click pictures to enlarge)

The Seatime first appeared around 1970 and at 40mm (excluding crown), it sits comfortably in the model range between the smaller 60 and 63, and the larger cased Benthos 500. Like the earlier ’63’, it was available in both mens and ladies sizes – here’s an advert from 1970 showing some of the models that were available.

The case is almost identical to the Atoll diver except that it features an internal rather than an external bezel. In Aquastar’s own words an inner bezel is preferable as an external bezel “collects debris. And it sometimes gets knocked off or damaged.” That may be true for the ‘lighter’ models, but it certainly doesn’t apply to the Benthos 500 which would need a direct hit from a u-boat to knock the bezel off!

The watch was available in a choice of blue or silver dial, both with a blue inner bezel, and also in all gold – certainly one for the bling lovers and as far as I’m aware, the only gold plated model that Aquastar ever produced. Ladies models were available in exactly the same colour schemes, and all watches were supplied with a matching NSA bracelet.

A day/date version with a black dial and inner bezel was produced later in the production run. The dial design was different as all the hour markers were applied, and the hand design changed too. Again, the movement was supplied by A. Schild, a cal. 1906.

As you can see in the picture above, the subject of this post arrived in a pretty sorry state. No sign of life from the movement, scruffy, and the internal bezel was stuck solid. Things were no cleaner inside as the caseback gasket had degenerated into the now familiar ‘goop’, though someone had at least been kind enough to remove most of it. The good news was that the movement, an A. Schild cal. 1902, didn’t look too bad.

The problem with the inner bezel was quickly diagnosed as the stem and the gear for the inner bezel had rusted together. Separating them proved to be difficult, and when they did finally part I initially thought that the gear would need to be replaced – a real blow as they can be difficult to find without buying a complete donor watch.

In extreme cases of corrosion, the hole through the inner gear loses its squared profile and no longer slides onto the second squared section of the stem. When this happens, a replacement gear is the only option and they can be very hard to find. Even in donor watches it’s not uncommon for the gear to be missing as there is nothing holding it in place once the stem has been removed, and can easily be lost.

Thankfully, on closer inspection the parts only had surface rust and the square profile was salvageable, so once cleaned and refinished both parts could be re-used and the bezel was up and running again. (I’ve described how the inner bezel on an Aquastar works in the past when I wrote about the Aquastar 63 – see that post here.)

Once the stem problem had been solved, I could remove the watch from the case and I was encouraged by the condition of the dial and hands. Apart from a little debris, they were in excellent condition with all the original lume intact.

Based on the condition of the case it’s hardly surprising that the movement hadn’t been serviced for many years and the oils had solidified. A service was all that was needed to put things right before turning my attention to the cosmetic work.

The case, although scruffy, was still in reasonable condition and needed no more than a thorough cleaning and a new caseback gasket. The crystal too, despite having a few deep scratches, polished up nicely. As all the lume was still intact there was nothing else to do but rebuild, so here’s the watch back in one piece.


Altanus Genève Squale (ETA Cal. 2872)…

This vintage diver was made by Altanus Genève, another new brand on the blog.

(Click pictures to enlarge)

Though their headquarters are now in Marcianise, Italy, Altanus were founded in Geneva Switzerland in 1914 and they still have a manufacturing base there. For a company with almost a 100 year history, there is very little information to be found about them, it’s not even clear if they have been manufacturing all that time. Their output has however, covered many of the major categories, from quartz dress watches right through to Valjoux powered mechanical chronographs.

One of the more notable events in their history occurred in 2010, when as a result of a 4 year development programme, Altanus unveiled the world’s first paper wristwatch – the “Patch”.

Weighing just 11 grams, the watch is made from a single strip of bio-degradable paper, with a specially developed coating making them tear-resistant and waterproof. When first launched, the Patch was available in 10 vibrant colours, but the range has since been expanded to over 30, let’s call them ‘eye-catching’ designs.

Getting back to the matter in hand, what makes the watch in this post particularly interesting is the case; an asymmetric, stainless steel case made by Squale, a company specialising in professional diving watches. Founded in 1946 as “von Büren S.A. / Montres”, the company supplied cases to a wide range of manufacturers both large and small. The Squale ‘shark’ logo quickly became their trademark, and a recognisable sign of quality. Buoyed by the immediate sales success of other brands using their cases, Squale started to produce watches under their own brand name from the 1950’s onwards, and went on to supply watches to the Italian Air Force and Navy Diving Corps in later years.

Turning the watch over, the asymmetric profile of the case is more obvious and the caseback markings are common to all Squale cases; the Squale logo, details on the case construction, the depth rating (30 Atmos = 300 metres) and Mod. Depose, short for Modèle Déposé which is French for ‘registered design’.

Here are a few more examples of Squale’s vintage watch cases, all of which featured screw-down crowns and for the 1000 metre rated cases, a high dome mineral crystal to withstand the extreme pressures.

It’s hard to date the watch in this post exactly, but based on the movement inside, an ETA cal. 2872, I’d say it dates to somewhere around 1980. The watch arrived in good running condition but needed a service, and from a cosmetic perspective it was in good shape too, except that the lume was missing from the sweep second hand, and there was a lume smudge on the dial which had to be carefully removed.

There were no hidden surprises on this one, so with the movement serviced and the cosmetic issues tidied up it was soon back in one piece.

You may have noticed that it says ‘Medium’ on both the case and dial, and it probably isn’t obvious from the pictures but at 36mm, this is a mid-sized watch. To give you an idea of its size, here’s the watch next to a full sized diver that will be familiar to most watch enthusiasts, the 44mm Seiko 6309-7040.


** Many thanks to Daniel Spiegel for letting me feature his watch on the blog. **

Aquastar 60 (A. Schild Cal. 1701)…

I’ve already covered quite a few Aquastars on the blog, this time it’s one of the lesser known models, the Aquastar ‘60′.

(Click pictures to enlarge)

The watch is similar in style to another model from the same period, the ‘63’, the major difference being that rather than an external bezel, the 63 has an internal rather which is rotated using the crown. Both watches have the same depth rating, 20 ATM / 200 meters.

I wrote about the Aquastar 63 pictured above last year on the blog, if you would like to read that post, you can do so here.

Here is a picture of both watches together in a vintage Aquastar catalogue.

Like the majority of Aquastar divers, opening the caseback revealed a calibre from the A. Schild stable, this time a 17 jewel cal. 1701.

The movement was running which is always a good start, but as you can see in the picture above it was in a pretty oily state.

Cosmetically the watch was still in good condition, but the sharp eyed among you will have spotted that the bezel markings had lost the majority of their paint over the years, so would need to be refreshed as part of the restoration.

You will also have noticed that the lume in the hands is noticeably different in colour to the lume on the dial. I immediately assumed that the hands had been relumed at some point, but on closer inspection that didn’t appear to be the case as they showed all the traits of genuine Aquastar lume – wafer thin and liable to crack at the slightest provocation!

It was only while writing this post that I realised in the catalogue shot above, the watch has completely different hands. The hands on that watch, are still lumed but much thinner, and this picture in a different Aquastar catalogue adds to the confusion as it shows different hands again, this time they appear to simple stick hands without lume.

Being quite a rare model, I can’t find any more information online, so the jury is still out as to which hands are correct. (If anyone has more information on this model, it would be good to hear from you). My guess would be that the watch in this post has been fitted with hands from a 63 model at some time.

With the movement serviced, the case was cleaned, the bezel markings repainted, and the crystal polished before the watch was reassembled. Here is the watch all cleaned up and fitted with a tropic strap, just as it would have been originally.


** Many thanks to Mark Tucker for letting me feature his watch on the blog. Mark inherited this watch from his father in-law, Creighton Leonard, who passed away recently, so this post is dedicated to him. **