Wristwatch restoration, servicing and repair

Archive for the ‘World Time/GMT’ Category

Breitling Cosmonaute Chrono-Matic Ref 1809 (Breitling Cal. 14)…

There have been quite a few aviation watches on the blog, but we’re going even higher this time with a Breitling Cosmonaute Chrono-Matic.

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The Cosmonaute along with the Navitimer, are stalwarts in Breitling’s model line-up. In 1958, NASA astronaut Lt Cmdr Scott Carpenter contacted Breitling to suggest that they make a 24 hour version of their already popular (regular 12 hour) Navitimer chronograph. In 1961 Breitling did just that and registered the name “Cosmonaute” with the Swiss Office of Intellectual Property later in the same year.

Breitling also supplied Lt Cmdr Carpenter with his own Cosmonaute in 1962 for use in NASA’s Mercury program and he wore the watch during the Mercury 7 mission in May of that year, orbiting the earth 3 times during a 5 hour space flight. This short film shows details of the mission along with a re-issued model released in 2012 to celebrate the 50th anniversary.

However, the Mercury 7 mission was to be the Cosmonaute’s only trip into space as after being submerged in the Atlantic Ocean during the splash-down recovery, the watch failed. It was subsequently returned to Breitling by NASA for examination but was never returned, and its current whereabouts is unknown.

Despite this, the success of the mission cemented the Cosmonaute’s place in the model range and the achievement was used in Breitling’s promotional activities throughout the 1960’s. More models were to follow in stainless steel, gold capped and 18kt gold cases, most powered by the tried and trusted Venus cal. 178.

By 1968 a new version of the Cosmonaute was in the pipeline, this time in a more robust case. It was to be produced in both automatic and manual versions; the automatic featuring the new to market Breitling cal. 14 (developed in association with Heuer, Buren and Dubois Dépraz) and the manual continuing with the Venus cal. 178 as before.

The sharp-eyed may have noticed that the crown is on the left hand side of the case for the automatic, and on the right hand side for the manual. To avoid having to manufacture two different cases, the cases were all drilled on both sides and a black plastic plug inserted into either one side of the case or the other (you can just see the plug on the right hand side of the case in the picture below).

The watch in this post arrived in non-running condition and the chronograph wouldn’t start, stop or reset – not the best of starts. However, on opening the watch things were more encouraging…

The reason that the chronograph wasn’t working was down to one of the case clamps having fallen out, the watch was sitting too deep in the case, and so the pushers were no longer in line with the operating levers.

Inspecting the condition of the oils under the microscope it was obvious that the watch hadn’t been serviced for many years. However, when applying a little pressure to the wheel train the watch would tick weakly which was a good sign that there were no major problems ie. broken pivots.

Sure enough, after a full service the movement started right up and all functions operated as expected. I even found the missing clamp and securing screw rattling around inside the movement which was an added bonus.

Regular readers will undoubtedly have seen this before but the automatic winding mechanism on this calibre is ‘hidden’ in the centre of the calibre under the chronograph module. Here is a picture of the movement with and without the module in place, as you can see it’s in great shape after a full service.

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One interesting technical detail of this calibre is the way that the 24 hr hand is implemented. A secondary pinion is mounted on top of the normal minute wheel, geared to rotate the 24hr wheel once per day.

In watches with a both an hour hand and a 24hr hand, like this Seiko Navigator Timer, the 24hr wheel has less height than the hour wheel to allow both hands to be mounted. In the Cosmonaute, as there is no regular hour hand, the 24hr wheel is the same height as the hour wheel – the hour wheel only drives the calendar in this watch.

With the movement serviced, the case cleaned and the crystal polished, the watch was ready for re-assembly.

Finally, what isn’t clear from the pictures is the size of this watch. With a case diameter of 47mm and a huge crystal, it makes these two WIS favourites look like ladies watches. Well, not quite but you get the idea… it’s a bruiser alright!

Rich.

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


Glycine Airman SST “Pumpkin” (A.Schild Cal. 1903)…

Every watch collection should have a splash of colour, and this watch certainly ticks that box: a Glycine Airman SST.

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The history of the Glycine Airman dates back to 1953, and although I’ve written about one of the later models before on the blog (see here), I thought this one deserved a mention as it’s a watch you won’t see every day. Made between 1967-71, this Airman is one of the rarer SST models and is nicknamed the “Pumpkin” among collectors.

As you may have noticed in the picture above, this is a 24hr watch (the hour hand only travels once around the dial every 24 hours rather than twice) and the dial is divided into lighter and darker sections for the the AM/PM hours.

The watch also has a rotating internal bezel which can be used to track a second time zone, not only useful for airmen, but for any international traveller. The inner bezel is rotated left or right to denote the number of hours that the second time zone is +/- the current time zone. The hour hand then points to the time in both zones simultaneously.

The inner bezel is rotated using the upper crown which is slotted rather than formed to prevent it being moved accidentally. According to the owners manual it should be operated with either a fingernail or a coin. Also, the bright orange colour of the inner bezel is no fashion statement, but proved to be the most legible colour combination when tested under night-flying conditions.

The SST branding stands for “Super Sonic Transportation” and commemorates the early attempts to create the worlds first passenger jet that would travel faster than the speed of sound. The SST project started in the 1960’s when Boeing won the contract to produce a flagship aircraft for the US market. Codenamed 2707, the aircraft was designed with a ‘swing wing’ which would split for take off and low speed manoeuvres and would pivot backwards at high speeds to form one solid wing, allowing for a theoretical top speed of Mach 3 (three times the speed of sound).

However, Boeing only got as far as building a prototype before the project was abandoned due to design and environmental concerns. More  significantly Boeing had already been beaten to the SST punch by the Russian Tupolev Tu-144 which first went supersonic in June 1968, and government funding was finally withdrawn from the US SST project in 1971.

In keeping with SST branding, the caseback of this watch features an embossed picture of the ill-fated Boeing 2707.

Inside the watch is an A. Schild calibre, the 1903 which runs at 21,600 bph and has a limited quickset (the hands must be moved back and forth between 8pm and midnight to advance the date). In the later versions of the watch produced from 1971-76, the movement was upgraded twice; first to the cal. 2063, and in the final version to the cal. 2163 which increased the beat rate to 28,800 bph and added a quickset for the date via the crown.

Not much of a restoration story this time as the watch only needed a routine movement service, so here it is back in one piece.

Finally, it is interesting to note that although the watch in this post is quite rare, it is trumped in the rarity stakes not once but twice in the same series by two chronograph versions of the Airman SST, both of which were made in 1968-69.

The case design is reminiscent of the chronographs being produced by Longines around the same time, and the watches too are powered by the same base calibre, the Valjoux cal. 72. The inner bezel on both watches is rotated by the crown on the lower left hand side of the case.

It is thought that only around 100 of these watches were sold worldwide and given the disappointing sales they were withdrawn from the market after just 2 years making them a real catch…  if you can find one.

Rich.

** Many thanks to David Brenchley for letting me feature his watch on the blog. **


Glycine Airman 2000 (ETA Cal. 2893-2)…

It’s been a while since I’ve written about a World Time/GMT watch on the blog, so here is one from Glycine, an Airman 2000.

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The Airman is without doubt the most widely recognised model that Glycine have ever produced. It was first introduced in 1953, and has been part of their line-up ever since. Aimed at pilots and travellers, the Airman had a 24 hr dial (the hour hand only makes one trip around the dial per day rather than two) and a rotating bezel which allowed the wearer to track the time in a second time zone.

The original Airman was produced from 1953 to 1978 and needless to say, the early models are now highly collectible. The earliest versions were fitted with a Felsa cal. 692N and at some time during the 1960’s the calibre was switched to a A.Schild cal. 1700/1701.

The watch in this post, the Airman 2000, was introduced in 1998 and differs from the traditional Airman style in that rather than having a 24hr movement like the original Airman, this model is fitted with an ETA cal. 2983-2 which has a traditional hand arrangement; the hour hand circles the dial twice per day.

An orange ’24hr’ hand has been added which rotates just once per day allowing the second time zone to be tracked, (this hand can be moved independently of the hour/minute hands via the crown and so can be set to any hour of the wearers choosing), and just like the original Airman, the bezel also rotates so it can be used to track a third time zone.

As you can see in the first picture, the watch had seen better days; the paint from the numbers on the bezel had been scratched out and some of the lume from the hands was missing. According to the owner, it had probably never been serviced, so it was more than ready for a complete overhaul.

The first thing to do was to repaint the numbers on the bezel and when dry, coat them with a thin layer of clear lacquer.

After the movement had been serviced, attention was given to the missing lume from the hands. Rather than trying to fill in the holes, it is much better to remove all the existing lume from the hands and relume them. That way there is no chance of a ‘patchy’ look on the final finish and an uneven glow when charged.

Here is the watch all back together again.

Rich.

** Many thanks to Marc Vos for letting me feature his watch on the blog. **


Seiko 6117-6019 (World Time)…

Having tackled a number of Seiko’s World Time models in the past, I had the opportunity to work on this one, a second generation model from 1968…

At first glance you could be forgiven for mistaking this watch as a first generation model but there are a number of differences; it doesn’t have the large fluted crown of the first generation model, the GMT hand is red and the hands and dial indices are lumed (see a first generation World Time here).

The most significant difference though is inside as the watch is fitted with a cal. 6117A rather than the cal. 6217A used in the earlier World Time watches. The cal. 6117A is almost the same as the cal. 6117B found in the third generation models, the only difference seems to be that the 6117A doesn’t hack.

It’s always a bit of a lottery buying a watch with a badly scratched crystal as you can never be sure what is hiding underneath and unfortunately this time, removing the crystal revealed a few scratches on the dial caused by clumsy handling in the past…

Another problem with the watch was that the wrong crystal had been fitted, trapping the city bezel. This meant that when the crown was turned to rotate the city bezel it damaged the delicate plastic teeth on the city bezel ring.

Both of these things were pretty bad news as finding suitable spare parts for this model without locating a second watch can be very tricky these days.

While I couldn’t repair the dial I had nothing to lose in trying to file out the damaged teeth on the city bezel and rebuild them. While the resulting teeth aren’t perfect, they were certainly good enough and the bezel worked perfectly again.

With the current dial it isn’t quite back to its best, but with a new crystal it’s certainly wearable again…

Rich.

PS. Many thanks to Ralf (watchbear71) for giving me the chance to take a closer look at this one.


Seiko 6117-6410 (World Time)…

This World Time is one of the third generation models, fitted with the same calibre as the Navigator Timer I restored a few months ago, the 6117B…

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Although not running, this one was in decent cosmetic condition, but had been fitted with the wrong crown and stem, meaning the city bezel wouldn’t rotate. Further investigation revealed that the hairspring was damaged and it was also missing it’s casing spring.

The stem and crown for this watch is the same as the very popular 6139-600x series of chronographs and some of the 61xx ‘Sports’ models (all of which have a rotating inner bezel), so I was hopeful that I might find just the parts I needed, but alas, no luck. I ended up buying another project watch, which isn’t a bad thing, as it’s always good to have a few spares on hand for future projects.

The donor watch provided all parts I needed with the exception of the hairspring which was in even worse condition than the first one, so after the rest of the service was done, it was out with the fine tweezers (and an extra helping of patience!) to reshape the original.

To freshen up the cosmetics I cleaned up the lume on the dial and relumed the hands. I also refinished the case a little and polished up the original crystal, which only had a few minor scratches…

One last thing to point out on this watch is that Seiko made a mistake when printing the city bezel text. On the early examples, London was printed in the same timezone as Paris/Rome…

…which never happens, even taking BST (British Summer Time) changes into consideration. Seiko must have realised, or been informed of their mistake, as on the city bezels printed for the later models, the error was corrected…

Picture by Ralf / watchbear-71

Rich.


Seiko 6217-7000 (World Time)…

I don’t mind a bit of a punt from time to time, so I took a bit of a gamble on a World Time model with decidedly average photos. But when it arrived, I was glad I did! Although missing its crown and stem, it was running, and in decent cosmetic condition.

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This watch was first introduced in 1964, along with the 571x series of chronographs, to commemorate the Tokyo Olympics. They were differentiated from the regular models by an Olympic flame motif on the caseback.

 However, back in the early sixties Seiko were embossing rather than stamping their casebacks, which meant that if worn extensively, the embossed part of the caseback would wear away, eventually disappearing completely to leave only the stamped serial number. Consequently, watches with embossed casebacks in good condition are highly prized by Seiko collectors these days.

This is the second 6217 World Time I’ve restored, and as I’d sourced a donor watch to fix up the first one I already had a spare crown and stem, including the all important winding gear for the city bezel, to use on this one.

So with all the parts to hand, a movement service, a clean and polish for the case and a new crystal was all that was needed this time.

The caseback on this watch, though not in great condition, is still visible at least!

Rich.


Seiko 6117-6410 (Navigator Timer)…

Arriving in good cosmetic condition, and with all it’s original lume intact, this Navigator Timer had potential right from the start. Although, it was missing it’s bezel…

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The calibre in this watch is the 6117B which was introduced in 1968, and is basically a 6105 calibre with an added GMT function. As well as being used in all of Seiko’s Navigator Timer models, it was also used in the second generation World Time watches, replacing the 6217A movement found in the first generation models.

On removing the dial I was expecting to see a fixed pinion attached to the minute wheel, just like the 6217A, but no, on this calibre the extra pinion is placed on top of the intermediate date wheel. This means that the 24hr wheel is now in sync with the date mechanism, which probably makes more sense, as they both need to rotate once per day.

After tracking down a replacement bezel, I was ready to get started, and with no major problems to fix, a movement service, a polish for the crystal and some refinishing on the case quickly got this one back up to spec…

If you are unaware how this watch works, the internal bezel can be used to track the time in a second time zone. The red (GMT) hand rotates once around the dial in 24 hours and the internal bezel, which is marked in hourly increments, can be rotated using the crown.

Let’s say that I’m currently in London and I want to keep track of the time in Los Angeles, which is eight hours behind. To do this I simply rotate the inner bezel 8 markers anti-clockwise so that ’16’ marker on the inner bezel is opposite the 12 hour marker on the dial. The GMT hand now always points to the current time in Los Angeles. So, you can see in the following example that as it’s almost 4pm in London, it’s nearing 8am in Los Angeles….

It’s also easy to tell at a glance whether it is day or night in the second time zone, as the red portion of the bezel signifies daylight hours, and the blue portion night time hours.

Rich.


Seiko 6217-7000 (World Time)…

I’ve been on the lookout for a ‘World Time’ project watch for a while now and finally managed to find one, a first generation World Time model from 1964…

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On the plus side, the case, crown and hands were in superb shape. The movement too, although not running was clean and corrosion free. On the minus side, some of the dial markers showed their age and someone had tried (and failed) to lever the Seiko logo off the dial damaging the dial print. And just to make life a bit more errr… interesting, the 24hr hand had been snapped off and there was some damage to the city bezel.

This is quite a rare watch these days so I was prepared for a lengthy search for parts, but was surprised to find a complete donor watch after just a couple of weeks. Although the city bezel was worse, it had an excellent dial and the 24hr hand I needed to get started.

The movement in this watch is the 6217A calibre which was also used in Seiko’s first ever Diver’s watch the 62MAS. To incorporate the 24hr function, another wheel is added that slips over the hour wheel, and the minute wheel has another fixed pinion on top of it (inset). The 24hr hand is mounted on the new wheel, whose tooth ratios have been calculated so that it rotates once a day.

Here’s the watch back in service after a good clean up and a new crystal…

The watch is called a ‘World Time’ because it can be used to determine the time in any one of 24 time zones around the world. The city bezel is rotated using the crown until the 24hr hand points to a city in your current time zone, then the 24 hour scale can be used to reference the other time zones. For example, in the picture above, if I’m currently in Santiago (I wish!), I can see that the current time is 08:00 in Chicago, 21:00 in Bangkok and so on. A pretty useful feature for the world traveller.

Rich