Wristwatch restoration, servicing and repair

Archive for the ‘Other’ Category

Season Greetings…

‘Tis the season and all that good stuff! A Merry Christmas to all readers and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2018.

Enjoy yourselves!


Favre-Leuba Twin Power (FL Cal. 259)…

I’ve worked on quite a few of these watches over the years but never written about one, so let’s have a look at this Favre-Leuba Twin Power.

(Click pictures to enlarge)

With one of the longest histories in watchmaking, dating back to 1737, Favre-Leuba introduced some interesting technical innovations into their watches and especially so during the 1960’s. During that decade they produced the first watch with a built in altimeter, the Bivouac, a depth meter in their Bathy diver and they were among the first companies to produce in-house high-beat calibres for their Deep Blue divers and Sea Raider models. (I’ve written about the latter two watches in the past, click here and here respectively if you would like to read about them.)

The watch in this post, although quite plain compared to some of the recent watches on the blog has enough going on inside to deserve a mention.

Inside is a Favre-Leuba cal. 259, a 17 jewel, in-house, manually wound calibre with a beat rate of 18,000 bph. Derived from the FL cal. 251 which was first introduced in 1962, the cal. 259 featured some technical improvements and also added a date function.

What makes this calibre interesting and gives it its “Twin Power” moniker is that is has not one but two mainspring barrels. While two mainspring barrels isn’t that unusual these days, they are often placed in serial to significantly increase the power reserve of a manually wound watch. The Nomos Lambda is one such example that comes to mind, a manually wound watch with a power reserve of 84hrs (3.5 days).

What made the Favre-Leuba calibre unique in 1962 was that it placed the mainspring barrels in parallel, meaning that both barrels were wound simultaneously and both provided power to the centre wheel. With the winding bridge removed you can see that both barrels transfer their power to the centre wheel via an intermediate wheel mounted on the mainplate.

The benefit of this method is that drive is balanced between the two barrels, ironing out any power fluctuations which results in a more constant power delivery through to the escapement and a more stable rate.

A secondary benefit is that as each mainspring only needs to deliver half of the power required it is much thinner and can therefore be longer, resulting in a power reserve of 50hrs which was more than most watches were offering in the early 1960’s.

Here is a picture of the two barrels and springs when disassembled. Interestingly, the design of the barrel unifies the barrel arbor and ratchet wheel into one part so both parts reside underneath the winding bridge resulting in a thinner calibre (3.1mm) and an uncluttered aesthetic.

As the barrel design has no cover, additional care must be taken when greasing the mainsprings on these calibres as any excess could creep out and contaminate the rest of the movement.

The underside of the winding bridge has the click spring and three intermediate winding wheels mounted onto it to allow both barrels to be wound from the crown simultaneously.

Though the watch was in decent cosmetic condition on arrival it was a poor runner and had a problem with the date function. When looking over the movement I spotted that there were some marks on the train bridge and under the microscope this is what I found…

A service mark from February 1991. You often see service marks scratched into the caseback which is bad enough but why any watchmaker would do that directly onto a bridge I’ve got no idea…. if this was horological X-Factor it would get three “No’s” from three me’s!

The date issue was resolved with a new jumper spring and rest of the service was straight forward, so with the dial, hands and case cleaned and the crystal polished, the watch could be rebuilt.

Although not specifically branded in this case these watches can often be found with Twin Power engraved onto the movement and/or printed on the lower half of the dial. Twin power movements can often be found in Favre-Leuba’s Sea King and Sea Chief models too.

However, care must be taken when buying any of these models as they were made in significant numbers and now seem to be popular with sellers in India or SE Asia who reprint the dials (often in lurid colours) in an attempt to freshen up what are in truth tired examples. Sadly this practice has somewhat tarnished the reputation of the brand, but with care all original examples can still be found.

… and finally, since the rebirth of Favre-Leuba in 2006, an updated version of the Twin Power calibre has been developed, the cal. FL-401 which debuted in 2009. I use the term “updated” loosely in this case as the only thing it shares with the original is the parallel twin barrel concept. The new calibre runs at 36,000bph and has a power reserve of 8 days (192 hrs) which is quite an upgrade on the original.


** Many thanks to Tony Wright for letting me feature his watch on the blog. **

Seiko 5246-6000 (King Seiko Special Chronometer)…

At the top of the King Seiko food chain and with enough dial text to rival a modern Rolex, Seiko made it obvious that they were ticking all the boxes with this 5246-6000 Special Chronometer.

(Click pictures to enlarge)

As many enthusiasts will know, Seiko’s vintage watches were produced by two wholly owned subsidiaries; Daini Seikosha Co. and Suwa Seikosha Co. During the 1960’s and early 70’s the two companies were competing to produce Seiko’s flagship models and although both companies produced watches for all segments of the market, the competition was most evident at the ‘prestige’ end of the market where technological development and accuracy were key factors.

In December 1960 the Suwa factory released the first Grand Seiko model, realising their long held ambition to produce a chronometer rated timepiece that exceeded the recognised standards of the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute, the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC).

In response the Daini factory released the first King Seiko model in 1963, but without a chronometer rating it was deemed inferior to the Suwa Grand Seiko.

What it did do however was spark a rivalry between the two companies which would see the development of some outstanding high-beat manual and automatic calibres which were undoubtedly the pinnacle of their output prior to the quartz revolution.

For a more in-depth overview of the Grand and King Seiko models, check out this excellent two part series written by Evan Yeung for the online watch magazine Monochrome.

The subject of this post is arguably the best watch that the Daini factory produced, but before getting into what’s inside, let’s have a closer look at the case. Turning the watch over you immediately know this is an unusual model as it is completely smooth; no caseback or medallion, just a simple KS logo, model number and opening instructions.

Between the lower lugs is a screw to allow for fine regulation but more on that later…

To open the watch the bezel has to be levered off and the crystal and gasket removed. The mineral crystal is mounted in a stainless steel ring which slots into the gasket and the bezel compresses the two to form a waterproof seal.

When removed, a pin or small screwdriver is then used to press down the lever opposite the 4 marker on the dial and the stem and crown can be pulled out.

A casing spring holds the movement securely in the case which has to be rotated before the watch can be from the case.

Inside is the Seiko cal. 5246A, a chronometer rated 25 jewel automatic movement with a beat rate of 28,800 bph. The calibre can also be hand wound and has quickset functions for both the day and date via the crown.

The architecture is unique to the 52xx family, it shares no parts with other lines. The automatic winding mechanism is typical of the higher end Daini calibres using a roller system rather than the magic lever used on lower quality calibres and there are also diafix installations on the escape and third wheel pivots to prevent oil contamination and promote a more stable rate.

Like all other 5 series calibres, under the dial is a raft of parts making up the calendar mechanism and keyless works. Over-engineered? Possibly.

One last thing to cover is the micro-adjuster mechanism which I alluded to earlier. On the outer edge of the movement is a regulating lever and a screw with an eccentric centre section used to provide fine regulation without having to remove the watch from the case.

The screw between the lugs is removed from the case and a small screwdriver can then be used to rotate the regulating screw, sliding the connected lever either left or right to increase or decrease the rate of the watch. A very useful feature.

Having worked on the majority of Seiko’s vintage calibres I can say that this one is certainly on a par with any of the Grand Seiko calibres and this watch would be a worthy addition to any vintage Seiko collection. The hard part may be finding one as they rarely come up for sale these days.

The movement needed no more than a new mainspring and a routine service this time, so with the case cleaned and the watch rebuilt it was soon back in full working order.


Seasons Greetings…

Here we are again! Another year has rolled by and it’s time to wish all readers a Happy Christmas and a successful 2017.

Have fun out there!


Seiko 5740-8000 (Lord Marvel 36000)…

This Seiko Lord Marvel 36000 is the first red dialled watch to feature on the blog and if I think about it now I can’t recall working on more than two or three watches with red dials. I don’t know why they aren’t more popular as I think this watch looks great!

(Click pictures to enlarge)

The Lord Marvel 36000 is quite small by todays standards (35mm) but if you can live with that then there’s a lot to like here. The case lines are sharp and the overall design is crisp with the simple hour batons, dauphine hands and an unfussy dial script.

However, under the hood is where the real action is as inside is Seiko’s 23 jewel, manually wound, cal. 5740C.

As any Seiko enthusiast will know, the 4xxx and 5xxx series calibres are some of the best calibres that Seiko produced and can be found in the majority of the vintage Grand, King and Lord Matic models, watches well worth seeking out.

The cal. 5740C however is quite significant as it marked Seiko’s entry into the high-beat arena and is said to have been the “proving ground” for the cal. 4420 – the high-beat calibre used in subsequent chronometer rated, Grand and King Seiko models.

In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s in an attempt to increase the accuracy of mechanical movements a small number of manufacturers, 12 to be precise, produced calibres with a beat rate of 36,000 beats per hour (10 beats per second), which became known as “high-beat” (or “hi-beat”) calibres.

Although many manufacturers had already started producing calibres with either 19,800 or 21,600 bph, the industry standard beat rate at the time was still 18,000 bph for watch calibres, so when high-beat calibres doubled the beat rate they were seen by many as the pinnacle of mechanical watchmaking used in mass production. Sadly however the quartz revolution curbed any further development in that area.

Rather than get side-tracked into the technical merits of high-beat calibres, I’ll point any interested readers to this post about the excellent Longines Ultra-Chron which I wrote a few years ago. I’ve written about several other high beat watches on blog in the past too including the Zenith El Primero A385, Favre-Leuba Sea Raider 36000 and the Zodiac Astrographic SST to name a few.

Getting back to the Lord Marvel 36000, it actually started life with more ‘low tech’ beginnings. Although the first Lord Marvel models were released in 1958, the first one with a cal. 5740 appeared in 1964 with the “low beat” version of the calibre inside, the cal. 5740A, which ran at 18,000 bph.

A revised version of the calibre, the 5740B, was introduced in 1966 increasing the beat rate to 19,800, and the final version of the calibre, the 5740C, was released in 1967 and featured exclusively in the 5740-8000 model seen here.

This third and last generation of the Lord Marvel 36000 was produced from 1967-1978 in both stainless steel and gold plated cases and with a range of dial colours. Later versions were also produced with linen patterned dials and arabic dial markers.

If you try and track down a Lord Marvel 36000 it’s worth noting that the earliest models had the seahorse embossed caseback found on some early vintage Seikos.

Finding one in good condition may be tricky however as these embossed casebacks wore away quickly when worn, so many are now either severely faded or polished smooth.

As the watch in this post was already in great condition, it needed no more than a routine movement service this time and a case clean to bring it back up to scratch so here it is all finished up. Perhaps I’m just smitten, but what’s not to like here? 😉


** Many thanks to Peter Owen for letting me feature his watch on the blog. **

Hamilton Odyssee 2001 (Hamilton Cal. 694)…

A Hamilton this time and one with something of a back story as I’m sure that the Odyssee 2001 name hasn’t gone unnoticed by any film buffs out there.

(Click pictures to enlarge)

In 1966, before filming of 2001: A Space Odyssey began, Stanley Kubrick (who incidentally always wore two watches, one on each wrist) approached Hamilton to produce a futuristic wristwatch to be worn by the astronauts in the movie. Designs were submitted and approved and when released to the press, potential customers were clamouring to buy the space-aged wonder.

As a result of the interest, Hamilton planned to release an identical model to the market in conjunction with the film release in 1968, but it quickly became apparent that it wouldn’t be cost effective, so the watch in this post was produced instead.

The name ‘Odyssee 2001’ was apparently chosen by Hamilton to avoid any potential copyright issues. It also transpired that although the prop watch was produced, delivered and used in promotional events, it never actually appeared in the movie.

Although nothing like the original design, the Odyssee 2001 had a futuristic appearance for the time with its circular, well… everything, and triangular hands. What isn’t apparent from the face-on shot is the shape of the case which has a ‘wedged’ profile and could well have been the inspiration for the 1970’s Camy Superautomatic Airport which I wrote about on the blog a few years ago (that post here).

The watch in this post was the first model, introduced in 1968, and a more reserved model followed with the same case but more mainstream dial markers and hands.

The watches also fit nicely into Hamilton’s quirky Fontainebleau range which were on sale at the time. Although not pictured here, the caseback on the Odyssee 2001 also bears the Fontainebleau name.

The fun began pretty early on with this one as due to the case design, it case proved very difficult to open. I’m sure Hamilton will have produced a specific case holder for the watch and I certainly could have used one here! Being completely round, having no external lugs and one hidden lug being higher than the other, it didn’t fit any of my case openers. Add the fact that it was rusted together too made it a real tough nut to crack.

I eventually got it open, and without damaging anything too which was a relief. Here’s a picture of the complete case and I’ll offer a little advice to anyone else attempting to open one of these.

Although the securing ring looks like a regular screwback, it isn’t. The ring has two tabs on the sides which slot into a lip in the upper case holding it all together. When the ring is turned anti-clockwise 90 degress (so that the tabs are in the lugs), the upper case, crystal and gaskets can be lifted off, leaving the watch in the inner mono-bloc case. The split stem is then separated like a traditional one-piece case and the watch can finally be removed.

Once inside, things didn’t look too bad. The movement is a Hamilton cal. 694, which is essentially just a rebranded ETA cal. 2472. It obviously hadn’t been serviced for quite some time, as evidenced by the amount of rust on the case too I guess.

A full movement service was all that was needed to get it back up and running so with all the rust removed and the case thoroughly cleaned, the watch could be rebuilt.

The watch still had its original Hamilton signed mesh bracelet too which is always nice to see.

All in all, an interesting and rare watch that you won’t see too often.

To round off this post it may be of interest to know that Hamilton did release a version of the original prop watch in 2006 as a 40 year anniversary model, the ODC X-01. The main watch is powered by a mechanical ETA cal. 2824-2 and each subdial is driven by a quartz movement. The watch was limited (somewhat predictably!) to 2001 pieces.


** Many thanks to Justin Swale for letting me feature his watch on the blog. **

Citizen Diamond Flake (Citizen Cal. 0700)…

Having already written about many vintage Seiko watches on the blog, it’s a watch from their compatriots this time, a Citizen Diamond Flake.

(Click pictures to enlarge)

Much like Seiko with their Goldfeather, Grand and King Seiko models, Citizen also had high-end models in their vintage line-up including the Jet and Diamond Flake series’ and the high-beat Leopard and Highness models.

First introduced in 1962 the Diamond Flake was Citizen’s entry into the competitive ultra-flat watch arena. As evidenced by the advertising at the time the cal. 0700 movement inside the Diamond Flake was the thinnest three hand calibre in the world. With a thickness of just 2.7mm it beat the current record holder, Seiko’s cal. 60M by 0.25mm.

Like Seiko’s Goldfeather (an example on the blog here), the resulting watch is a simple yet elegant affair. At just 7mm the watch is certainly thin and though it is only 37mm in diameter which is quite small by today’s standards, having a thin bezel and large dial it ‘wears larger’ and sits very comfortably on the wrist.

After the launch of the time-only Diamond Flake model, the series was expanded to include a model with a date, the Diamond Flake Date, and also later in the production run a slightly lower spec model called simply Flake. Though all the watches in this post are in stainless steel cases, gold plated models were also available.

(Picture:  Vintage Citizen Watches)

Opening the watch it’s obvious that this is of a higher quality than Citizen’s standard vintage fare as the movement is rhodium plated, has filled engraving and has 25 jewels which is a high jewel count for a time-only calibre (though the calibre was also available with an even higher 31 jewels.)

As you can see in the picture above the jewel count is boosted by all the train wheels being capped with the exception of the fourth wheel. On the dial side of the movement, the train jewels are capped too and there is also a jewel in the mainplate for the lower end of the mainspring barrel arbor, another sign of quality.

The movement was still in good order, needing no more than a routine service and as the watch has no lume or paint on the dial or hands, there was no cosmetic work needed at all this time. As you may have spotted in the first picture, the crystal was damaged so that needed to be replaced, so when the case had been given a thorough clean in the ultrasonic tank and light buff to restore the shine the watch could be rebuilt.

On a personal note, this blog post represents the 10 year anniversary of The Watch Spot blog. It’s been quite a journey in which I’ve covered a wide variety of vintage watches and I hope visitors have found it both useful and interesting.

I’d like to thank everyone for their on-going support and a special thanks to all the owners who have given me permission to write about their watches over the years.


** Many thanks to Mathieu R. for letting me feature his watch on the blog. **

Ernest Borel Cocktail (ETA Cal. 1311)…

Something a little unconventional this time, an Ernest Borel Cocktail watch.

(Click pictures to enlarge)

The Ernest Borel name has been gracing the dials of timepieces since 1899 when Ernest Borel took the reins of the family business following the death of his father, Jules Borel, who had founded the brand (as Borel & Courvoisier ) in 1856.

The Cocktail ‘kaleidoscopic’ models were patented in 1952 and introduced to the market in 1953. Being something of a niche product, initial interest was limited but sales increased dramatically during the 1960’s with the rise of psychedelic pop culture prompting Borel to produce a wider range of both gents and ladies models.

Though the company is still trading today, it is no longer a family run business. Like many others, Ernest Borel were hit hard by the quartz crisis and were eventually bought by Aubry Frere S.A. in 1975 and became part of the Synchron S.A. group along with Cyma and Doxa.

Sold again in 1997 to a group of Chinese investors who still own the brand, they continue to produce a range of both quartz and mechanical models under the Ernest Borel name. A “Cocktail Collection” still exists in their range and I’m pleased to see that the models all have mechanical rather than quartz movements as the mesmerizing kaleidoscopic effect would have been greatly reduced by a quartz ‘pulse’ rather than the smooth sweep of a mechanical movement.

Ok, back to the subject of this post. Turning the watch over, the movement is visible through a clear acrylic caseback, in this case it’s a manually wound ETA Cal. 1311 which looked to be in decent order.

Cosmetically the watch was pretty good too but as you may have noticed in the first picture, the paint on the hands had started to deteriorate and would need to be replaced, plus the whole watch was full of debris.

The case on this watch is opened by levering off the bezel and top crystal as a complete unit and the watch can then be lifted out of the lower case. The skeletonised chapter ring acts as a securing ring into which the movement is pressed.

Similar to the Zodiac Astrographic SST I wrote about a few years ago which has stacked discs rather than conventional hands, this watch has a standard hour hand, a painted brass disc as a minute hand and a patterned clear disc for the second hand.

What isn’t immediately obvious in the pictures above is that both crystals had aged quite badly and as you can see had turned opaque with age, robbing the watch of some of its colour.

The owner of this watch had also supplied a new dial to freshen the watch up, so when the hands had been repainted and the case and chapter ring had been cleaned things were starting to come together.

The movement needed no more than a routine service so once both crystals had been replaced and the watch pressed back into the chapter ring, it could finally be rebuilt.

Finally, here’s a short video showing some of the other models and the kaleidoscopic effect in action.


** Many thanks to Peter Dance for letting me feature his watch on the blog. **