Wristwatch restoration, servicing and repair

Archive for the ‘Ladies’ Category

Orfina Rocket (A. Schild Cal. 1977)…

It’s been a while since we’ve had a ladies watch on the blog so let’s have a look at this quirky Orfina.

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Orfina was founded in Grenchen, Switzerland in 1922 but considering that’s almost 100 years ago there is hardly any information about the company available online. The highlight in their history and perhaps the main reason why Orfina are a recognisable brand, is their collaboration with Ferdinand Porsche to develop the first ever Porsche Design chronograph in 1972.

One of the first watches ever sold with a black PVD coated case and bracelet it is one of the classic vintage chronographs and has been widely emulated. As well as being sold to the public the same model was subsequently issued to military personnel in both PVD and stainless steel cases but with different dial text. That model is now commonly referred to as the ‘Orfina Military’ or ‘Orfina Bund’. (Trivia alert: Tom Cruise wore the PVD version in the movie Top Gun).

The watch in this post dates to the 1960’s when Orfina had a few unusual watches in their line-up. The Golden Flame range had several quirky models including a men’s automatic version of the watch in this post, albeit with the asymmetric case shape the other way around.

The real standout however has to be the Golden Flame Twin Special, a dual time watch, not with an additional hand but with a second dial.

The watch had two separate automatic movements, both with date and their own crown and was available in a number of dial colours (metallic green, silver and bronze). Using two 17.2mm (7.75 ligne) ETA cal. 2671 high-beat automatic movements, the size could be kept down to a modest 44mm in diameter.

The watch in this post is not quite so technically interesting but is rather unusual in its case design. What isn’t clear from the pictures is that the watch is 40mm in length and as the lugs are mounted on the lower half of the case, the watch naturally cantilevers away from the wrist when worn – in short, it sticks out and could easily “have someone’s eye out”, so minimise the chance of injury (or being more realistic, to prevent it snagging on clothing) the case has an additional screw to secure the “pointy end” of the case to the strap.

However, as can be seen below, one flaw in this design is that the screw passes right through the caseback and allows moisture to creep through onto the tip of dial. As this watch has no gaskets there is little to prevent moisture from entering the case anyway, so I was pleased to see that the dial damage was minimal. I was pleased too that the crystal was intact and had no chips or cracks as finding a replacement would have been difficult.

Inside is an Orfina branded A. Schild cal. 1977. The watch arrived fully wound but showing no sign of life, this time the problem being a broken escape wheel pivot. With a new part sourced, along with a new mainspring, the rest of the movement service was straight forward.

The case was then cleaned, the crystal polished and a new crown fitted to replace the tired original. One last problem to solve was the strap. As you can see in the caseback picture above the lug sizes are mismatched on this watch, the lower one is 16mm and the upper only 12mm.

As original straps are no longer available I had to order two straps, one in each size and then reshape the 16mm end to taper down to 12mm fit through the buckle, not forgetting of course to secure the case to the strap with a new screw.


Zenith Sub-Sea Diver (Zenith Cal. 48.5)…

I still keep a speculative eye on eBay and was tempted by this collection of vintage Zenith Sub-Sea oddments, all listed separately by the same seller.

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Mention the word Sub-Sea to any Zenith enthusiast and the watch that comes to mind is likely to be this gents model which is one of the most desirable vintage Zenith watches. Unmistakably a 1970’s watch from the design alone, both the diver and chronograph models are now highly prized by collectors and can be difficult to find in good condition.

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The ladies Sub-Sea diver in this post is more of an enigma. While ladies watches don’t get the coverage of their male counterparts, there is usually information to be unearthed about them. Not in this case however, as there was no information to be found anywhere about this model – pretty rare then I’d say. 😉

Competition for such a parts jumble is always less than for a complete watch (and especially so for ladies watches), so I was pleased to win all the lots without too much of a battle. Buying a collection like this is always a gamble as nine times out of ten you’ll find that parts are either damaged or missing in every movement and you still need additional parts to finish the project.

As the date is displayed between the 4 and 5 markers on this model it was essential that I won the gold dialled parts movement to ensure that I had at least one movement with the correct date ring. The majority of watches have the date aperture at 3 o’clock which means that date rings aren’t generally interchangeable as they would be out of alignment for a 4.5 date display.

When the parts arrived I was pretty pleased with my haul as the case and bracelet were in near perfect condition and I had almost three complete movements, albeit in varying states of repair. I was still missing a winding stem, second hand and crown, but all in all, not too bad.

I was also pleased to find that the casing ring was still inside the case. Without this the movement can’t be properly secured and I would probably have had to make one as sourcing an original would have been difficult.

The movement in this watch is a Zenith cal. 48.5, a 17 jewel automatic with a beat rate of 28,800 bph. The majority of vintage Zenith movements were developed in-house but this one is based on the ETA cal. 2671, a Swiss high-beat calibre that was first produced in 1971 and is still in production today. The only differences appear to be the mainplate which is stamped ‘48.5’ and the winding rotor which is Zenith branded.

The movement above was the worst of the three which was encouraging as, apart from the broken stem and the tarnished weight on the winding rotor, the rest of the movement looked to be ok. The first job was to disassemble all three movements and select the best parts from what was available. The resulting parts were then cleaned and the rest of the build was handled just like a regular service job.

I rustled up a suitable second hand from my parts stock and a Zenith branded crown in the right size was quickly sourced too, so everything was starting to take shape.

Being an ETA based movement that is still in production, the winding stem was easy to source too so the rest of the job was plain sailing from there, Here’s the result – not bad at all from a collection of parts.

Just after completing the project I was surprised to find another identical NOS (New/Old Stock) dial, hands and case set for sale on eBay, this time in Italy. I was confident that I could still make another good movement from the remaining parts, so I put in my bid again and was pleased to be the only bidder.

As with the first one I was missing a winding crown and stem, but at least I knew where to source them so they were  duly ordered and I started the whole service and rebuild process again… a case of horological déjà vu!

Here they are together.


Seiko 4205-014B…

A certain someone requested an automatic sports watch some time ago, and I’m hoping this ladies diver will fit the bill…

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This watch is fitted with one of Seiko’s smallest automatic calibres, the 4205, which despite its diminutive size, offers more technical refinements than many of it’s larger stable mates, having a full bridge for the balance, and the ability to hand wind the mainspring.

With the top plate removed, you can see that there isn’t much room to spare inside, the wheels for the going train are tightly packed, and a separate bridge has been squeezed in to house the wheels for the hand winding mechanism.

This calibre also has ‘indirect centre seconds’. In most calibres, the second hand is attached to the axle of the fourth wheel which extends through the main plate and out onto the dial. In this calibre, with the 4th wheel positioned out on the edge of the main plate, an extra seconds pinion is needed to maintain a centre sweep layout.

Before re-casing I took an “exploded view” shot of all the casing parts, which is typical for many of Seiko’s divers.

To finish off I replaced the crystal and gaskets, popped in a traditional bezel insert, and fitted a matching strap. It looks good… I hope it gets the seal of approval!


Enicar Cal. AR2691…

No need for a ‘before’ picture as this ladies Enicar looked just as good before I started working on it as it did when I’d finished, very nice indeed.

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Fitted with Enicar’s own AR2691DM calibre this movement was a level above the Standard 69 movement I serviced last month in terms of overall quality.

Nothing more than a good clean needed to revive this one as the old oil had solidified, after that it started right up and just needed regulating to keep accurate time. Judging by the great condition, both inside and out, I’d say that it was rarely used by the previous owner.

Another birthday gift, this one is UK bound. I even managed to get hold of an Enicar watch box to finish off the package.


Seiko 2202-3040 (17J Hi-Beat)…

In near perfect condition, this ladies Seiko was made in 1977. Though this one is fitted with a manual wind 2202A calibre, the automatic winding variants the 2205A and 2206A are more commonly found in ladies watches from the seventies.

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These calibres are called ‘Hi-Beat’ as they run at a rate of 28,800 bph (8 ticks per second), which is higher than the majority of vintage Seiko calibres which typically have beat rates between 18,000 and 21,600 bph. Theoretically, the higher the beat rate, the more accurate the watch, as the power from the mainspring is released through the going train in smaller, more controllable, increments.

The problem with this watch was a broken mainspring and not surprisingly, being almost 30 years old, replacements are no longer available from Seiko. All was not lost though as the same part is used in all of the 22xxA calibres so finding a donor watch was pretty easy. With the replacement mainspring fitted and after a clean and oil, she sprang back into life.

There isn’t much of a market for vintage Seiko ladies watches which is a shame, as this one is in great condition, in it’s original box and with all bracelet links intact.


Swiss Accurex (Standard Cal. 69)…

Another birthday gift, this time for a good friend here in Melbourne. I came across this Art Deco style Swiss Accurex in a neglected state, non-running, missing a few marcasites and with a filthy bracelet.

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Inside the watch caseback was a service mark of April ’48, can it be that old? The watch was fitted with a 17 Jewel Standard cal. 69 which dates to 1962, perhaps the original movement has been replaced at some point.

I thought the bracelet was going to be a nightmare to clean but an experiment with a couple of Polident tablets (yep, the foaming denture cleaning tablets!) did the trick, the effervescent effect lifting out 80% of the old dirt… hmmm minty fresh! The rest I removed carefully with a toothpick and after a thorough rinse and polish it looked like new.

I picked up a cheap marcasite watch from eBay to replace the missing stones, cleaned and oiled the movement and polished the crystal, turning it into quite a nice gift.

The lacquer on the dial has started to deteriorate around the edges but rather than detract from the overall appearance, in this case, I think it adds to the vintage feel.


Oris Cal. 440…

I picked up this ladies Oris as a birthday gift for a certain someone in the Netherlands (Hoi!). From what I can gather it was made in the late sixties or early seventies, but dating vintage Oris watches with any accuracy can be quite difficult as even Oris doesn’t have any records of production dates and numbers.

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Working on this one was a real treat, no calendars or automatic winding complications to deal with. The movement hadn’t been running for some time as the stem had been bent preventing the watch from being wound. Luckily, I managed to source a replacement and it was straightforward from there. All cleaned up it runs nicely and being a pin-lever escapement it’s got a lovely loud tick.

It’s still in great cosmetic condition with just a little wear on the crown and a few marks on the case. I thought about replacing the crown with something a bit more modern but decided to leave it as original as possible. I think it’s great, I hope she likes it.