Wristwatch restoration, servicing and repair

Posts Tagged ‘Lemania’

Wakmann Regate (Lemania Cal. 1341)…

For the second month in a row there’s a new brand on the blog, this time it’s Wakmann.

(Click pictures to enlarge)

After creating a successful watch company in Portugal, Icko Wakmann travelled to New York in 1943 with the ambition of establishing a presence in the US market. He founded the Wakmann Watch Company in 1946 and listed the company on the US Stock Exchange in 1947.

At the end of WWII in an effort to protect US watch manufacturers, the government was imposing heavy duties on any Swiss watches imported for sale within the United States. The only way to avoid these duties was to have watches assembled and/or finished in the US. So, in October 1947 a joint venture between Breitling SA in Switzerland and the Wakmann Watch Company was established (called the Breitling Watch Company of America) which allowed Breitling to send watches to Wakmann in New York for ‘final finishing’ and distribution throughout the US under the Wakmann name – consequently, you’ll see many Wakmann watches for sale where the seller is claiming that it is a “Breitling in disguise” even if it has no link to Breitling whatsoever.

The same legislation didn’t apply to other aviation instruments so the bond between the companies was more evident and both company names were displayed prominently on the dials of cockpit clocks and other timers.

Wakmann didn’t have full watch production facilities and instead contracted their watches out to a number of European manufacturers over the years. As a result, their watches often resembled watches from other producers but they all had good quality Swiss calibres inside from respected manufacturers such as ETA, Valjoux, Lemania, Venus and Landeron.

The Regate (or Regatta) model featured in this post is one of the more popular Wakmann models and an interesting feature of the watch is the multi-functional inner bezel, which I believe is unique to this watch – though I’m happy to be corrected on that.

On the outer edge are two scales to be used in conjunction with the chronograph, a Tachymetre scale that is commonly seen on chronographs (used to time speed in km/h or miles/h when measured over a distance of 1km/1 mile) and also a Regate scale used in competitive sailing. As the minute register is mounted on a separate hand rather than in a subdial on this calibre it makes it ideal for use as a sailing timer where the first fifteen minutes can easily be measured against an external Regate scale (see this post for an explanation of how sailing timers are used).

The inner track of the bezel is printed with the days of the week in five coloured sections and is used as a month planner. The numerical days of the month are printed on the outer edge of the dial and the idea is to rotate the inner bezel using the crown on the left hand side of the watch until the correct day of the week is aligned with ‘1’ on the dial. It is then very easy to see at-a-glance what day a certain date will fall on in the coming month ie. in the picture below, the 8th will be on a Sunday this month, and so on – I suppose in this day and age you’d probably just ask ‘Siri’ but back in the 1970’s when this watch was made it would save you breaking out the calendar. 😉

Despite being something of an eye catcher already with the coloured inner bezel, the watch was also available with a white dial in the stainless steel case, and also a gold dial/hands in a gold plated case for those requiring that bit extra bling.

The watch in this post was sent in primarily because condensation was forming on the inside of the crystal when worn. As you may have seen in previous posts, when left unchecked rust quickly forms and with steel pivots on the train wheels being little thicker than a human hair, it can do a lot of damage in a short space of time (here is one example).

Opening the case it was immediately obvious that the gasket inside the caseback was at fault as it hadn’t been changed for many years and was now more like plastic than rubber. You can see in the picture below that rust had started to form on the inside of the caseback too.

Although there was some pitting evident on the case, the movement, a Lemania cal. 1341, was quite dirty but showed no immediate signs of corrosion, though the chronograph wouldn’t reset to zero and the hands had lost some of their paint due to moisture settling on them.

The Lemania cal. 1341 is a calibre that I’ve covered before on the blog, so rather than repeat the description of how it works, I’ll redirect any interested parties to this post about a Tissot Navigator that I wrote a few years ago.

The owner of this watch had sent it in just in time as rust was starting to form on some of the movement parts, but it was only surface rust at this stage and easy to remove. The chronograph reset problem was only due to a lack of recent servicing.

Once the movement had been serviced, the case was ultrasonically cleaned and the crystal polished, the paint on the hands repaired, new gaskets fitted, and the watch was re-assembled.

Finally, if you think this watch is cool you’re in good company as Clint Eastwood wore the same watch in the 1995 movie The Bridges of Madison County.

Rich.

** Many thanks to Chris Jones for letting me feature his watch on the blog. **


Lemania Tg 195 Chronograph (Lemania Cal. 2225)…

This Lemania Tg 195 chronograph arrived in a pretty sorry looking state.

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Made in the 1950’s this watch was issued to Swedish military personnel, as evidenced by three large crowns which can be found on the caseback of all Swedish military watches. There are two versions of the Tg 195 caseback; the earlier models have three small crowns (inset) and the later models have the three large crowns seen here (this watch was issued in 1957).

The watch can be found with four different dials too, all identical apart from the Tg 195 markings. The earliest watches had no Tg 195 at all, and subsequent watches were marked either “tg 195”, “Tg 195” or “TG 195”.

The meaning of the Tg 195 isn’t clear and there is little confirmed information to be found online, but the watch is often described as a ‘bomb timer’ and is said to have been issued exclusively to the Swedish Army bomb squad. The Tg part is thought to mean Tid Givare (“Giving Time” in Swedish) but the exact meaning of 195 is unknown. There may well be more information to be found through Swedish sources, but my Swedish isn’t all that it could be. 😉

Underneath the caseback is a dust cover which when lifted uncovers a 16 jewel Lemania cal. 2225, derived from the Lemania cal. 2220 single pusher chronograph which I’ve described before (see here).

The calibre 2225 has a unique hacking mechanism added specifically for Swedish military requirements. When the pusher is pressed, the sweep second hand is reset instantly to 12 o’clock, the crown pops out to the time setting position, and the watch hacks.

Let’s have a closer look at how that works…

With the balance assembly removed you can see that under the balance wheel is a hacking lever with a thin wire on the end. When the pusher is pressed, the operating lever moves clockwise around the large pivot screw, moving the hacking lever backwards so that the wire arrests the balance. At the same time, the reset hammer moves across and disengages the intermediate driving wheel from the centre chronograph wheel. Under power from the large click spring, the reset hammer moves further across and contacts the heart on the centre chronograph wheel, resetting the second hand to zero.

There is a second screw on the operating lever (marked secondary set lever screw in the picture above) which passes through the entire calibre and into the keyless works section on the dial side of the movement, emerging in a hole in the setting lever.

When the pusher is pressed this screw also moves the setting lever forward, forcing the stem and crown to pop out into the time setting position. The watch is now hacked and ready to be synchronised.

When the crown is pressed back in, the watch is restarted; the operating lever and reset hammer are returned to their starting positions on the train side of the movement, the hacking lever moves forwards releasing the balance, and the chronograph is re-engaged.

The watch was in pretty poor shape from a cosmetic perspective and out of the case it was clear to see that the dial and hands were in poor shape. The dial was covered in a layer of dirt, the lume on the numerals had crumbled to dust, and the hands were tarnished.

From such a rough starting point the results were never going to be perfect, but with all the old lume removed, the dial cleaned and the tarnish removed from the hands, things were much improved. As the numerals on the dial now matched the patina of the rest of the dial markings, a decision was made to leave them and just the re-lume the hands.

Another problem with the watch was the crown and stem. Although the original crown was included with the watch, the stem had sheared off flush with the crown, leaving a section of the stem still inside the crown. Soaking the crown in an alum solution for a week or so to ‘eat away’ the stem inside saved the original crown, but finding a replacement stem proved difficult as the stem is unique to this calibre.

While I could have made a new stem, it was more time/cost effective to modify a stem extender to increase the length of the stem by the required amount. The steel section just below the crown is the extender and an unmodified extender is included in the picture below for reference.

Aside from the problems with the crown and stem, the movement was in reasonable condition and just needed a service and some of the tarnished parts refinishing /polishing. Here’s the watch watch all back in one piece.

If anyone has any more information about the history of the Tg 195, it would be great to hear from you.

Rich.

** Many thanks to Dave Charlton for letting me feature his watch on the blog. **


Lemania Chronograph (Lemania Cal. 1872)…

I’ve written about a number of British Military chronographs already on the blog, but this one is something of a rarity, a two pusher chronograph from Lemania.

(Click pictures to enlarge)

Lemania produced chronographs for the British Military from the 1940’s onwards, the majority of them having just a single pusher; subsequent presses of the pusher start, stop and reset the chronograph and there is no way to restart the timer without resetting. The earliest watches were built around the Lemania cal. 15CHT and later models, introduced in the 1960’s, were powered by Lemania’s excellent cal. 2220. I’ve written about both models in the past, see the 15CHT here, and the 2220 here.

In the early 1970’s the Ministry of Defence made a significant change to the defence standardisation document relating to wrist chronographs (DEF STAN 66-4), subsequently allowing a chronograph to have either ‘one or two pushpieces’.

This opened the door for the use of more commercially viable (read: cheaper) movements, namely the Valjoux cal. 7733. For the next decade the majority of mechanical chronographs were supplied by four companies; Hamilton, Precista, Newmark and CWC  (see an example here), until the introduction of the quartz chronograph rendered them obsolete.

Lemania weren’t completely sidelined during this period as they also produced a limited number of two pusher chronographs. However, the watches were only issued in 1975 and 1976, making them one of the rarer military watches.

Looking at the caseback, you can see the military markings; the ‘0552’ denotes that the watch was issued to a member of the Royal Navy, and the year of issue as you can see is 1975.

Inside the watch is a Lemania cal. 1872, a calibre that will be recognised by many vintage chronograph enthusiasts as it was used in many good quality civilian chronographs.

As well as being issued to British Military personnel, a small number of 1872 powered watches were also produced by Lemania for the Swedish and South African Air Forces. Although the movements may have been the same, the cases, dials and hands were different and as these watches were produced in low volumes, they are now very collectible.

The watch in this post arrived in running order and the movement was in very good condition, thanks in part to an inner dust cover which in addition to a regular caseback gasket, further protects the movement from the elements.

Though the movement needed no more than a routine service to bring it back to its best, the watch did have a few cosmetic issues. The lume in the hands had cracked, almost to the point of falling out, and the centre bosses of the hour and minute hand had lost most of their paint.

The dial had a number of stains too, all of which would need to be addressed…

Tackling stained dials is a tricky business as there is always a risk that in attempting to remove the stain, a section of paint can lift from the dial surface, or the paint can be tarnished under the stain – thankfully neither of those things happened here. The stains appeared to be patches of oil which were removed successfully, albeit very carefully, with rodico.

The old lume was removed from the hands and the centre bosses were re-painted, the paint being colour matched to the original so as not to be too obvious, and finally the hands were re-lumed, the colour of the lume being matched to the hour markers.

As a final step, the case was cleaned and the crystal polished before the watch could be rebuilt. Here it is all back in one piece.

Rich.

** Many thanks to Nick Burridge for letting me feature his watch on the blog. **


Tissot Seastar Chronograph (Lemania Cal. 1281)…

Another great vintage chronograph on the blog, this time from Tissot.

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During the late 1960’s and 1970’s Tissot produced many attractive chronographs in the Seastar and Seastar Navigator ranges. The watch in this post is from the Seastar range, and is one of the more complicated models featuring a 12 hour chronograph.

Here’s an advertisement from 1969 showing the gold plated version of the watch, along with other watches from the same series – note that prices started at just $39.95, which sounds like a bargain, even for 1969.

Opening the caseback it was immediately obvious that the movement hadn’t been serviced for a long time, the caseback gasket was missing, and dirt had found its way into the case, and distributed itself around the movement.

The movement in this watch is the Lemania cal. 1281, produced at a time when movements and casing parts were being shared between Omega, Tissot and Lemania. Although the movements were all produced by Lemania, they were re-branded for Omega and Tissot watches, in this case the movement was re-branded as the Tissot cal. 871.

The cal. 1281 was developed further to become the Lemania cal. 1873, a calibre which was subsequently used in many popular vintage chronographs, one of the most well known being Omega’s ‘Moon Watch’, the Speedmaster Professional. The movement was re-branded as the Omega cal. 861, but the lineage back to the 1281 is clearly apparent if you compare the two calibres.

A few years ago, I wrote about another watch in the advertisement above, the model with a single chronograph subregister, powered by the Lemania cal. 1277 (see that post here). As the watch in this post has the additional hour register, let’s have a look at the extra components, all of which are located under the dial.

Towards the bottom of the picture is the hour recording runner which, like in many chronograph designs, is powered directly from the mainspring barrel when engaged.

When the start/stop pusher is pressed to start the chronograph, the actuating lever raises the chronograph brake from the hour recording runner and it starts to rotate along with the mainspring barrel. When the chronograph is stopped, the brake is re-applied, and the runner is held in its current position.

When the reset button is pressed, the reset hammer moves across, raising the brake temporarily from the hour recording runner and the reset hammer moves all the way across, contacting the chronograph heart on the underside of the runner, resetting it to zero.

With the movement serviced it was on to the cosmetic work, of which there wasn’t too much to do this time.  The luminous filling in the hands had deteriorated, and needed to be replaced, but little else, so here’s the watch after a clean for the case, and a crystal polish.

Having mentioned the Omega Speedmaster Professional above, here’s a picture of the two watches together, which again highlights the diminutive proportions of the Tissot – the size of the movement in both watches is exactly the same, 27mm.

At 41mm, the Omega is seen as a ‘regular’ sized watch these days, so with a case size of just 34mm excluding the crown, the Tissot is what you might call ‘a little cracker’. 🙂

Rich

** Many thanks to Phil Johnson for letting me feature his watch on the blog. **

 


Lemania Chronograph (Lemania Cal. 15 CHT)…

Another military watch, this time an early single pusher chronograph from Lemania.

(Click pictures to enlarge)

Single pusher chronographs were issued to British military personnel from the mid 1940’s until the mid 1970’s. Two versions of the round cased model, known as Series 1 and 2, were issued from the mid 1940’s before being superceded by the Series 3 which is easily recognised by its asymmetric case.

As with all military timepieces, turning the watch over you will find the issue markings engraved into the caseback.

A few things to notice about the markings on this watch; The letters “H.S” stand for “Hydrographic Service” which shows that the watch was issued for Naval use, the Broad Arrow symbol follows, and then the number 9 denotes that it is a chronograph wristwatch. Below that is the serial number for this particular watch.

You will also see that the original designation number has been crossed out and a new number engraved above it. When Britain joined NATO in 1949, all equipment had to be reclassified in accordance with NATO’s National Stock Number (NSN) system, and that is what you can see above the original markings, 0552 denotes Naval use, and the 924-3305 identifies this particular type of watch.

The watch was running on arrival, though not very well, and on opening the caseback it was pretty obvious that the movement hadn’t been serviced for quite some time.

The calibre inside is a Lemania cal. 15 CHT which was derived from a pocket watch movement, and serves as the base calibre for the Lemania cal. 2220 used in the later Series 3 chronographs – see an example here.

If you compare the two movements you notice that the bridges on the cal. 15 CHT are gilt plated, and that the earlier movement has no Incabloc shock system to protect the balance staff pivots. A version of the 15 CHT was also available as a traditional two pusher chronograph, the cal. 15 TL

The watch had been fitted with the wrong crystal which was literally rattling around inside the case. As you can see in the first picture, quite a lot of dust had made its way past the crystal, but thankfully no moisture, so the dial and lume were still in good condition.

With the movement serviced, the dial and case cleaned, and the correct crystal fitted, things were looking much better. Just a small amount of pitting on the plated bridges remained, but all in all, a good result.

This watch was also made with a black dial, and as I had both versions of the watch in for servicing at the same time, here is a picture of the two models together.

Rich.

** Many thanks to Lee Curtis for letting me feature his watches on the blog. **


Tissot/Aquastar Regate (Lemania Cal. 1345)…

Another sailing timer on the blog, this time from Tissot… well, kind of.

(Click pictures to enlarge)

An interesting period in Tissot’s history began in 1930 when they joined forces with Omega to form the Société Suisse pour l’Industrie Horlogère (SSIH). They were joined two years later by the movement manufacturer Lemania, making the SSIH the second largest holding company in Switzerland at the time. This union resulted in parts being shared across the group, and many of the same models appeared in the product lines of all three companies, often built around Lemania’s high quality calibres.

The Regate was one such model and as well as the Tissot/Aquastar version, there was also Omega, Lemania, Heuer and Elvström versions of the watch, all in different cases, but fitted with the same Lemania calibre.

So as you can see, there was no shortage of models for the discerning yachtsman to choose from (for a description of how the watch would have been used in competition, see this post). Of the four, the Lemania is something of a rare sight these days, but the Omega is by far the rarest and is seldom seen on the open market.

The collaboration between Tissot and Aquastar is more curious, as Aquastar were never part of the SSIH group. I had assumed for a long time that the Tissot/Aquastar Regate was the only model they produced together – you will see the same watch with a silver dial, and also in a case with a ‘lobster’ bracelet (both pictures courtesy of JonW @ www.deskdivers.com).

However, I was recently offered an Aquastar Benthos project watch with a co-branded dial, so maybe they collaborated on more models? This is the only Tissot/Aquastar Benthos that I have ever seen, so if anyone has any evidence that this may be genuine, I’d be interested to hear from you.

Getting back to the subject of this post, opening the caseback revealed the now familiar Lemania Cal. 1345, and the thankfully less common emulsified gasket gunk which was working its way into the movement… Yuk!

Apart from the various cosmetic issues, the watch was running, but had a problem with the sailing timer which wouldn’t stay engaged when the pusher was pressed. A full service is always a good place to start to ensure that everything is in order, and after some extra time spent on it, the timer was working properly again.

Under the crystal the dial and hands were still in good condition, so after some case work and fitting a new crystal, the transformation was complete.

It is also worth noting that the Tissot branded Regate has a different caseback than the Aquastar models, featuring the galleon as seen on the caseback of many of the Tissot T12 models from the same period.

The owner of this watch, Mark Reichardt, has a keen interest in sailing timers. If you have any questions or information about them, especially the vintage mechanical models, I’m sure he’d like to hear from you. You can contact him at the following email address; j.m.reichardt@planet.nl

When Mark bought this watch, it also came complete with its original Tissot bracelet, but had mismatched end-pieces. If anyone can help Mark out with the correct end pieces for this model, or a potential source for them, please contact him directly via the email address above.

Rich.

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


Heuer Regatta (Lemania Cal. 1345)…

To say this Heuer Regatta had had a tough life would be an understatement.

(Click pictures to enlarge)

From the mid 1970’s until the mid 1980’s Heuer released a range of Regatta timers similar to the Aquastar models I’ve written about in the past. Heuer used the same calibre as Aquastar, the Lemania cal. 1345 which is a modified version of their cal. 1341 cam lever chronograph. A detailed description of how the calibre 1345 works can be found in a previous post, here.

The following picture is from a 1980 Heuer brochure which shows the Regatta models that were available at the time.

You will notice that some of the watch cases and bracelets in the picture above are dark in colour, rather than the steel or gold normally seen. The cases and bracelets on these models are PVD coated. PVD stands for “Physical Vapour Deposition” which is a process used to produce a metal vapour that can be deposited on any electrically conductive material. The resulting finish is well suited to watch cases and bracelets as it is very hard wearing, though not indestructible. For more details on the PVD process, see here.

At some time a previous owner of the watch in this post either got tired of the PVD coating, or it partially wore off and so he tried to sand it off…. with less than successful results.

Unfortunately, the movement hadn’t been treated with much respect either. Though the timekeeping part of the watch was working, the sailing timer showed no signs of life, and pressing the timer button did nothing at all.

With the hands, dial and timer disc removed it was not hard to see why, 90% of the parts for the sailing timer were missing, and the timing disc was just stuck onto the back of the dial with double sided tape!

Finding parts for these watches can be difficult these days, and often a second watch has to be sourced to use as a parts donor. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case here as a watchmaker based in France was able to supply all the missing parts for the timer, as well as a new sweep second hand.

The movement still needed quite a bit of work as many of the existing parts had been bent, and even filed down in the past in an attempt to repair the timer mechanism, probably by a watchmaker who didn’t fully understand how it should work.

Cosmetically, little could be done to restore the PVD coating on the case apart from having it completely re-coated, but fortunately, the same watchmaker who supplied the parts also had a near NOS (new old stock) case and bracelet too. Here is the end result.

The owner of this watch, Mark Reichardt, has a keen interest in sailing timers. If you have any questions or information about them, especially the vintage mechanical models, I’m sure he’d like to hear from you. You can contact him at the following email address; j.m.reichardt@planet.nl

Rich.

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


Lemania Chronograph (Lemania Cal. 2220)…

Another military watch on the blog, this time from Lemania. In a scruffy state and missing its pusher, stem and crown, the watch looked like it had seen a few battles of its own.

(Click pictures to enlarge)

The caseback has the markings seen on all British military timepieces, the Broad Arrow symbol, a designation number, and a serial number.

I wrote a post earlier this year about another military watch, a CWC chronograph, in which I described the different caseback markings. To avoid repeating myself, interested parties can read that post here.

The movement in this watch is a Lemania cal. 2220, a very elegant column wheel chronograph calibre. The arrangement of the wheels, the Breguet overcoil, and the delicate form of the return springs make this one of the most aesthetically pleasing vintage chronograph calibres in my opinion.

The majority of chronograph calibres have two pushers, one for starting and stopping the chronograph mechanism and one for resetting. This calibre is a mono-pusher chronograph in which a single pusher is used for all three functions. Subsequent presses of the pusher, start, stop and then reset the mechanism. Once the chronograph has been stopped, it is not possible to restart it from the same point as the next press of the pusher will reset it automatically to zero.

The operation of the minute register is also different in this calibre. In most calibres the chronograph runner has a finger mounted on it which advances the minute register by one marking as it passes. In the cal. 2220, the minute register sweeps around the dial in a constant motion rather than moving in discrete steps.

Much like the Valjoux cal. 92, the mechanism is controlled by an oscillating pinion (inset) which is constantly driven by the centre wheel. Only when the chronograph is engaged does the coupling clutch move across and the pinion is then in contact with the minute recording runner, moving it forward.

Generally speaking, the movement in this watch was in good condition, apart from a few rusty screw heads which needed to be polished. The majority of the work involved in this watch was cosmetic.

You may have noticed in the first picture that the luminous filling in the hands had darkened significantly. In watches from this period (early 1960s), the hands were filled with a tritium based paste which after many decades darkens and dries out.

While every effort is made to keep the original filling intact, in some cases it is so brittle that no matter how carefully the hands are removed, the slightest application of pressure flexes the hands and the luminous filling falls out, often falling as dust onto the dial.

That happened with this watch, so there was no alternative but to remove all remaining traces of the original paste (powder!) and apply new lume. That also gave me the opportunity to re-paint the hands which had been chipped at some time in the past.

With the movement serviced and the missing pusher, stem and crown sourced, a new crystal was fitted and the case cleaned up to finish the job.

Rich.

** Many thanks to Lee Curtis for letting me feature his watch on the blog. **