Wristwatch restoration, servicing and repair

Posts Tagged ‘Roamer’

Roamer Stingray S (MST Cal. 471)…

I’ve written about a Roamer Stingray before on the blog and here’s another one, this time a Stingray S.

(Click pictures to enlarge)

Produced from 1967 until 1973, the Stingray S was Roamer’s first watch made specifically for diving, featuring a thicker crystal, an internal bezel to prevent accidental rotation and a depth rating of 660ft (200 metres).

The watch in this post is the first model which was made between 1967-68, recognisable by the blue cross-hair dial and silver baton hands. Later models took on a more striking appearance which could be argued would have been more legible when diving. The later watches all had matt black dials, contrasting hands, a more distinct inner bezel with bold red or white figures and a round lume dot in place of the non-lumed triangle on the earlier model.

The later models were also fitted with a 28 jewel movement rather than the 44 jewel movement used in the first model – signified by the ’44’ printed on the dial. The case was also upgraded late in the production run to include a crown guard for the exposed crown at 3 and the lug width was increased from 18 to 20mm so a more substantial bracelet or strap could be fitted.

Here’s an Australian advert from the period to show how the watch was originally marketed. (You’ll notice that this is one the late models too as it has the crown guard mentioned above.)

The watch in this post arrived in reasonable condition, running, but desperately needing a service.

Like other Stingrays that feature Roamer’s patented waterproof case design, the upper part of the case traps the crystal between the two case sections to ensure a water tight seal.

With the top half of the case removed, the crystal can be prised off and the bezel is simply lifted out to reveal the winding gear attached to the stem and crown positioned at 3 o’clock. The two piece stem and crown also needs to be separated before the watch can be removed from the case. The crown was an obvious (and ugly!) replacement so a genuine Roamer branded crown and stem was sourced to put things right.

In most examples of Roamer’s case design, the crystal holds the movement in place but as this watch has an internal bezel that needs clearance to rotate, that approach can’t be used here. Instead the movement is secured inside the case using two clamps and screws (the eagle eyed may have noticed that a securing screw was missing in the picture above.)

Out of the case the movement was something of a surprise, a 28 jewel MST cal. 471. Given that the dial has the ‘roto44date’ markings, I expected to see a 44 jewel version of the calibre rather than the 28.

Whether the movement has been exchanged at some time in its near 50 year history or the 28 jewel version has been installed from the start, who knows? Nevertheless it’s still a fine in-house calibre that needed no more than routine service to bring it back into line.

Although the original lume had deteriorated slightly, it was largely intact so there was no additional cosmetic work needed this time, aside from a well needed ultrasonic clean for the case and light re-brushing of the case top. Here’s the watch all finished up and looking great on its original NSA bracelet.

Finally, here’s a close up picture of the Stingray caseback. Like the Certina DS caseback I wrote about last month, it’s another classic vintage detail.

For more information on the various Stingray models and vintage Roamers in general, check out this excellent site dedicated to the brand: http://roamer-watches.info/


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

Roamer Stingray Chronograph (Valjoux Cal. 72)…

Another vintage Roamer on the blog, this time a chronograph from the Stingray range.

(Click pictures to enlarge)

The Stingray has been a stalwart model in the Roamer line up, first introduced in 1967, the name is still in use today. Many brands associate a model name with a certain style of watch, but that wasn’t the case with the Stingray. A quick search will unearth a wide range of vintage models; dress watches, divers watches and chronographs.

The chronograph in this post was something of a technical high point in the range, and consequently is one of the most desirable/collectable vintage Roamers these days.

On the back of the watch is the distinctive logo found on the majority of Stingray models.

A few posts ago I wrote about another Roamer, a Mustang Indianapolis in which I described Roamer’s patented waterproof case (see that post here). As the watch in this post has the same style of case, I’ll describe it’s construction with the aid of a few pictures taken during disassembly.

In this first picture, you can see that the case top has been separated from the main body of the watch.

As the pressure from the case top around the crystal forms the waterproof seal on these watches, the fit has to be tight; then add in decades of grime and separating the two parts can be tricky.

There is a big temptation to support the case top from below and press on the centre of the crystal to force the sections apart – don’t do this! There is a good chance that the crystal will crack. If you don’t have the Roamer press made for the job, the best way to remove the case top is to use a case knife on the underside and work it into the gap between the two sections all the way around until they can finally be prised apart.

With the case top removed, the main body of the watch is now effectively a one piece case, and the split stem has to be separated to remove the watch from the case.

If you look closely at the picture above you can see that the crystal sits over a lip on the main body, acting as a lid. A thin blade or case knife can be used to lever the crystal up, and the watch can then be removed from the case.

With the watch out of the case and the dial and hands removed, the calibre inside is revealed, a Valjoux cal. 72.

As you can see the movement is in good clean condition and needed no more than a service to bring it back into line.

Cosmetically there were a few issues to address. As you may have noticed in the earlier pictures, the minute hand had a hole in the lume and the paint on the chronograph sweep hand was damaged. With these faults rectified, the only things left to do were re-brush the case top, and polish the crystal before re-assembling the watch.

While researching this post I came across a Swedish advert showing Björn Waldegård – two time winner of the famous Monte Carlo Rally (1969 & 1970) wearing a Stingray chronograph. I wonder if he was wearing one during the races?


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

Roamer Mustang Indianapolis (MST Cal. 478)…

Roamer is another new brand on the blog, and this Mustang Indianapolis is one of their models from the 1970’s.

(Click pictures to enlarge)

Roamer was started in 1888 in Solothurn, Switzerland by Fritz Meyer, who specialized in producing cylinder escapements for sale to other watchmakers. By 1895 the company had grown to 60 employees, but it was in 1905 that things really started to take off when Meyer formed a partnership with the watchmaker Johann Studeli to create Meyer-Studeli (MST) – the brand name ‘Roamer’ was registered in 1908.

The company moved into a larger factory in 1906 and production increased dramatically. By 1923 the company was producing 1,000,000 units per year, with all components being produced in-house.

However, despite enjoying decades of success, like many others Roamer were “steam rollered” by the quartz revolution, and as demand for mechanical watches plummeted,  the in-house production of parts ceased in 1975. The company stayed in the Meyer family until 1983, before being bought by the Swatch group, who then sold it on to the Hong Kong based Chung Nam Company in 1994.

In something of a resurgence, mechanical watches were re-introduced into the line-up in 2003, and in 2009 the Swatch group bought back a 50% share in the company, thus guaranteeing supply of ETA calibres. If you would like to see their current models, check out the website www.roamer.ch.

Getting back to the subject of this post, the Mustang range was produced between 1967 and 1975, and the additional Indianapolis branding on this model was to celebrate Roamer’s sponsorship of the Indianapolis Raceway Park during the early 1970’s. The final piece of main dial text, the “D+D”, signifies that this is a day and date model.

As well as the Mustang, Roamer’s other recognisable vintage ranges were the Stingray, Anfibio, Searock and Rockshell, most of which had distinctive case and caseback designs – the Mustang in this post is pretty typical of the style.

The watch is housed in a one-piece case patented by Roamer, and used extensively throughout their model ranges. Like a traditional one-piece case, the stem must be separated to remove the watch from the case, but rather than using an internal tension ring crystal, the crystal sits over the main case, like a lid, and the case top is pressed over it, sealing the watch inside. I have another Roamer model coming up in the next few posts, so I’ll be sure to include some pictures of the case then. (Post now written – see here)

The movement inside is a MST Cal. 478, which is essentially an ETA Cal. 2638R re-finished and re-branded at the Roamer factory. The movement wasn’t running on arrival, but needed no more than a service to get it up and running again.

Cosmetically the watch was in decent condition throughout, needing little more than a thorough cleaning, a light re-brush for the case top and a polish for the crystal. The watch still has its original NSA bracelet too which is a bonus.


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