Wristwatch restoration, servicing and repair

Posts Tagged ‘Venus’

Poljot ‘Strela’ Chronograph (Poljot Cal. 3017)…

There haven’t been many Russian watches on the blog, but this Poljot chronograph is something of a classic.

(Click pictures to enlarge)

Known as the ‘Strela’ (which is Russian for ‘Arrow’) these watches were originally developed for Russian Air Force Officers and were constructed to strict military specifications. They were only available to Senior Military, Government and Party officials, and were not for sale to the general public.

They were also used by several Russian Cosmonauts in the early days of Russian space exploration, the most notable of which has to be Aleksej Leonov who was wearing a Strela during the first ever space walk on 18th March 1965.

The Strela in this post is one of the early models which is fitted with a Poljot cal. 3017 column wheel chronograph, based on the Swiss Venus cal. 150. Around 100,000 of the cal. 3017 powered Strelas were manufactured over a period of 20 years before the movement was switched to a cam lever chronograph, the Poljot cal. 3133 (based on the Valjoux cal. 7733) in 1979.

You will see these watches branded either Poljot or Sekonda and they were produced with either a black or a white dial. (Sekonda is actually a British company that was set up in 1966 to distribute Russian watches in the West).

This watch arrived in a non-running condition as the result of a fall, the crystal was broken and the watch would no longer wind or run. A watch hitting the floor is never a good thing, but with this watch, like many vintage watches, it has no built in shock protection for the pivots on the balance staff.  Being the thinnest pivots in the watch, a heavy impact can easily snap off one (or both) of the staff pivots resulting in a much more complicated repair.

However, that wasn’t the case this time as the only parts damaged, apart from the crystal, were a screw securing one of the case clamps (the broken head and clamp had fallen into the movement stopping the watch), and the setting lever spring on the dial side.

After sourcing replacement parts, the rest of the movement was serviced, the case cleaned, and a new crystal fitted. The last thing to do was to remove the corrosion from the hands (you may have noticed in the first picture that the hands had corroded – not surprising really as this watch has no gaskets.)

It wasn’t possible to fully restore them as the corrosion had eaten right through the chrome plating, but they are much improved.

Rich.

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

You will see these watches branded either Poljot or Sekonda and were made with either a black or a white dial. (Sekonda is actually a British company that was set up in 1966 to distribute Russian watches in the west).

Breitling Premier (Venus Cal. 175)…

Here’s a great looking vintage Breitling that deserved some attention. These Premier chronographs are becoming quite collectible these days.

(Click pictures to enlarge)

‘Premier’ models were introduced during the 1930’s and were a long standing name in the Breitling lineup. Apart from two register chronographs, the lineup also included three register chronographs and elegant sub-second dress watches.  The name was retired in the 1960’s, but was re-introduced by Breitling between 1996 and 1999 in a limited edition production run of around 5000 watches. The re-issued model was fitted with Breitling’s own Cal. B40, based on an ETA Cal. 2892 with a Kelek chronograph module added.

Dating the one in this post proved to be quite easy as the engraved caseback gave a heavy hint as to its age. Quite a nice prize for winning the Class “B” league, I’m sure you’ll agree… I wonder what the Class “A” Champs got?. Using the serial number dated it precisely to 1946. (If you are interested in dating your own vintage Breitling, you can do so here.)

Over its production span, the Premier was fitted with a variety of chronograph calibres. Removing the caseback on this one revealed a quite tired looking, but complete Venus Cal. 175…

Most calibres are marked under the balance wheel with the manufacturer’s trademark and calibre number, but that wasn’t the case here. The dial and hands had to be removed first before the identity of the calibre was revealed.

The watch wasn’t running on arrival and obviously hadn’t been serviced for quite some time. Just to add to the fun, the hairspring had also been damaged, which proved even more entertaining as it was a Breguet overcoil rather than a flat hairspring (I wrote about the difference between the two types in this post).  After spending some time on it with the fine tweezers, everything was back in order again and the rest of the movement just needed a regular service.

Here is the watch after a clean and light buff for the case, and fitting a new crystal…

Rich.

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


L.A. Leuba Chronograph (Venus Cal. 188)…

Another vintage chronograph, this time from the Swiss company L.A. Leuba…

L.A. Leuba is short for “Louis A. Leuba”, a company which surprisingly had no association with the much larger and well known Swiss manufacturer, Favre-Leuba.

The movement in this watch is a Venus cal. 188, a popular cam-lever chronograph calibre produced between 1949 and 1966 and can be found in many of the chronographs from that period.

After production ceased the design was used again by Valjoux in their cal. 7730 (the only modification was to the stud carrier, making it moveable to make beat correction easier). A few years later the design of the cal. 7730 was refined further and became the calibres 7733 and 7734 widely used throughout the 1970’s. Looking at a Venus 188 and a Valjoux 7734 side by side, it’s not hard to spot the lineage…

This particular watch arrived with a winding problem; it could be wound endlessly and the power reserve was less than 12 hours, which all pointed to a problem with the mainspring.

After removing the chronograph components it was plain to see that the mainspring had been heavily over oiled during the last service, the oil had leaking out all over the movement. However, after swimming through the oil the winding problem was quickly revealed, the mainspring had failed at the endpiece (inset)…

Judging by its condition, there is a good chance that this was the original carbon steel mainspring installed when the watch was first made. After many years of use (or less if you’re unlucky!) carbon steel springs can fail as they are susceptible to corrosion, often as a result of being handled during servicing. The problem is eliminated in modern mainsprings which are made from ‘white alloy’ (an alloy of cobalt, nickel, & chrome) and are corrosion resistant.

With a new white alloy mainspring ordered and installed, and the rest of the service completed, all that was left to do was renew the patchy lume on the hands. Although the dial shows its age a little, it has that great vintage look, and the movement is still in very good condition…

One last thing to notice about this watch are the three longer marks on the minute register at 3, 6 and 9 minutes. These marks were used to time telephone conversations back in the 1950’s when calls were charged in three minute intervals… if you talked for 10 minutes or more you probably couldn’t afford it!

Rich

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