Repair + Service: Omega Speedmaster 105.003 – 65 / calibre 321

IMG_3344This is a very sorry looking Speedy indeed…

A lot of the dial markers have gone, and there is dirt everywhere. It’s not working, and I wonder of course what will lurk inside.

But let’s start off with the story of the watch, as told my our client, Nick.

I wonder if you would be able to look at my old Speedmaster and get it running again?

It was my father’s. He bought it (new) in the 1960s and I recall, as a child, being with him when he took it to an Omega agent for repair.

“Ah yes, sir” said the jeweller “Omega: a very good watch.”

“No” said my father “It is a very expensive watch, but it’s not very good: I have to keep sending the damn’ thing back for repair.”

Despite this, he wore the watch nearly every day (when it wasn’t back in Switzerland) between buying it in the mid sixties and his death in 1984. It has, therefore, considerable sentimental value.

When I inherited the watch I took it to a jeweller in Glasgow (where I lived at the time) to get it serviced: it was not running well. I explained that money wasn’t really an issue: I simply wanted to be able to wear my Old Man’s watch. Omega said it was obsolete, beyond economic repair and that as they were cold-hearted Swiss b*st*rds I should go away and stop bothering them. (I paraphrase)

Eventually, the jewellers said they knew a man who “did this sort of thing” and after parting with several hundred pounds I got the watch back with the advice that it would keep time, but the chronometer functions were dead. Sadly, it wouldn’t even perform to this limited specification, so it lived in my safe until about ten years ago. I’d moved to P****** by then and had bought my wife a frighteningly expensive piece of jewellery: I noticed that the shop also sold Omegas, so I tried sending the watch back to Omega again through the agents in the shop, but the watch was once more returned with the advice that it was still obsolete and beyond all salvation. It went back into the safe.

Two years ago I used the internet to find a watchmaker who would fix the Speedmaster. I found a lovely man (curiously, back in Glasgow) who appeared to be very interested and knowledgeable. He said that he could make the watch like new for a mere £2,000. I said that I’d start saving and get back to him when the piggy bank had £2,000 in it.

By now it was looking rather sorry for itself. The stem had broken and the crown was lost. My efforts at extracting the movement from the case had caused a small tear in the body of the movement where the remnant of the stem had impinged during the extraction. The watch sat in its returns box until last month when I thought I’d have a go myself. Well, I can fix Land Rovers, lawnmowers, people, simple circuits. How tricky can a watch be? I bought a stem (from Germany, on ebay) and a crown. I found instructions on replacing the stem on a 321 movement and I had a go. I got away with it.

The watch now runs (a bit fast, because I moved the adjuster) for between 2 seconds and 30 minutes and then needs a tap to get it going again. The chronometer does seem to work, but the main seconds hand sometimes jumps during a tap – which suggests some serious wear to my mind – and the sweep rate is not constant (again, I think this is likely to be due to wear) so I suspect that a strip-down, clean, new main spring, replacement of worn cogs and rebuild is needed as a bare minimum.

I don’t care that the bezel is worn and faded. I don’t care that the crystal has scratches. I’m not bothered by the fact that the bracelet is a little damaged. These are the things that make it my father’s watch.

My question is: based on what I’ve told you, do you think you can get the watch to run again for significantly less than £2,000 ? If so, how should I send it to you for a quotation?

Well, here is the watch, and let’s see what we can do for it…IMG_3349

On first inspection, there is a lot of rust, and the hairspring has been bent badly with a screwdriver. I can sort of understand that people before me weren’t too keen to get this watch going again, but hey, this is an Ed White, and has considerable value.1002120958

Ouch – don’t touch those hairsprings, please!1002121008

rust …1002121019

and a bit more rust.1002121044

Most screw heads are oxidised, too.1006144025

The blocking lever has a crack, so it constantly blocks the central chronograph runner.1006144048

The central chronograph runner has two damaged teeth, so it will need replacing.IMG_3354

It looks like the dial has been scrubbed with oil – there are bits of cotton wool left, and there is a shine to it. Say what you will about preserving original dials, but this one is too far gone for me. Purists will disagree, but this one goes off to the dial restorer. For me, it’s about looking at your watch and if you are happy with what you see.IMG_3356

The hairspring got a bit of grief, but I can set that right again.IMG_3357

Rust everywhere.IMG_3373

Yes, everywhere.IMG_3375

The friction spring for the hour recorder driving pinion has lost its tension and some material off the ends, so it will need replacing.IMG_3377

Rusty, but salvageable.IMG_3381

As a first clean, the rusted parts to into 12% vinegar.IMG_3382

Then everything goes into the cleaning machine.IMG_3399

Re-assembly starts with a new mainspring.IMG_3400

And a new tension spring for the hour recorder driving wheel.IMG_3401

Now the hour recorder assembly is mounted on the plate.IMG_3403

The setting mechanism is in.IMG_3405

Now it’s time to get that hairspring reshaped.IMG_3407

That doesn’t look too bad, and I’m happy with the result.IMG_3406

With the hairspring back in shape, the movement starts up.IMG_3410

There we go…IMG_3411

The regulator is still a bit oxidised, but there is only so much time I can charge Nick 😉IMG_3412

The intermediate wheel for the horizontal second recorder clutch also needs some attention.IMG_3413

That cleaned up nicely.IMG_3414

Slowly the chronograph comes back together.IMG_3418

The broken blocking lever gets silver soldered, as these are very hard to get, and not cheap at all.IMG_3419

And the chronograph layer is complete again.IMG_3420

Now for the bottom plate, and some testing.IMG_3422

Everything gets adjusted, and I’m ready for the dial.IMG_3652

David Bill & Sons restored the dial, and it looks quite good. The lettering is a bit wide, but the dial looks so much better than before!IMG_3657

I leave the original paint on the hands, as it’s still quite good, but apply new luminous compound to go along with the new compound on the dial.IMG_3695

The movement gets cased with a new gasket, new pushers, a new crown and a new crystal.IMG_3697

Job done, and I love the look of this Ed White. Good for another generation.

27 thoughts on “Repair + Service: Omega Speedmaster 105.003 – 65 / calibre 321

  1. Great job! Really.

    I would have not restored the dial though but kept as it was. Then I would look forward for a better original one. It’s expensive but the value of a non reprinted dial 105.003 climbed up in the last years.

    • There is Patina, and then there is plain outright damage.
      A decent dial for this reference will set you back at least EUR1000 at the moment. With that in mind I think the owner made a good choice in doing a (sympathetic) redial.

      If I was the owner I would try to find a correct dial and buy it as soon as I could. The watch would gain more in potential re-sell value than the money invested in buying an original dial.

  2. That’s really impressive, hats off to you. I have a question: When you send a dial off to the restorer, can you request that they leave as much of the original as possible, e.g. leave the lettering, only reprint the outside tick marks?

    • It’s not really possible to restore parts of a dial, as the dial is completely reprinted. I haven’t heard of any dial restorers that offer this, and it would be extremely hard technically.

  3. Fantastic work Christian! And ridiculous that Omega wasn’t prepared to do the work itself and is in the process of ensuring that people like you cant do it either. I guess Omega simply doesn’t care about its older products and is happy to consign them all to the bin.

  4. Another fantastic life-saving service! Im so glad that you take on jobs like this. Especially when you hear the back stories from the owners.

  5. So basically, for the same price as a regular Omega service, you resurrected an otherwise “unsalvageble” watch. THIS is why swatch pulling parts availability is so worrying.

  6. Great restoration and it’s so nice to see a sentimental piece saved. Christian sorted my late fathers watch out much to my delight though it was no Ed White!

    Have to say I was slightly surprised by the dual restoration. Better than the original I suppose but that wouldn’t have been difficult. Is this as good as restoration can get? I agree with the need for an original dual though I wonder what the cost will be…

  7. Hello Christian, fantastic work on the hair spring and the time keeping after service looks great well done. With Omega’s refusal to service this watch and swatch group statement that they are removing spares from independent’s because of quality issues, it just shows the swatch groups true intensions to hike up service costs and reduce customers choices.

    • Absolutely right. There is no other reason but an anti-competitive desire to suck the life out of their customers. Our governments should really hammer these pirates.

  8. Shame on you Omega. This is becoming a love/hate relation for me.
    Magnificent job Guys! I cant help imagine the moment the son receiving his father’s watch in such a beautiful condition, back from the dead.
    Thank you for not giving up on our beloved beaten watches boys.
    Best regards.

    Miguel

  9. Great rescue!
    If I was the owner I would chase down an original dial. They cost an arm and a leg, but the redial is only ok and not really fabulous.
    The Ed White is gaining cult status, and prices is very much on the rise!
    With a good condition, patinated, original dial it would look vintage-perfect!

  10. That’s a really wonderful result! I the finished watch looks perfect to me.

    This is a perfect example of why we need to support the independent watch repair trade, especially considering that Omega themselves wouldn’t fix it.

  11. Fantastic job Christian. Is it rude to ask the cost? I dread to think what Omega would charge for this job (not that they would want it).

    This is why I want guys like you able to get hold of spare parts. A piece of great sentimental value, bought back from the brink for the owner and his own son perhaps one day.

    Great stuff.

    • Sure, no problem. Costs are as follows:

      mainspring Omega original £34
      Friction Spring For Driving Pinion ( 1792 ), Omega 321 £28
      crystal Omega original £55
      case back gasket £5
      2 pushers £51 = £102
      Spring For Minute Recording Jumper ( 1767 ), Omega 320 £15
      re-apply luminous compound to hands £15
      strap £5
      re-shape hairspring £50
      runner mounted 321-1705 £102
      silver solder blocking lever £20
      dial restoration incl. VAT and shipping £123.78
      service £230

      So the main bulk of the money actually goes to Omega for the parts 😉

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