Resurrection Alpina Electric / ESA9154

IMG_3019I bought this watch expecting a parts watch, closer inspection it’s actually a new old stock watch and I think I can bring it back to its former glory.

 

IMG_3020The original sales label still attached.IMG_3021Case back has the characteristic lid for changing the batteries.IMG_3023I eventually figure out how to open the case back, revealing the movement. I’m lucky as the battery has just started to leak and had not have time to cause any damage.IMG_3024Incredibly the watch starts ticking with a new battery.IMG_3064Dial is incredibly dirty and I have no idea how it could have accumulated.IMG_3065The date mechanism is very nicely made.IMG_3092The stem is on the other side of the movement and is connected via a conical gear down to the hour wheel.IMG_3094The circuit board removed from the movement, this unit will not go in the cleaning machine, the same goes for the balance wheel as it is magnetic and will attract particles in the fluid.IMG_3096Unlike a conventional mechanical movement the power to the gear train comes from the balance.IMG_3098Underneath the train bridge there is two springs to ensure that movement does not recoil.IMG_3201After cleaning the movement I started on the dial side.IMG_3203The date and setting mechanism back in place. IMG_3205The gear train back in place.IMG_3206Now the tricky part! To get the train bridge is place with the tension springs.IMG_3207The balance back in place.IMG_3208The Circuit board back in place.IMG_3099The dial cleans up very nice with water and soap.IMG_3044Case gets a light polish.IMG_3480Movement back in the caseIMG_3482The Movement starts straight up when in contact with a battery.IMG_3481Amplitude is irrelevant, as I don’t know the lift angle, but I can time the movement.IMG_3484The case is composed of outer case, inner case, case back and a lid for the battery.IMG_3485I give the original NOS strap a generous amount of leather softener and I keep the label for fun, as it is more and more unusual to find this on 40+year watches.IMG_3486Now that is a transformation!IMG_3493I’m very happy how this turned out! This movement must have cost a fortune for ESA/ETA to develop and by the time it was put into production it was out of date, as the quartz revolution had just started.

26 thoughts on “Resurrection Alpina Electric / ESA9154

  1. Hi, I have a Esa 9157 movement which is not working. Do you have any idea how do I take the movement out of the case? I took the stem out but the movement is stuck. Is it possible that I have to take it out from the front? Thank you for your help, Andrei

  2. Great Job – great watch.
    I have also 3 watches with the same movement (Mido, Cortebert and one from Bucherer)
    Is there a manual available for tuning/adjusting?

  3. Incredible transformation. I hadn’t seen much about these movements. Interesting to hear, but I am truly impressed with how terrible it was and how clean it turned out. Very nice work, as with everything I’ve read on here. Keep the posts coming!

  4. Hello Mitka,
    Brilliant job, truly. I was just wondering, what did you use to clean up the dial and how you did it, taking into account that the original manufacturer typeface stayed virtualy intact! How do you manage to get rid of the dirt and not destroy the markings in the process?
    Thanks, Ilija

  5. Nice read and great find!

    I would love top add an electric in to my collection but I’m not too sure where to start. A Bulova would be nice but I’m not sure I can stretch to that at the moment, can anyone recommend an electric with a good reputation and not too high a price tag, please?

    Also, does this watch tick or does it sweep?

    Thanks!

  6. Hello Mitka and Christian, you have a new fan. I have been watching your exploits for a while and I am most impressed with your work.. So refreshing to find quality and integrity, These movements were not much more accurate than a good automatic model, the only advantage was that you could leave them in a drawer for days or weeks and they would still be telling the right time. They had a period of popularity in the ’70s, I think I have seen them in mid price watches such as Avia.I notice the battery hatch on the Alpina has 12 graduations and an arrow. could this be to act as a reminder of the month that the battery was replaced?

  7. Hey Mitka,

    Really nice job! Electric and Electronic watches are a bit of a niche specialty of mine (although I’ve not sent any to you for service yet), so it was good to see a Dynotron movement being worked on here.

    I will say that these ESA electronic balance wheel movements actually did have a decent window of time when they were relevant, with these 13 jewel versions being introduced in 1967 (and produced through 1970), while a later version with 7 jewels (ESA 9157 – 9159) was produced at least through the mid-70s. With the early quartz movements being introduced to the mainstream in the 1973 time frame, that’s almost a decade of iterations of this movement being used across a WIDE range of manufacturers during that period.

    So, it wasn’t quite obsolete as soon as it appeared! 😉

  8. These electric watches are weird and wonderful things …
    They have one huge disadvantage, and that’s the weight of the balance (as it has to contain magnets), so they aren’t the most accurate watches around. Every time you turn the watch, the balance goes haywire, as the large weight kicks in. For something with a transistor in it, that is a bit disappointing, so as soon as quartz movements hit the market, these movements where dead in the water. Battery life will also be under one year, as power consumption isn’t that low, so a tuning fork watch (made at the same time) is far more desirable all around.
    An interesting phase in watchmaking, but a dead end nevertheless. But any collector should have one of these, as they will become rarer and rarer as time eats the circuit boards!

  9. That’s a brilliant restoration Mitka! How do you whether or not to attempt a dial restoration though? My experience is so mixed, and when you get it wrong it tends to be irreversible, so is there a good rule to use when approaching this?

    • Well in this case there was nothing to lose;) I actually did not restore the dial I only cleaned the dirt off. The Varnish is still original and in good condition.

      • I see, great job nonetheless. I’ve always had mechanical watches and love working on them but have picked up an Omega 1310 and a Tissot 2030 recently – they are great, chunky things but heaven forbid you need to find parts for them….!

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