This Vacheron Constantin came to our workshop from California, and Jeannot sent it in as it wasn’t working any more. The winding stem is broken, so the watch can’t be wound any more.The Vacheron Constantin calibre 1003 was developed by Audemars Piguet, together with JLC, and is a super thin movement. It’s only 1.64mm high, and that is not easily achieved.
Here is the culprit – the broken winding stem. I’m lucky, and my supplier has one in stock, together with a new mainspring.
One of the ratchet wheel screws is wrong, as the head is too small.
Somebody made a sizeable scratch on the dial, which is a shame.
It also looks like the dial was restored in 1967.And this is how the miracle is achieved. In order to make such a thin movement, the barrel is only held from the top, and isn’t suspended from the bottom.
Most of the screws have a thread diameter of 0.3mm, which is very small. The movement has the Geneva seal, so no wire springs, which I absolutely love. Just look at the lovingly shaped yoke spring!
The balance and balance cock.
The escape wheel has its own cock and a capped jewel. The gear train is also exquisitely made, as there isn’t much height to work with.
The barrel without the mainspring. The whole barrel is suspended around the top centre, and that’s all that holds it in place. With a mainspring less than half a millimetre high, this is another great little feature of this masterpiece.
All the parts are cleaned, and I can start putting the movement back together.The new mainspring. Somebody scratched “V/C” into the barrel lid and onto the bottom plate. These things are beyond my comprehension. Why can it be necessary to scratch such a movement? We all know it’s a Vacheron Constantin – there really is no need to scratch that anywhere…
In order to be able to lubricate the barrel suspension (which is the barrel arbor as well), I take it apart.
No shortcuts taken – the mainspring, even though less than half a millimetre tall, has a slot for the barrel hook.
Now the barrel arbor is screwed back into place.
As the screws are so small, I put them in order on a piece of rodico.
Now the correct screws are back on the ratchet wheel – they must have been put out of order by whoever serviced the watch before (and scratched the plate and barrel lid).
The new winding stem fits nicely.
Considering the size of the movement and its age, this is very good. Also, I have just put the movement back together, and the amplitude will improve in the next couple of days.
Simple, unfussy, and gorgeous.
One last look at the bottom plate before casing.
Dial and hands go back on.
With the case cleaned, and a new crystal, the watch is looking great again.
I manage to get a replacement Speidel bracelet NOS from the States.
As the old bracelet had an eternal calendar, and the new one has a calendar from 1972, I swap the two around.
Back to its old glory.
In my view, a very much underappreciated movement. Compared with the price of a PP Calatrava, I know which watch I would buy. If you know and appreciate watches, there are overpriced brands that you can easily stay away from, and little gems like this that are affordable, if you know about them.