Teardown + Service: 1958 Rado Automatic 21 Jewels / AS 1361 N

This watch has quite a bit of family history …

My father got this gold watch from his boss in 1958 at the age of 32 – his first serious job after the war and university. He wore it from 1958 right up to 1973 when he bought himself a Rolex – which he has been wearing ever since.

With my 50th birthday coming up tomorrow, my father decided to give the watch to me, as it’s been sitting in a drawer for the last 39 years.

I’ve asked him if he ever got the watch serviced, and he can’t remember ever having done that. But let’s give the good man some leeway and presume that if it has been serviced, it was before 1973. So we have a watch that hasn’t been touched for 39 years.

I got it in the mail and it was ticking since it’s automatic. I opened it up for a quick glance, and put it on the timegrapher.

Not beautiful, but running. You can tell that the watch needs a service, but you wouldn't guess that it's been lying around for 39 years

This is good - a completely clean and shiny inner lid that protects the movement

Wow - not only beautiful, but incredibly clean

Movement taken out of the case - this is an AS 1361N - made by A. Schild in Switzerland. It beats at 18,000 bph and has 21 jewels

With the auto-winder removed, you can actually see some oil on the wheel bridge

The auto winder - you can see quite a bit of oil on that as well

The balance and hairspring are nice and clean as well

Ready to remove the bridges

The movement has an intermediary centre wheel bridge, as it has a central second. The centre wheel does not have any jewels

Everything removed from the top plate

Now I turn my attention to the bottom plate

Not much to remove as there is no date ring

Time to get a bit forensic! I can't see any traces of oil on the balance staff - but everything is nice and clean

Top jewel of the pallet fork - no trace of oil, either

The pallet fork pivot looks dry, but clean

Jewels on the wheel bridge - they also look pretty dry. Behind the centre jewel, there is some oil on the bridge where the winder assembly was

I wipe the oil onto a clean sheet of watch paper - it's still liquid enough to do its job

The oil in the spring barrel is still in good condition - you can even see a little droplet with surface tension just where the spring opens out (at about 10 o'clock from the centre)

Escape wheel - pretty dry

The bottom pivot of the escape wheel - dry as well

Some oil in good condition on the barrel bridge

The fourth wheel - dry

The balance jewel with cap - you can see tiny tiny specs of some dried-up oil in the first groove of the jewel

Oil on the main spring in top condition

My interpretation of things:

Firstly, I think the watch was serviced before it went into hibernation in 1973. The strap is almost unworn, and there were traces of someone having opened the watch that didn’t look like they happened in the factory.

All the light oil (balance, pallet fork, escapement, wheels) has evaporated. What saved the watch was the fact that whoever serviced it oiled lightly, so there wasn’t too much residue to make the movement stop. A dry movement works, albeit not perfectly well – as we can see from the timegrapher. Also, as the watch wasn’t worn, it was kept at a fairly constant temperature in a centrally heated house, with no dust or dirt penetrating the watch. So whilst the lighter oil dried out, there was no mixing with dust which would have formed a hard crust.

The heavier oil, used for the main spring, the barrel, and between the wheel bridge and the auto winder, survived in very good shape.

Conclusion

Heavy oil (probably some clock oil that was used) survives quite well. Light oil, as used for jewels, evaporates over time. If a watch is only lightly oiled, it has good chances of taking this evaporation without coming to a halt.

Reassembly

It’s the 27th of February, and I’m going to put my father’s Rado back together.

All parts cleaned and dry

I start by winding and oiling the main spring

All set for reassembly

The intermediate bridge for the centre wheel and the barrel bridge are mounted

Then the wheel bridge for third, fourth and escapement wheel goes in. Make sure all wheels are properly seated and turn freely before tightening the bridge screws

Holding the pallet fork with a piece of watch paper, I carefully clean it with a pegwood stick

Making sure the pallet fork moves freely before tightening the pallet cock screw

The balance cock and balance go in and the watch starts ticking

The crown and castle wheel get some grease before going in

The the auto winder assembly is mounted on top of the movement

The gold plating of the hour and minute hand is so badly damaged that I decide to polish them. That takes the remaining gold plating off, but gives me shiny hands again. I can always re-plate another time

The movement is back in the case

The dust cover goes back on

And finally the watch back - done

What a beauty - and what a great birthday gift from my dad!

 

13 thoughts on “Teardown + Service: 1958 Rado Automatic 21 Jewels / AS 1361 N

  1. hi i am from india and nice watching your watch i have also owned same r-line rado ladies watch i want to sell it if u give some guideline for it and approx value of it thanks, regards

  2. I have an as1361 the generation before this without the slotted rotor and i can’t seem to get it out of the case. It’s loose with the winding stem out but maybe I’m missing a case screw somewhere? Any comments would be helpful. This piece might come your way if I can straighten the cases issues out.

  3. Hi Very useful tips and I learned quite a lot from this cleaning report. May I ask which screw I must remove to take out the rotor? Anything I need to look out when take up the rotor assembly and when re-assemble back? Thanks.

  4. Great write up, which came in very handy when overhauling my Zodiac 1346 movement.

    Many thanks for taking the trouble to document the strip down.

  5. Pingback: Anyone like the AS 1361?

  6. Interesting point about the waves showing on the timegrapher
    (the escapement wheel not being perfectly round).
    One learns every day!
    Greg

  7. very interesting to see. must be one of the 1st series to have the rado name on the dial. we’re launching the new hyperchrome in the coming days. has it’s roots in the old rado puple and golden horse watches from the sixties.
    KR.

  8. Hi Christian!
    Thanx for this interesting report and the great pics! I´ll set a link to it on my HP.
    Some details(dust cover, “crown cap design” of the crown”) make me think your Rado was produced in 1957/58 which corresponds with the year your father recieved it. One of the last ones with the “R-line”-logo being used 1951 – 1957. I own nearly the same one, but GP only, with a “normal” crown and without the dust cover.
    Enjoy it and wear it in health!

  9. Pingback: 1958 Rado Automatic 21 Jewels AS1361N

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