Once in a while a collector will stumble across an item that he would normally overlook, but just there, in the corner of the eye, something will tell him to take a closer look.
There are many places to go hunting for these “finds”, and one of the worst, but also most interesting due to the volume, is the murky waters of the electronic-bay.
Back in May of this year a really sad looking watch caught the corner of my eye. Having gone through the various “complication phases” in my collection hobby such as alarm watches and chronographs, I had started looking for calendar watches.
Calendar watches is to me a quirky thing. I do like a date function on a watch, however to show which day of the week it is, let alone what month we are in, is to me all about creating something for the sake of it, and not for any real good use. If you do not know what day of the week it is when you wake up I have one advice: Get a job!
Many of these calendar watches even have a moon-phase indication as well! But for most of us not too busy with werewolves, vampires, and other creatures from the darker side, this will qualify as yet another pointless complication.
The watch the caught my attention did this for several reasons. One of the key ones being that it was labelled Lemania. As you may already have realized from reading other entries in Christian’s blog, Lemania is one of my favourite makers. So when a Lemania calendar watch showed up I was intrigued since I, up to then, had no idea that they ever made one!
For those of you looking around for calendar watches you will also see that a lot of them are kind of small with a diameter of between 31 and 33mm. The Lemania ref 220 (my watch) is about 35mm without the crown. This again makes for a more wearable watch IMO.
The condition of this watch was really bad. As you will see from Christians repair notes it was on the border of what would be sensible to attempt to restore, and with little information and no records of spares it was sure to be a challenge.
On the sellers side I will salute him for not trying to hide the obvious. The watch was advertised for spares or restoration, and the pictures showed well enough the bad state of the dial.
After winning the auction I sent some info to Christian, and asked for his assistance and advice.
It was evident that the movement needed a full overhaul, and the dial needed to be redone. Someone had previously tried to restore the dial themselves, and though it may have served its purpose to tell the time, the looks of it was appalling.
The movement was not working, and Christian will soon tell why! We established that the balance was moving, so all hope was not lost. Also a vital thing was that all parts were there.
During the repair it became evident that the anchor was broken. Christian and I tried on both our sides of the North Sea to figure out what could be used to replace it.
There are several good sources to try out, and Google is maybe the closest at hand.
After some trial and error we eventually confirmed that the movement was based on the 27mm Lemania design also used for many others, primarily Omega, designs. This journey led to my guest post on the development of these movements found here.
I did have a watch with a Lemania caliber 3000 in my “to be serviced or used for spares” box, and decided to ship it to Christian as a donor.
The watch was intended to be serviced, rather than broken for spares, so I also went looking for other options.
Since, for some reason there is often Lemania watches to be found around Sweden I browsed local Swedish auction sites, and behold: A Lemania caliber 3000 movement in decent condition came up as a lot of several movements. GBP40 later, and 6 (not all Lemania) movements “richer” I could send a donor movement to Christian. It was a great relief to find that the anchor from this was a perfect fit.
The “donor” watch was then serviced instead. The story may be found here.
The next issue to attend was the horrid dial. The one it came with had already been ruined by an earlier redial attempt, so we needed to trace down a good company to help out.
Fortunately by this time I had been able to both find two other examples pictured on some internet sites, but also I managed to trace down an original Lemania dealers catalog dating to 1958.
After some rounds with expert re-dialers Kronoswelt we managed to get something close.
Based on serial information I am quite sure that my watch is at least 10 years older than the 1958 catalog.
The caliber in this watch was later named cal 3300. It seems that this watch must be a very early series, and have no such designations. Prototype/pre-series perhaps?
The serial number on the movement 1915 (4 digits only!) is not easy to date. It seems the serial numbering of Lemania movements started around 1940(?), however the movement later known as Omega 381 (this movements Omega equivalent) was according to Omega literature created first in 1947 so to date this one up to 7-8 years earlier makes little sense to me. I am still trying to figure this one out!
So in retrospect was the restoration worth the money and efforts?
Since I am a collector and not a dealer I do not expect to make a profit on any of my watches, even if it is nice sometimes to do so.
This project has in sum cost me more than I normally would have paid for this watch in the market, however collecting watches is for me mainly about learning and understanding.
The restoration work on this watch has given me a chance to dig deep into material I would normally not. It has also given me a new perspective on the inner workings of calendar complications.