Repair: Ingersoll desk / travel watch

IMG_0328Usually, it’s not worth fixing so called “dollar watches”, but this one is an exception for two reasons. The first one being that it’s a very unusual piece, and the second, and more important one, is that it belongs to my host mother Connie. I stayed with her and her family for a year in 1979-1980 in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and I will be forever grateful for the hospitality and kindness received.

Connie received the watch as a gift from her mother when she was 5, so most likely, the watch had already been handed down once from her grandmother to her mother.

As you can see in the photo, the crown is missing, and the winding stem is broken.IMG_0327

There used to be a pattern of two different coloured triangles on the case. The clock slides out of the case, and can then be folded back so it stands up as in the first photo.


I like the dial and hand design. According to the serial number of the movement, the watch was made in 1905, and that ties in with the dial design.

Ingersoll was famous for its affordable watches – “the company that made the dollar famous” was their slogan. Ingersoll USA went bankrupt in 1921, but the brand survived to this very day. I have a British Ingersoll watch from the late 20s in my collection, and the movement has nothing to do with this one.IMG_0331

The dial is stuck to a round disc that is clamped onto the movement.IMG_0332

The movement with its serial number that dates the movement to 1905.IMG_0333

The plate is worn down considerably by winding and setting.IMG_0413

Off to the lathe to make a new winding stem.IMG_0414

I cut the thread for the crown.IMG_1284The finished winding stem before hardening.


Now for the movement … No jewels, and of course a pin pallet escapement.IMG_0215

Time for some cleaning.IMG_0216

And I can put the movement back together.IMG_0217

The gear train between the plates.


Now the balance goes in.IMG_0220

After that, I can put together the bottom plate with the keyless works.IMG_0221The dial and hands go back on.


And the crystal with its frame goes back on.IMG_0369

Side view of the folded out watch.IMG_0371

In travel position.IMG_0372I leave the original coloured triangles on the case.

The movement is well worn, and not very reliable, and the setting of the hands needs quite a bit of force, but there wasn’t really another option but to get it going again. I briefly considered putting in another movement, but couldn’t find anything contemporary that would have fitted. This is about preserving what was there as it’s a family piece.

8 thoughts on “Repair: Ingersoll desk / travel watch

  1. I’m fascinated reading through your site since I’m learning watch repair. I’m also living in Oak Ridge myself. Small world!

  2. I am fascinated reviewing your site since I’m learning watch repair myself. I’m living in Oak Ridge myself. Small world!

  3. Hi Christian

    Really interested in the stem, do you used blued steel?

    also , whats the best method for hardening



    • No, you use silver steel, and harden it after turning it. You wrap the thread with wire to protect it, put some soap on the stem, and heat it to orange colour. Then you dump it into water, and clean it up. You can then heat to straw colour to make it a bit less hard to prevent breaking.

  4. This is my watch, and I am simply astonished that Christian went to so much trouble to get it working. I see he even wears latex gloves while he works. He is a very fine technician and craftsman! As his American mom when he was a teenager, I never guessed that this would be his forte. Kudos, Christian! And many, many thanks!

  5. Oak Ridge… the famous one? I guess that means the clock is about 40 years older than the town it lives in!

    I am very impressed with making a new stem for it… did you have to determine the profile and dimensions for it or are they listed somewhere? Is this movement of the type where you push the crown and turn it to set the hands?

    • Yes, that Oak Ridge. I remember being shown around the reactor room, and having to remove everything from my shirt pocket before leaning over.
      I had to measure the winding pinion etc. to determine the profile of the stem, and had 2 attempts that landed in the bin 😉
      You pull out the crown for setting.

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