A lot of the dial markers have gone, and there is dirt everywhere. It’s not working, and I wonder of course what will lurk inside.
But let’s start off with the story of the watch, as told my our client, Nick.
I wonder if you would be able to look at my old Speedmaster and get it running again?
It was my father’s. He bought it (new) in the 1960s and I recall, as a child, being with him when he took it to an Omega agent for repair.
“Ah yes, sir” said the jeweller “Omega: a very good watch.”
“No” said my father “It is a very expensive watch, but it’s not very good: I have to keep sending the damn’ thing back for repair.”
Despite this, he wore the watch nearly every day (when it wasn’t back in Switzerland) between buying it in the mid sixties and his death in 1984. It has, therefore, considerable sentimental value.
When I inherited the watch I took it to a jeweller in Glasgow (where I lived at the time) to get it serviced: it was not running well. I explained that money wasn’t really an issue: I simply wanted to be able to wear my Old Man’s watch. Omega said it was obsolete, beyond economic repair and that as they were cold-hearted Swiss b*st*rds I should go away and stop bothering them. (I paraphrase)
Eventually, the jewellers said they knew a man who “did this sort of thing” and after parting with several hundred pounds I got the watch back with the advice that it would keep time, but the chronometer functions were dead. Sadly, it wouldn’t even perform to this limited specification, so it lived in my safe until about ten years ago. I’d moved to P****** by then and had bought my wife a frighteningly expensive piece of jewellery: I noticed that the shop also sold Omegas, so I tried sending the watch back to Omega again through the agents in the shop, but the watch was once more returned with the advice that it was still obsolete and beyond all salvation. It went back into the safe.
Two years ago I used the internet to find a watchmaker who would fix the Speedmaster. I found a lovely man (curiously, back in Glasgow) who appeared to be very interested and knowledgeable. He said that he could make the watch like new for a mere £2,000. I said that I’d start saving and get back to him when the piggy bank had £2,000 in it.
By now it was looking rather sorry for itself. The stem had broken and the crown was lost. My efforts at extracting the movement from the case had caused a small tear in the body of the movement where the remnant of the stem had impinged during the extraction. The watch sat in its returns box until last month when I thought I’d have a go myself. Well, I can fix Land Rovers, lawnmowers, people, simple circuits. How tricky can a watch be? I bought a stem (from Germany, on ebay) and a crown. I found instructions on replacing the stem on a 321 movement and I had a go. I got away with it.
The watch now runs (a bit fast, because I moved the adjuster) for between 2 seconds and 30 minutes and then needs a tap to get it going again. The chronometer does seem to work, but the main seconds hand sometimes jumps during a tap – which suggests some serious wear to my mind – and the sweep rate is not constant (again, I think this is likely to be due to wear) so I suspect that a strip-down, clean, new main spring, replacement of worn cogs and rebuild is needed as a bare minimum.
I don’t care that the bezel is worn and faded. I don’t care that the crystal has scratches. I’m not bothered by the fact that the bracelet is a little damaged. These are the things that make it my father’s watch.
My question is: based on what I’ve told you, do you think you can get the watch to run again for significantly less than £2,000 ? If so, how should I send it to you for a quotation?
On first inspection, there is a lot of rust, and the hairspring has been bent badly with a screwdriver. I can sort of understand that people before me weren’t too keen to get this watch going again, but hey, this is an Ed White, and has considerable value.
It looks like the dial has been scrubbed with oil – there are bits of cotton wool left, and there is a shine to it. Say what you will about preserving original dials, but this one is too far gone for me. Purists will disagree, but this one goes off to the dial restorer. For me, it’s about looking at your watch and if you are happy with what you see.
Job done, and I love the look of this Ed White. Good for another generation.