Some watches travel quite far before they land on my bench… This Accutron came all the way from Brazil. Victor contacted me a while ago and asked how to get his winding stem back in, and I tried my best to convince him not to attempt that himself. As he couldn’t find anyone locally, he sent the watch over to me.
There is also dirt on the magnets of the fork.
Before removing the wheel bridge, you have to swing the index and pawl fingers away from the index wheel to avoid damage. The index wheel (the smallest wheel at the bottom) has 320 teeth! With the watch humming at 360 Hz, the index wheel completes 1 1/4 turn every second. The two jewelled fingers and the index wheel are the heart of the watch, and a technological feat that I admire to this very day.
As usual, there is a bit of corrosion under the centre wheel that drives the minute hand. This happens when condensation builds up in the watch, as it moves from the inside of the crystal through the dial hole straight down onto the plate.The tuning fork with the two coils and the electronic circuit. The wire of the coils is so thin that nobody out there has managed to re-wire one of the coils. We all depend on broken watches and old stock for coils, and one day, they will be all gone.
There are a fair amount of parts that have to be hand cleaned – the tuning fork, the index and pawl fingers, and the coils, as the cleaning machine would either destroy them or, in the case of the fork, load the magnets with lots of metal bits.
Most of the jewels have caps that can’t be removed. So after the cleaning machine, you have to check that no dirt is left in there, and that they are dry. Then, with a Bergeon oiler, you can lubricate the jewels.
With a new battery, the movement is humming again. I adjust the fingers under the microscope, and there really is no other way to do it properly. Bulova sold a stereo microscope with the standard kit for repairers.
Back together and humming happily, I will need a good week to properly adjust the movement, and then it’s back to Brazil.
If you don’t have a tuning fork watch in your collection, go get one. For me, they are an essential part of watch history, and a technical marvel. And you can freak out people by telling them to hold it to their ear 😉