Yesterday, my Alpina 490 arrived in the mail. It was incredibly dirty, and I sent the case and bracelet to my hazmat team – a jar of ammonium cleaner.
I have a bit of a special relationship to this watch – my grandfather had a golden 490, which was given to my brother for his confirmation in 1969. It never worked, and he sent it to me to get fixed, but I do need some parts to get it going again. Just to make sure I would have parts, I bought a complete and running 490 in stainless steel off eBay. I’d rather not sacrifice this one, but if I can’t find any parts for the other 490, I will have to put it on the chopping block.
This watch was made in the 1930s, after the split of Alpina. Apart from the shape, there are some special features on this watch – the case is made from very thin stainless steel, and is as light as a feather. The movement is doubly encased.
It is a thing of beauty
Nice brushed finish, the bracelet is not original but a Rowi Elasto-Fixo
You can see in this photo how thin the case material is
Taken out of the back lid, the movement sits in its own casing
If you look carefully, you can see the words “Siegerin” engraved into the inside of the case back. I’d say that this watch is a bit of a pick-and-mix – the original Siegerin didn’t say “Alpina” on the watch dial, but “Siegerin”. So I might have a standard Alpina movement and dial in a Siegerin case. Also, there is a date scratched into the back – so the watch was last serviced in 1972
Movement, movement back and case back
As usual, hands and dial come off first. The second hand is so tiny that I will pull it off together with the dial
A beautiful dial – the second hand is still in place after pulling the dial off. The dial could be in better shape, but it’s ok for an 80 year old watch
I find this movement of breathtaking beauty
After having let the main spring down, I take out the balance with the balance cock
Next up is the barrel bridge
With the bridges gone, I can see all the wheels. Everything appears to be nicely finished
Having removed the wheels, barrel and pallet fork, it’s time for the bottom plate
Note the cannon pinion is still on the centre wheel. I’m not going to remove it. I’ve tried, but it doesn’t want to come off, and I don’t want to break the centre wheel
Due to the shape of the movement, the pallet fork is asymmetrical. Nice finish!
The escapement wheel under the microscope. A bit of dirt, and a very nice finish, too
Balance wheel, hairspring and balance cock under the microscope
After having cleaned all the parts, I dry them and inspect them
I rewind and oil the main spring
Barrel, wheels and wheel bridge go back in
At this point, once the barrel and wheels and the bridges are in, I oil and carefully wind the watch a bit and let the wheels run. That way, I can check for any wobbles, and I can see if everything is properly in place and clean.
Here is a little video of that:
Pallet fork and balance assembly go back in – as soon as I drop the balance in, it already starts to run. Nice
Now the winding and setting mechanism goes back onto the bottom plate
I use some watch paper to hold down the dial whilst fixing it back to the movement – you don’t want to touch an 80 year old dial with your bare fingers
Before putting the hands on, I carefully polish them with a polishing cloth
And the movement is back together and ticking happily. I just have to glue the watch glass back in and I can case it
And here we are – back to its old glory!
This is a very nicely finished watch and I love the look of it. Not only on the outside, but it’s even more beautiful on the inside!