Friday, June 26, 2009

A repair job that could have been avoided

Rolex Datejust
An ‘unbreakable mechanical watch’ has yet to be invented.

Unfortunately, bad things happen to good watches.

Accidentally dropping a watch on a hard surface (tiled floor for example) is bad but in some cases even more damage is done after the watch has hit the floor.

For some reason, the watch owner, recovering from a state of shock, will pull the winding crown and try to turn the hands. By the time he realizes that the hands are ‘stuck’, it will be too late – the dial (and hands) would have already been scratched by floating debris of the watch crystal.

While crystal replacement is a relatively straight-forward and not terribly expensive job, a dial and hand replacement is, on the opposite, always a complex and pricey repair. A job that in most cases, could have been avoided.

So, if you are unlucky enough to have dropped your watch, do not make it worse. Here are a few tips to avoid further disaster:

  • shattered crystal is not the end of the world – it is reparable, so do not panic.
  • unscrew the winding crown and pull it straight out to stop the watch.
  • if the glass is only chipped or cracked, but not shattered (and the watch appears to be keeping time), DO NOT WEAR IT.

    Small crystal particles could still float inside the watch mechanism and will definitely cause further damage. Take it to an authorised Service Centre or an independent watch expert.
  • if you accidentally dropped your watch, but cannot see any sign of external damage: I would strongly recommend to observe its timekeeping for the next 24 hours. Make sure to carefully examine the watch case, crystal, bezel, pushers and winding crown.

    If you notice anything unusual or find that 'something does not feel right’, do the right thing: take it to a watchmaker for an expert assessment.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Sixty-three Golden Years of IWC Caliber 89

The year was 1946. The economies of Europe and Japan were in ruins, and people around the world struggled to recover from the deadliest war in human history. Quietly and seemingly unaffected from issues pressing the rest of world, Swiss watchmaker Ing. Pellaton was working on his new project. The International Watch Company needed a new movement: a rugged and reliable, yet finely finished and refined movement to be fitted in modern, post-war watch.

Calibre 89 was a success - it was a simple, robust and time only movement with "an air of elegance" in its design and execution that makes it stand out from the more common movements of its time.

Sixty-three years later, many IWC watches fitted with Calibre 89 not only continue to keep accurate time, but their accuracy is better than many other modern Swiss watches manufactured today! I have no doubt that in the years to come, appreciation for this little mechanical miracle will continue to grow.

Yesterday, I had the privilege to overhaul yet another Cal 89. The gold-cased IWC watch was worn constantly for nearly 40 years, then it was put to rest in the late 1980s.

Today it is the pride and joy of its new guardian.

IWC Caliber 89

IWC Caliber 89

The last photo shows performance after the final adjustment:
timekeeping error of 0.00 seconds/day and beat error of 0.0 m/s while effortlessly maintaining healthy amplitude of 325 degrees.

IWC Caliber 89

To put things in perspective, only 3% of brand new Swiss watches manufactured today are capable of keeping time within a daily rate of minus 4 to plus 6 seconds a day!

Monday, June 1, 2009

The biker's Rolex

It always feels good to kick-start a new week on a high note, but unfortunately, June 1st was an unlucky day for one Rolex owner: his GMT Master II suffered the disastrous consequences of a motorbike accident (luckily enough, the owner got away with only a few minor bruises).

Rolex GMT Master II
Rolex GMT Master II

Externally, the appearance of the watch was horrifying, but that is nothing compared to the internal damage sustained by this Rolex!

Below is the list of parts required to restore this GMT Master II to its former glory:
New bracelet, middle case, rotating bezel, bezel spring, winding crown and stem, new crystal and crystal seal, new set of hands, calendar wheel and the dial. Furthermore, the following internal parts would also require replacement: the rotor, balance wheel, escape wheel and all the wheels in going train, auto rotor wheel and case clamps.

Rolex GMT Master II
Rolex GMT Master II
Rolex GMT Master II
Rolex GMT Master II
Rolex GMT Master II
Rolex GMT Master II

The only parts that were spared from the impact are the bridges, screws, the main spring and a few wheels underneath the dial. In terms of dollar-value, less than 10% of the watch survived and the rest is completely wrecked.

Sure, Rolex watches are tough, but there is a limit to what a mechanical watch can endure.

Nevertheless, the owner still has the original Rolex box and the instruction manual which ironically, are now worth far more than the watch itself…