Wednesday, April 17, 2019

A bold request

A couple of weeks ago I got a letter from Jim with a bold request.  He needed help replacing a chipped jewel in a 1940's Omega wristwatch.  I was puzzled by a couple of things.  First, the jewel was so small that it would take a great deal of skill to even notice the tiny chip.  Second, an amateur requesting this kind of service from a professional shows a fair bit of guts.  In particular, to complete the job Jim would need a specialist tool - a jewelling press.  As he puts it, "I cannot afford a jewelling tool yet and I cannot find any replacement jewel". 

I'll keep it short.  It was a challenge.  You can't just put any jewel that would fit.  It would have to be an Omega jewel from the 1940's.  I pulled some strings and - thanks to the kindness of a fellow Sydney watchmaker - the jewel was supplied.  Fitting it and adjusting it into Jim's mechanism was a rather straightforward job.  The total cost to Jim?  $35.  

And here is a twist:  What I didn't know at the time was that Jim was one of the first people in 2011 to complete my online Seiko DIY course.  From humble beginnings, using cheap eBay tools, to a rather impressive workbench setup in just a few years.  He also said that if he were 50 years younger he would fly up to Sydney.  Jim would make a great apprentice! 

Below is a photo of his workbench - Jim is clearly a credit to himself but he is also a credit to all of us.  This is a stark reminder of what people in a small country, far away from the epicentre of watchmaking, can achieve. Australia is no longer a remote colony in the far reaches of the planet but the home of passionate watch enthusiasts who are keenly developing skills to undertake complex and sophisticated repairs.

The second photo shows the replaced jewel.

And, for a bit of fun, I've threaded a human hair through the jewel hole so you can get some idea of its size.

Yes, it can be done.  If you have a bit of patience and a bit of determination everything else can be taught.  

By the way, to my fellow watchmakers, you will find a link to a Bergeon jewelling set that we sell online.  Even if you use it once every 10 years the tool will pay for itself on just three repairs and will last you forever.

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