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.