First-Time Noob Introduction and Seeking a Pocket Watch

Home Forums General Discussion Forum First-Time Noob Introduction and Seeking a Pocket Watch

  • This topic is empty.
Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 18 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #49249
    maitai11
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 62
    • Total Posts: 428

    Hi Everyone!

    Tim Cotter here, first-time poster, and ready to embark on a little (or large, depending on the ultimate outcome) journey into learning and applying the secrets of watch and clock repair.

    A few months back, Bob put me in contact with William, both whom I am very grateful for their kind dispositions, and willingness to help someone like me (a noob) who is just getting started. Initially, I thought I would be working exclusively on clocks – but then, after seeing William’s workshop video and the expansions since, I just kept getting more and more interested in this whole thing.

    In a nutshell, after watching some of Bob’s course on pocket watch servicing – and also seeing William’s setup and the very believable and impressive story on his entry into the field just 2 1/2 years ago, it all of a sudden became a possibility for me. I began thinking that I could do it. With my background in automobile servicing, an apprenticeship in locksmithing, and repairing some of my own consumer electronics, I felt as though watch and clock servicing would be the next natural thing for me to do. I have always had a fascination with clocks – and recently, after my girlfriend gifted me a beautiful “skeleton” watch, where one can see all the inner workings of the watch in action, I’ve found myself getting more and more “sucked into” the field and study of horology. Others on this forum, I have seen, call it “the bug” – and boy, it sure looks as though I’ve been bitten by it! My grandfather, who passed away in 1977 (I was only 7 at the time) LOVED traveling by train into Boston and New York, and so, once I saw the Illinois pocket watch servicing vids, that drew me in even more, because many of those were carried by conductors on trains of olde. You see, my interest is varied and rather eclectically pieced together, but I am having a lot of fun discovering this great field, and that just makes me more excited!

    Beyond this, I am also the owner of a Waterbury No. 72 Hall Clock, Ca. 1880’s, which has been in my family now for more than 70 years. It was originally housed in my grandparent’s home in North Attleboro, MA. I had it “white glove” shipped 10 years ago after the passing of my grandmother – and now, I believe it to be the only one of its kind in the entire state of Hawaii. I’ve lived here for the past 25 years, and I currently work as a fire lieutenant in Honolulu (Federal Fire Department). She (the clock) made it through the trip alright :) Since then, it’s been rebuild on two separate occasions, along with one other one due to a bent tooth within the one year warranty period.

    In addition, my clock servicer has only a very limited time that he will remain in business because he is going to retire. Ultimately, another one of my reasons for wanting to learn horology was to make sure I could service my own clock, should the need arise.

    And so, gentlemen (and ladies?), I have a request and a question:

    – I would like to acquire an Illinois 21 Jewel Sangamo pocket watch, so I can start out with doing something that is a perfect – or, near-perfect – match to the one Bob works on in that first pocket watch servicing series. Does anyone have one they would like to sell to me? Or, can you give me a source (I have already started to look around on Google and eBay) for purchasing? Also, how much should I plan on spending on a watch such as this one – and where can I find sellers whose watches don’t work, or need to be cleaned?

    – Also – I would like to know: utilizing Bob’s course on watch servicing – will I be able to service ANY pocket watch with that knowledge, or are there separate modules of learning that I will need to acquire before expanding my knowledge and skill in repairing a watch?

    I very, very much appreciate any help you guys could give to me regarding the pocket watch. I’m eager to start, because Bob’s video’s have just drawn me in – and I want to get started using my favorite method of teaching and learning. That is, “learn by doing.”

    I look forward to this journey with great anticipation, excitement, and the feeling of accomplishment in resurrecting these beautiful old pieces.

    I am,

    Very truly yours,

    Tim Cotter

    #59629
    bernie weishapl
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 58
    • Total Posts: 1218

    Welcome Tim. I remember those days starting out. I had the pleasure of mentoring under a old clock and watch maker. I have been doing clocks for about 30 yrs now and watches about 20 yrs. I quit about 8 or 9 years ago because of my eyes doing watches. I had some laser surgery and cataracts removed. Now I don’t need glasses except for small things but have gotten back into watches again. I have about 30 really nice watches in my collection and do customer watches if they bring them in. I don’t advertise for them but do quite a few each year. I get most of mine from auctions (estate, etc) and off ebay. If you watch you can get a pretty some pretty good deals on ebay. I got a 23 j bunn special for $70 and another one for $90. Sold one for $300 after I went thru it. I collect most types but like the 16s and 18s 17j Elgins or Illinois’s. Anyway I have a fully equipped shop with 2 lathes. The only thing I don’t have is a milling machine and I am old enough I just can’t justify the cost. I can do most milling I need on my Taig lathe.

    When I first started my mentor told me to buy a cheap 16s 7 jewel and learn on it. He told me don’t a high jeweled watch in case you mess it up it won’t be a good one. If parts were readily available it would be different he said. Same with a clock. Buy a cheap one and learn.

    Whatever you do have fun and learn well.

    #59630
    maitai11
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 62
    • Total Posts: 428

    Hi Bernie,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to write back – that was an interesting story about how you got started – oh, and thank you for the recommendation on a “starter watch.” I’ll definitely be looking for some of those. I’ve got a few bids in on some watches, but don’t really know what to pay for them. I’d say my average maximum bid thus far has been about $45.00. That’s the kind of level I’m at, and not to put two or three hundred into a watch that I’d be starting on.

    Thanks again for all the great information and advice. I appreciate very much the whole idea of forums where folks can “meet” and exchange ideas and advice. I’ve always seen them as places to “pay it forward”, to thank the folks who need advice and the like in advance – because that person could very well be changing your tire on the side of the road in the middle of the night. Good stuff!

    Take care and I’ll see you around.

    Best,

    Tim

    #59631
    chris mabbott
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 119
    • Total Posts: 1525

    Hey Tim,

    A late welcome to the forum…

    Bernie offers good advice, but he’s not really that old, he just feels that way in the morning 😆 by lunch time he’s playing two rounds of golf then tennis ;)

    Well, the problem about asking what watch to buy for your first patient is a loaded question, everyone has their own ways, likes and dislikes etc etc and what worked for me might not work for you.

    The practical approach…

    1. Buy what you can afford to loose if the repair doesn’t work out

    2. Don’t emotion buy. eBay gives you time to think out your purchase, like buying a pistol, a cool down period 😆

    3. Don’t buy an erroneous maker or Swiss watch, parts are hard to find if not impossible. It will lead you to frustration.

    4. Don’t buy and impossible fixer upper because its cheap. You’ll spend more time hunting for parts than fixing it.

    5. Buy for your own enjoyment and not purely for after market profit. You’ll end up keeping your first few watches, trust me, I kept my first 400 😆

    You’re going to enter a task that requires study, frustration, parts and lots of tools. Oh, and money 😯 It’s tempting to try and bastardized a watch to get it running. Try to avoid this route and keep everything original as possible.

    Ask question and PLEASE post photos of any issues you have..
    The odds are that at some point you’ll get a watch/s that are beyond your current capabilities. Best thing to do is put it in a container and forget about it for a year, then come back.
    It’s amazing to see what once thwarted you, will be a simple task as you progress..

    This may sound disheartening but these are the things I found out along the way and they happen to everyone, except Bob who doesn’t have to actually work any longer, he just dreams them repaired and Viola 😆

    #59632
    bernie weishapl
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 58
    • Total Posts: 1218

    Chris wrote: except Bob who doesn’t have to actually work any longer, he just dreams them repaired and Viola 😆

    LOL now that is funny. I almost think that at times.

    Your comment I am not old is funny. Used to be I would be ready to go by noon now it is more like 3 pm. 😆 67 yrs young. Arthur in the joints doesn’t make it easy some days. 😆

    Chris is right Tim. You can buy a top notch watch if you get them at a decent price. Back when I bought my first 23j railroad watch I put it away until I had a couple of years experience. If you find a decent deal on a watch you want buy it and just put it away till you are comfortable working on watches. I agree with Chris to stay away from swiss watches as parts for them are like throwing a needle over your shoulder into your lawn then turning around and trying to find it. I stick pretty much with Elgin, Hamilton, Illinois, and Waltham. Watches like South Bend, Ball, Seth Thomas, Rockford, etc are hard to find parts for. It can be done but I avoid dollar watches. My mentor said they were not meant to be fixed.

    Learn and have fun. As Chris says if you run into a problem ask and post pictures of your problem. It helps us get a view of what you are seeing and makes it easier to help.

    #59633
    maitai11
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 62
    • Total Posts: 428

    Hi Chris!

    Thanks for the welcome, and for your great information. Bernie certainly echoes my sentiments when I say that your information sounds very down to earth, and reasonable. I just bought my first watch today – an Illinois 11 Jewel model. Here’s the link with pictures:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Antique-Vintage-Illinois-Watch-Co-Pocketwatch-11-Jewels-Marked-4403954-in-Case-/371151627823?nma=true&si=G48obVhqKJWIEVUvg%252BDND3dm0Co%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557

    I bought it for $68.00, not including shipping. Interestingly enough, Chris, it met all your criteria! I’m excited to get it on delivery day! It’s got a dent, but I think I’ll be able to do something with it. I’m definitely not emotionally attached – this is all about learning for me. If I get hung up, I’ll do exactly what you said about putting it away.

    Thanks again for the welcome, and I truly appreciate your good information.

    Best,

    Tim

    #59634
    chris mabbott
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 119
    • Total Posts: 1525

    Good deal Tim and you’re welcome…

    Most cases have dings, dents, bangs, some I leave as character marks, but those that are like a zit on the end of the nose, I remove 😆

    You may want to invest in a wooden dapping block, I think Larry has one on his site, I got one from him a while ago and they work well for removing dings..

    This is a perfect watch to learn on, two & three finger bridge models are a joy to work on..

    😆 I’ve heard that before Tim, but trust me, you’re gonna get close and personal with this watch, you’ll put a lot of time into it, you’ll bond, and these little devils just get you with their sheer elegance and simplicity. Not to mention their historical aspect.
    I like to look up the events of when a watch was made, see what was going on. I also try to find any old ads to check what the price of purchase was when it was new..
    I assume you know about the PW database where you can find your watches details?

    #59635
    bernie weishapl
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 58
    • Total Posts: 1218

    Tim that will be a good looking watch when done. Here is a data base I use for watches. http://pocketwatchdatabase.com/ At the top pick your watch brand and then put in the serial number. Lots of info.

    #59636
    Bob Tascione
    Moderator
    • Topics Started: 38
    • Total Posts: 1559

    Welcome to the forum Tim,
    Good choice and price on that Illinois!
    Have fun with it.

    Bob

    #59637
    maitai11
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 62
    • Total Posts: 428

    Thanks Everyone,

    Well Chris, I’m pretty sure I messed up on this next purchase…Here’s the link:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/141423445871?_trksid=p2059210.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

    I saw the “Illinois”, but not the “Swiss Made.” To be honest, I’m a little green to know that a Swiss movement could even be installed in an Illinois watch…but the price was right, I think, at about $47.00. I’m hoping it just needs cleaning and servicing without parts. I’ll let you know how it looks when I get it. That other watch, the first one I bought, was shipped to me within an hour of my paying for it.

    Oh, and Bernie, thank you for the pocket watch database – I did not know of it.

    Thanks to you too, Bob, for your help and getting me introduced and acclimated…I’ll be attempting another download tomorrow when I’m at home. I’m on a 24 hour shift duty-day here at the fire station.

    Thanks for everything, guys, I’ll be in touch.

    Best,

    Tim

    #59638
    bernie weishapl
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 58
    • Total Posts: 1218

    Tim I don’t think I would worry about the Swiss part. That looks to be a Illinois watch for sure. Doesn’t say anything about swiss made in the database. Should be a fine watch when you get it done.

    #59639
    chris mabbott
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 119
    • Total Posts: 1525

    Hey Tim,

    I’m with Bernie, I’m not sure why Swiss was in the description.

    It’s a nice watch and a good one to learn on, I’m a clean freak so it had me rubbing my hands to get hold of it 😆
    Looks like you’ll need a regulator spring eventually but it will run fine without it.

    Part of the addiction is the hunt, the second best part is waiting, impatiently, for it to arrive :D

    #59640
    willofiam
    Moderator
    • Topics Started: 75
    • Total Posts: 1437

    Howdy Tim, welcome, its good to see you here. Thank you for the kind words :D , have a great day, William

    #59641
    maitai11
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 62
    • Total Posts: 428

    Thanks fellas, for all the good information – I think perhaps the seller was just saying stuff to say stuff :)

    William! Very good to hear from you, my friend. I hope you’re doing well, and not too swamped!

    Hey Everyone, my brother, Joe Cotter is going to join the forum under the username Tukat44 – Joe is my older brother, and has had an interest in clocks and watches for several years. He just bought the Ultimate Course, and I just know that will move him along to the next level. He’s worked on about a dozen clocks, and I’m not sure how many watches. To give you and idea of how serious he is, when we were texting back and forth yesterday Joe was in and out of a watch, fully cleaned and diagnosed in about an hour. We are excited about learning all the great stuff, and he has been apprised of the good bunch of guys we have over here in the forum. I advised him to do an introduction post in this forum…Welcome, Joe!

    #59642
    tukat44
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 8
    • Total Posts: 76

    @maitai11 wrote:

    Thanks fellas, for all the good information – I think perhaps the seller was just saying stuff to say stuff :)

    William! Very good to hear from you, my friend. I hope you’re doing well, and not too swamped!

    Hey Everyone, my brother, Joe Cotter is going to join the forum under the username Tukat44 – Joe is my older brother, and has had an interest in clocks and watches for several years. He just bought the Ultimate Course, and I just know that will move him along to the next level. He’s worked on about a dozen clocks, and I’m not sure how many watches. To give you and idea of how serious he is, when we were texting back and forth yesterday Joe was in and out of a watch, fully cleaned and diagnosed in about an hour. We are excited about learning all the great stuff, and he has been apprised of the good bunch of guys we have over here in the forum. I advised him to do an introduction post in this forum…Welcome, Joe!

    So now Joe has finally posted to the forum- Mark Lovick youTube videos gave me the confidence to dive in and get serious about Horology. I have a Sonia 3 clock that goes tick tock and keeps giving me correct time that I got for about $10 that will need cleaning and service at some point but I think I will leave it until it starts to give trouble. Zodiac Tachymeter that needs adjustment and pusher replacement that I wear every day for now, and some Elgin, Hamilton, Gruen Movado etc watches that I have managed to get my hands on in the past for basically pocket change. Waltham mens and Longines mens that have issues beyond my skills that are now put away for the time being. The Waltham I think I will break down again and again to become more comfortable working with them and to get so I know where things go wrong. Looking forward to working with you guys. Joseph Cotter (Tukat) 🙄

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 18 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
maitai11First-Time Noob Introduction and Seeking a Pocket Watch