Home Forums General Discussion Forum Pocket watch fault diagnosis

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      If a pocket watch can be wound up continuously does this mean the main spring is broken. Also if a watch runs runs on its back but stops at any other angle then where could the fault be?


        Hi there ,
        The continuous winding does suggest a broken mainspring, though some automatics will wind endlessly as the spring is designed to slip , tends to be lots of resistance in this case

        Only running on its back may suggest a broken balance pivot


          Thanks Daryn.

          chris mabbott

            Hi David,

            Daryn is correct regarding the MS & possible broken pivot. You might also consider checking the hairspring. I’ve recently encountered a pocket watch that when placed face down, the balance wheel caught the spring, this was due to to it being slightly off true and not entering the regulator pins correctly. Also check the hairspring stud to make sure it’s secure.

            Is this your watch and would you be able to remove the balance cock assembly/balance wheel to perform an inspection?

            When you try to wind it, is the winding knob loose as in zero resistance, or can you feel a slight drag and maybe feel it catch for a second? Have you checked to see if the winding stem is not broken, the square part that fits into the winding arbor.
            On Pocket watches with the flip out case, this is a common problem as some people, myself included, forget to pull out the pendent before flopping out the movement, Oops 😳

            Let us know what you find please..


              Thanks Chris, It was pocket watches on ebay which i was considering for practice…a few nice pieces but all have problems. I would not consider purchasing any major tools yet until i can disassemble and reassemble a watch confidently a few times. Everything was going positive with a waltham only to find three issues which at this point i cant master… jewel missing where third gear is placed, main spring case will not snap shut, plus damaged pivot…i learned a fair bit from the waltham though and remembered to take notes and images…was planning doing a chris mabbott style polishing job too. Anyway moved on with an old seconda ussr built like a tank so feeling positive again…hopefully i can reassemble without issues.


                @davidjm wrote:

                doing a chris mabbott style polishing job too

                How can you go wrong? Chris, your now famous, I like that saying ;) William

                chris mabbott

                  A CMPJ I like it 😆

                  David that’s the best method that you’ve chosen, I’ve had quite a few of those “what the hell am I trying to do fixing watches when I don’t have tools or any idea what I’m doing” Moments 😆 It can be very discouraging, if you let it, which you haven’t, good for you.

                  In fact… 4 years later, I’m just working on one of those that I put aside, fast I ain’t, but looking at that watch now, and what I did then.. I can see the progress. The same will happen to you in a while if you keep at it, you’ll think JEWEL, easy, in fact, you’ll purposely go hunting for watches with all the jewels busted out of them, just for fun, and that my friend, is a wonderful feeling 😆


                    Thanks Chris. What tool options would i require to remove and fit new jewels. The tool that bob uses in the video doesnt seem to be available in uk. Would jewelling tools for resetting new jewel holes be of any use? also i guess ones needs a micrometer for meauring the exact size of replacement jewel required.

                    chris mabbott


                      It depends on what type of jewels the watch is fitted with, the two most common are “rubbed-in”, where the jewel is fitted into a custom made brass/gold setting that is sized to press fit into the plate or balance cock. These jewels are then held into the setting by a lip of material left from cutting the recess in the setting center I.D. This lip is then burnished or rubbed over the (underside) outside diameter of the jewel to hold it firmly in place.
                      There are sets of opening/closing tools especially for this job, or you can also accomplish it on a lathe, takes some practice though.

                      Type two are friction jewels. A predetermined hole size is drilled into the plate or balance, it is then reamed out, usually with a Seitz reamer, to correspond to the preselected jewel O.D. which is .001 larger than the reamer.
                      The jewel is then pressed in with the Seitz press. A reading is noted on the micrometer for depth before pushing out and then set to this when pushing in the new jewel.

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