Home Forums General Discussion Forum Watchrepair. Where do I find help?

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      I’m studying to do my first watch repair and I wanted to purchase a watch to learn on. I’ve read on other sites that the Westclox Scotty is a bad choice for the beginner. Guess what? I Ordered one last night for 13.56 before I read the warning.
      What would be a good, cheap, nonworking watch to learn to take apart and reassemble?
      I don’t see much watch talk on the Board index. Am I in the wrong place for watches? Thanks, disciple_dan


        Welcome aboard Danny. No, you’re in the right place. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get a response back right away. You’ll be able to get some very good advise here about watches, just be patient. As for what watch to start with…. Well, like you, I’m a total newbie. I started working on clocks a few years back and decided to try my hand at fixing some of my wife’s grandfather’s pocket watches. Unfortunately, she talked me into starting on a vintage Omega bracelet watch for her. DO NOT start with a bracelet watch. It’s about the same diameter as a dime. It can be done but very frustrating. Start with the largest pocket watch you can obtain of good quality. Find one that is complete. You don’t want to be trying to hunt down missing parts. My suggestion would be to start with jeweled watches and not brass bushing ones. A little less to worry about if the jewels are in good shape. Also try to find one with a crystal intact. Once again, less to worry about. I would also suggest an American watch to start with. They can be a little less expensive. A good Elgin or Waltham or Hamilton would be a good place to start. Like I said, I’m a newbie also and I’m sure one of the gurus on here will correct anything I’ve suggested so just keep checking back. Good luck.



          Thank you, Jim. I just purchased a working Elgin 12s, in the case with only and broken hinge. 34.00 I’ve got some old watches around here somewhere that I am going to take apart and reassemble just for practice. I’m so excited. I don’t know how I missed this for so long. I think I was a little intimidated by the size of the watches. Maybe the wait will turn out to have been a good thing.
          I’ve been working on clocks for about six years off and on. I’ve had to move twice during that time so my experience was disrupted for a bit. I’m getting set back up now and, as I was reviewing some clock videos over on (Tasiones Ultra Horogoloy course) I remembered a clock I had purchased, that I was working on, that had a platform escapement and I thought I would have a look at some of the watch repair videos to get a little info on the platform escapement and, well, that was it. I was fascinated and instantly hook on the pocket watch.
          So, I’ve got a wide variety of clock repair tools. I have a watchmaker lathe and a Grizzly 7×12 mini-lathe and many of the other specialty tools but what about watch specific tools? What is the most important? Screwdrivers? Movement holder? Spring winder? I just want to buy the basics to start out
          Ok, I’ve rambled on enough (or too much) for now. Thanks again, Jim. Happy timing, disciple_dan


            Well Dan, you’re asking a lot of the same questions I did a few months ago. You should be able to find a post further down the page where I posed the same question about what I needed to get started. I’ve only been doing this a short time but here goes. You will need a good quality set of screwdrivers. Working on watches will require some fairly small ones. Actually, I pretty much just use 3. Also, some way to sharpen the profile if need be. Next would be a good quality set of non-magnetic tweezers. You don’t have to spend a fortune on these. I got a nice set off e-bay. Some type of magnifier. I use a visor type that I had from working on clocks but some people like the eye loupe. I would definitely pick up some Rodico. I was a little skeptical at first but it made a believer out of me. Great for picking up small pieces but fantastic for cleaning. Might want to pick up a staking set but I haven’t used mine yet. I would also highly recommend a cannon pinion remover. Pegwood is also handy for cleaning and holding pieces down. Of course you’ll need good quality oil and an assortment of oilers. You might check out a mainspring winder but I haven’t had too much luck with mine. Finding the right size to fit the barrel and the spring have so far alluded me. I ended up reinstalling by hand. I don’t suggest it but sometimes you do what you have to do. I also recommend using finger cots during the reassembly. And some way to clean your parts. Lots of different ways being talked about on the web but so far, I’m quite satisfied using Naphtha and Isopropal Alcohol in conjunction with a ultrasonic cleaner. That’s about all I’ve got for you. Hope it helps get you started. As soon as you dive in and start reading up on the subject, you’ll go hog wild like me and start buying every little watch repair tool you can get your hands on. I say go for it…unless it’s something I want. In that case, I’ll probably be bidding against you. :-)

            Best of luck


              Hey guys…
              Just thought I’d put in my two cents.
              I’ve been at this for awhile,. and while not an expert at anything,, :D , I can get answers for most things, and can give some decent advice ( according to Bob ).

              Dan,..Jim has some good advice and ideas with which to get you started.

              I’m going to add to what he’s posted, with my own experiences as well.

              Pocket watches are definitely the way to go for starters.
              Rodico- yes. I used it along with other stuff to ungunk items as I get them, then hand wash cases with a brush, etc.
              I also use it to hold small items, and to get specks of stuff off of movements, dials, etc.
              Don’t get in the habit of using it for cleaning though,..it will leave traces behind.

              Naptha and Alcohol work well. You may find that using “regent” grade alcohol ( 97% ?) will leave less of a film on movement parts after your final rinse. You can find it in most pharmacies, and it’s not expensive- just more pure.

              #3 tweezers are perfect for many chores. I find that I use brass one’s more than the steel. Less chance of leaving a scratch somewhere. The steel are perfect for when you need to hold something a bit stronger.

              Jim,…what type of mainspring winder do you have ?
              Sometimes you end up using a smaller “head” than you think you need to, in order to shoot the new spring in. Also,..those springs that come already coiled can sometimes be wound tight enough to just rest them over the barrel, and nudge them in with the edge of soft tweezers or something similar.

              Best of luck to you all,..and if I can help..please ask



                Thanks, guys for the great advice.
                Actually, I have most of the things mentioned. I have been doing clocks for a while now and coming the home builder background I’m already a tool freak. If I see something that even looks like it may be useful in the future I try to get one. Many times some of them have but I’m sure I have some I’ll never use.
                Ok, I got the Wesclock Scotty in and I’m going to try to fix it. As of now, all I know is that it won’t wind up. What I want to do is take it apart, clean it, and put it back together in working order if I can do so without any new parts. I know it’s not the best to learn on and I read these watched are not repairable. I figure I can make mistakes on this one first and it only cost 14.00.
                I’ve got the spring exposed. It has its own cover. Next is the large back cover that has the balance staff top pivot bearing. What precautions do I need to take when removing?
                I’ll try to get some pics up this afternoon after church.
                Thank you in advance, Danny


                  Hey Danny,

                  I found a great video that covers the repair process. I’m thinking this will be a great place to start.
                  From what I’ve read, you have to be really careful as some bridges, etc., are riveted in, and you could destroy the watch.
                  I’ve read a number of other watch repair sites where the guys say they simply dip clean the entire movement, then air dry and lubricate.
                  Your choice of course as what approach you want to take;


                  Here’s a page with old tips for these watches, and a PDF of an old parts manual for them…including crystal sizes.


                  Hope these help !!



                    Great info, Randy, thank you. Well, It was all going along fine until time to take the hands off. I don’t have a removing tool so I tried 2 small screwdrivers and some toothpicks for leverage. they don’t seem to want to budge. I am afraid to pry too hard. Is there some other way?
                    Oh, yeah. I didn’t get my spring winder in the mail yet. I actually thought it was completely unwound already. The watch would not wind when I got it so I just assumed. 😯 To my surprize the spring unwound very rapidly. Anyway, Should I wait to take the hands off until I get the appropriate tool?
                    Thanks again, everyone for all the help.


                      Well, you know how it is don’t you, Randy, I couldn’t wait. I put a drop of oil in the center and waited 30 mins. It was still a little difficult but in a split second the minute hand hit the ceiling. No harm is done on this one but I must learn to do better.
                      Ok, So I have put the watch away as it is ready for cleaning.
                      The hairspring! It’s staked to the backplate (which I can not recall the proper term. Anchor Plate??? )Should I lose it for cleaning? It’s very difficult to handle the plate with it attached and the plate is very dirty. I would like to take it apart and clean them separately. I think I have someone dip somewhere here for the hairspring.
                      Ok, I’ll wait for an answer this time. Please disregard that last transmission (about the hands.) Danny


                        Hey Dan,
                        Glad you go the hands off of it,..even if you shot them across the room ( I did that a lot in the beginning LOL ).
                        Investigating in a 12-14 inch magnet strip is invaluable……
                        Getting a hand puller is a good thing for sure.
                        You can use a thin piece of plastic with a hole in it, or buy one already made, that will protect the dial during the process.

                        Now, for the hairspring…if you aren’t sure you can remove it safely from the balance cock,..leave it in place and use One-Dip solvent on it. I can’t remember if these actually have jewels in the pivots, or just brass, but you should be able to let the assembly soak for a few minutes, then gently blow it clean,..and I mean gently. It’s easy to distort a spring…..

                        You are starting to understand why most watchmakers won’t even mess with these….

                        Let me know how this goes !!



                          Thank you, Randy. I’m working on getting some pics up so you can see what I’m doing. I am pretty sure I can remove the hairspring from the plate but getting it back in place looks a bit more daunting. I bought this watch for the sole purpose of practice. If it never works again I won’t be too torn up about it. I hope I can get it to work again though.

                          Investigating in a 12-14 inch magnet strip is invaluable.

                          I found a cheap demagnetizer. 12.00. If it works out that I will be doing a lot of spring workI’ll get a better one.


                            Hey Dan…it would be great ( but not necessary ) to load photos. But if you have time–sure !

                            Oh..glad to hear you got a demagnetizer.
                            I was referring to a 12 inch magnet bar,..with two rows of magnets in a plastic frame.
                            Indispensable for find parts you’ve lost on the floor !
                            ( but remember to demagnetize them after you get them off the mag-strip ! )

                            Take care



                              This is what I wondering if I should pull the stake for cleaning the hair. I think I can do it but you only get one chance to screw it up or not.[attachment=2:1go7iocq]20200524_151632.jpg[/attachment:1go7iocq]


                                Well there is real risk of returning the hairspring stud pin to the original position once you remove it, and then attempt the re-install. That could really throw off the timing of the watch. They are usually filed on one side to wedge the spring in the spot where it allows the hairspring to “vibrate” correctly.
                                It’s really up to you, but if you want to have a better chance of getting the watch running at the end of all your effort, you may want to try this at a later date.
                                I think that with some care and diligence you could get the spring and pivots clean enough to suffice without removing the balance.



                                  Hey, Randy. Well, I guess you got assigned to my case. No one else has anything to offer. Thank you for all the help. I really appreciate it.
                                  Yeah, I’m going to try to just clean it up and put it back together. It will build up my confidence if I can get this watch to work again. It was not working when I started. It wouldn’t wind and I thought the spring was damaged somehow and it was completely unwound. However, I think I told you about when I pulled the second hand the spring unwound very rapidly. I hope it didn’t do any damage.
                                  So, I have a small Ultrasonic that I’m going to use and I guess with my usual clock cleaner.
                                  How can I clean the backplate while it still has the balance assembly attached? I’m waiting on some small baskets that I ordered but I don’t think the plate will fit in them. It would probably not be a good idea to put that assembly in there anyway. Maybe I should clean it by hand.
                                  So, When I get the parts washed can I peg out the holes with toothpicks just like I do my clocks. The holes are awfully small.
                                  Ok, Thanks again, Danny

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