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Scrap a vintage watch for the sake of a balance spring?


Dilly
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I posted below recently. I part stripped the watch and found the pallet fork and balance to be ok and working fine. So it was just the balance spring that needed replaced. The movement in question is a Rego 129. I sourced a Rego 125 Balance spring on a balance NOS from an ebay seller 'Rigthontime2014'. He was very helpfull and there was a fraction of a mm between his replacement balance and spring and the original I measured. Unfortunalty the balance spring did not fit in the regulator hole fully which meant the spring was sitting off squint slightly. I got it to come alive and tick for 30 second intervals but it would stay alive. I then swapped the spring from to the original balance and could get it to go at all. I eventually figured it must be the spring sitting off because the end pin wouldnt go fully home in the regulator hole. End result broke the spring, very sad. 

So Ive proved the mechanism still works, balance, pallet fork etc all good and I have it running, albeit for a minute or so in total. I have not managed to source a replacement movement or exact balance spring. 

So what now? Is it just scrap? Surely we cant be scrapping vintage watches for the sake of one part?

Where do we go from here?

Thanks

 

 

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On 23/11/2021 at 14:27, Dilly said:

My head knows that but I hate being defeated.......

The movement I have is a Rego 129. The ebay balance seller had a Rego 125. The balance wheel was the same size but possibly the spring was different. The friction fit for the pin was a little tight so I could get this fully home which was the start of the downward spiral. But without the exact spring and fitting its a big ask I knew. 

Just so frustrating not being able to get it going. Would be like looking at a vintage car and saying yeah pity they dont make spark plugs for that anymore, if they did we could use it. 

Hi Dilly,

I am trying to help, but You don' seem to listen.

You said that the hairspring has broke. Probaly, it has broke where it was attached to the stud, and if so, it can be reatttached and everything will be OK.  Can You show some pictures, please?

There is no such thing like replacement hairspring. Hairsprings are matched to the balance wheels in the stage of production and should not be swapped. As I previosely said, this will result as to fast or slow beat rate. You should use the hairspring with the balance wheel it came with.

The hairspring can be replaced, but this is more complicated than just replacing. The new hairspring must be a little longer than needed, thus the beatrate slower. First they attach the collet to the internal end. Then,  by the process, called 'hairspring vibration', they determine what part of the hairspring will remain and where it must be cut to obtain correct beat rate. Then they attach the stud to the external end and form the end curve. Tis is not for beginners and the right way to learn is to start with alarm clock's hairspring, then try pocket watch balance and after few years to try on wristwatch... The modern watchmakers will not do such work. This is skill that needs to be practiced in order to be kept alive. They prefer not to do this kind of tasks as they are time consuming and will never pay off, especially when the watch is cheap.

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Hi Dilly,

You can't just swap the balance springs - the watch will work, but will not keep time.

I didn't understand where exactly broke the spring. Please, show pictures. The spring can be re-fixed again. If with the balance that it was from, the watch will go faster, but if with Your original balance - one never knows, may be will loose time and then it will be possible to make it keep time by shortening the spring.

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At the end of the day, unless it is worth a substantial amount (in money or sentiment) and either you can't or you can't afford someone else to repair it.. its just a broken watch.

It's no big deal really, I have a junked box of watches larger than my collection with no means of fixing them and no heart to put them in the bin.

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1 hour ago, SolaVeritate said:

At the end of the day, unless it is worth a substantial amount (in money or sentiment) and either you can't or you can't afford someone else to repair it.. its just a broken watch.

It's no big deal really, I have a junked box of watches larger than my collection with no means of fixing them and no heart to put them in the bin.

My head knows that but I hate being defeated.......

6 hours ago, nevenbekriev said:

Hi Dilly,

You can't just swap the balance springs - the watch will work, but will not keep time.

I didn't understand where exactly broke the spring. Please, show pictures. The spring can be re-fixed again. If with the balance that it was from, the watch will go faster, but if with Your original balance - one never knows, may be will loose time and then it will be possible to make it keep time by shortening the spring.

The movement I have is a Rego 129. The ebay balance seller had a Rego 125. The balance wheel was the same size but possibly the spring was different. The friction fit for the pin was a little tight so I could get this fully home which was the start of the downward spiral. But without the exact spring and fitting its a big ask I knew. 

Just so frustrating not being able to get it going. Would be like looking at a vintage car and saying yeah pity they dont make spark plugs for that anymore, if they did we could use it. 

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Repairing a Balance spring is possible BUT it is not easy . I have tried on several occasions and failed miserably. The Pros use a special conical tool when doing it and I have seen it done successfully but you have to have an excellent eyeglass, and a very very steady hand. Personally unless the watch has some sort of sentimental value, like @Solaverite I'd scrap it.

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11 hours ago, Dilly said:

Just so frustrating not being able to get it going. Would be like looking at a vintage car and saying yeah pity they dont make spark plugs for that anymore, if they did we could use it. 

I think you considered this earlier, but is there not still the possibility of a movement swap? I'm thinking something of the same type/era that's easier to find. For example, there's a Ronda 1115 on Ebay, which is the same width and height, but the mainspring's gone. There's also a Ronda 1215 which is bigger, but it looks like you have room in the case. That "needs a service".

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/174936194490    http://www.ranfft.de/cgi-bin/bidfun-db.cgi?11&ranfft&0&2uswk&Ronda_1115

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/174914538645    http://www.ranfft.de/cgi-bin/bidfun-db.cgi?11&ranfft&0&2uswk&Ronda_1215

Of course, there may be other issues, like hand hole sizes (new hands?) and the date window not lining up (more problematic). Still it's a thought.

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13 hours ago, nevenbekriev said:

Hi Dilly,

I am trying to help, but You don' seem to listen.

You said that the hairspring has broke. Probaly, it has broke where it was attached to the stud, and if so, it can be reatttached and everything will be OK.  Can You show some pictures, please?

There is no such thing like replacement hairspring. Hairsprings are matched to the balance wheels in the stage of production and should not be swapped. As I previosely said, this will result as to fast or slow beat rate. You should use the hairspring with the balance wheel it came with.

The hairspring can be replaced, but this is more complicated than just replacing. The new hairspring must be a little longer than needed, thus the beatrate slower. First they attach the collet to the internal end. Then,  by the process, called 'hairspring vibration', they determine what part of the hairspring will remain and where it must be cut to obtain correct beat rate. Then they attach the stud to the external end and form the end curve. Tis is not for beginners and the right way to learn is to start with alarm clock's hairspring, then try pocket watch balance and after few years to try on wristwatch... The modern watchmakers will not do such work. This is skill that needs to be practiced in order to be kept alive. They prefer not to do this kind of tasks as they are time consuming and will never pay off, especially when the watch is cheap.

Nevenbekriev, I am listening I assure you. I think I streteched the hair spring. I swapped the spring on the NOS balance to the existing balance from the watch. I had to do this under only 3x mag, using a screwdriver to gently pry it off. I dont have all the tools I should have. For pushing the hair spring back onto the balance wheel I didnt have a drilled block, I had to do this holding in my hands. End result I eventually snapped the spring but I also thing it was stretched. I think if you were watching you may have been cringing! But I have learnt a lot and I take your advice and knowledge which makes it clear this is not simply a case of a new hair spring. For future I would only attempt this if I could get an exact replacment balance complete that had a simple screw attachment to the cock. The cock I had is a friction fit. As others have said a movement probably not designed to be fixed. I recently stripped a Timex movement which is certainly not designed to be done and it was tricky but all parts where in good order and the balance perfect. I was able to service this and it works and keeps time well. This is a clear learning for me that if I am buying anything vintage the parts have to be there, in good order or a movement that I can easily get replacement parts. Which as other have said will typically be a good quality movemement not a 'dispossable' type. More tools and a hell of a lot more knowledge and practice needed before I attempt this route again. I have considered doing a watch makers course but I do wonder if this is taking the hobby a bit too far!

Thanks

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Hi Dilly,

OK, but unless I see a photo, I will continue to doubt and wonder if the hairspring is still easy to repair or not. You movement is not disposable, it is repairable, but it is cheap, 'roskopf type' pin lever movement.  For the work with hairsprings You will need two (pair) good tweezers. 3X magnification glass is enough. Good tweezers is one that is correctly sharpened, so sharpening is needed to learn. No drilled block - take a piece of hard wood and do some holes on it... Watchmaker's course is good, but isn't it expencive? Also, there they will learn You how to dissassemble, wash, oil an assemble movements, but not how to repair and vibrate hairsprings, turn balance stafs and make watch parts. I find the first boring, and so I have chosen the second for a hobby... Reading old books and practicing what is read is quite enough to learn.

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4 hours ago, nevenbekriev said:

Hi Dilly,

OK, but unless I see a photo, I will continue to doubt and wonder if the hairspring is still easy to repair or not. You movement is not disposable, it is repairable, but it is cheap, 'roskopf type' pin lever movement.  For the work with hairsprings You will need two (pair) good tweezers. 3X magnification glass is enough. Good tweezers is one that is correctly sharpened, so sharpening is needed to learn. No drilled block - take a piece of hard wood and do some holes on it... Watchmaker's course is good, but isn't it expencive? Also, there they will learn You how to dissassemble, wash, oil an assemble movements, but not how to repair and vibrate hairsprings, turn balance stafs and make watch parts. I find the first boring, and so I have chosen the second for a hobby... Reading old books and practicing what is read is quite enough to learn.

Nevenbekriev, the pictures to prove it. The movement seems perfect. Ive made an arse of the balance spring!

Theres a good bottle of scotch in it for you if you can assist in bringing it alive again. 

 

Lapanouse2.jpg

Broken Balance.PNG

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