Futzing About

Getting a little bit done in a lot of time

It’s been a slow couple of weeks where I haven’t actually completed any project watches so I thought I’d instead post a few photos of my minor accomplishments.

Modifying a Sweep Second Hand

I still have a few Pierce chronographs on the desk which are slowly inching towards completion. Two of the chronographs had the cases sent out to RePlateIt in Canada for restoration and those should be arriving next week. The movements are ready to go but I’ll need to restore the hands for both.

Watch movements awaiting cases

One Pierce was missing the sweep second hand. Replacing this is problematic because the post is 0.35mm in diameter which is rather large. Based on the hands my suppliers carry, the largest post accommodated is about 0.27mm in diameter. I purchased a hand with a tube to accommodate this size and discovered that broaching the tube to fit the larger post simply wasn’t going to work. The solution is to either reduce the diameter of the post or replace the tube on the second hand. I chose the latter since it won’t result in any modifications to the watch movement.

Through the internet I found some brass tube with an outside diameter of 1.00mm and an inside diameter of 0.35mm, which was perfect for my purposes. I used the lathe to reduce the outside diameter to about 0.60mm. The last 0.2mm or so was reduced further to serve as the rivet end which would attach to the second hand.

Reducing the outside diameter of the tube

I then removed the post from the new sweep second hand using small pliers and broached the rivet hole to accept the new post.

The hole is broached under the microscope

Next I used the staking set to secure the second hand to the post with a tap of the hammer.

Hand riveted to the post prior to cutting

I found that it was easiest to cut the tube to size after riveting the second hand so the final step was to cut the post down using a screw head slot file.

Cutting My First Screw

Two of the Pierce watches on my desk have improper click screws. The click on a mechanical watch is the mechanism that locks the ratchet wheel in place and keeps the mainspring from unwinding prematurely. The click is held in place by a shouldered screw; the shoulder allows the click move when the ratchet wheel rotates (when the watch is wound). The click screws on my Pierce watches have shoulders that are too short, this results in the click binding and excessive wear on the barrel plate.

I have a set of replacement screws for just about every occasion but could not find a screw that had the shoulder depth needed for the project. I did have some 2.00mm drill rod, a lathe, and a screw plate so I figured I would try to fabricate a replacement.

The head needed to be about 1.65mm in diameter, the shoulder 1.00mm in diameter, and the threads 0.8mm. The height of the shoulder was cut to fit the click. It took three tries to cut the screw properly. It’s hard to describe how rewarding that is. I decided to blue the screw so that the next watchmaker would know it wasn’t original to the watch.

Surprisingly small screw
The bluing wasn’t perfect but it’s acceptable for a first try
Newly fabricated click screw installed (this one with brushed finish)

On the horizon

Having worked now on a Pierce, Landeron, and Lemania chronograph movement, I set my eyes on either a Venus, Valjoux, or Excelsior Park chronograph to work on next. It’s often difficult to find chronographs that fit my budget but this past week I purchased a Venus 170 watch in a very poor state for $70; this will be my next chronograph project. It’s missing parts (caseback, pushers, and column wheel among others) but I think I can bring it back to it’s former glory.

I’m so anxious to start this one!

Author: JPMoeller

Amateur watchmaker and California resident

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