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Adjusting a bent hairspring

The short answer is, "not while you're tired." and also "only if you have plenty to spare."

Because the task is not easy, and it can be frustrating as heck if you're a hot head. In fact, you could just twist it more out of shape than what you started with!

Despite the difficulty, I decided to go ahead with a hairsping that was stretched too far because of clumsy hands in my earlier days as a tinkerer. There was an obvious kink where the stretch occurred, and my job was to find the point of the kink and then adjust the hairspring back to its original shape.

Piece of cake. Ha.

Here are some pointers I have to share after my failed experience.

1. Get the right tools

I went into it with No. 3 tweezers, which turned out to be too large for the very small hairspring. This resulted in the heavy tweezers pushing the extremely delicate hairspring out of the way and bending it in the process.

2. Use a white working surface

The one I had was black in color so that I could see all the little silver parts and screws from the mechanical watch. Because the space in between the coil are so very small, a nice white surface will allow you to concentrate on grabbing the right part.

3. Do it when you're awake

This is a very tiring task, even more so than my first attempt at disassembly. So go into it knowing that you'll probably fail, and that you'd be spending a long time to fail.

Despite the challenges, what I walked away with was a deeper understanding of how a hairspring works, how delicate it is, and how one can manipulate it to repair and adjust the timekeeping of a mechanical watch.

But even more so, it was a hunbling lesson as I thought back on the pioneer watchmakers, how they made watches without the sophisticated machines that we have today. Respect.

I've got two more hairsprings that are bent out of shape, so I'll definitely be attempting this again. I do hope that my lessons from this encounter support my learning then.

Till next time, fellow tinkerers!

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Best viewed on desktop, because you should really take your time with vintage.

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