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The first Swiss Watch

I don't know about you, but there's always a certain pedigree when the words "Swiss Made" is mentioned. It's more than a geographical advantage. The coverted accreditation turns watch repair into servicing; it morphs watches into timepieces; it defines a hobby into a craft.

Haute Horology is alive, and rolls off your watch-obsessive tongue like coins from a slot machine.

So naturally, when I decided to attempt my first servicing of a Swiss-Made watch, I stopped to think. How much more complicated can it be? Will the task be any different than what I've been performing on their Japanese counterparts? Will I be losing a watch?

Vintage Titus ETARptor 2452, Circa 1950s

Caution to the wind, I decided that nothing ventured nothing gained. Naysayers be damned, and soon the case was off!

The victim was a Titus with an ETA 2452 work horse movement, its automatic rotor adorned with a 25-jewelled wonder of a movement. Alas, age and lots of oil have caused it to move very quickly, gaining hours of time in a day. The hands were also not really well placed, and tend to get stuck in a bunch at the 2'O position.

The ETA 2452 movement roaring to life after a nice cleaning, its 4-part crown-wheel component visible.

From taking the watch apart and then putting it together after cleaning, I can see how two different marques from two different countries chose to approach the automatic winding system.

The Swiss from 1950 went with an aesthetically pleasing approach that's not only handsome but also more secure.

The Japanese from 1970 fine-tuned the system and replaced the 4-part crown wheel component with a single piece, visible below the ratche wheel and above the main spring. While less pleasing to the eye, and a lot less fun to assemble, it does it job.

In comparison, a Seiko 7009A movement from the 1970s uses a single piece to stop the main spring from unloading.

A history and technical learning endeavor all in one!

So long story short, the watch has escaped unscathed (largely).

I think my clumsy removal of the automatic winding system has bent the connecting cog from the ratchet wheel to the rotor somewhat, and it makes manual winding impossible. I decided to remove that wheel altogether to that I can manually wind the watch.

Not all is lost - the watch now tells good time after a little adjustment of the hair spring. The hands also no longer catch each other.

Vintage Titus ETARotor, Circa 1950s, Serviced

All in all, I would say this has been a nice learning experience!

Here are some tips I can give for those who wish to take the plunge!

1. Take photos

You'll want to take a few photos of the timepiece at various of dis-assembly so that you can make reference. Believe me it'll make assmebly a lot easier. There was this one piece that I couldn't figue out, and after consulting several techical manuals of simialr movements I found out that it belonged to a different component.

2. Get the right tools

Once again, you're left to the mercy of your tools. With the proper equipment, the process becomes unnecessarily tedious and frustrating. Loupes, lights, movement holders, tweezers, screwdrivers, cleaning fluid, putty, watch oils and dippers, and a whole lot of patience will get you through this.

3. Don't just memorise the parts, understand them

Each part in your timepiece was designed with a specific role to play. They're not there for fun or to take up space, so spend some time to know what they're about and how they contribute to the function of the watch. Once you understand the principles and basic roles in a watch, you'll be able to transfar that knowlege to other movements from other marques.

4. Be patient

The connecting cog probably bent because I was too impatient in removing the automatic winding mechanism. If I has examined the movement further, or bothered to study the techincal manual before starting, I would have known to remove the compoment straight up instead of with a twist of the screwdriver.

So with that, I wish all hobbists who will embark on this good luck! You might make a mistake or two, but the experience and lessons learnt will be totally worth it!

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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