This is a 17 jewel Elgin ready to be serviced. Click on photo
for a larger image.
If you noticed the balance wheel is not in this photo that is
because they are cleaned in a separate process.
The following is the process all of
my pocket watches go through before listing for sale.*
Each watch is inspected on arrival to be sure it is as represented
to me before purchase.
Each watch is completely disassembled in preparation for
servicing. This is everything except the jewels, which are no
removed unless damaged or symptoms indicate a jewel problem
Step 1 of service is a pre cleaning in an ultrasonic bath of L
& R ammoniated cleaning solution. In a commercial grade
Step 2 is a second ultrasonic bath in L & R rinsing solution.
In a commercial grade ultrasonic machine.
Step 3 is a third ultrasonic bath in L & R ammoniated cleaning
solution in a L & R SweepzoneŽ Ultrasonic machine.
Step 4 is a forth ultrasonic bath in L & L rinse
solution in a L & R SweepzoneŽ Ultrasonic machine.
Step 5 is a fifth ultrasonic bath in a L & R SweepzoneŽ
Ultrasonic machine with L & R rinse solution treated with one
step watch lubricant.
Step 6 is drying in a commercial drying box.
Step 7 is the watch is reassembled with all pivots & hole
Jewels lubricated with synthetic watch oil. This includes the
mainspring that had the barrel opened and cleaned during the above
Step 8 the hairspring is cleaned in one dip solvent then attached
to the balance cock and installed in the movement.
Step 9 the reassembled movement is passed through a coil style demagnetizer.
Step 10 the watch is checked for timing, amplitude and beat on a
timing machine and adjustments made if needed.
Step 11 relates to the case. All covers are checked for ease of
operation, cases with bad covers are discarded.
Step 12 the case is polished by machine.
Step 13 the case is cleaned, this is a time consuming difficult
process which includes hand cleaning with a very strong cleaner, an
ultrasonic bath in a special cleaning solvent then detailed cleaning
with a solvent and Q-tips and finally for gold and gold filled cases
cleaning in an ionic machine.
Step 14 a new beveled glass or new old stock crystal is installed
in the bezel using ultra violet setting cement.
Step 15 the dial is inspected, when the dial condition is good
enough or when a porcelain enamel dial is not available the dial is
cleaned in a special process we developed here, chips are repaired
with real solid enamel that is melted into place. Whenever a dial
cannot be made to look near perfect to the naked eye it is replaced
with an old stock porcelain enamel dial, unless that dial is not
available. All dial flaws that we see are fully disclosed in the
listing. We replace nearly 100% of crystals and about 50% of dials.
We never use melamine dials unless requested to do so.
Step 16 the fully assembled watch is wound and set and checked
against an atomic clock for up to 48 hours.
Cases are an important component of the pocket watch, describing
them is very subjective so I avoid that, but I do not use cases that
have bad covers or excessive wear. I have boxes full of these case to
prove that. This is what I do with every case.
1. Remove the crystal from the bezel
2. Machine polish with a hard wheel
3. Machine polish with a soft wheel
4. Clean with detergent
5. Ultrasonic clean with solvent
6. Ultrasonic clean with a special precious metal cleaner.
7. Steam clean crown area and bezel
8. Ionic clean in a special cleaner and tarnish prevention
(gold, gold filled or RGP only)
9. Final cleaning and checking case, especially the bezel area
where the new crystal will install, with solvent and a Q-tip
10. Install new glass crystal with ultraviolet setting crystal cement.
Use This ruler as a guide for judging the
condition of the mainspring in your pocket watch. 0 = no resistance and
6 = you can barely turn the crown.
If the resistance you feel when you wind the watch is near 0 you
probably have a broken mainspring or detached arbor.
The resistance for a 60 hour mainspring will be in the 1 to 2
The resistance for a 48 hour size 16 mainspring would be in a
range from 2 to 5
If a size 16 mainspring is near 5 and only winds a little the
spring is probably set.
A new alloy size 16 mainspring can be expected to be between 4 and
5 and gradually get easier with use.
A size 18 mainspring will usually be between 3.5 and 6
A new alloy size 18 mainspring can be close to 6 to start with but
gives a full wind while a set spring will only wind a little.
Other things to consider is a small crown may make it feel harder
to wind than it really is.
If the spring winds normally then slips, it is broken but further
from the arbor.
Once you have a full wind and a watch is running write down the
starting time and check to see how long the watch runs, you want at
the very minimum 30 hours and it is much better to be over 40.
Whenever you send watches in for repair that you intend to
insure it is important that you locate your original purchase invoice or obtain
an appraisal in the case of expensive watches. If you can send me good quality
photos of the watch case and movement I will do the appraisal for you free of
charge. The United States Postal Service will do everything it can to avoid
paying insurance claims even when they loose a package. If you can not get good
photos and do not have the original receipt, I will do an appraisal of your
watch and send it to you before I return your watch after being repaired. We
have learned the hard way that the insurance will only pay the repair cost, not
the value of the watches if they loose the package and you do not have proof of
value. It is deplorable but this is what they do.
We no longer can guarantee to be
able to repair mechanical wristwatches
that require parts because of the
difficulty of finding the parts need. The owner will be responsible for a minimum bench
charge of $25.00 on wristwatches that are serviced even if the watch will not
run after service and cannot be repaired. We still repair quartz wrist watches.
Basic service on wristwatches is $55.00.
Going In Circles Trying To Get Your Watch Repaired? Give us a
About Timing and my comments on
We use two separate timing machines in order
to double check our readings.
The equipment above is what we use and how
we get watches in time. The timing machine allows us to know
the beat and amplitude of the balance and also shows us the
the timing in +- seconds per day.
After we have made adjustments to the
balance* to bring the watch into time, over 50% require
this, We do a digital check for a few minutes to verify the
machine reading then check the watch against the atomic
clock for 48 hours. Our objective is to have the watch
within a few seconds per day with the regulator centered.
Shipping can impact the timing
* this is not simply adjusting the
regulator, it may be adjusting the hairspring collet on the
staff, adding or removing timing screws or timing washers
and truing the balance. This process can be very labor
My descriptive terms don't really make much
difference on how the watch is keeping time. I do not list
any RR watch that is not better than 1 minute + or - per day
at the time of listing, most are within a few seconds.
Because it may be a few years before any given watch sells,
I do the final adjustments at the time of sale.
Wrist watches and non railroad approved
pocket watches may be a little less accurate.
I check the watches on a timing machine then
check them for several day against an atomic clock, because
most of these watches do not have hack movements I can be a
few seconds off just setting them.
Then I have to ship the watches, to
different environments both of which can result in minor
adjustment having to be made after shipment.
If I sold all my watches locally I would be
more comfortable being very specific about the time keeping
record of any given watch.
I am not sure exactly how RR time was
determined at all of the railroads, at one time we had a
major railroad center here because Ludington was the home
port of the Chesapeake and Ohio railroad car ferries
transporting rail cars across Lake Michigan. I was told that
the standard here was 15 seconds per week, meticulous
records were kept on each watch and the were checked by the
timekeeper every time an employee reported to work. The
check was made against a clock that the timekeeper had
confidence in, no one seems to know how that confidence was
justified. Cases were sealed and the watch owner was not
permitted to set the watch, if the seal was broken an
employee was subject to discipline action up to and
I think it is more likely that the railroads
made sure that everyone on a particular set of rails was on
the same time rather than the watches really keeping atomic
time. Given the technology of the day it is hard to believe
that anyone could be positive within these constraints.
Having said all of this many railroad
watches made after the mid 1940's and some of the better
models earlier than this do actually meet the standard.
Basic timing is included with the service but when the
balance wheel needs balance screws added or removed, timing
washers added or removed or other work requiring significant
time additional charges can apply.
Pocket Watches Quoted before repair,
but basic servicing is $75.00
If the watch is out of beat or not close to
keeping time and balance work is needed it is an additional $45.00. This
takes a lot of time but would not normally be necessary on a
watch you have owned for some time, more likely on a new
Wrist watch service is $35.00 + parts if
This is replacing either a broken or set
mainspring with a new mainspring
$50.00 without service.
This is when the
arbor has detached from the mainspring and all that is
needed is to reattach it.
Replacing a broken or bent staff
for friction fit
$65 for all others
Balance jewel replacement
Changing bad or damaged balance jewels.
Often needed when I staff appears to be just off from
friction from a bad jewel
Plate or bridge jewels other than balance
These jewels can be
damaged from improper reassembly or shock from dropping.
These jewels can be very difficult to find and removing them
from other parts movement often fails, especially with
pressed in jewels.
each minimum and up from there depending on the jewel.
Case cleaning, polishing, plating, dial
refinish, crystal and dial replacement or repair
Quoted before repair
Wristwatch dial refinishing $50.00 and up
Crystal replacement $30.00 and up
Pocket watch dial replacement $75.00 and up.
Photos and description are available on the
watch page. PayPal can be used for payment.
Listed on each watch
Watches that are repaired and have not been paid
for within 90 days of completion will
be considered abandoned.
A $10.00 per month service fee will be added to the
repair cost each month once a watch is considered abandoned
At our discretion, abandoned watches will be sold with
no recovery to the owner.
want to work with you so when an owner contacts us and advises us that they can't pay for
repairs and request, in writing, that we hold a watch for
them we will do so for a reasonable period of time not to
exceed 180 days. But this request must be in writing and
must contain a specific date when the repairs will be
paid. Service fees will apply.
If a watch owner misses a promised
payment day the watch is considered abandoned and will be