Saturday, December 10, 2011

Walp, I broke one


I got to work on my second Unloved Watch today, and it did not go as planned. Perhaps I got cocky from the great success I had with my first one.

This one is a real working man's watch from the 1950's or, perhaps, 1960's. Rather handsome stainless-steel case, AS 1130 "Wehrmachtswerk" movement with sub-seconds, relatively plain dial and hands. Some oxidation on the hands, and someone else had been practicing on the movement because it was pretty scratched up. It did run, however.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My First Clean and Oil

Gears soaking in isopropanol after being ultrasound washed.

My first Unloved Watch—that 1971 Citizen with the 21-jewel movement I now know is named the 0200 1802—is now cleaned, oiled, reassembled, cased, and running, and a handsome watch it is. Well, in my eyes, anyway. Whether it actually keeps time I don't know yet; it has been running for an hour or so and seems to be doing fine so far, which means it hasn't gone completely berserk, I guess.

It felt like a completely different watch when and after reassembling it after cleaning; the balance moves way, way more freely, and in fact it started ticking away for a few seconds just by handling the case, after I cased it. Before cleaning, it was sort of barely running, the balance did move but "heavily," and had clear trouble running when I held it different positions. No more, now it's like it wants to run, and springs to life at the first excuse.

That's a way-cool feeling. Like a kind of magic!

Thursday, November 24, 2011



Time for clocks
to come out and play,
to dance while I sleep
cartwheeling on tiny hands,
round faces open, confiding.
In the morning whether
I watched or not
I’m one day

Ignore the digital display
so professionally alarming.
It’s a temporary
robot, does nothing artfully
but reorders lifeless circuits
shuffling a shiny LED deck
into green numeric
corpselight by
the bed.

A good watch dances, has
swisselled movements ever
fluid, cogs clogging, no slippage
on time’s sleet, off its bracelet leash
downstreet as it caracoles
with mechanical ferity
a mime most entertaining
to watch if I could
watch the watch

watching me
but I’m asleep
somewhere beyond
the concept of time.
Out boxed in blue forever

precise stars move across
immaculate stage, en pointe
in cyclopean ellipses cog on cog,
engagements too infinite
for the eye to follow
telling me I'm an hour
which is the sum
of a set of minutes
all dancing.

© Joy Ann Jones, November 2011. Reproduced with permission.

Please visit Joy's blog at Verse Escape.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Getting my Bearings

Work in Progress

I've been doing some intensive exploration of the horology web over the past few weeks. There's a whole world out there that I had no idea even existed. There are communities of people, information databases, specialty suppliers, markets, the works. I've been especially happy about the people. It almost seems like there's an international brotherhood of watch nerds, and they have been very welcoming. Special thanks to Max—mars-red of Global Horology and WatchUSeek—who's really gone out of his way to help me get started.

I've also been learning to know my tools. As I mentioned previously, I have a cheap Indian all-around kit. When it comes to tools, I believe strongly in "buy cheap, buy twice." As in, if you don't have a bleeping clue about what you're doing, first buy cheap. Then as soon as you have some idea of what you want, buy professional-grade stuff.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My First Teardown


My very first Unloved Watch is a hand-wound Citizen about as old as I am. Going by the information I found about Citizen serial numbers here, it was manufactured in August, 1971. It has a stainless-steel cushion case, blue enameled dial with a subtle sunburst, lumed sword hands and dots for the hour markers, with some yellow accents. I bought it at a flea market. It ran, barely, but was really badly abused.

The hour and minute hands didn't line up. When the hour hand was on the hour, the minute hand was around 20 past.
There was a lot of friction when turning the crown. This, in fact, made it very difficult to set, especially because the crown is rather small, more like one from an automatic than a hand-wind watch. Eventually I managed to unscrew the crown when trying to turn the hands forward, and then something got knocked loose and the clutch wouldn't catch at all, which also stopped it from running. I know, shouldn't have twiddled it so much.
The crystal was almost matte with scratches, and there are a few very very small cracks around the edges. The case was very badly scratched as well.
The movement was a little loose in the case. It was possible to hear or feel it rattling around when handling the watch.
The watch ran rather badly. The balance wheel does go back and forth, but at relatively low amplitude, and you have to wind it up a fair bit before it starts.

A perfect candidate for a novice wannabie watch nerd to experiment on, in other words. Or is it?

Monday, November 14, 2011



This is a copy of a post from my other blog, which is mostly about politics, Buddhism, social issues, and such. I decided to start a new one about watch-tinkering, since it's probably really boring for most people.

I'm exploring a new hobby. I do that every few years. I'm tinkering with mechanical wristwatches.

My first objective was to take apart a watch movement and then put it back together so that it still runs. I just accomplished that yesterday, and I feel as proud of it as if it's an egg I just laid. I even sorted out a problem it had. It doesn't run very well, but no worse than when I started, and I didn't actually do anything that ought to make it run better. Just disassembled and reassembled it. Three times, actually; I had done something wrong the first two times and it didn't run.

I still need some tools to be able to try my hand at cleaning and oiling it. That's my next objective. I figure the odds of the watch surviving my tender ministrations are about 25%. Yesterday morning I would've said 5%, so that's an improvement. It's a really beat-up looking Citizen about as old as I am, and I picked it up at a fleamarket for not much money, so it's no great loss to humanity even if it gives up its life in the name of science.

I've learned a quite a lot already, about what makes watches tick, and what I'm looking for in watch projects, and even a bit about why bother in the first place.