Thursday, 11 August 2011

Russian Molnija 3602 Pocket Watch

 This is the watch in a non-functioning state. The plan is to re-finish the dial myself once time & finances allow.. The problem does appear to be with the hairspring and the balance - the two aren't connected very well.
Before I started tearing this thing apart, here are some photos of the Russian workhorse, an example of 1940s Swiss design that 'magically' migrated east in the subsequent decades.. This is the obverse of the movement, removed from case. The simple 2 position clutch mechanism has an annoying spring which is very hard to set (under the dotted plate).
The movement is in overall good condition. Apart from some rust on the regulator stem and the hairspring collet, its clean and fine.
The reverse with the balance cock, and the balance removed.
The reverse with the gear train bridge removed.
The reverse with the pallet fork cock removed.
The reverse of the plate with the mainspring bridge removed. This picture shows the flow of power from the mainspring barrel, through the centre wheel, third wheel, fourth wheel, escapement, and then the pallet fork. The energy is released in an incremental manner by the oscillating balance.
The reverse of movement plate almost bare, except for the center wheel - which is connect to the cannon pinion on the obverse.
The obverse of the movement with the clutch partly disassembled.
The movement (mostly) disassembled for cleaning - a combination of ultrasound & shellite/naptha/benezine
The problem. The c-ring that should crimp the balance spring to the balance shaft is loose. Usually this requires very expensive and very precise tools (which I currently don't have...), this would make the exercise futile given the very low value of the watch. However, with my handy loupe & a leatherman (I know, I know..), I re-crimped the c-ring the shaft successfully....
Balance spring and shaft re-attached.
The reassembled movement ticking away accurately, with no slippage on the balance shaft. Now keeping (quite surprisingly) accurate time.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Restoration of Rotary mechanical dress watch

This watch belonged to my grandfather quite a few years ago. About a year ago, my Aunt gave this to my Dad, and to our surprise it still worked (though not accurately, and not for long). The watch itself contains an ETA900 calibre, dating from around the 1950s (http://www.ranfft.de/cgi-bin/bidfun-db.cgi?10&ranfft&0&2uswk&ETA_900).
Once the dirty bezel and old plastic crystal was removed, you can see that the dial and hands are is excellent condition considering the age and treatment of the watch.
This is the obverse of the movement, extracted from the case. I'm not sure why there is no cap jewel for the lower end of the escapement.. but it does not seem to significantly affect the function of the movement.
Despite the tarnished nature of the plate, there is not rust or corrosion throughout the movement. This would indicate that its been somewhere safe and dry for the last 30 years.
When the balance cock and gear train plate are removed, the wheels are exposed, all in good condition.
Once the plate has been stripped down, you can see that there is a bit of dirt around the keyless works region.
 
Here we have the movement completely disassembled (apart from the mainspring, click and balance cock/ hairspring)
The following photo shows the cleaned & oiled movement reassembled - running smoothly.
Once the case was cleaned up & a new plexi crystal affixed to the bezel, the watch not only looks great, but runs great.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Ben's Fake Rolex


Here we have a fake Rolex from Thailand. As you can see, from a distance it looks pretty good. The colors are right, the case design, the style of hands, good weight, dial markings etc... All of these things add to the overall presentation of the watch and its good (not great) counterfeiting effort.

 
Towards the bottom of the crystal, the 'laser' etching is seen, this is a design feature that has been introduced by Rolex in the recent decade to add another level of difficulty for the producers of fake units. However with this particular piece, the device does appear to be a decal and is also off centre.
 
 The case back is another area that you would expect to see some movement/caliber information or perhaps serial numbers. However, all we get with this piece is a green holographic 'Rolex' sticker.
These next two photos show either side of the case and the respective crown logos, apart from the finish on the logos, they do appear to be reasonable. What is not clear from these photos is the poor finish on the inside of the case lugs, with sharp unfinished edges, the insides of the lugs can cut your finger if you're not paying attention during handling.
 
Off course, the definitive proof that the watch is a fake can been shown very easily by taking off the case back. Here we have a less-than-bog-standard, poorly finished, likely Chinese automatic movement.
 The first thing that you will notice about the movement is the lack of ease with which the rotor swings on the automatic winding bridge. It does require a bit of a push to get going, but it likes to find itself in 2 or 3 positions around the center pivot.
Next, we have the movement out of the case. Apart from the dial being a flimsy piece of metal that is glued (instead of being held down be a couple of screws), it looks fair enough.
If you're planing on reading this watch at night, you'll be disappointed. There isn't any lume on the hands.
Now we can start the dissection of the movement.....
Once the automatic winding bridge is removed, the first thing that I noticed was that the winding system is uni-directional. This makes for a very inefficient winding system. Another design problem, seen throughout the movement, is the thin and flimsy plates used to fix the winding system, gear train, center wheel, etc.
Once the winding bridge is removed, you'll notice that holes in the bridge that contain the friction jewels are, well, not circular. They're pentagonal or hexagonal. This is likely due to the method of construction, which may have involved using punches to create the space for the jewel bearings. This is probably related to the thinness of the plate, which to avoid deforming during a punch would necessitate a thin piece of metal. The other problem with this method is the contract points between the jewel and bridge. In a quality Swiss movement, the holes would be circular, to match the jewels. This would create a point of contact between the jewel and the bridge around the whole circumference of the jewel. In this watch there are only 5 or 6 points of contact between the jewels and the bridge plate, meaning that the jewels could fall out with a light knock (UPDATE - disappearing jewels are this movement's CoD).

On the obverse of the movement, you'll notice that there are two spots of glue on the plate which affixed the dial.
 Back to the reverse of the movement, here is the gear train bridge removed. It is very poorly finished.
 On top of the mainspring barrel, the screw fixes to the barrel arbor can be seen as clearly deformed. This is due to the wrong sized screw driver being used on the movement, probably during assembly.
 
 
When this was being assembled, it was done so by someone with greasy hands who left fingerprints all over the movement.
Once the main obverse plate is removed, you can see the date wheel advance and the minute/hour wheels
 
 
 Here, the only remaining components on the mainplate are the keyless works.
 
The stripped down plates: (except for the center wheel, cannon pinon, and bottom balance jewels and anti-shock device)