Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Molnija 3602 stem removal

I've received a query from one of my YouTube viewers about removing the stem from the Molnija 3602.  I'm sorry that I've neglected to show the process - if there are any readers/viewers who have questions or would like a particular process shown, feel free to email me, or comment on this blog or my YouTube channel - I'll try to response in a couple of days.

Here is my Molnija 3602 trench watch reprising its role as the display model:

For wristwatches, the stem will have contours/ ridges. This probably isn't the best description, so here's a blurry picture of a Molnija stem:

The red rectangle show where the set lever holds the stem. The set lever can be connected to the rest of the watch by a set lever screw (like in the Molnija) or with a 'push' button/ set lever combo which is then held in place by another spring/ cover.

The following photos show both the push button (Seiko 6309a) and the set lever screw (Bulova 11AF) respectively. (In the interest of accuracy - with the Seiko the button and the set lever are actually two pieces, not one. Both pieces are held in place by a spring in the keyless works).

Back to the Molly:

Once the small screw is released, the stem should slide from the case:

If the stem is tight in the watch, check that the movement is aligned properly. The easiest way to do this is checking that the 3 o'clock dial position lines up with the stem (wristwatch, hunter pocket watch) or that the 12 o'clock dial position lines up with the stem (open-faced pocket watch). Keep in mind that the dial feet could be damaged or broken on older watches, which may mean that the dial's position isn't accurate to begin with. You can wobble the movement by undoing the movement screws on either side:

The movement should then be able to move a little. If the stem was tight, this should allow it to come free:

With most Molies, the movement is dropped into the front of the case, as the dial's diameter is larger than the movement's. With this trench watch I just used the same case blade that I've had for years.

Job done.


  1. Beginner question. Haven't touched my Molnija movement yet. Will anything happen if I unscrew the lever screw completely? I've read other places (with other movements that use a screw) that unscrewing too far can cause other bits to come loose as well. Your expertise is welcome.

    1. If the movement is still cased, you can't remove the screw. There is a lip on the screw that sits under the barrel bridge. If you unscrew it completely then you may detach the set lever screw from the set lever. It's possible that is may be held partially by the Molnija's set bridge, thought the set bridge contact is quite small. Generally, if you do detach the set lever screw from the set lever and it does happen to move freely, then it may interfere with the other components of the key-less works in some watches. I think this is unlikely in the Molnija due to most dials lying flat against the obverse of the movement providing little room for the component's movement in that region. It may move around, but I don't think it will interfere greatly with the keyless works (by interfere I mean interrupt the function of the other components - it will of course prevent any stem functions).

      The problem lies in re-attachment, unless the set lever is very kind to you and it keeps its position perfectly, removing the dial is needed to line the set lever up again.

      Hope this helps,