Friday, August 26, 2016

Original Omega watch hands: Constellation Pie Pan Seamaster Speedmaster Omega Military

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Omega Watch Hands.
Over the past 16 years I've serviced thousands of Omega watches. I am often asked, “Tim can you leave the original hands on my watch?” This blog is a watchmaker’s perspective on original Omega watch hands and their value to a vintage watch.

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The short answer, “Sure, I would love to.” The real answer, it depends on their condition. Watch hands are friction fit which means they are pressed onto a post and held on by friction. If your watch has been serviced and worked on several times over the years, they will begin to fit less and less well. After being taken on and off so many times the post holes will get stretched out. Watchmakers may have attempted to tighten up the holes on hands, but this can only be done once or twice. Now what's going to happen if I use your old hands that are stretched out is they will sit on the watch fine in my shop and then when I ship the watch one of them will come loose, dragging on an hour marker or scratching the dial. I have seen this many, many times. The same happens when watches have been shipped to my shop for restoration; hands have fallen off because the holes have been stretched past the point of working. When this happens there's one person that usually gets the blame...yours truly, the watchmaker.

Here's a picture of my Bergeron #30-464 hand measuring tool. You simply slide a hand on it and you can see directly if it's stretched out or hits the mark. If you have an omega Constellation Pie Pan with 561 movement, and the minute hand slides past 80, you have a problem. If the hour hand slides past 150, that hand has served you well, but it's life span has come to an end. If a watchmaker changes your hands, it’s for a reason mechanically.

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Of course it's nice to have original hands on a watch and that is always the first option. However, aside from poor functionality, you may also have hands that just look horrible, pitted from age, plating loss beyond the ability to restore them. Many hands have been discontinued and are not available.

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Since it's not always possible to use original hands and I refuse to use Chinese parts on a Swiss watch, I started off on one of my "projects." I took some time out to learn how to draw blue prints, submitted them to a company in Switzerland and had my own hands made. These hands are my own design and are as close to the original as possible without breaking any patent infringements.

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So there's a little bit of information from a watchmaker on why we change your hands. Now that you know a bit about watch hands, keep it in mind when you are hunting watches to purchase. Same with crowns, the hands and crown they may be original but you have no idea if they are in good usable condition until you service the watch. If you get a watch in the mail and one of the hands are off, now you know why.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Omega Seamaster Frankenwatch

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Omega Seamaster Frankenwatch - WARNING! Ebay item #231438354785
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The case back is from a Seamaster Calendar date at 3. the case should not have a bumper movement but a rotor. The movement should be in a #2757 or #2627 case.

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If you purchase this watch you are getting three different watches all for the price of one! I don't personally know the seller and they may have no idea. This is why I built my data base. It just took me a few minutes to look up the caliber and case numbers to figure out this would not be a good purchase.

Here is an example of what the case back should be on 2849-3 SC belongs on a Seamaster Calendar date at 3. Item #393 on my database at omegaaddict.com
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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Importance of an Omega Crown

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This post is a bit of information about Omega watch crowns. It goes for any brand of watch.
A watch crown is a "disposable" part. It gets used and worn, it will need to be replaced when it is past it's service life. Failure to do so can easily end the service life of your watch. Here are some pictures of used crowns I have replaced. If I asked you to pick the best crown out of the lot, the center one would be the number one pick for sure.

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Now I have flipped them over and you can see the best looking crown is by far the worst of the lot. The retainer ring and gasket are missing making it not only worthless, but it puts your watch at great risk of water damage.

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I get this request all the time when I am servicing a watch, "Please leave the original crown."
Sorry, I cannot if the old crown will not do its job. An Omega Constellation would be better served with a new Bulova crown than a bad original Omega crown.

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Here is a beautiful Seamaster Chronometer. Bad gasket in the crown caused quite a bit of water damage. Trust me, you don't want this to happen to your watch! This will run up the repair cost by the time I get done. Many parts cannot be saved and will cost far more than the new crown it should have had. Below is another picture of a movement that came out of a watch with a bad crown.

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When I shop for watches I disregard the disposable parts; crown, crystal and band. All can be easily changed. Being a watchmaker the first thing I do when I get a watch is check to see the condition of the crown if I am going to wear it. I recommend you do the same or have your watchmaker check it out.

Omega and other brands have discontinued many models of crowns. Most can still be found with an on-line hunt. It is nice to have an original style crown on a watch. However, an aftermarket crown is just fine while you are hunting for an original.


Omega Parts Restoration

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This post is a bit of information about Omega watch crowns. It goes for any brand of watch.
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Was not quite sure where to start on this project. Started with good guesses, I thought. Turned out to be a bit more of a project to figure out than I had imagined.

The first several attempts with the use of too much copper in the mix would quickly patina. I would end up with a part looking far worse than when I started, almost like a well-aged penny.

I searched for counsel of plating experts. I thought for sure they could help. Turns out not so much. Most had no idea why I would want such a mix of metals and had never tried such a thing. It was back to the drawing board. I was sure rhodium could help; hard, bright, and with a touch of copper. I tried again with another mix. Looked amazing for a few weeks but the copper in the plating eventually succumbed to its usual patina. I put this project on the shelf a while, the question still on my mind.

One day I was talking to a coin collector. We got on the subject of plating. He tells me right out, “Kugerand! That's what you need.” A Kugerand is a beautiful and highly collectible African coin consisting of 91.67% gold and 8.33% copper. Interesting mix of metals to be sure! I started out again using a similar mix a lot closer to the Kugerand than I had tried before. Having a look at other coins I kept on experimenting with batch after batch till I got it down. Now I can get a nice color that holds up well with time.

Sorry can't tell you what I ended up with, that is a proprietary secret! My conclusion is that restoring the plating on Omega parts in this way is very time consuming and expensive to be sure. Plating is not essential to the functionality/running of a movement. Nice touch though when needed. Most parts are available if you take the time to look. Much easier to replace than restore a part. On a rare watch where a part can’t not be found and the parts is still functioning a restoration is in order.

A challenge I have enjoyed!!