Tick Talk is moving

Thanks to the generous contributions of my readers I am able to move my blog to a self-hosted domain. Why am I doing this? It gives me more control over my blog content and it allows me to put some advertising on my blog – creating more revenue to improve content.

Your generous contributions have also helped me to begin outfitting a shop at my home. I hope to be able to continue equipping a shop at home because it gives me a forum to work on some projects which will help me form some really great posts.

What you need to do to continue getting my posts:

If you subscribed to my blog using one of the links in the upper right you shouldn’t have to do anything. This applies to all e-mail subscribers. If you subscribed by typing my url (ticktalk.wordpress.com) in your rss reader you will need to change it to my new url watchmakingblog.com or visit my new site and then click on the subscribe to this blog in the upper right.

If you receive the next post titled “Bug’s Clock” you’re getting posts from the new blog. If you don’t receive it, come a calling.

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Could this be a practical joke?

SpeedmasterToday I was working on an Omega Speedmaster with a caliber 1151 inside. That’s the same as an ETA 7751, by the way. As I checked the pallet fork endshake it seemed really large. That’s when I noticed the upper pallet jewel was upside down. That’s right, the oil sink on the jewel was facing the pallet fork. I have to ask myself, is somebody playing a practical joke here. This is the kind of things professors in watchmaking school used to do to us. I don’t imagine a watch could leave the factory like that, could it? I of course corrected the problem and the watch is running very well.

By the way, I like the ETA 7750 series. It’s not beautiful or elegant but it is a robust and functional automatic chronograph which always seems to perform very well. It amazes me how inexpensively you can pick one up. A kit online is about $550 to assemble one yourself (prices probably rising). You can get one in a Swiss Army for just under $1000. Lots of other inexpensive brands use them as well. I’m sure you can get a great deal for one on the secondary market. Hopefully ETA will continue supplying parts as they are currently because they are a great watch to service.

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Hublot spare parts policy

I’ve talked about spare parts before, but since it was a big part of my day today, I’ll talk about it some more.

Hublot WristwatchI started out my day with a customer who had a ladies Hublot wristwatch which needed a new power cell. I recommended a water test as I usually do with water resistant watches and they agreed that it was a good idea. Upon removing the case back I noticed that the unusually shaped gasket was deformed. I was going to have to replace it. I looked up Hublot’s phone number on the internet and gave them a call. I got the usual reception that I get from a higher end brand. I’m sorry we do not sell parts unless you are an authorized retailer who has received our training. I explained my credentials but they wouldn’t budge, the watch would need to go to their service center.

The nearest authorized retailer is 400 miles away and their service center is in Florida. The customer needs a battery and a gasket and they have to send their watch insured hundreds (or thousands) of miles away so they can get it a new battery and a gasket. What kind of customer service is that? I called back and asked for more details. If it needed a complete service it would probably cost over $300. They may do less but without a guarantee and their current turn around time is about 6 to 8 weeks. All I can say is I’m glad it’s not my watch.

Before buying your next watch you might consider the companies spare parts and service policies. If you don’t know if your watchmaker would be able to service it, give him/her a call.

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Tuesday Tools – Case Opener Update

A while ago I wrote about all of my case openers and I mentioned a little sticky ball available online fairly inexpensively which is supposed to be able to open most screw back watch cases. Here is the follow-up:

Case BallI finally got the magic case opening ball today and it was well, a big disappointment. I tried it on 5 watches today and I was only successful in opening one of them. Thankfully, I have professional grade tools for opening all of these watches. The ball succeeded on a Tag Heuer Link, but failed on: Rolex 31mm Datejust, Rolex Lady Datejust, Movado Chronograph and ladies Seiko 5. It would appear that if the backs are on as tight as they should be, the ball fails. My overall opinion is that my son is going to enjoy his new little ball 🙂

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Catalogs

I’m not just a watchmaker. I love watches too. I try not to dwell on them too much here because if you check out the blogroll there are plenty of people blogging about every new watch that hits the market. I do however want to spend today writing about watch catalogs.

As a watchmaker I like watch catalogs for several reasons:

  1. They make great reading material at lunch 🙂
  2. They help fill my dreams at night.
  3. The serve as a historical reference of watch models. It is important for me to know if a watch is authentic or not. I’m pretty good with Rolex, but when it comes to other brands it becomes more tricky. Catalogs prove to be a great reference.

There are also some other great references. Every watch collector and watchmaker needs a copy of Cooksey Shuggart’s Complete Price Guide to Watches. I also like the Wristwatch Annual. For Vintage Rolex Sport Models the book with the same name works well. I don’t have a really good reference for other Rolex models yet, if you can recommend one please feel free to comment.

Gerald Genta CatalogBack to Catalogs. The holy grail of watch catalogs is the Rolex Master Catalog which is difficult to get because Authorized Dealers (in the U.S.) are required to return their previous year’s catalog to get a new one. Many watch companies make beautifully bound catalogs available to their customers, simply by asking for one on their web page. Today, I received in the mail a beautiful catalog from Gerald Genta (those aren’t noises in your head when you visit the site- they come from the web page). I could never afford one of their watches (see Watchmaking Injustice) but they are things of beauty as is the catalog. If I could afford one I would definitely go for the Fantasy Model RSF.X.10.143.LB.BA featuring jumping hour, retrograde minutes, sweep seconds and Mickey Mouse in an aviator’s theme. About a year ago I received a beautiful hard bound catalog from Jaeger-LeCoultre. In order to get Rolex’s customer catalog you will need to hit up your local authorized dealer, it is beautiful as well, but very incomplete. Some dealers also have great catalogs like Hamilton Jewelers in Princeton, NJ and Wempe. One last place to get great catalogs are auction houses. The catalog for Antiquorum’s upcoming Rolex themed auction The Evolution of the Rolex Sports Watch” is 488 pages of fabulous Rolex knowledge and it’s available online and for download as a pdf file or you can purchase the catalog in hardcover. Oh, and if you want to make my day bid on those Rolex cufflinks (Lot 10, pg 20) and send them my way 🙂

Whenever I see a beautiful catalog available I try to get one to add to my collection, I’d like to build a historical record because I know it will be valuable in my profession. Oh and they are fun too.

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Jim’s Muse

Me and my career were featured on Jim’s Muse today. He is trying to blog a collection of interesting jobs, and well, mine fits. Check it out at http://jimsmuse.wordpress.com/2008/03/24/watchmaker/

Do it yourself?

I don’t really have a problem with people changing their own batteries on inexpensive watches. Before I ever had an interest in watchmaking, and definitely before I knew what I was doing I did it myself. It isn’t really rocket science, but there are risks of course.

Timex Quartz MovementHere is the important stuff. Number one, be sure you know how to follow instructions. Today I had a customer come in wondering if I could fix their watch. It was a Timex, and I don’t normally perform repairs on Timex watches. He had tried to install a power cell himself, and the watch wasn’t running. It was an all digital Timex with screws on the case back, there isn’t a whole lot that can go wrong with this watch, it is all “solid state” electronics. So, I said I would take a look at it. First, I checked the power cell, it was brand new. I put the power cell back in and shorted out the circuit to reset the watch, it started displaying the time on the screen. — In order for the customer to install the new power cell he had to pull back a sticker that said “after install new cell push here (with an arrow).” I guess he didn’t do that. If you’re going to change your own power cells, read the instructions. There are probably more detailed instructions in the owners manual.

Also, there are some critical things in a quartz analog watch. Don’t ever touch the little coil of wire, one scratch and your watch won’t work. Try not to touch the power cell (or anything else in the watch) with your fingers. The salts and oils from your hand will cause things to corrode faster. Clean off the back of the watch before opening it to keep the dirt and debris from entering the movement. Be careful of little coil springs (especially on digital and alarm watches) that may fall out. They need to be there and they usually sit pretty loosely. And be prepared to accept the consequences of scratching the watch if it has a snap back. If you wouldn’t be happy with a scratch, don’t try and get the back off, it takes some practice and know how to do it without slipping.

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