Archive for the 'watches' Category

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 ( in your rss reader you will need to change it to my new url 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.


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.

If you like what you read here, please feel free to donate.


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.

If you like what you read here, please feel free to donate.

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.

If you like what you read here, please feel free to donate.

Horology and the Web

Here is a great post at WatchFreaks about how the web and horology are intermingling. Check it out here.

Haute Horlogerie

Haute Horlogerie is a term which a group of manufacturers use to describe themselves. Literally it means “high watchmaking.” Many in the watchmaking community understand it to refer more specifically to high dollar watchmaking rather than high quality watchmaking. You see many of the brands who define themselves as haute horlgerie have long been considered fashion brands. In today’s world however every body is turning out fantastic high end watches. Lets take Harry Winston for example. He is jewelry designer to the starts, many of this watches are diamond encrusted quartz watches, but in recent years he is actually turning out incredibly complex high end watchs, specifically in his Opus series. My favorite is Opus V produced in cooperation with Baumgartner (the genius behind Urwerk watches.)

So, at the same time as Basel World the brands of “Haute Horlogerie” get together for the SIHH (Salon Internationale de Haute Horlogerie) to show off their wares. It will be exciting.

Here is something worth checking out. If you are interested in watchmaking the SIHH has put together some extremely interesting videos relating to the profession of a watchmaker. You can see them at One of the best is this one about the Conceiving and making a new watch caliber.

If you like what you read here, please feel free to donate.

What happens to my watch when it is serviced?

So you decided to get your watch serviced, but you were shocked by the price. Let’s talk about what you get for the price.

Omega PWWhen a professional watchmaker services your watch his job is to bring it to like new condition — This isn’t always possible but we try our best. What you say? Not always possible? Sometimes a watch case has a huge dent in it and removing it would cause way too much wear on the watch to warrant it, so we pretty up that section a little bit taking care to make the rest look perfect. And, then there is the issue of parts. When parts aren’t available what does one do? Not replace worn parts, make new ones, use generic, or turn down the reapir?

So back to the service: It usually includes a complete refinishing of the case and bracelet (not to be confused with polishing.) Sometimes an individual will polish a watch case and make it “shiny.” Refinishing the case means applying the same finishes as original in a clean, crisp manner and can take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour depending on the specifics of the finishes applied. Your typical Rolex case and bracelet requires 3 different polishing compounds, 5 different finishing wheels, a lathe for refinishing case backs and tape to mask off the polished center links when applying the line finish to the outer ones. It is a labor intensive process.

HammyServicing the movement requires detailed and precise work. The watchmaker shouldn’t leave any marks on anything. The dial and hands are removed, the watch movement is pre-cleaned and then every component is carefully examined under magnification for flaws as the watch is disassembled (there are well over 100 parts in most watches). All worn components are replaced and all faults are corrected at this time (except for timing.) Jewel holes are pegged out and pivots are cleaned in a block of pith wood. The disassembled watch is then put into a special watch cleaning machine which combines agitation and ultrasonic frequencies to clean the parts. The parts generally go through one wash cycle and two or three rinse cycles before being air dried. The parts have to be perfectly clean!

Once the parts are clean they are never touched by hand. The oils in the skin could damage the parts and small flecks of skin are enough to bring the gears in a watch to a grinding halt. The watch is carefully assembled and each component is again examined under magnification to be sure there are no defects. As the parts are assembled each function is checked to make sure it is working correctly and the watchmaker is careful to make sure no foreign substances are inside the watch. I find dandruff to be a real problem, I’m always finding little white flakes which I have to remove carefully. You can watch the video at this site for a feel of what goes on during assembly.

Special lubricants are applied to all the bearing surfaces in the watch in a very precise manner according to the manufactures instructions. Too little means the watch needs to be serviced again prematurely, too much means the oil runs everywhere and gets on parts that can’t have oil. A typical watch requires five or more different lubricants, all must be applied in the correct areas.

Once the watch is assembled the watch is put on a timing machine to check its rates. Careful adjustments are made to the hairspring and regulation device to ensure the watch keeps good time.

The dial and hands are again placed on the watch and the movement is placed back in the refinished case. All the gaskets are replaced and the watch (if it is water resistant) is pressure tested for water resistance. The watch is then observed for several days and any additional adjustments are made to the timing of the watch.

The end result is a beautifully restored watch which is ready for another five years of service.

If you like what you read here, please feel free to donate.

Here is a sample list of what might take place during the disassembly of the watch:


  1. Carefully examine bracelet for damage
  2. Remove Bracelet
  3. Carefully examine case, dial & hands
  4. Remove case back
  5. Examine watch
  6. Remove Stem
  7. Remove movement from case
  8. Re-install stem
  9. Remove hands
  10. Remove dial
  11. Remove date disc
  12. Remove hour wheel
  13. Remove cannon pinion
  14. Let down power on mainspring
  15. Pre-clean complete watch
  16. Check & correct balance endshake
  17. Check & correct balance interaction with pallet fork (roller jewel, fork clearance, horn clearance)
  18. Check & correct pallet fork interaction with escape wheel (total lock, drop, run to banking)
  19. Remove balance bridge & balance
  20. Verify condition of balance pivots
  21. Check & correct pallet fork endshake
  22. Remove pallet fork
  23. Check condition of pallet stones & shellac (make corrections if necessary)
  24. Verify condition of pallet arbor pivots
  25. Peg out pallet jewels
  26. Check & correct escape wheel and gear train endshakes
  27. Check freedom of the gear train
  28. Check & correct barrel arbor endshake / sideshake
  29. Remove ratchet wheel
  30. Verify condition of ratchet wheel teeth
  31. Remove crown wheel
  32. Verify condition of crown wheel teeth
  33. Remove crown wheel core
  34. Remove barrel bridge
  35. Remove barrel
  36. Verify condition of barrel teeth
  37. Open barrel and remove mainspring
  38. Verify condition of barrel arbor
  39. Pre-clean barrel
  40. Tighten barrel endshake
  41. Peg-out barrel bushings or jewels
  42. Remove train bridge
  43. Peg-out jewels in the gear train
  44. Examine all train wheel pivots for wear
  45. Examine all pinions for debris, rust, and wear
  46. Remove set lever spring
  47. Remove intermediate setting wheel examine condition and condition of post
  48. Remove minute wheel & examine condition
  49. Remove yoke spring
  50. Remove yoke
  51. Remove set lever
  52. Remove stem & examine condition
  53. Remove winding pinion & examine condition
  54. Remove sliding pinion & examine condition
  55. Install balance
  56. Check & correct hairspring for flatness & trueness
  57. Remove cap jewels
  58. Washing

  59. Put movement parts in cleaning basket and send through a wash cycle
  60. Assembly