Tag Archives: bracelet

Workshop: Basic Case, Crystal & Bracelet Cleaning

When you have an older watch it’s important to give it a clean. Same goes for something that you bought pre-owned too, as old bits of skin and dirt can be lurking inbetween bracelet links, pins, deployment clasps etc. Not nice.

Some medium bad scratches on the crystal.

So I set to with this decent looking Seiko 5 SNKL model I’ve owned for about three years. It was a daily beater when I worked in a watch shop replacing batteries, polishing jewellery and all that jazz and it’s suffered a few scratches to the crystal.

Just for fun I used metal polish and Polywatch on the hardlex to see if it made any difference and the answer is yes, up to a point, as you can see from the photos. But it is a trick of the light, the scratches are still there, just not holding so much dirt after being polished

From some angles the scratches have vanished, but shift the watch and you can see them faintly.

TAKE IT APART

You can only really clean a watch by taking it apart and I have to own up here, I didn’t separate all the bracelet links. Instead I used an old hard toothbrush to scrub washing up liquid, then hot water, then a cold water rinse into the various nooks and crannies.

I removed the clasp to get at the push button actuator and clean where the pins go in, as you can see dirt under a loupe.

Basically a petri dish on your wrist. Not good.

The case itself cleaned up very well using the metal polish, with a little bit of Polywatch to finish. I needed to poke at the dirt by the lugs with a cocktail stick and some petrol-ether to shift years of clag. Lugs just attract it, nasty.

The end result is pretty appealing and I really should buy a replacement crystal for this Seiko as it still looks good for something about 15 years old.

He can polish your shoes like mirrors..mirrors. Hey Tommy, get your shine box.

If you look at the before and after pics of the lug shields, you can see how muck creeps in and never gets  removed unless you pop the bracelet off and clean it thoroughly. Very satisfying and just like cleaning a car, it makes you glad you bought something nice when it looks its best.

 

Watch Care: Common Problems With Bracelet Links

Thought I would offer some tips on bracelets and the typical problems that tend to crop up, let’s start with sizing issues, which often means removing/adding a link. On some watches that can be fairly easy to do, especially if the links are identical, not tapered so that the ones near the clasp get gradually narrower.

So you need a special link pin pusher tool, which you can get online for about a tenner. It’s good to have a vice, small hammer and a selection of pin-pusher tools so you can tap out some bracelet pins. Before you start look closely through a magnifying glass at the ends of the pins – are they already slotted for a screwdriver blade at one end? Good, don’t hit the pin!

Then they probably have tiny end caps on, which screw out. Don’t lose them, they are extremely small. They are often pins that only go in one way, wheras a cheaper watch might have pins that tap in from either end.

Some Swiss brands like to put pins inside little sleeves that sit inside the central link section. Almost like roller-bearing crankshafts in cars and motorbike engines. You often see this on two-tone or Jubilee type bracelets. As you remove the pin the insert sleeve will drop out – be ready to catch it on your bench or table. These are very difficult to get back in properly but you must fit them, or the pin will fall out when the watch is worn.

Many watches have little arrows next to the four-eight link pins that come out, indicating that they can only be removed in the direction of the arrow. Reverse that rocess when re-fitting the pins. Look closely and you will see one end is slightly bigger than the other and this is why they are a `one way’ fitment.

See the spring-loaded lever on the left, that grips the pin when the clasp is folded over.

Adjusting the clasp on watch bracelets can also demand a delicate touch. One type of clasp that goives trouble is the type where a male end pin presses into a hole, and there is a spring loaded actuator mechanism, normally two tiny wings on the clasp, which act as a release.

Dirt can get inside and jam the lever that should grab the pin. Try watch movement cleaner, or a wash in warm water to get the dirt out. Be wary of using too much force in trying the get the gripping lever to slide across, it will need careful manipulation – very easy to damage it.

Some gents watches have a clasp that folds across, then a band goes over. Often the sides of this clasp have two or three holes where the end link can be moved along, thus making the bracelet a fraction smaller. Good in winter when your wrist will be samller in cold weather. You have to prise out one end of the pin in the end link, move it along the clasp to the next hole, then do the same at the other end. Be careful the pin doesn’t ping out as they are spring-loaded. A tiny screwdiver or pin pusher will help put pressure on the end of the pin, or a cocktail stick maybe.

Hope these tips help you, always take your time and buy decent tools.

Sir Stirling Moss JLC Watch & Automobilia Sale

Silverstone Auctions are proud to introduce a unique and exceptional collection of personal items belonging to the late Sir Stirling Moss OBE, complemented by a selection of limited-edition collectables and automobilia from the British racing icon.

The collection forms part of Silverstone Auctions final sale of 2020, The NEC Classic Live Online Auction, which will take place on the 13 and 14 November. It features a number of significant, personal items which are offered from a close personal friend of the motorsport legend, and amazingly, are all offered without reserve.

The solid gold, twin bar watch band that Stirling personally designed and had made in 1954 is perhaps one of the most recognisable items in the collection. Engraved with his initials S.M, it was designed to be interchangeable with different watches and to be easily cleaned after each race. Worn constantly over a 38-year period, it was on Stirling’s wrist for so many memorable moments including three victories in the Monaco Grand Prix and his victory in the 1955 Mille Miglia. The watch that was fitted to the band at the time of gifting to the vendor is a 1956 Gold Jaeger LeCoultre alarm watch and is simply a wonderful piece of Sir Stirling Moss history.

In the 1970’s Stirling parted with most of his trophies to an American collector. However, in 2010 the vendor of this collection discovered one of them at Pebble Beach, the 1951 Daily Express Tourist Trophy which Stirling had won at Silverstone, and as such brought it home. The trophy has been hand-signed by Stirling and included as part of the sale is a photo of him doing so, as is a race programme from the day he won it.

Nick Whale, Silverstone Auctions Managing Director commented, “It is an honour to offer such a unique and remarkable selection of items that were part of the late, great Sir Stirling Moss’ life. He was a true racing icon, having participated in over 500 races, these personal items represent a significant piece of his history. Accompanying the personal articles are a number of limited-edition and signed memorabilia items which complement the collection, with there being 50 Lots overall”.

The completely unique items in the collection also include one of just four race helmets that Sir Stirling wore during his professional racing drive career. Of those four helmets, two were manufactured by Herbert Johnson Ltd. and this is one of two helmets that were built for him by Patey Helmets. Circa 1958, it was worn both in period and occasionally until 2007, totalling a phenomenal 49 years ownership.

An item that was from the very end of Sir Stirling’s career is the race suit he wore on the day he retired. Worn in 2011 at Le Mans whilst racing his newly restored Porsche, it was after qualifying that he announced his retirement from 60 years of incredible racing. A book with images of him wearing the suit will accompany it as part of the sale.

The Sir Stirling Moss OBE Collection will be offered on Saturday 14 November at 12:00 GMT, you can view the collection in full on the Silverstone Auctions website here. To register to bid in the sale, contact Silverstone Auctions on 01926 691141 or email bid@silverstoneauctions.com. Bidding will be available by phone, online or via commission on the day.

New Omega Tresor Ladies Watches Launched

Here is the latest from the Omega Press Office, with additions to the ladies Tresor watch range;
Three new additions have been added to OMEGA’s popular Trésor line, with each one crafted in the brand’s own 18K Moonshine™ gold. For women who adore the slender style and simplicity of this collection, it’s a chance to further raise the levels of luxury and choose a timepiece that shines with exceptional beauty. The new models are sized at 36 mm, with cases crafted entirely from 18K Moonshine™ gold. First introduced in 2019, this distinctive alloy is inspired by the moonlight in a dark blue sky. It offers a paler hue than traditional 18K yellow gold, and also has a high resistance to the fading of colour and lustre over time.
See the Omega Tresor video here;

Another new Trésor feature is the addition of mesh bracelets. Crafted with a silk-like pattern, these classically-styled straps fit elegantly and comfortably around the wrist, and are the very first metal bracelets within the collection.

The watches come with a full 5-year warranty and are offered in three unique choices:

– A model with an 18K Moonshine™ gold dial featuring an embossed silk pattern and Roman numerals.
– A model with a white dial, featuring embossed Roman numerals in 18K Moonshine™ gold.
– A model with an 18K white gold rhodium-plated dial, fully paved with a snow setting of 768 single-cut diamonds. The markings appear on the front crystal.
As always, each Trésor is defined by the 38 full-cut diamonds that curve along the sides of the case, as well as an additional full-cut diamond set on the crown, which itself is engraved with an OMEGA flower and filled with red liquid ceramic. Turning the watches over, the OMEGA Calibre 4061 sits just behind polished mirror casebacks that are embellished by a unique metalized pattern.

Workshop: Battery Change and Clean of Omega Constellation

The Omega Constellation is one of the most popular ladies watch models out there. Nice combination of diamonds on the dial, two-tone bracelet and longevity make this a winner. Ladies tend to shun automatic or mechanical watches in general, unless of course they are made by Cartier or Rolex. But for around £1000-£1500 you can get a prestige pre-owned, Omega Manhattan quartz, with box and papers etc. It’s all good, as a new one is about £4500.

But after a few years it may need some TLC and  a new battery and this can come as a shock to many ladies used to paying £12 at Timpsons on their Michael Kors. Many Omega dealers will ask about £60-£90 for a battery change and it gets sent away to a service centre, often for three to six weeks, to accomplish this fairly simple task;. There is a better way, get an independent watch fettler on the job – like me.

What’s involved?

First I remove any excess dirt from around the caseback, this is because when I prise it open some may fall inside and get into the movement. Once that’s done, open using a special caseknife. This Omega features a battery held in place by a very thin metal strip and great care is needed when removing it. You have to turn the tiny screw to loosen it, then push it across – without causing damage.

Use tweezers to remove the old battery, bin it, then screw in the retaining nut again, as you don’t want to lose it. Now inspect and clean up the movement if needed. Obviously you need a magnifying glass or head loupe to see tiny gragments of dust or dirt in there. I use an air puffer as well.

This Omega takes a 321 sized battery and I always use Swiss ones, as it’s a false economy using other makes.

Very careful when fitting the new battery not to touch the copper coil near the battery holder. Quartz movements are quite delicate so tweezers and a steady hand is required. Once the thin retaining strip is in place then the nut just needs a turn and a half to secure it in position. Another go with the air puffer and use the special tool to press the caseback on again.

Omegas have a thin silicone seal on the back and this needs inspection for damage – and dirt – before refitting. It’s a tight fit, so again, extra care needed not to damage this sealing ring, as genuine Omega parts are expensive.

Now we begin to clean the bracelet. This one has gold plated sections on the linkage pins and the bezel, so attacking it with a power tool and a selection of polishing mops isn’t a good idea. The plating on modern Swiss watches is generally very thin, say 10 microns, compared to 40 microns 30 years ago. So it doesn’t take much speed or pressure to take the plating off.

I use cocktail stick, with a soft cloth wrapped around the end and dipped in a cleaning solution, to get into those tricky areas, like the sliding clasp mechanism. On this watch there was a build-up of hair and skin in there, plus gunk stuck to the quick release mechanism. Nasty. It takes time, about an hour, to deal with sticky skin based residue, then add some polish as well. But it’s well worth it.

Check out the before and after pics on the clasp.

Years of dust and dirt can get trapped in the slider clasp mechanism, and button actuator.
There’s no easy way to get all the residue out of the slider channels and push button section. Worth it though.

Final task is using Polywatch on the crystal and bezel area. I tend to use one cloth to apply, use a cross-hatch pattern and then circular motions on watch crytsals, or `the glass’ as some call them.

I’ve experimented in the past using a Dremel and soft mops, plus jewellers rouge, but the heat transfer on mineral or sapphire crystal means that you have just a few seconds before some watches are hot to the touch. That’s bad news. Even worse, you can crack the crystal as the heat makes it try to expand beyond the bezel. That’s my feeling anyway, slow and steady is best.

All done and a great looking watch, ready to wear.

If you have a watch problem, or you’re a trader looking for help with trickier jobs in your jewellers or ebay shop, then email me at thenorthernwatchco@outlook.com.

Advice, and estimates, are free.

 

Real vs Fake Rolex? Show and Tell

In my trade I get to see plenty of watches, including a few Rolex models, arguably the most faked watch brand in the world. Here are some typical differences between the real deal and a very nice replica.

Check the Rolex crown on the bracelet carefully, as this often where fakers skimp on machine tools, precise finishing and accurate parts design.

The Bracelet.

Don’t start by examining the dial because dials are easy to manufacture by comparison to expensive bracelets. The metal should feel ultra smooth, polished and flawless – no rough edges anywhere. The crown should feel solid, beautifully finished too.

Feel your way around the links; are they loose, do any pins fail to sit totally flush in the links? How does the Rolex swirl look in the folding clasp? Dead straight and evenly etched, or just a bit off somehow?

Older Rolex models from about 16-17 years ago or prior to that weren’t assembled with Uber precision as regards bracelet links, plus you have two decades or more of owner wear. So expect sideways ‘play’ on 1990s Rolex watch links. Modern models are taut, even, incredibly flush fitting by comparison.

Test the clasp, put it on. Does the clasp click shut perfectly? On gold bracelets it’s worth looking closely with a loupe because you may see gold plating or rolled gold wearing off.

Again check the crown is spot-on, not too flat with the prongs at the wrong angle. The engraving should be perfect, not a laser printed effort.

Dial and Crystal

On more recent Rolex models the sapphire crystal has the crown emblem etched in, very faint, but visible with a loupe. Some fakes have this laser printed on as well, so be careful, plus older Rolex watches pre 2001 don’t have the crown crystal.

Check the white inlay on each baton – is it perfect? Likewise every letter on the dial should be free from bleed, or fuzzy edges. Note the wide spacing of Datejust and close lettering on Oyster Perpetual – the two shouldn’t have matching typeface letter spacing.

Now check the dial, assuming the bracelet has passed the feel n shut test of course. Shake the watch gently a few times and the automatic movement should begin to move the second hand. Don’t assume a smooth second hand sweep indicates a genuine Rolex because a Miyota auto inside an Accurist looks just as smooth frankly.

Look closely at the numbers or baton markers on the dial. Are the edges crisp, clean, symmetrical? If there’s a magnification window over the date is that 100 percent true and square?

Use the loupe to read the script on the dial, all of it. You’re searching for a thing typographers used to call ‘bleed’ in the days of hot metal printing, a slightly fuzzy edge to a letter for example.

Run your fingertip over the bezel around the dial and if it’s a dive watch click it around gently. Listen, I mean really listen; gauge the slickness, the precision – Rolex don’t let anything out that isn’t close to perfect in its operation.

Ditto winding crown, although it’s fair to say owners can cause problems with screw down crowns and strip the thread.

When you unscrew the crown it should spring neatly into the winding position. One click further out for the date, second click to move the hands. Push it in again and wind the watch, slowly. Does it feel super smooth, precise and build tension gradually after 15-20 turns? Then carefully screw the crown down, making sure it is dead true in terms of alignment to the case.

Finally, get a professional to open the case and check the movement number. Plus check it’s working perfectly: steady beat, adjusted correctly, no swapped parts – it can happen.

There’s no substitute for this. No assuming that the genuine case and bracelet has the correct Calibre movement. People lie, owners wreck a movement and then get a watchmaker to do a swap, especially on older Rolexes, so always get a look inside before spending thousands.

Box and Paperwork

Easier to fake than the watch. Typical flaws include an incorrect numeral 1 on the warranty cards, flimsy fake tags or spelling/grammar errors within the owners manual.

You should be able to detect a fake from the quality of the bracelet, the dial in detail, plus the winding action, clasp closure etc. Then you had the watch opened by a watchmaker right? But if you aren’t quite sure about the watch then a little giveaway in the paperwork can be the prompt you need to walk away from the deal.

Be lucky 👍