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Saturday, March 14, 2020

1953 Preston

It's interesting how some models were produced for many years while others only had one year in the sun before setting for good.  One of the one year wonders you rarely see in the wild is the 1953 Preston.
The Preston came in a solid 14K gold case and what's most interesting about the model is it featured a gabled crystal.  I imagine the Preston was inspired by the 1951 Brent, they are quite similar other than the Preston being solid gold.

Tucked inside the case of the Preston is a 19 jewel 12/0 size 754 movement.  The 754 replaced the 14/0 sized 982M movement used in solid gold models in the 1940s and early 1950s.  It had a short run though and was replaced in 1955 by the 770 movement.

My project watch arrived in typical as-found-in-a-drawer condition, right down to half of the strap and second hand missing.  The crystal isn't a gabled style, so it must have been replaced at some point.  Notice the crown is on an odd angle - this is likely the result of winding the watch without removing it from your wrist.  That puts a lot of strain on only one side of the stem.  When you want to wind a watch you should remove it from your wrist first.  

Looking closely at the dial, it's readily apparent that it's been refinished at some point.  It's the correct pattern but the finish isn't really a silver butler, it's not two-toned, and the markers on the left side and top aren't well aligned with the printing.

The 754 looks a lot like the 22 jewel 770.  The main difference is the lack of shock jewels on the balance and, of course, three less cap jewels.  Most of the parts are shared between the calibers though, which is good to know when you need to replace something.

Notice the post of the missing second hand is still attached to the 4th wheel bit.

While everything is drying after being cleaned, I'll prep a new crystal for installation.

Everything is ready to be reassembled with fresh lubricants.

The movement is noticeably brighter and shinier after a trip to the spa.  It's ticking away with good motion so now it's off to the timer to see how well it's working.

Not too shabby.  The beat error of 1.6ms is well within my specs of less than 3.0.  It could be reduced closer to zero but that would risk goofing up the hairspring.  So I'll leave it as is.

Now to see if I can persuade the crown to sit more evenly.

Check it out... this watch looks a lot different with a correct crystal.   Depending on your perspective the gable is a little distracting.  That might be why the model had such a short run.

Still, the crystal does add a lot of visual interest to what is otherwise a very traditional looking model.

I think the watch looks much more interesting when it's more flattering light.

Friday, March 13, 2020

1948 Eaton

I try not to post repeat models but I thought you might find my most recent project interesting,  It's a model called the Eaton, originally introduced in 1948  and produced through 1951.

The Eaton is not a very large model.  In fact, it's about as small as you can make with a 14/0 movement tucked inside.  It came in a 10K yellow gold filled case so you could probably guess it has a 17 jewel 980 movement inside.  14K gold filled models got the 19 jewel 982.

As received, it was in need of some serious TLC but not too unusual for a 70+ year old watch.

My first clue that this was going to be a challenging project was I couldn't get it out of the case.  I pried and I pried until eventually it gave way.

I loosened the two dial foot screws and then pried and pried on the dial.  What the heck?  Eventually it gave way too.  The dial feet are still there so I have no idea what this goopy mess was.

I was unable to get the hour wheel off - that's never happened before.  Based on the green verdigris this watch hasn't run in many, many years.

A new glass crystal will be an improvement, assuming I can get this watch to run again.

It took about 20 minutes in the ultrasonic along with some elbow grease with peg wood and Q-tips to get everything apart and cleaned up.  Surprisingly, the only casualty was the set lever and set lever screw - they were a rusted mess.  A new white alloy mainspring is also in order, the original was actually broken.

This watch would have made a nice Easter post, as it has been raised from the dead and is ticking away with good motion.  Based on the movement serial number, this watch is a 1949 model.

What the heck?  There's a shotgun pattern of noise on the timegrapher.  Something inside is making noise.

Close observation revealed a tiny filament snagged on the balance roller table, probably from a Q-tip.  Once it was out of the way the timing cleaned up nicely.  Just a slight tweak to the regulator is needed to speed the watch up a smidgen although being within 1 minute per day isn't that bad for a vintage watch.

It's hard to believe this is the same watch I started with.  My light tent is merciless but even with that, this watch looks pretty good.  It's even better in regular light.  The original dial shows it's age but it's way better than it was and definitely not bad enough to get refinished.  This watch is ready for more wrist time, hopefully it won't be gummed into oblivion again.