The two most common questions I receive from people, and I get them a lot, are "What do l have?" and "Can you help me?". The latter is often desperate and it's not unusual to be the result of an accidental mishap.
My latest project is a great example. It's a family heirloom for the owner and he dropped it. Before he knew it, the crystal popped off, the hands got bent, and several markers on the dial vanished. It's definitely the sort of experience that leaves an empty pit in your stomach when it happens to you.
The watch in question is an Awards Division model based on the 1959 Thin-o-matic T-402. The T-402 was made through 1961. The Awards Division produced watches for organizations to give as awards and presentations. They often used discontinued models that they outfitted with slightly different dials. The telltale sign of an Awards Division watch is says "masterpiece" on the dial.
As you can see from the photo below, my project watch has a similar dial to the T402 but there are luminous dots at the numbered markers instead of at the other markers. With the crystal taped in place you can see the second hand is a bit mangled.
The back of the watch is nicely engraved as an award for 25 years of service in April 1967.
With the crystal out of the way you can now see that there are missing markers at 11, 1, 4, and 5 and the 1 from the 12 is also gone.
The rotor on the back of the movement fell off in the mishap as well. This is a 17 jewel 620.
I worked with the owner to procure a donor movement. The dial is a slightly different pattern but the needed markers are there to repair the original dial. I can also use the second hand.
The donor is a 663 movement. It's very similar to the 620, as you can see in the photo below.
It's important to note the rotation of the mainspring when you install it in the barrel. Usually the coil from the outside to the center is counterclockwise - except on these movements. In the picture below you can see the coil goes clockwise.
While the movement is in the ultrasonic I'll turn my attention to the dial. I've got five figures ready to install.
Success! Now I'll apply UV glue to the back of the dial to secure the rivets and keep the figures from falling out.
Everything is cleaned and dried. My goal now is to put it back together without having any parts left over. You can see that rotor was loose for a long time - it's worn a circle into the case back.
The first parts back on are the train wheels. I'll check to make sure everything rotates smoothly and freely.
Next on are all the parts from the automatic framework through the mainspring barrel. As the rotor spins the motion will get relayed to the barrel.
Now the pallet fork and finally the balance go on and everything springs back to life.
The timer tells me it's running a smidgen slow but that's an easy fix.
A tweak here, a tweak there, and this watch is back in running order.
The rotor that came with the watch would not stay on so I replaced it with a donor. Now the back of the movement is complete.
All the remaining parts are reinstalled on the front of the main plate and I can finally install the dial and hands.
What a transformation! I new crystal completes the restoration and you cannot tell this watch was ever a basket case. I'm sure the owner will be delighted to get this "hopelessly lost" watch back in his hands.
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