Wednesday, 29 January 2014

163 years old!

This is a seven jewel English fusee from 1851. I just finished restoring this watch to working condition. A lot was wrong with it. It took a lot of work to sort everything out but I think it is ready for another 163 years of service. And this is one of the reasons why I love mechanical timepieces, they can be fixed!

So here it is. The dial is a little tired but I think it wears it's age with pride. The case is sterling silver and hallmarked for Birmingham, 1851.

And here is the lovely movement. 

The hole for the fusee arbour in the back plate presented a bit of a problem. Most of these watches had a bush at this location even when new. This is corroborated by the fact that often the bush too is gilded. Well, in this watch the hole for the arbour was not concentric with the bush. Since it was worn I had to replace it. So I plugged the hole, took the fusee-centre wheel and fusee-third wheel centre distances from the dial plate, and marked them on the plug (red arrow, below). 

The barrel hook for the fusee chain had to be made 

The balance cock had indentations on the underside to increase the end-shake. Closer examination revealed that the entire backplate was bent, it would not sit flush on all the pillars. So, the resultant reduction in end-shake was compensated for by punching up material in this manner. A good example of how one problem is solved but another is created. Needless to say, I straightened the plate and cleaned up the underside of the balance cock. 

This watch has an English lever escapement. In this watch the exit pallet was locking too deeply, with the result that the tooth of the escape wheel would not leave the pallet. The cure is to adjust the locking. This is done by adjusting the lever. The lever is two parts held together with a brass rivet (red arrow, below). The locking can be adjusted by rotating the parts relative to each other (green arrow, below). The trouble is that one cannot see the escapement in action. The only way is to make an adjustment and test in the movement using ones judgement. 

The dial carrier plate had a missing foot. This was causing the motion works to foul and stop the watch. A new foot was made (red arrow, below) and installed.

One of the pins that help keep the back cover in place was missing. Due to this, the back cover would occasionally foul with the lever and stop the watch. A new foot was made and installed (red arrow, below) 

I find this sort of work very fulfilling!


  1. you know you should restore vintage watches and sell them.

  2. Where would you suggest I should look for when buying vintage watches?

    1. ebay is a good source, provided you know what to look for and the right questions to ask.