2007 in Review – Favourite Restoration Projects

Summing up the events of 2007, there are a number of restoration projects that I would like to note. It is not often that really rare and interesting watches are brought in for repair, and so it is impossible to resist the temptation to post photos of some of them. It is a pity that there is not enough time to take high-quality pictures of all of these watches, but I am happy to publish what I have, along with some brief comments.

Humbert Droz

18K gold pocket watch, spindle drive, late 18th century. The famous watch company Humbert Droz, in an original gold case with additional complication – a calendar with a centrally positioned hand. The watch is in good condition, with nothing difficult to repair (cleaning, fine adjustments of the gaps in the trigger, straightening the hair, deducing the accuracy). It took about 1 month to repair this antique gold pocket watch.

The painted enamel dial features a calendar. It has fine gold hands.

The signature mechanism with a spindle escapement and diamond balance jewel.

The Watch of Cagliostro

This watch was immediately christened as the ‘Cagliostro watch’ – large (diameter ~7cm), rather a table clock than a pocket watch, with many fascinating hands and astrological symbols. A complicated calendar shows astronomical and astrological values. An excellent tool for an early 19th century alchemist!

Spindle drive with fusee, 1800’s.

The watch had a number of problems:

  • A broken balance axis
  • 2 broken pins in the wheel system
  • The fusee’s chain is broken
  • The drum retainer wheel is lost
  • The back cover is dented, and a gap is visible
  • 3 hands are missing, no glass

A whole team worked on this restoration. Andrey Babanin was involved (For which we extended our thanks – he helped a lot!), as well as glazers and jewellers. The work took about 7 months to complete.

Before restoration: a row of hands is missing.

The gold hands were made by talented jewellers in Kaliningrad.

The watch dial displays:

  • Central gold hand – Minutes
  • Central steel trident arrow – Month, Zodiac sign, Number of days in a month

Further clockwise:

  • In the 2h position – Seconds
  • At 4 o’clock position – Day of the week indicated by icons
  • At 6 o’clock – Age and phase of the moon
  • At 8 o’clock – Day of the month from 1 to 31
  • At 11 o’clock – Clock

A broken balance axis was one of the biggest problems with the movement. I had to find a new axle, sharpen it, adjust the gaps, and change the hair.

On the board there are marks of repair from 1822. Below there is another mark in Russian from 1902.

A sophisticated high-end calendar. The wheels are processed, with neat grooves selected. Sprocket retainers with springs, polished. All hands automatically switch like clockwork! Manual correction is only required at the end of the month.

Master manufacturer DAN. (DANIEL) SABLER (1731 – 1815) from the city of GRAZ (Austria).

In excellent aesthetic condition, the whole dial looks flawless!

John Salter London

A very beautiful engraved watch from the 1850’s. It fell into the hands of some unskilled craftsmen, and the mechanism was mutilated: axles and jewels are broken, and the bridge is lost.

What had to be done to revive this mechanism:

  • Making a new balance axis
  • Manufacturing a new anchor fork axle
  • Making a new bridge of the anchor fork, and installing a jewels
  • Replacement of 4 jewels in the balance node and gear
  • New selection of vintage hands
  • New selection and adjustment of antique glass

The work took 8 months to complete.

New old-stock hands and glass from the same time period – mid 19th century.

The hand engraved case is very precise and accurate work.

Inner lid in silver, finely hand carved. John Salter London, renowned English manufacturer. Note: the name of the later brand, Qualite Salter (“Salter Quality”) was derived from this name.

Impressive carving on the mechanism, nothing else to add! After a complex repair it now runs excellently. The bridge of the fork is homemade, without engravings.

The signature of thin, small letters is the mark of a ‘thoroughbred’ watch.

Fancy 24 Hour Omega

It is impossible not to note the rare 1930’s Omega, made for polar explorers, submariners, speleologists, and members of other professions who might struggle finding out the time of day due to the conditions in which they work.

The balance axle was broken and there were problems with the winding shaft, as well as several broken screws, and no glass. The work took 2 months to complete.

The dial is original, 2-colour, and in perfect condition. The wheelset is also unusual, indicating 24 hours.

A light polishing refreshes the old worn case.

According to the movement serial number, the watch was produced in 1930. After the restoration it runs like new.

Dial Restoration of Longines – which turned out to be IWC!

A gold Longines watch was brought in for repair. During the Soviet era the dial had been repainted, and instead of the IWC brand, which was relatively unknown at the time, they painted the Longines logo on the dial instead. However, the movement and the inside of the gold case are still branded with the emblem of the International Watch Company.

On what happened to this watch… No comment.

It was decided that we would make a new IWC dial for the watch. I found an identical model in a catalogue, and now the watch is pretty close to its original appearance!

The family heirloom has been very successfully transformed. Now this beautiful watch can be worn on the wrist again – a wartime IWC in gold.

International Watch Company

A finally, another IWC which, after cleaning and adjusting the tolerances, showed fantastic results for a 100-year-old watch, with a deviation of only 3 seconds per day!!! A set of hands and thin glass from the 19th century was also selected. The work took about 2 months to complete.

A large silver case with hallmarks – a very high-quality movement with bezels and a swan neck regulator.

Read More About Other Vintage Watches