Omega Labrador movement restoration

The ugly duckling reforms…

Here is a brief story about the restoration of the orphaned movement formerly from a gold pocket watch. Though, we’re talking about the gold, because the case was melted down many years ago. The movement was alone, lying in a watchmaker’s box, and so it preserved there for a couple of decades.

Here’s our patient: it has been purchased for a few dollars.

Most likely, the movement was kept in oiled paper. The oil stuck to the metal after 50 years like a layer of tar, this is quite not easy case. Usually, even older movements look prettier than this one.

We will look deeper into the history of the movement, because it’s really important to know what you’re dealing with. Here we have a Swiss machine from the beginning of the 20th century, and a hardly distinguishable sign saying ‘Labrador Depose’. Under the dial we found a little circle shaped sign of a famous Swiss company OMEGA, Their chronometers are well known by people who know a bit more about watches. That means, that this old movement was made by OMEGA when they were still working on the name series “Labrador”. If we look into the past of the company, this seried existed indeed. Our current patient is rare, it’s a model from approximately 1905-1908. Pieces like this one tell the story of watchmaking back then, and are usually more expensive, not like the Swiss company “Omega”.

The enamel-coated movement increased the price as well as the collectionary status of the watch (I have immediately hid it from any risks of scratching, we’ll see the photo at the end), and our target is to stop the movement from needing to be taken apart again by doing so ourselves, and finally turn it back to life.

First up, we keep disassembling it until we get to the cogs. We take off all parts until the base of the movement is alone. Ordinary movements get cleaned with ultrasonic washing, though the new techniques wouldn’t work on this piece, So we need to put it in petrol for 10 mins and clean it well with a brush dipped in jewellery cleaning solution and some tooth cleaning powder (this stuff is very rare these days).

With a little bit of magic, the oil disappears, now the metal is shiny and there is a “perlace”(pearl grain).

                 Now we can see the hallmarks and numbers much better, and the light and shadows reflect.

We need to clean the back as well, because this is where the wheel system is going to be. Give the rubys extra attention, where the wheels are. They have to be perfectly clean and rubbed with thin wooden sticks to get rid of the hidden dirt. Nothing must keep the wheels from spinning.

Every part is left for a little in water, and is then cleaned by hand with powder until it is shiny. There’s black dirt in between each tooth, so we clean that as well with a toothbrush.

We’re lucky that the movement layed there for a long time without any unskilled watchmakers getting their hands inside of it, and nobody has scratched it. You can’t get rid of scratches simply by cleaning it, yet oil is much easier to get off, you only need to put a lot of effort in it.

After we have dipped it all in a solvent to remove any leftover dirt/rubber we reassemble assemble the movement. Now we can see the chateaux-inserts with rubies, and there’s a wavy pattern reflection, the signs are easier to see. The movement is working now, even though it was full of oil before.

Gold chatons are easier to clean with a thin wooden stick covered with Dialux polishing paste.