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ETA keyless tutorial

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Tshoot sent me his 5th gen 42mm PO to take care of the common ETA keyless issue.

I'll confess that I had a few different motives: one, I wanted to help out of course, but also I wanted to see one of these 5th gen PO's with my own eyes, I wanted to put together a new tutorial on how to fix this issue since it's so common, and I was curious if the watch had indeed been serviced in China like the dealer said that it was. It's been a while since one of these tutorials was posted and when I looked at one of the old ones, some of the links for the pics were broken.

So here it is, out of the box:


I opened up the caseback to find what looks like a nice, nickel plated Swiss ETA 2824


You can tell it's Swiss by looking at the shock absorber. There are three notches there


Three tabs hold the movement in. I pulled them out and put them, the screws and the movement holder itself in the caseback. I've learned from painful experience that one of the most critical things you can do while working on these things is to keep organized; the screws mostly look like they're the same size but some will not interchange.


I get ready to pull off the hands, using a dial protector (actually a cut-up business card--Bergeron dial protectors are the world's biggest rip off)


Hands off


I put the dial underneath the case so that it can't get scratched/something dropped on it, and put all of the parts I don't need for the moment aside.


Next the datewheel must come off, but I'll note that it looks like a gen ETA white-on-black date disc, or if it's a rep the printing is very nice, bright and crisp


There are a few ways to take the datewheel off, but if you're going to do the keyless anyway the easiest way is to just remove this cover


Next will come the keyless works cover. In this pic the screw that holds it on is already out, but the keyless works cover is still installed. If you've done this a few times you can already see the source of the keyless works problem. Also, you can see the "proof" that some Chinese watchmaker serviced this movement--he left a piece of blue lint in it (next to the dial feet hole at 2 o'clock)


Keyless works cover off. You can see that the yoke, which is supposed to be riding in the groove of the castle wheel, has been dislodged. This comes about because theyoke sits on top of the stem release plate, and if you push the stem release in too far, it will pop the yoke out and over the groove. The castle wheel will then get pushed all the way to the time-setting position and the yoke will get trapped behind it.


Another angle


and with some labels


So you just lift it gently with a tweezers or a pin and set it down where it should go. If you're lucky, this is the only thing that's messed up. However, the hack lever also rides in the castle wheel groove, so if your watch won't hack it's worth taking the castle wheel out and making sure the tab of the hack lever is in the right place.

This is what it should look like


and with the keyless works cover reinstalled.


I don't know the name for this part, but this thing


needs to be pushed over until the little nubbin can catch the three grooves in it. This is the thing that gives you three clicks when you pull the stem out. It should go like this


As an aside, this movement is not quite the same as the 2836 that seems to be used it a lot more reps. The 2824 doesn't have a day function, so the date discs and some other things won't be the same, but the keyless works is exactly the same for the two movements. Here it is next to a 2836


Now I reinstall the date disc


and I find that the date flips correctly and the time will set, but the movement won't hack. Oops, I forgot to do one little thing. Date disc comes back off


You have to set the little finger-like spring at the top of the keyless works cover to push on the side of the yoke.


Set properly (I know it's hard to see, but what you do is take a pin and push it gently to the outside until it clicks)


OK, now the date disc goes back on and everything works. Time to reinstall the dial. You put it in the holes and close the dial feet (this pic has the dial feet open, just swing them inward)


I noticed that the cool-looking Omega rotor is actually just a regular rotor with a stamped metal sticker on it, you can see it peeling slightly here


If you want to keep it (I would, it looks cool) it might be a good idea to remove it and make it more secure. What I would do is remove the rotor from the watch entirely, remove the sticker and re-glue it, then reinstall the rotor. All you have to do to remove the rotor is take out the one screw, it's easy. Probably not a good idea to try and do it while the rotor is installed, glue near movements is always a bad idea!

Anyway. Dial is back on


turn the crown until the date flips, then install the hands. This is midnight, and it can be tricky to get right. Even though I was careful, the date flips at 11:54


after a couple of tries I get it to flip exactly at midnight


There are the tools I use, btw: a Presto hands-puller, a set of grocery store tweezers, a set of Delrin tweezers (so as to not scratch the dial/hands) and a hand setter. That's less than $30 or so worth of tools, you don't need to invest in an entire workshop to do this. The other tools I used were a screwdriver and a pin I got out of a shirt.

I check to make sure the hands are parallel and not touching, and that the hour hand isn't touching the dial


Then I install the second hand (it doesn't have to go on any particular way) and move the hour hand underneath it to make sure it has clearance



Now it's time to put everything back together. The case has been upside down the whole time and I've been careful not to touch the inside, but I'll blow it out anyway to make sure there's no lint


then I drop the movement in and line it up roughly. The hole for the stem needs to face the tube, of course, and usually the movement holder has a certain way it needs to go as well.

I like to install the stem before I screw the movement down, for a few reasons. If there's any play at all, it helps to move the movement as far as it will go to the tube side to make installing the stem easier. Also, this is the place where you'll mess up the keyless again if you're not careful.


and now you'll want to install movement tabs. This should be easy, but you still need to be careful! I've broken hairsprings before, when I was putting in the one by the balance wheel and my screwdriver slipped.

Movement tabs in, put some grease on the seals, reinstall the caseback


and here is the repaired watch next to my UPO.


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PS: I'm not a modder, I'm a hobbyist. I am most definitely NOT offering this as a service, please don't PM me to ask me to fix your watch. This is not a side business for me, just something I do for fun. My hope is that with some guidance from posts like this, more folks will learn to do simple repairs like this themselves.

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Awesome tutorial... I have a watch - a UPO 45.5 in fact that has a keyless problem, so this could not have been more timely. Thank you for sharing this!

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Huzzah and Yahoo!

Thanks to this I finally managed to fix a keyless works on my own. I am overjoyed.

Well… I have more than this post to thank (although ultimately, it was indefinitely helpful, thanks sneed12) to be fair this post was the inspiration. I have to thank many an interweb resourse including the ETA.ch site, WUS, PMWF, Homage forum and many more random google images and horology sites. Mostly due to the fact my movement is clone and after disassembly I couldn’t work out where a certain cog (something to do with date I believe, the one that sits under the bit with airplane wings :p) belonged.

I also have to give a big thanks to the kind peeps over at Wrist Check for answering probably the noobiest of noob questions a noob has ever asked. I decided long ago that inside the watch case I was useless, any tinkering I did inside the case always resulted in failure and destruction. All stemming from one simple bit of info that will probably surprise anyone reading. Here’s a hint for anyone reading who was like me three weeks ago – You remove all the hands at once – yes in a stack. Beleive it or not, it was this fundamental nugget of knowledge that had stopped me attempting anything more than changing rotors.

This actually took me a few hours, a few days a week, and many attempts to get right – here’s another tip for people practicing idiocy like me – use the correct stem. :p

Thanks everyone. I know it's not really a big deal, but i am very happy :)

Btw, I no longer need the little diagram defining order of removed parts in the picture. I know this part of the movement inside bloody out now.

Haha, thanks everyone. Now to fix a movement/watch that isn’t a junker :D

Fixed and working (albeit covered in sweaty finger print smudges inside and out):


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What do you mean "hack is locked up"? Do you mean that the movement is hacked (stopped) all the time, or that it will not hack?

Sorry I know it's been a few weeks but just saw your post. You need to make sure that the hack lever end rides in the groove of the castle gear, or it will not work.

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This is a great post and tutorial! Any chance the pictures can be re-linked or re-posted? They appear as broken JPG files when I view this. 

Edited by mzinski

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