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Care and feeding of Manual watches, and information on various movements


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A big thankyou to Rob (ziggyzumba) for pulling all this together. This is a good place to look for information about that specific movement that you may have questions about.

This should answer most questions and provide insight on the various models and their advantages and disadvantages. If you need further information and don’t mind reading, there are reviews on most of these models in the “Repair and Upgrade” section, under “Ziggy Zone”. All this information is my point of view, nothing else, it’s based on tearing down dozens and dozens of these movements and my impressions…it’s not the gospel truth, only how I see things…so use my comments as you see fit.

First some basic info, lets get some basic information out there…

Glossary

Movement

– the mechanical part of the watch, the engine that makes a watch work

Automatic

– a movement that has a Weighted Rotor which rotates as the watch moves while being worn and winds the movement. If you don’t move, the watch doesn’t wind…

Manual

– a movement that requires you to manually wind it

Balance wheel

– a wheel that has a small spring attached to it. The wheel rotates in one and then the other direction, clockwise and counterclockwise, it’s the tic and tock you hear…

Hairspring

- the small spring on the balance wheel that determines the speed (rate, timekeeping) of the movement.

Motion works

– the gears that take the power from the mainspring and transfer it to the balance wheel

Beat (Beats Per Hour – BPH) speed of the balance wheel.

A watch with a 28,800 BPH ticks and tocks 28,800 times per hour, meaning the balance wheel makes this number of swings CW and CCW every hour. Each swing is a “Tic” (or Toc) and the number per hour, divided by 60 minutes, and 60 seconds, will tell you how smooth the seconds hand runs. In this instance, you have 8 “Ticks/Tocks” per second, and the hand will appear to “Sweep” across the dial, this is the smoothest you can get.

Other common BPH are 21,600 6 ticks per second, and 18,000 BPH 2.5 ticks per second.

Power Reserve

- how long the watch will continue to run without being wound, i.e. how long does it take for the mainspring to unwind from a full wind.

Keyless works

– holdover from pocket watch days, when Key’s were used to wind watches and set the time. This is the only part of the watch that an owner can actually interface directly with the inners of the watch, and as such, this is ruggedly made, and the one area where most problems occur. Why? Because it’s the only area that the owner can interface with the movement….

Servicing a movement

– doing a motor job on the movement. Full disassembly, cleaning, reassembly, adjustments, oiling etc. You need special tools, oils, and skill to do this job, it’s not like adding oil to the engine on your car…oiling a watch requires complete teardown and cleaning.

Running seconds

- the dial and hand that turns all the time whenever the movement is wound. The term is used mainly on a chronograph, it’s the hand that you can’t turn on or off. As opposed to the Chronograph Seconds hand, which only runs when the Chrono is running.

What is a mechanical movement

A mechanical watch can either be Automatic (it winds while you wear the watch), or manual (you have to wind the watch every couple of days).

The basics of a mechanical watch is a spring that you wind up, and the spring unwinds at a constant rate, and the watch “tells time” by having hands attached to the output of the gears that make up the Movement (the mechanical part of the watch). The watch contains many gears and very small and fragile parts, the most fragile being the balance wheel. The balance wheel is the pendulum of the movement, it rotates back and forth and is the timekeeper which assures the spring unwinds at a predetermined constant rate.

I can’t stress how fragile a watch is, the balance wheel pivots are protected from damage with a shock absorber system. If you exceed the design specifications of the shock absorber (by dropping the watch) then you will break or bend the pivot and the watch will not run correctly.

Movement Information and recommended practices.

Automatic movements.

There are two basic types of automatic watches, those that wind in both directions, and those that wind in one direction.

Uni-directional winding movements

all Asian models are unidirectional (at least the ones I have seen). Included in this is the 7750 series, it’s a unidirectional model.

You can safely wind uni-directional models with the crown, because the automatic winding clutch is a click spring ratchet wheel, and is not prone to damage from hand winding. But do it slowly and carefully.

Bi-directional models

ETA’s and most Swiss models, 2824-2, 2836-2, 2892-2, etc…

You can hand wind a bi-directional model, as long as you do so slowly, these models have automatic winding clutch wheels with click levers that will be damaged by fast or repeated windings.

There is no such thing as “Over-winding a watch” so forget that notion. An automatic watch has a clutch assembly on the mainspring to allow the mainspring to slip once the watch is fully wound. Otherwise the rotor would jam up and not rotate.

When you first get your new watch, you should wind it a good 100 turns by hand before you put it on. Just follow the cautions above. This will give the mainspring a full wind, and get the watch going with full power available.

Manual wind models

Simple rule to always follow, wind the watch until it stops and you can’t wind it anymore. I don’t care if it takes 150 turns of the crown, until and unless you have reached the full stop and can’t wind anymore, you have not fully wound the watch. The odds of winning the lottery are better than breaking a mainspring from winding, I have only ever seen one broken mainspring, and it was defective…

Various types of movements, and comments based on servicing (my opinion only…)

ETA, 2836-2, 2824-2

Recommended, but don't be surprised if it stops working in a few years if you don’t have it serviced at some time.

These vary quite a bit in quality, some are surplus movements and in need of servicing right away, others are new and can be well oiled and clean. No way to tell if the one you get is good or not. If clean and well oiled, they are bulletproof. Parts are available.

These models are all basically the same: automatic wind models, and they all beat at 28,800.

Some say that the “Gold” coloured ones are “Asian origin” and the “Silver” (actually they are Nickel plated) ones are “Swiss origin”. My supplier has two types of movements available, Swiss and other ones (read = surplus)…the Swiss ones are twice as expensive as the surplus ones, and come in blister sealed packs direct from ETA. These Swiss ETA direct from the factory ones are Gold coloured…does it matter? Not really, as I have seen both Gold and Silver ones that were new and that were surplus and very old…it’s a crap shoot as to what you will get… If your buying a new movement then it may matter, but in this case, your going to get whatever was available on the surplus market in your watch, it could be Gold, or Silver…

No problem on this model for quick set on the date, you can safely set the date anytime of the day.

Power reserve, 36-48 hours.

ETA 2892 series, XX92A2, XX93-2 etc

Highly recommended, the best of the best, even better than an equivalent Rollie movement, thinner, cheaper, stronger rotor...kind of like the $6 Million movement...

These are normally very good as delivered, clean, oiled very well, and good overall. Don't normally need to be serviced, but if you want a known starting point, get it serviced. Parts readily available. On every one I have serviced, the balance and the mainspring are in need of service, which means these are Ebauches that are being bought without a balance or mainspring.

No problem on this model for quick set on the date, you can safely set the date anytime of the day.

Power reserve 42 hours.

ETA 6497-1 Manual wind "Unitas" movement (Unitas doesn't exist anymore, it's an ETA movement)

Highly recommend, after all pocket watches have been around for over 100 years, you'll be giving this one to the grandkids.

These are normally good as delivered, clean, oiled not bad, and good overall. Don't normally need to be serviced, but it would be a good idea within a year or so as the balance cap jewels are normally dry. Parts readily available.

Power reserve 46 hours

Asian copy of the 6497-1 or –2

Recommended.

These are excellent movements and good value for the money. ETA parts are compatible and if you want the faster beat of the –2 model (you can’t get the ETA version with the correct bridges) but the Asian one is available. Some ETA parts fit these models, the cannon and hour wheels fit so the recessed pin upgrade is possible. All the ones I have seen were over or under oiled in the motion works, and had dry balance cap jewels.

ETA 7750, "Valjoux" "Swiss" model (Valjoux does not exist either, but it continues to be mislabled).

Highly recommended, in it's basic form. With add-ons, there could be problems with the availibility of spare parts – for example the Daytona with running seconds at 6 models, the added parts are not ETA…and no spares available.

These are normally very good as delivered, clean, oiled, and good overall. Don't normally need to be serviced. Parts readily available (for the basic movement).

DO NOT set the date between 8 PM and 2 AM, or you will damage the movement. The dateset on the 7750 is not instant, it’s takes place between – you guessed it 8PM and 2 AM.

The ETA 7753 does NOT have this problem, it’s a different design and you can set the date with the pusher at 11 o’clock at any time…

Power reserve 36 hours

28,800 BPH

Asian movements, Miyota, Seiko etc.

Highly recommended, best bang for the dollar.

Overall these are excellent as delivered, if it's a real Miyota or the new Power Reserve Seiko, they are clean, well oiled, and just great movements. Some of the copy Miyota ones, are as good as the real ones, I say copy simply because they don't have "Miyota" on the rotor. No parts are available, but you can buy a new well oiled and clean Miyota for $40…

Note that a genuine Miyota model does NOT hack…but the copies do hack…one way to tell if it’s real or not…

Dateset is not a problem…

21,600 BPH

Asian 7750 – OLD version

Recommend with the understanding that it may need to be serviced sooner rather than later.

Well this one has been hashed out here to death. Short version, it may run fine for you out of the box, but experience has shown that most are dirty, not oiled, or adjusted correctly. Parts are not easy to source, some OEM parts fit, some don't. Unless you have some spare movements sitting around, your out of luck for some pieces…

Same cautions as the ETA model for time setting etc…

The cannon pinion (clutch between movement and crown that allows you to set the time) is CRAP on these models. Everyone is loose, and not oiled. I tighten them all up on my jewel press as part of servicing, and also lubricate them. BUT you should only change the time if ABSOULETLY required, and then only as little as possible on these models…otherwise the cannon pin will fail, and no spares are available… A slipping cannon pinion is when the movement works fine, the seconds are running, but the watch “appears” to loose time, what is happening is that the movement is running, but the hands are not moving or slipping due to the cannon pinion slippage…

21,600 BPH

Asian 7750 – NEW version

Highly recommended.

Only fault so far is that none of these are oiled as delivered, or oiled not well. The flaws on the old version have been corrected and the movement is very good.

Some parts from ETA are compatible, some aren’t…

Cannon pin on these is FAR Superior than the old model, better made, better quality, and tight…so no need to fix it. It’s not lubricated as delivered, so if your movement is NOT serviced, then adjusting the time is metal on metal wear and will fail eventually…do so as little as possible…

Same cautions as the ETA model for time setting etc…

28,800 BPH

Copy movement, Venus 175 , "Lemanina 1874 copy" - again incorrectly labeled.

Recommended.

Clean and ok oiled as delivered. Seems rugged enough, does not respond well to oiling the chrono parts, the reset mechanism is very weak. Parts not available. If it breaks, your out of luck. More difficult to adjust the chrono parts that the 7750 is, jerky seconds hand (due in part to lower speed, and the way the seconds are driven…).

21,600 BPH

Russian hand-wind movement - MOLJINA

NOT RECOMMNEDED – stay away…

Rust on all of them, terrible keyless works (do not remove the stem unless your willing to disassemble the movement a few times trying to get the stem to go back in place…) see my detailed review and pictures of the rust and problems.

18,000 BPH

Unknown cheap Asian movements.

NOT RECOMMNEDED – stay away…

Why spend a few dollars less, only to have to replace the movement with a Miyota, and end up spending as much as you would have buying a ETA powered one in the first place… As we said in the military, "not worth the powder to blow them to hell"...touch them and they break in pieces, or are riveted together....no thanks....no spare parts available…not fixable or worth servicing…

Overall views

All movements will have to be serviced at regular intervals if you want to ensure long and trouble free life.

So even if you have a model that is fine as delivered, and doesn't need servicing, don't make fun of the fellow with the Asian 7750 - who had to get his serviced right away. He will get 5 solid years of use from his watch - before it needs to be serviced again. If your going to keep the watch, it’s a better investment to have it serviced sooner than later. Why? Well it’s cheaper to service the watch, than to service AND replace worn out parts…and on some models, there are not parts available…

Do’s and Do-not’s.

Never ever slap, bang, jerk or do any other rough handling of your watch. If it’s not running well, this is not the way to correct the problem. The tips on the balance wheel are smaller than a hair on your head….it takes very little to damage them.

Slapping your watch in your hand, is equal to taking a 20 lb Hammer, going out to your car, opening the hood and swinging like a crazy man and hitting the engine with the hammer… Would you do this if your engine was running rough or would not start in the morning ??? No of course you wouldn’t do this unless you’re an idiot. So please, don’t try this with your watch…

Never ever put a magnet to your watch - to increase speed, decrease speed, or whatever to it. If you want a comparison, take your magnet, go over to your TV set (right now get up and try it…), and place the magnet carefully against the screen. Now sweep the magnet across the screen and note what happens. This is your watch on magnetism….

Some watches have Anti-Magnetic covers on the movement, note the word “Anti” -meaning keep it out, it’s not to keep magnetism inside the movement…watches and magnets don’t mix, keep all magnets away from your watch…

As new movements come out, I will add them to the list with my comments.

Although I do service watches, the information I present is totally based on my findings and observations while performing servicing. I have had watches send for service, that I told the owner he was wasting his money getting serviced right away, the ETA 7753 for example. This is the reality of the watches you and I are buying, and I have seen more that my share of these torn down and the problems that they can and do have…

Hope this helps you make an informed decision, and allows you to decide what model is best for you.

Thanks for reading…

ziggyzumba

RG

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  • 1 year later...

Welcome funky123, glad to see new members having a good look about rather than just asking "what is" As a supporter here you will have access to the rest of Ziggys tear downs with more photos than you could ever belive of almost every movement. And much much more

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Really interesting, thaks for your effort. Any body needing further information on watch movements and the eta technical link try this one http://twitter.com/intent/user?screen_name=WatchOtaku

Paul Hubbard is a really nice man, and very helpful the website has lots of technical good stuff on it

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