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DIY: Crystal Replacement (Speedmaster Professional Hesalite) - Picture Heavy

  1. ashleysteadman

    ashleysteadman Oct 5, 2014

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    Hi All,

    I recently replaced the Hesalite Crystal on my Speedmaster Professional and by popular demand I’ve put together a DIY. This is provided for informative purposes only – I do not take any responsibility for anyone’s actions but my own!

    Note that given the cost of required tools etc. this shouldn't be viewed at as a cost saving exercise, but a fun exercise for a hobbyist - if you're not comfortable doing this, do not take apart your watch - take it to your watchmaker!

    This particular watch is a Speedmaster Professional Case # 145.022 with 861 movement. I believe that you can apply the same process to sapphire crystal cases (someone please confirm/deny!).

    Preparation:
    As you will be opening your watch, make sure that your work area is clean, tidy, and dust-free.

    Tools:
    Replacing the Crystal on your Speedmaster Professional is actually a somewhat simple process as long as you have the right tools for the job:

    IMG_3557.jpg
    • Spring Bar Removal Tool
    • Case Opener/Wrench
    • Case Holder/Case Vice
    • Watchmaker’s Tweezers
    • Watchmaker’s Screwdrivers
    • Plastic containers or clean place to store parts
    • Crystal Press/Multi Press
    • I have been able to get a crystal out by hand, but getting it back in is nigh on impossible – get yourself a good press!
    I tend to wear latex gloves when I open my good watches to prevent oils etc. contaminating the movement.

    IMG_3571.jpg

    Step 1:
    This is somewhat optional, but I prefer to work on my watches sans-strap so I get my trusty spring bar removal tool out and remove the strap.​
    [​IMG]


    Step 2: Case back removal.
    Get your case back wrench and align the teeth with the indents on the back of the case and twist counter-clockwise. I put a thick sheet of clear plastic over the case back to prevent nicks and scratches whilst still being able to see what I’m doing.​

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    This will expose the inside of the watch where you can see the dust cover.​

    [​IMG]


    Step 3: Dust cover removal.
    There is a dust cover over the back of the movement which also serves a purpose of anti-magnetism and a spacer to hold the movement in-place. This cover is simply held by friction onto the back of the movement so you just pull it off.​

    To avoid pulling the movement out and potentially bending the crown, hold down the movement on the side opposite the crown. You can lever the cover off using a screwdriver or pull it off by hand (it depends how tight it’s on). I found that using a bit of Bergeon Rodico gum to hold the cover and pull upwards is a neat trick, but you must clean the area carefully afterwards.​

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    Step 4: Stem and movement removal.
    We now need to get the movement out so you can work on the case. The movement is only being held in-place now by the crown/stem.​

    To remove the stem on the 861 movement, there is a small screw that needs a few counter-clockwise turns to loosen. After a couple of turns, gently try to pull the crown and stem out straight from the case. The screw should remain where it is.​

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    I now put the dust cover back on to protect the movement.​
    A safe way to remove the movement from the case is by letting gravity take over! Taking one of your plastic containers, place it upside down on top of the case and movement and invert. Hold onto the case and vice carefully. Pull the case/vice straight upwards and the movement will stay where it is. Hold onto the case and vice carefully (I can’t state this enough).​
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    You should now be faced with something resembling this!:​

    [​IMG]


    There is a gasket/”O-ring” on the back of the case that should be removed very carefully so as to not damage it. Place this in a container by itself to avoid it getting stretched.​
    IMG_3591.jpg IMG_3592.jpg
    Here you can see the steel tension ring around the inside of the crystal that pushes outwards and holds the crystal firmly in place.​
    IMG_3595.jpg
     
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  2. ashleysteadman

    ashleysteadman Oct 5, 2014

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    Step 5: Crystal removal.

    With your movement, case back and gasket safely tucked away in clean plastic containers, we're ready to get on with removing the crystal.
    Depending on your press, you will likely have a number of dies/casts that should fit the bill. Essentially you need something that is going to support the case by the bezel while the press pushes the crystal out.
    IMG_3599.jpg

    The crystal comes out through the front of the case so place the case upside down in the correct die. My press uses plastic (Delrin) parts so it shouldn't scratch but I use bits of foam to protect my watch anyway.

    IMG_3598.jpg IMG_3600.jpg

    Push your press down slowly but firmly, you should hear a click/pop as the press overcomes the tension ring on the crystal and it pops straight out.

    IMG_3602.jpg
     
  3. ashleysteadman

    ashleysteadman Oct 5, 2014

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    You can clearly see that the old crystal (left) is worn down from polishing compared to the new one (right):
    IMG_3545.jpg

    Step 6: Crystal Replacement

    We now need to use the press to push the new crystal into place.

    Before doing so, thoroughly clean the surface where the crystal seats and also the underside of the crystal before setting it on the case.

    The best/correct die for these types of crystals is one that has slightly tapered/chamfered edges, and will have a larger diameter than the crystal. However if you're tool kit is like mine and it doesn't have one (yet!), a flat die should do the trick.

    Choose a die that closely matches the outside diameter of the crystal:

    IMG_3606.jpg

    The Omega crystals have an Omega logo in the middle. It is not very legible except for up-close but if you're going to do something, you should do it properly - line up that Omega logo straight!

    If you're having trouble, a tip/trick you can use to keep the logo aligned once you've got it straight is by using some Bergeon Rodico to stop the crystal from moving around in the press.

    IMG_3609.jpg

    Place your case on top of a suitable die that supports the case without the potential for the lugs being bent. Again, I use foam to protect my precious case. I also use clear plastic to make sure the crystal doesn't scratch.

    IMG_3607.jpg

    Press the crystal down flat, level and firmly (but again, slowly) until you hear that click/pop of the tension ring holding the crystal in the case.
    IMG_3608.jpg
     
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  4. ashleysteadman

    ashleysteadman Oct 5, 2014

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    Now you have a new shiny crystal in your pride and joy!

    While the movement is out, I took the opportunity to clean up the case with some Rodico.

    IMG_3536.jpg

    Step 7: Re-Assembly

    This is obviously the reverse of the disassembly. Make sure that you have thoroughly cleaned the inside of the case with a microfibre cloth. You don't want to forget this and have to take apart the watch again to get rid of fingerprints!

    Take your movement and gently place it onto the lid of a container. A piece of paper/cardboard works equally as well. Very carefully, align the movement with the case and place the case on top of the movement. IMG_3610.jpg

    Flip the case/lid over carefully so you can continue the re-assembly:

    IMG_3612.jpg

    At this point, you will need to remove the dust cover from the movement (see earlier step) and re-insert the crown/stem. Once the stem is seated, tighten the stem screw and re-attach the dust cover.

    IMG_3614.jpg

    The gasket which was removed earlier is a key piece of hardware to stop contaminants getting into your watch - look after it or replace it if it looks worn/damaged or if you simply want to sleep better at night.

    When replacing the gasket, it needs to be lubricated to allow a tight seal, and for to stop the gasket bunching-up or stretching under the case back when tightening. One of our knowledgeable watchmaker friends on this forum, Archer uses Fomblin UT-18 grease for this application.

    Gently place the gasket back in it's position on the back of the case.

    IMG_3616.jpg

    At this point, it is good practice to get a loupe out and thoroughly check for signs of dirt/dust in the back of the case and clean thoroughly.

    Once satisfied, you can re-attach the case back with your wrench.... And Voila!

    IMG_3617.jpg
     
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  5. ashleysteadman

    ashleysteadman Oct 5, 2014

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    If you look very closely, you can see the Omega symbol here on the new crystal (picture taken through loupe):

    IMG_3618.jpg

    Thanks for reading! Hope this is helpful :)
     
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  6. mac_omega

    mac_omega Oct 5, 2014

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    :thumbsup: ::rimshot::

    Perfect - thanks a lot!
     
  7. Fretworker

    Fretworker Oct 5, 2014

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    Great job, thanks for posting that :thumbsup:
     
  8. John R Smith

    John R Smith Oct 5, 2014

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    Ashley

    Many thanks for this instructive and interesting post. I would only make one comment - I think that, especially with a tool watch like this, it would be a good idea to renew the case back gasket (o-ring) as part of the job.
     
  9. Mothra

    Mothra Oct 5, 2014

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    That crystal thickness difference surely can't just be due to polishing? Great article....
     
  10. Privateday7

    Privateday7 quotes Miss Universe Oct 5, 2014

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    Disimpan
     
  11. JimInOz

    JimInOz "Helpful Hints from Heloise" of bracelet cleaning. Oct 5, 2014

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    Great post Ash.

    My only comment is that I remove the case from the holder after removing the crown and place a movement pad on the back and turn it over.

    Great photography too, what was your set-up?

    Cheers

    Jim
     
  12. Buck2466

    Buck2466 Oct 5, 2014

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    Ashley,

    Many thank you's for your time and efforts!!! Well done!
     
  13. bish789

    bish789 Oct 5, 2014

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    Brilliant. Only need a Speedy now and I can try it.
     
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  14. ashleysteadman

    ashleysteadman Oct 5, 2014

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    Thanks all for your feedback, and I'm glad you enjoyed reading it. I love a good DIY :)

    John that's a good point re the gasket, though given the ease with which a case back can be removed a gasket replacement is a quick job. I might edit the post to include a reminder to inspect the gasket for damage. Mine was serviced this year so is quite new.

    Mothra - I'm not the first owner of that particular Speedmaster so I can't speak to its full history. If it is the original crystal, I would think that a couple of decades of polishing could easily remove a fair bit!

    Jim - I was thinking about what a watchmaker would consider "best practice" for that but I opted for leaving it in the case holder. I suppose that could actually be seen as cutting corners! My setup is actually embarrassingly simple: iPhone + shaky left hand! ::shy::
     
  15. ashleysteadman

    ashleysteadman Oct 5, 2014

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    Oh and BTW can anyone confirm that the same theory/process can be applied to a Sapphire crystal? It would be interesting to know if you have to handle Sapphire swaps in a different way?
     
  16. Stewart H

    Stewart H Honorary NJ Resident Oct 5, 2014

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    I can't say for sure on the Speedy, but a sapphire glass should be scratch proof. It is probably held in place by a hard plastic gasket that will need replacing or it may be glued in place using glue that cures under a UV lamp. I would suspect that it is the former on an Omega.
     
  17. Archer

    Archer Omega Qualified Watchmaker Oct 5, 2014

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    Hi Ash,

    Good basic procedure, but I'd like to make just a few comments...

    1 - Sapphire Speedmasters would have a hard plastic gasket that holds the crystal in instead of the tension ring - this requires a slightly different procedure.

    2 - Rodico - great stuff and has many uses, but is often abused. For example when you used it to remove the inner cover, all the oils that have been absorbed by that wad of Rodico (from your fingers, etc. as I can see your fingerprints in the Rodico) have been transferred to that cover. Omega does not allow the use of these putty substances, as many people use them incorrectly and end up spreading oils and contaminants around with them. For removing the inner cover I use a small screwdriver to lift the edge of the cover right next to where the stem is - that way the movement will not lift at all and there is no need to hold it down.

    3 - I usually just push the old crystal out with my fingers or if needed tap it out with my watchmakers hammer - if it's being discarded there is no reason to treat it with kid gloves IMO, but this is not a huge point.

    4 - I am personally not a fan of the screw type presses, and I use a large rack press. The rack press is very rigid compared to this small press, which is needed for pressing in very large crystals on dive watches for example. But the issue I see is that you are not using a die that is meant for installing crystals with tension rings. These dies have more of a chamfer on the inside of the die, and this is meant to be on the upper corner of the crystal. So the proper die would be a different shape and larger, and I use a 35 mm diameter die for pressing in this specific crystal that is 34.13 mm in diameter. The idea is that the chamfer helps compress the crystal inwards while pressing it into the case. Obviously what you have works, it's just not the equipment I would use personally.

    Some shots of my press while installing a Speedy crystal:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    5 - Just add a note to clean the surface where the crystal seats and also the underside of the crystal before setting it on the case. This will prevent fibers from getting trapped under the crystal edge, which are hard to remove without removing the crystal again.

    6 - The biggest concern I see here is the gasket actually, so secondary to the crystal replacement. As suggested replacing the gasket is a good idea, but also you have cleaned the groove in the case with Rodico, and have not mentioned putting any lubrication on the gasket. The lubrication is designed to allow the gasket to slip with respect to the case and case back, so that it does not stretch or bunch up as the case back is tightened. When you tighten the case back down, it tends to squeeze the lubrication away from the gasket when the case is fully tight, so the gasket may have lube on it, but not on the contact surfaces where it is needed. You should always apply lubrication after every time you open the case, and in particular here because the case has been cleaned. Not sure it would matter on this watch due to the pitting in the groove for the gasket, but it's always good practice to lubricate the seal well.

    Overall good job though mate.

    Cheers, Al
     
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  18. mac_omega

    mac_omega Oct 5, 2014

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    Al,

    please let us know which type of lube you use for the gaskets.

    Thank you very much in advance

    Erich
     
  19. Archer

    Archer Omega Qualified Watchmaker Oct 5, 2014

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    I use Fomblin UT-18 grease.

    Cheers, Al
     
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  20. JimInOz

    JimInOz "Helpful Hints from Heloise" of bracelet cleaning. Oct 5, 2014

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    Why the preference for a rack press Al?

    Does it give a better "feel" when pressing? (as well as the rigidity factor).