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Need a recommendation for a quality book on watch repair

  1. CBM1590 We don’t rent pigs. Oct 25, 2023

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    Thread title sums it up. I’m looking for a definitive guide for watch repair. Pic attached of one on Amazon that gets good reviews, but I’d prefer some seasoned advice from the members here. Thanks.
     
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  2. Canuck Oct 25, 2023

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    On line courses of instruction might also be considered. I am not familiar with the course in the link attached. But I have read a cross section of opinions regarding this course. Books such as Henry Fried and the Bulova Watch Repair course are also available. I am unable to comment on the content of the subject course, and as to whether the content might meet with your expectations. The Fried book and the Bulova book are decades old, and do not cover 21st century watches. They focus primarily on the basics of antique and vintage watches.

    One might question just how much content in the subject book covers clocks. And whether instruction in clock repair may or may not interest you.

    https://www.watchfix.com/
     
  3. CBM1590 We don’t rent pigs. Oct 25, 2023

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    Thanks. Much appreciated. I have a family vintage Wittnauer that isn’t worth much in terms of money but valuable in terms of sentiment. It has no stem and that may just the tip of the iceberg…but I’d like it to be my first watch attempt.
     
  4. Canuck Oct 25, 2023

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    One thing that almost everyone who has gone your intended route to watch repair, and was at the same stage you are at now , will tell you to NOT START on a sentimental piece for which you have hopes! Don’t give up on your wishes to learn about the repair of watches. But trust your Wittnauer to a recommended professional. No book on watchmaking, or course you might take on the subject is a step 1-do this, step 2-do that primer on repairing your Wittnauer. It will likely take a year or more of investing in tools and learning techniques, and acquiring the manual dexterity you will need, before you tackle a watch that really matters. Maybe you are not looking any further ahead than fixing the Wittnauer. If you’re not, don’t waste your time and money in a one shot stab at watch repair. It takes too long, and costs too much money to seriously get into the skill.
     
  5. Duracuir1 Never Used A Kodak Oct 25, 2023

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    @Canuck are you second or third generation watchmaker? And did you learn at a very young age?
     
  6. Canuck Oct 25, 2023

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    Second generation. I started learning at 8 years of age, and by the time I was 16, I was running the family business and doing the watch and clock repairs, when the family was away on vacation. I ran jewellery stores for 25 years, but kept my watch and clock repairs as a side gig. Glad I did. It has come in very handy since I left retail 35 years ago! As with any skill, you are never through learning!
     
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  7. CBM1590 We don’t rent pigs. Oct 25, 2023

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    Not intending for this venture to be a one shot stab. I know it’ll take a great deal of time, effort, money, and skill development. I have the lab and appropriate lighting, work benches, binocular low power dissecting scopes etc to kick start me. Mechanical things have always interested me and heck, I’ll enjoy the time and process. I don’t have hobbies except a 30 year photography obsession (I made the switch to high-end mirrorless earlier this year). I look forward to the journey and will begin to look for a decent starter piece to begin with instead of the Wittnauer. Thanks for the advice.
     
    Edited Oct 25, 2023
  8. Canuck Oct 25, 2023

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    I believe that both the American Watch & Clock Makers Institute (AWCI) and the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors (NAWCC) offer courses in watch repair. These courses are usually of short duration (one week or so), so you don’t have to shelve your day job to take these courses. Also, Gem City College offers a longer duration (more intense) course in the repair of watches. I would think that one week in a lab with a planned curriculum, and an instructor would be worth a month or so, working on your own. These labs offer teaching aids that you are unlikely to have at your disposal, if working on your own.
     
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  9. Dan S Oct 25, 2023

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    IIRC, the Unitas 6497/8 is often recommended as a good movement to practice on.
     
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  10. Canuck Oct 25, 2023

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    The Eta 6497 is available. For not a lot of money. The Chinese clone of the Eta 6497 is also popular for a project watch for someone starting out. It is much cheaper.
     
    Edited Oct 25, 2023
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  11. sheepdoll Oct 25, 2023

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    I had the privilege in the 1990s to have friends who were willing to take the time to mentor me. My day job was writing test suites for Apple Laser printers. I would sometimes tell people I was more of a book collector than a watch collector. The net was young and books were a source of inspiration.

    One Author Henry B. Freid would lead annual tours all over the world to meed other watchmakers. I was privileged to go on several of these in Europe and meet the best known watchmakers of the day. One either has the passion or one does not. If one does have the passion then anything others say will be of minimal value. It becomes self evident what quality work is, and what it is not.

    If nothing else I would recommend Henry's books. It is no substitute for having someone guide you. As others have noted there are courses one can take if travel is an option. Even if it is one day a lot can be learned.

    I got burned out after a decade, and after an 18 year gap I came back to this passion. It never really went away. It turned out I had aquired quite a few A. Schild movements. I have been finding these to be a delight to work with. Parts are cheap and plentiful at the moment. Eta movements are also a good place to start. Some of these are still in production.

    I was tempted by caseless watch movements and projects due to their inexpensive nature. This is another area I would avoid if doing things over. Such watches can be huge money pits. Get complete watches to work on. The old guys I learned from were from an era where watchmakers actually made replacement watch parts. This was great when one was working on watches from the 1880s. Most of the books use these old turnip watches as examples.

    With the world wars in the early 20th century came changes in metallurgy. This affected watches in some ways more than anything. New alloys were developed as were stamping and molding processes. Eventually this evolved into the tech to cut and shape the quartz crystals. From the 18th century, watch bearings were made from synthetic crystals. The jewels in watches were not for show. They were functional.

    The problem with the old books is they many were written before these shifts. The new watches after the wars were considered to be unrepairable. It would take about a 10K investment to set up all the space and tools needed to work on the more modern watches. I suspect I have spent that an again and still feel I could use another 5K or so tools to work properly on something like my speed master.

    This is supposed to be encouraging, as I do think self service of one's collection will be the way to go in the future. I would love to see more enthusiast on the watchmaking side of things.
     
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  12. ken_hodson Oct 26, 2023

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    In the last 12 months or so I've started learning about watch repair. I've been on some courses run by the BHI and am on a distance learning course. YouTube videos and Google are also handy.

    This book has been very useful and is well written and easy to read.

    PXL_20231026_060251686.MP.jpg

    I'd echo a lot of the things said already. It takes time and practice to develop the skills. However, I reflect that a lot of time was spent on my hands and knees with a strong magnet initially and now, thankfully, the pinging off of parts flying around is far less. So some progress maybe...

    Mentorship would definitely be beneficial as @sheepdoll says. Bad habits, I suspect, are easy to acquire, especially if self taught, you could be completely unaware. It would be helpful to have someone look at your techniques and give feedback/correction. I've yet to find a local mentor, but definitely on the look out!
     
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  13. CBM1590 We don’t rent pigs. Oct 26, 2023

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    Replies appreciated. I’ve spent just a bit of time looking for watch brands that carry the Unitas 6497/8 or Eta 6497 movement. @Canuck @Dan S @Archer I may need some help from you guys to point me in the right direction for a piece carrying such. Now on to the tool list…
     
  14. CBM1590 We don’t rent pigs. Oct 26, 2023

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    And the Wittnauer which prompted the inquiry…
     
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  15. Canuck Oct 26, 2023

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    I have been tutoring a young fellow who is fascinated by mechanical watches. His job is in information technology, with no background in watches. He now has about one dozen watches he has serviced, only two of which I tutored him on. He is very analytical, organized, and thorough, to say nothing of patient. He now has serviced mostly stem winders, but he has also done two automatic winders. All this in about 6 months! And he has accomplished this without on- line courses or how-to books. I have had him do two of his watches at my bench in my shop, helping him only with replacing a balance staff (the time honoured way, not the bench block hammer, and crazy glue way), but he has pretty much done the rest. The first one he did was given to him by his father-in-law, and that one was done with me as an overseer, but with minimal help from me. His wife now proudly wears that one. Our next venture will be an Accutron 214 GMT. He is proof that it can be done! It is my opinion that a tutor and the right innate abilities is far more helpful than a library to learn the basics. The library can be very useful over time, but hands on with the help of a tutor can teach a novice more in months that he’ll learn in years from books or on line courses. The BHI, AWCI, and NAWCC courses would be my suggestion as to being the way to go. But leave the Wittnauer alone until you are ready for it!
     
  16. Canuck Oct 26, 2023

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    Kits that provide movement, dial, hands, cases etc. that you can assemble yourself are available on line. It might be prudent to acquire one of these kits and the necessary kit of tools to enable you to get the feel for working with watches. You might then diversify into the actual processes involved in disassembly and reassembly of a watch movement. Kits of the necessary hand tools are also available on line.
     
  17. Zman4eva Oct 26, 2023

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    I agree with everyone. I signed up for watchfix.com online course and it's been great. I got a clone 6497 on eBay for $35 and have been practicing on it (actually got two 6497s in case I mess up and lose parts).
     
  18. Aroxx Sets his watch Oct 26, 2023

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    I have two of these. Broke some stuff on the first one so now I have a working and a donor.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/3546299276...Cv8baL0SLq&var=&widget_ver=artemis&media=COPYPurchases made through these links may earn this site a commission from the eBay Partner Network

    Also, check out watchrepairtalk.com for a dedicated forum.
     
  19. S.H. Oct 26, 2023

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    It is both my opinion and my own experience too. Curiously, I think that quite a few things in this job (but in other jobs too) can be learned somewhat but can't be teached...
     
  20. Archer Omega Qualified Watchmaker Oct 26, 2023

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    One of the problems with watchmaking books is that many of them are quite old, and the practices/techniques shown are not always up to date with modern standards and expectations. Everything from cleaning with cyanide (de Carle) to static posing every balance after a staff (Freid) are things that aren't consistent with modern watch servicing and repairing. Some may damage you, and some may damage the watch and it's accuracy.

    I've tried to compile some basic information for people like you, who are just starting out and doing this as a hobby. I've illustrated current techniques so that if you follow these you would be using the most up to date information. I make no guarantees, but have a look and if you have any questions, let me know. There are quite a few watchmakers here, so one of us will come up with an answer I'm sure.


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    Cheers, Al
     
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