Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mothers Day Special - Mom's Watch

About a decade ago, Mom gave me a couple of her old watches, in addition to the Waltham pocket watch her grandfather had carried.  Hers were a pair of Elgin Marlenes, from the mid-50s, TINY things, and yet, of course, just as much watches as any of my others.  Watching a ladies watch from that period run, tiny as it is, is fascinating.

My Mother passed away in 2011, at the age of 89.  It was not unexpected, and indeed, she'd spent much of her last year telling us how much she'd enjoyed her life, all 6 of her children, her 10 grandchildren, and her 4 great-grandchildren, but most of all, the 68 years of marriage to Dad. 

One of the most important lessons she taught me, when I'd say that I didn't want to try something I'd never done before, was, "Nobody was born knowing how."  With that in mind, I've learned all sorts of things by doing, including, now, watch tinkering.  In 2012, for the anniversary of her passing, I decided to take on a challenge:  to COA one of her itty-bitty watches. 

The movement is an Elgin 702, from about 1956 or so.  It's 20/0 size, 17 jewels, part of the 700 series introduced at the same time as the men's 711 series of 13/0 movements.  But so SMALL!!!!  The barrel is the smaller than the crown on a pocket watch!  Heck the whole movement is smaller than an 18s balance wheel!

Just to take it down, I had to stone the edges of my smallest screwdriver to make it small enough to turn the set lever screw and remove the stem! 

Having cleaned the parts in Zenith solutions, and dried them thoroughly, I carefully pithed the pivots and pegged the jewels.  The latter was difficult because some of the pivots are at the bottom of wells in the pillar plate.  With much trepidation, I set about the reassembly.

Okay, first the train.  In order to put it all into a package that small, they put the 3rd and 4th wheel lower jewels on a different level from the rest, so you have to sneak the escape wheel in underneath the platform they sit on.  Surprisingly it only took a little fiddling to get everything in place.

Then the barrel bridge and accompanying bits.

Next, the keyless works.

The pallet took the usual fiddling to get back into place, but once in, with a few turns on the crown, it snaps back and forth with the lightest nudge of the banking pins.  Time to put the balance back in!

And off it took!  Nice amplitude, too.  Now to replace the dial and hands...

And recase it.  All done.

Love you, Mom.


  1. I was touched by your effort in memory of your mom. And the picture was a nice touch as well. I just COA'd my mom's 702. Fortunately, she is still with us, and I will get a chance to see her appreciate the watch now. Thanks for posting.

  2. G'Day Gene,

    Beautiful dedication to a lovely woman.

    Great blog!