Whether you're a dedicated collector or simply trying to get that old heirloom fixed, we know how to get these tiny and delicate engines running properly, so trust us with your grandfather's pocket watch for expert repairs that will take just a few days.
Return your vintage watch to factory specs with everything matching and correct.
Keep your heirloom running at peak performance by having it serviced regularly.
Damaged watches can still be made to look good enough to keep on the mantle.
Mismatched and incorrect parts don't belong anywhere on your watch, so have it restored properly, which means putting things as close as practicable to the day it left the factory. We can't erase every bump and scrape from over a century of service - and these should be left as a tribute to history - but all of the movement's components, as well as the dial, hands and case, will be back to original specifications again.
Restorations starting at $195. Visit the Price Page for more info.
There are no corners to be cut if an accurate watch is the goal.
It takes a hundred close-tolerance parts working in unison with little room for error for these antiques to function correctly.
Broken parts, mismatched hands, and missing screws all detract from the beauty of your heirloom watch, so when it leaves here:
Any fabricated staff starts with a drill stock blank in diameters from 0.5 mm up to 2.5 mm. Taking very precise measurements, the new staff is turned on the lathe. After sizing the pivots, the staff is polished with a burnisher and is ready for service.
Custom fabrication starting at $90/hour
An impact can easily break delicate pivots, and if that happens the staff can be trued up, the center found, and the hub drilled to precise dimensions. A new pivot is then fabricated to size and seated either by friction or by temperature inversion.
Re-pivoting starting at $125
Snarled hairsprings are caused by impatiently tugging at them while removing the balance assembly. They can become laced, where the stud becomes woven into the coils. If it's not a complete mess the hairspring can be untangled and reformed in a spiral.
Untangling starting at $65
A broken hairspring collet is the result of hammering it back on to a replacement balance staff that was too large. It's one of the most common examples of deliberate damage, and also one of the most avoidable in this age of instant education on YouTube.
Re-colleting starting at $175
Shellac is a naturally-occurring resin that is used to mount the roller jewel and both pallet stones, which absorb millions of impacts during their service life. It's very important that they be mounted correctly, and sometimes need to be reset.
Stone setting starting at $25
Machining jewel settings is a science in itself, since they're rarely a drop-in fit and so must be milled to spec from a blank or from an oversized setting. This is done to very close tolerances before the screw pockets can be cut in the cap jewel, if there is one. Care is always taken to preserve the color match, whether gold or brass.
Jewel replacement starting at $85
Cracks caused by careless tinkerers can be filled with new metal and milled back to original dimensions, assuming the alloy is nickel steel or steel-plated bronze. The nominal diameter of the set screw in the photograph on the right is 0.4 millimeters.
Micro-welding starting at $145
The components under the dial are every bit as important as the ones between the plates, and yet they often go ignored. All of the hardware on your watch will be cleaned and inspected, milled flat and polished, and repaired or replaced as needed.
Component prices and hourly rates apply
There were plenty of reputable Swiss factories founded in the 1800s such as Bulova, Jurgensen and Longines that produced high-grade and complicated pieces, but they used several cost-cutting techniques that prevented them from measuring up to their American counterparts.
Most models did not have banking pins, the jewels were friction-fit instead of easily-changed screw-set ones, gilt plate finishes were the most common, and the regulators usually had no micro-adjustment, almost certainly because all of these were the cheapest options.
Vintage Swiss watches usually suffered from poor designs, soft alloys, coarse threads, and low tolerances. Note how this leaning mainspring barrel in the photograph is actually rubbing against the barrel plate because it's anchored only by the upper arbor mount.
The Swiss were fixated on making the thinnest watches possible, which meant flimsy gear train wheels, components rubbing against each other, and skinny mainsprings that had trouble pushing the balance wheel.
Regardless, they can be restored to original specs and running great.
If you carry your watches, then routine servicing is actually pretty important. Antique timepieces can get loaded with debris like lint, dust, metal filings, dead skin, and even hair, especially if the design is a bridge or 3/4-plate, allowing all that detritus to fall into the movement and gear train. Save yourself headaches and high repair bills down the road and have them cleaned regularly every two or three years.
COAs starting at $195. Visit the Price Page for more info.
The only way to do a proper COA is to completely disassemble the movement so it can be cleaned in solution using an ultrasonic. Inspection of all parts comes before reassembly with synthetic oils, followed by checks on the balance wheel, mainspring and gear train, and finally, accuracy testing on the digital master.
There is a vast difference between a dunking and a full cleaning.
COAs are not just about changing the oils. It also means examining each and every component for correct fit and hidden issues:
Organic and synthetic oils both start getting gummy after only a few years, requiring periodic maintenance, and running your watch beyond the service life of the lubricants will begin grinding up the pivots. You wouldn't go years without changing the oil in your car's engine, so why do it to your great-grandfather's watch?
Once the lubricants in your watch become contaminated with grit the pivots will begin to scar, eventually grinding waists into them. This is especially true of the gear train components that rotate faster than the others, such as the pallet fork and the balance staff, and if the scarring is too deep they must be replaced.
There are plenty of collectors who insist that their pocket watch is "clean enough", either because they did it themselves or because they sent it to a jeweler somewhere. In simple horological terms, cleanliness is a binary thing - it's either clean or it's not.
Look at this center jewel from a watch that the customer serviced himself and ask yourself if this piece has been serviced correctly.
Do it right, have it done right, or don't do it all.
Other than the obvious problems caused by running your watch for years beyond its last service date, filthy watches will contaminate the cleaning fluids in any ultrasonic that much faster. This requires more frequent fluid changes and the cleaning of the baskets, and watches in this condition don't help keep the bench or the tools any cleaner.
Watches this dirty will be charged extra to offset these costs.
There are those hacks that will open the back of a non-running watch and simply spray the entire movement with WD-40 or a penetrating oil like Liquid Wrench to try to get it running again. Such attempts are incredibly dumb, since some of these products will eradicate the gilding from plates with a two-tone finish. This practice will also contaminate the ultrasonic, requiring another fluid change.
Watches this greasy will be charged extra to offset these costs.
If you spend hundreds of dollars to have your heirloom restored, you could drop it a week later while carrying it, and a few years down the road it will need to be serviced again anyway with an oil change.
Another option is a purely cosmetic one - clean the dial, install a new crystal and the right hands, buff the case - and then put it under glass on the mantel, where it can't get damaged. Your family watch looks like it used to when it was new, you don't have to worry about maintaining it, and you can show it off while being glad that it survived all these years.
Watch dials are fragile things made from porcelain, and like a mirror, once it's cracked it cannot be reversed. We offer basic repairs, although the dial has to be reasonably intact for us to have any kind of success. White porcelain dials only, please.
Dial refurbishing starting at $25
Harsh chemicals can scrub the enamel inlay from the plate engravings, so we offer enamel replacement in both black and the brick red found on several Illinois models. It's a very tedious and time-consuming process, but definitely worth it.
New enamel starting at $35
Wartime material shortages meant using acrylic for crystals, which yellowed and caused the hands to rust. If the hands on your watch aren't too pitted they can be polished out and returned to the factory colors of either plum or cobalt blue.
Hand coloring starting at $20
Nothing sets off the plates of a movement like blued hardware, and If your watch is missing a few blued screws we can give it back that factory look. Cap jewels, regulator arms, and even hairspring mounts can also be blued.
Hardware bluing starting at $15
If your watch has a dazzling pattern, we can mill the back cover into a bezel, add a new glass crystal, and turn your vintage timepiece into an instant showpiece. Not every case is a good candidate because only certain kinds can be converted, so be sure to contact us first.
We only cut into cases that are worn or damaged.
Display conversions starting at $95
Nickel or silver watch cases can be polished up like new, unless there is ornate engraving. Gold cases shouldn't be buffed at all.
Case polishing starting at $25
New and NOS glass crystals are available in open face and hunter in all styles and thicknesses.
Crystals starting at $40
Crowns and bows wore out the quickest and are now getting very difficult to find, especially gold and gold-filled.
Starting at $45 if available
The pendant parts often go ignored for years but will be cleaned, adjusted and replaced if necessary.
Starting at $45 if available
We accept PayPal, personal and cashier's checks, money orders, and US cash only, and credit cards can be used through PayPal. Checks are always preferred since we're tired of PayPal taking a cut for every transaction, so PayPal users will be charged 4% extra.
We use the US Postal Service, and any insurance is entirely your choice in either direction. Make sure that any watch that you ship here is securely packed in a sturdy box with plenty of padding! The shipping instructions and mailing address are on the Contact page.