Whether you're a longtime enthusiast with a large collection or simply trying to get that old family heirloom fixed, we know how to get these tiny and delicate engines running properly.
We offer a wide range of specialized restoration services that you won't find anywhere else, so trust us with your grandfather's pocket watch for expert repairs that will take just a few days.
Do you want your antique pocket watch restored as close to factory-original as possible? We can do that.
You've researched your favorite models, created accounts for auction houses, bid on examples that caught your eye and spent the money to acquire each piece in your growing collection, so it makes no sense to ignore a century of accumulated "fixes" meant for a quick turnaround. Incorrect parts and mismatched components belong nowhere on any mechanical device and do not weave the tapestry of your watch, so have it restored properly.
You wouldn't leave a Ford hubcap on a Chevy and call it part of the history of the car, would you?
There are no corners to be cut if an accurate timepiece is the goal.
It takes a hundred close-tolerance parts working in unison with little room for error to make these mechanical wonders function correctly.
Broken parts, mismatched hands, and missing screws all detract from the value and beauty of your heirloom watch, so when it leaves here:
Full restorations starting at $95. Prices for individual processes are listed below.
Do you enjoy carrying your watches? Routine servicing is important.
Organic and synthetic oils start getting gummy after only a few years, so periodic attention is necessary, especially if you carry your pieces. 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 irreplaceable family heirloom?
The only way to do a proper COA is to disassemble the watch. Period. The entire movement is reduced to its individual components, which are then cleaned in an ultrasonic solution. Reassembly using synthetic oils is next, with checks performed on the balance wheel, gear train, and mainspring, followed by accuracy testing on the digital master.
There is a vast difference between a quick dunking and a full cleaning.
COAs are not just about changing the oil. It also means examining each component under the scope for correct alignment and hidden issues:
Static bench timing is easy if the watch is never going to move, like a clock that just sits there with the weights always pulling down evenly. Watches were meant to be carried, 12 hours in a pocket and 12 hours laying on your desk, so accuracy is an average over a 24-hour period.
Your watch will be timed for dial-up and pendant-up, the two primary everyday positions, against the three standard digital measurements:
Having a fuel gauge is a handy thing, and that is precisely what the 4th hand on a wind-indicator displays - how much run time is left on an unspooling mainspring. Only a few American companies produced high-grade indicator watches, so finding parts is often difficult.
Wind-indicator work starting at $195
Chronographs are essentially a stopwatch, which is a pocket watch with a center sweep hand that counts off the seconds, providing a method for timing an event. The higher-grade models were designed with flyback mechanisms for the seconds hand.
Chronograph work starting at $195
Ladies' pendant and ring watches present special challenges because of their tiny parts. Movements smaller than 0 and 000-size require special tooling, matched holding clamps, and extra-steady hands.
Pendant watch work starting at $165
Prototypical pieces are always challenging because by definition there are no other examples to reference and usually there no replacement or spare parts to be found. But when you get it all back together again it's quite a thrill to watch them come back to life with a heartbeat.
Rates on individual processes apply
The verge escapement dates from the 1200s, and was used in clocks until the 1500s, when the spring-driven pocket watch emerged as the first personal timepiece. The verge used alternating steel paddles on the balance staff to mesh with a softer brass crown wheel to let down the mainspring one tick at a time in a three-wheel design. The earliest examples had no minute hand and were regarded as a novelty for the very rich, though they were too large to comfortably fit in a pocket.
Fusee restorations starting at $165
The fusee was invented in Da Vinci's time as a method of equalizing mainspring torque, using a grooved spiral cone connected to the mainspring barrel with gut or wire before the refinement of chains. They are surprisingly durable, but when the chain broke the damage caused by the broken ends to the rest of the movement was severe.
Chain replacement starting at $125
Verge fusees inevitably speed up over time because of the design and the wear of the mating surfaces. The brass teeth of the crown wheel become flattened out against the steel paddles on the balance staff, reducing the travel of the balance wheel. This decreases the amount of time between impulses, causing the watch to run faster. Some of this can be corrected, allowing accuracy to within a few minutes per day.
Standard on all fusees
Any fabricated staff starts with a drill stock blank in diameters from 0.5 up to 2.5 mm.
Taking precise measurements at every point, the staff is carefully roughed on the lathe.
Custom fabrication starting at $65/hour
After the pivots are sized, the staff is polished with a burnisher and is ready for installation.
Did you send your family heirloom to a hobbyist and it came back damaged? We can help.
Cracks can be filled with new metal and milled back to original dimensions, assuming the alloy is nickel steel or steel-plated bronze, but we cannot do gilt plates because of the color difference. The nominal diameter of the set screw in the photograph on the right is 0.4 millimeters.
Micro-welding starting at $145
An impact or rough handling can easily break delicate pivots, and if that happens the staff can be trued up, the center found, and the hub drilled to a precise depth and diameter. A new pivot is then fabricated to size and seated either by friction or by temperature inversion.
Re-pivoting starting at $125
Badly bent pivots can usually be coaxed back to straight, even if the steel is hardened. They can then be trued up, any burrs milled out, and then polished out and returned to service. Understand that there is always a risk of breaking and that it's a secondary option to re-staffing.
Pivot straightening starting at $45
Distorted balance wheels are common, the result of rough handling or very poorly done re-staffs. Truing them back up in the flat and/or in the round takes hours of skillful patience, and can require the removal of all the balance weights and then starting over with poising and timing.
Wheel truing starting at $65
Cap jewels are responsible for precise endshake and provide rebound surfaces for the pivots. The jewel on the left is clearly undersized and well below the plate surface, which can be replaced by turning a blank to size and milling the screw pockets to the correct depth. Add a witness mark and the result is the jewel on the right.
Jewel milling starting at $65
Shellac is a naturally-occurring resin that is used to mount the roller jewel and both pallet stones. These three jewels absorb millions of impacts during their service life, becoming loose over time. It's very important that they be mounted correctly, and sometimes need to be re-mounted to remove excess shellac or to straighten a poor mount.
Stone setting starting at $22
A cracked hairspring collet is always a sign of sloppy work and is caused by hammering it onto a balance staff that's way too large.
After carefully removing the ruined collet, the hairspring can be transferred to a replacement with a newly-fabricated taper pin, allowing the factory original to remain with the watch.
Re-colleting starting at $95
Snarled and deformed hairsprings are caused by impatiently tugging at them while removing the balance assembly. They can even become laced, where the stud becomes woven into the coils. If it's not a hopeless mess the hairspring can be carefully untangled and reformed into the proper shape of an expanding spiral.
Untangling starting at $65
Watches are susceptible to magnetic fields because many of their parts are ferrous, especially the delicate steel hairspring. When it becomes magnetized the coils can become attracted to the balance arms or to each other, slowing the watch considerably. Running a watch that has been magnetized is like driving your car with the emergency brake on.
Standard on all watches
If your watch is missing a few blued screws we can give it back that factory look.
Nothing sets off the gilt plates on a key-wind watch movement like blued hardware.
Hardware bluing starting at $15
Even cap jewels, regulator arms, and hairspring mounts can be blued.
All dial work is performed during the restoration of the watch and is not offered as a separate service.
Watch dials are fragile things made from porcelain, and once cracked it cannot be reversed. A clean dial was a requirement back in the days of railroads, so we offer basic repairs of glass-enamel dials, although it has to be reasonably intact for us to have any kind of success.
Dial refurbishing starting at $25
The secondary sinks in watch dials were held in place with solder, which can be replaced without using excessive heat. Single, double, and even triple-sunk dials can be repaired this way, and it's done carefully so that none of the work is visible from the front.
Dial repair starting at $25
Any and all cosmetic work is done during the restoration of the watch and none are offered as separate services.
Wartime material shortages meant using acrylic for crystals, which yellowed and caused the hands to rust, but we can fix that. If the hands on your watch aren't too pitted they can be carefully polished out and returned to the factory colors of either plum or cobalt blue.
Hand bluing starting at $15
Harsh chemicals and repeated cleanings can scrub the enamel inlay from the plate engravings, so we offer enamel replacement in several colors, including 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 $25
Unlike coins, where patina has its place, watch cases can be polished up like new, particularly nickel or coin silver examples. These alloys make up the full thickness of the case parts, so there is no danger of polishing through to the base metal, unless there is ornate engraving. Solid gold and gold-filled cases should be buffed as little as possible.
Case polishing starting at $25
Do you have a rare movement that you'd like to show off or a favorite daily carry watch with an eye-catching pattern? We can mill the caseback into a bezel, add a glass crystal and turn your watch into a showpiece, as well as a great conversation-starter.
There are certain types of cases make good candidates, so be sure to contact us first. Only cases with swing-rings or ones with threaded covers can be converted, meaning any case with hinges or a dust cover (including hunters) cannot be machined. Additionally, we only cut into cases that are fairly worn, are dented or damaged, or have incomprehensible initials or inscriptions.
Display conversion is done after the restoration of the watch and is not offered separately.
Display conversions starting at $65
We accept Paypal, both personal and cashier's checks, money orders, and cash in US funds only. Credit cards can be used through Paypal.
For repair work please click the Pay Now button below to use Paypal.
We use the US Postal Service and any insurance is entirely your choice, both sending and receiving. Please make sure that anything you send us is securely packed in a sturdy cardboard box with plenty of padding!
The shipping/mailing address is on the Contact page.