The pairing of a fusee with the verge escapement made the first portable timepieces possible in the 1500s, and we know how to get these ancient engines running properly. Trust us with your rare watches for expert repairs that will take just a few days.
A well-rounded collection should have at least one fusee in it, if for no other reason than to remind us of the origins of pocket watches.
The earliest fusees had no minute hand and were a status symbol of the rich. They were too bulky to comfortably carry, containing all the necessary hardware to drive a portable clock. Later examples from the 1800s were assembled by European watchmakers using Swiss-made ébauche plates and are fairly common, so our emphasis is on the few survivors that remain from centuries past.
This specialty service is for serious collectors only, since the cost and time required for these restorations can be substantial.
We only accept worthwhile examples, so if you'd like us to consider restoring yours, then write to us with photos.
Restorations starting at $495. Visit the Price Page for more info.
The verge escapement dates from the 1200s and was used in clocks until the 1500s when spring-driven pocket watches first began to emerge. The design used alternating steel paddles on the balance wheel to mesh with a softer brass crown wheel.
The simplest of fusee gear trains consist of the mainspring barrel, the fusee cone with internal ratchet, the brass center and third wheel, the brass contrate wheel, and the brass crown wheel, which meshes with the steel paddles on the balance wheel staff.
Verge fusees inevitably speed up over time because of the wear to the mating surfaces. The soft brass teeth of the crown wheel become flattened against the steel paddles on the balance staff, decreasing the amount of time between impulses and causing the movement to run faster. Some of this can be corrected, allowing reasonable accuracy to within a few minutes per day.
Verge fusees are hundreds of years old and were not designed to run forever. People of varying skill levels have been working on them for generations, occasionally doing more harm than good. The components are usually worn out, and getting them to run at all can be a challenge. Most fusees turn out to be disappointing money pits, so our efforts are reserved for the best surviving examples.
It's difficult to describe just how worn out these pieces can be. They were seldom jeweled, and since the mating surfaces were metal-on-metal the amount of wear can be extreme.
Verge fusees are fairly primitive compared to the railroad-era watches from the 1880s. The tolerances were sometimes poor, the plate alloys were soft, and they were held together with taper pins.
The spiral fusee cone was invented in Leonardo da Vinci's time as a method of equalizing mainspring torque, using gut or wire before the refinement of chains. They are surprisingly durable, but when the chain eventually broke the damage was severe. Chains can either be replaced outright if available or the damaged link(s) removed and new pins fabricated, though the chain will be that many links shorter.
How a chain is repaired:
All dial and cosmetic work is done during the restoration of the watch and none are offered as separate services.
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 or blued, and replaced if needed.
Component prices and hourly rates apply
Watch dials are fragile things made from porcelain, and like a mirror, once it's cracked it cannot be reversed. We offer both dial cleaning and basic repairs, although the dial has to be reasonably intact for us to have any kind of success.
Dial refurbishing starting at $25
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 original look. Cap jewels, regulator arms, and even hairspring mounts can also be blued.
Hardware bluing starting at $15
Nickel or silver watch cases can be polished up like new. 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. Gold cases shouldn't be buffed at all.
Case polishing starting at $25
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.