Horological Association of Maryland, Inc.

July 2007
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PRESIDENT:                       DAVE GRAU,      tictocfinewatches@verizon.net

V. PRESIDENT:                  AL TAKATSCH,   al_taka@yahoo.com

SECRETARY:                    JOHN REILLY,     jrol@aol.com

TREASURER:                    STAN CRAIG,      no e-mail

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS:      EARL KNIGHT,   earljan@hughes.net




JERRY KINCAID (07)                      tictoctwo@aol.com

BRETT LOUIS (07)                         blouis@hst.nasa.gov

DAN SPATH (07)                           daspath@verizon.net

GEORGE TRESANSKY (07)           geotnant@aol.com

JACK KENNAN (08)                       jgkennan@webtv.net                   

GEORGE PAINTER (08)                gpainter@adelphia.net



President’s Message:




I hope the dog days of summer are treating you well.


I thought I’d take further advantage this month of the newsletter appearing on our website.  What follows are a few recent acquisitions that you may find of interest.


This is a French verge fusee watch circa late 1700s.  I learned that the oval balance cock and winding hole on the dial are usually indicative of a French-made pocket watch of that era.  The case is silver and is missing its outer case.  The hands do not look original and it has a broken balance staff.  Overall, the watch is cosmetically in near mint condition.





This Cartier clock was advertised as a car clock however Ed Compton took one look and said, “No.  An alarm clock.”  Nice dial and Lemania movement.  This one needs a set lever to get it operational and a case for it to live in.



I walked into a shop called “Sylvia Pines” in Manhattan last week.  It’s a shop on the Upper East Side of Manhattan that sells women’s deco jewelry and 1920s’ beaded handbags.  The owner also had a number of vintage watches with NYC prices.  I did find this Ermeto purse watch which I got for a very good price.  The owner (Sylvia) said that it would be a difficult item for her to sell.  The case is wrapped with what looks like lizard skin.  The dial is labeled “Golay fils & Stahl.  They are still around and are a high-end watch and clock store in Geneva that was established during the 1830s.  The case is sterling silver and has a hallmark indicating the maker of the case that I cannot find listed in any of my books (Kathy Pritchard’s books would likely have it).  The movement and case, not unexpectedly, were made by Movado who manufactured the Ermeto watches of the 1930s.  This one is in good working condition.  The crystal was perfect until someone, who shall remain nameless, put one of the covers on without noticing that I, I mean the person who shall remain nameless, missed one of the guides of the sliding covers.  I wound up bending the guides and broke the crystal.  Nice.  Anyone have a slightly domed 22.8mm square crystal lying around?  ;o) Here are some post-operative photos--




And finally, here is a nice example of a very early art deco style Benrus watch, circa 1935.  The serial number on the movement is very low, 59915.  The case is a contract case in filled rose gold and the engravings on the bezel in white gold.  The crystal will “need” to be replaced with one that is curved to follow the contour of the bezel.  In researching this watch, I found an interesting article written by a collector of watches from the 1920s/1930s time period (the ones in the article were made 5 to 10 years before the Benrus).  Here is the link to the article: http://www.mafca.com/downloads/Fashions/2006-07.pdf .




I hope you enjoyed these blasts from the past.


As for the future, we will continue our work on the quartz watches and plan for our lathe workshop starting at noon on Sunday, September 23.  We also have the Woodsboro Mart coming up on Saturday, September 15.


Thanks to all for your participation and continuing great support of HAM.

Best regards,





Secretaries Report


The July 9 regular meeting began promptly at 7:40 PM.  In attendance were:

Stan Craig, Earl Knight, Robert Rothen, William McLane Sr., George Tresansky, Al Takatsch, John Reilly, Dan Spath, Brett Louis, Bill Miller, Jerry Kincaid, George Painter, Jack Kennan, Dave Grau, Dave Hennemann  and new member Mike Dale.


Introductions were made and the Treasurer’s Report was given by Stan Craig.  Stan noted that we have paid our AWCI dues and supported Jerry and Dan for the national meeting in August, so our treasury has taken the usual annual hit for around $800.  The report was accepted.  The Secretary’s report was accepted as well.


Old Business: Dan Spath delivered a fruit basket to HAM member Bob Myers, who was very grateful to receive it.  He was particularly happy that we made him a life-time honorary member of HAM.


A motion was made to have the HAM treasury pay the dues of the next president of HAM as an incentive and reward for taking the position.  The motion was seconded and past unanimously.  The motion will go into effect with the next election in November.


New Business: Bob Rothen made members aware of the Cottone Auction in Franklin PA to take place July 20 & 21.  Bob intends to go and bring back a lot of rare tools, some horological, some not.  Franklin is north of Pittsburg.


There was no new business so the door drawing was made and won by Mike Dale who picked his own number.  Mumbling and protest were heard throughout the hall but the drawing stood.  Just kidding Mike.


After the meeting Stan Craig gave a talk on quartz watch repair.  The following notes were taken.  Please accept any inaccuracies as the information was coming hot and heavy.


Stan noted that almost no information was available regarding quartz watch repair until Henry Fried’s book around 1988 and S. La Rose printed a parts book.  The quartz movement vibrates at 32768 times per minute, accounting for their accuracy over the normal 300 vibrations per minute for a conventional watch. Early quartz watches jumped every 10 to 30 seconds in order to extend battery life. 


Crystals have to age for about a year before they are used.  If they are not aged then the watch tends to lose time for the first year then settle down.  Early on, parts were replaced individually, now whole circuits are replaced as a unit to save time and money.  Most parts now cost as much as new movements.  Various parts can be tested for resistance and continuity using a VOM that has at least 20,000 ohms/volt sensitivity. Sometimes if the coil has a break on the surface windings, it can be repaired with one of the proprietary coil mending fluids.    Lithium batteries were 3 volts, Mercury 1.35 volts and Silver 1.5 volts.  Some early quartz watches had a mechanism to regulate the gain or loss of time, but modern quartz watches have the trimmer built into the circuit board and automatically adjust themselves.


To begin repairs, first clean the outside of the case, even a small amount of debris can stop a quartz movement.  Work the dial side first, remove dial, hands, day/date wheel etc., take all except the setting parts.  Remove minute wheel and cannon pinion.  Remove the guard over the coil, remove coil, remove the circuit board cover and board.  This usually has 4 screws, one of which acts as a ground.  Note that three of the screws are the same, one is short.  Remove the battery and insulator, remove the setting cover, the bridge over the train wheels and the hack lever.  Then remove the train wheels.  Do not remove the rotor with regular tweezers, use antimagnetic tweezers and grab it by the pinion.


Do not oil the train wheels esp. if they are plastic.  The train is a floating train and has no lateral pressure on the wheels. Do not put the rotor in solvents, just run the outside edge over some Rodico to clean any iron filings the may have been attracted to it.  Clean rust if you see it.  Clean all parts as usual.


To reassemble, place the stem with crown attached making sure it snaps back and forth.  Replace the rotor in stator.  Place another rotor or small magnet under the rotor outside the plate to hold the rotor in place.  This will keep the rotor from jumping around while you are replacing the wheels.  Replace wheels, hack lever and train-wheel bridge, align all and replace screws – lightly at first until you are sure all pinions are in place.  Replace the setting parts, setting cover, circuit and coil and coil cover.  The watch should run at this point.  Apply 1.5 volts to check. Do this at the battery contacts.  Time-out the watch before you put the dial side in place.


Very little oil is needed in quartz watches, but put some on the canon pinion post and post of minute wheel so the watch will set smoothly. The oiling of a quartz watch is a subject for another lecture.  Put calendar parts in next.  This can be hard to do.  Next place the hour wheel and day disk in place making sure the trips are aligned.  Put on dial and hands.  Done!


VP Ramblings,


Last meeting Stan gave an informative presentation on Quartz Watch Problem Diagnosing. John asked that I give my take on what we learned about.

-First look at the watch, is the second hand moving or pulsing. Did the customer have any particular complaints why they brought it in for repair. Do the hands move freely when setting. Write down observations.


-Lay watch on pulse and frequency tester. Does the counter show quartz vibrations and coil impulse? Write down results.


-Assuming that problem exists, clean watch carefully to remove dirt before opening. A properly working watch can be caused to fail with another problem by loose dirt finding its way into the mechanism. Open case and again clean dirt from around seal that didn't come off earlier. Again observe the movement for any obvious problems.


-Take out battery with non conductive tools and test voltage, it should be about 1.5volts or voltage specified by manufacturer. Note results. It might just need a battery, but lets test the electronics anyway.


-Test resistance of coil which should be about 3000 ohms or 3K of resistance. If open or shorted note the results.


-Set tester to drive the watch simulating a battery driving the watch. It supplies a voltage and current reading of both which help in analyzing the movement. Apply the probes to the battery input connections making note of proper polarity. A properly working watch will show current flow in the microamps(ua). The tester shows a decreasing current flow of approximately 5 to .5 ua, after firing the coil the reading jumps back up to 5ua . My own impression of why this happens is the electronics starts off charging a capacitor that’s discharged and as it reaches firing voltage the current reduces to almost zero before the electronics fires the coil. At the point the coil if fired, the capacitor discharges and the ua are then back up to a high level.


-It should be noted if the movement is dirty it will draw excessive current giving shorter battery life. This is shown by a large increase in current usage way above the normal 3 to 5ua. Readings can be as high as 10 to 30ua. If this is the case the movement should be cleaned. We didn't cover that yet.


-If all readings and operation is normal than install new battery and place watch on test stand to analyze frequency of quartz. This tests the accuracy of the movement, ex: how many seconds per hour or unit of time that the watch will run slow. It should be noted that quartz movements have the ability of self correcting, you will notice a constant rate of frequency for a few seconds. If the watch needs to correct, it is shown by a jump in frequency. Stan says the watch will do this for the life of the watch. I haven't yet understood how the watch does this, I say this because the watch only has 1 crystal. If the frequency is off slightly and needs to be corrected, what reference point does the electronics use to measure the correct frequency? Also if the watch knows the correct frequency why did it have to correct it?
My take on this is, and I may be wrong, is the quartz frequency always is correct, that's why a quartz crystal was used. The problem comes with driving the mechanical portion of the watch. I believe every now and it pulses the coil but the gears are not advanced. The electronic feedback generated by the coil is sensed which should correspond with the pulses given to the coil. It keeps track of this and when enough error is accumulated the circuit gives an extra pulse to compensate.
The frequency of the quartz is analyzed as a very even frequency, the quartz input circuit contains a missed pulse counter that senses a missed quartz vibration. When the counter sees enough missed vibrations it then gives an extra fire or pulse to the coil to make up for lost quartz vibrations. As that point the counter zero's itself out and the process begins all over again.
If I am wrong with my crazy theories will someone please explain this to me in detail. Inquiring minds need to know.
See you guys at the next meeting.


Al Takatsch

Horological Association of Maryland, Inc.
Secretary Kevin Casker kcasker@gmail.com
Webmaster David Grau dg33@verizon.net