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How to change hands & dial on a Vostok 24xx

4208 Views 9 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Frank Pus
This is a re-write of a my tutorial written mid-2019. With the new WUS-software it is far more easy to insert pictures making the tutorial much easier to follow.
Also the previous version is hidden in a thread. Now it is re-written in a "stand-alone" thread and hopefully our moderator Chascomm can pin a link in the appropriate section.

Please note that this is my way of doing these changes but as they say here in Europe: "there are many ways leading to Rome"; meaning that there are many ways to achieve the same end result(s). My way of doing may be far from perfect and may have lots of room for improvement, but for quite a few years it has worked very fine for me ;-)

It's written in two sections:
1) How to change hands & dial.
2) How to change a date-wheel (due to the attachment limitation it is written in a separate thread; "How to change a date-wheel on a Vostok 24xx"; How to change a date-wheel on a Vostok 24xx)

If you like to change the hands only (#1 - #13), you skip over the dial part (#14 - #22) and continue reading the hands-replacement part as from picture #23.

Let's start with the Hands- and Dial-change;

Picture #1: the tools & materials I'm using;


1) Fine-tip stainless steel tweezers (Stainless Steel = none-magnetic). A cheap set of (6pcs) tweezers can be obtained on eBay, search words: "anti static tweezers" "Stainless steel tweezers"; £5 - £7 including shipping. If you think you are going seriously into watch repair, I would recommend you to buy directly the expensive Dumont tweezers (Dumont 95% anti-magnetic N:3 "strong-tip"). These will bring you very, very far in watch-repair).
2) A 3pcs set of hand setting pressers. Search on eBay for the words: "3Pcs Watch Repairs Hand Presser Fitting Tool Watchmakers Hands Fitter Press Set" costing about £7 including shipping from our friends in China.
Each presser has a different size hole in either end nylon tip. How to use them properly will be discussed further on in the walk-through (picture #25 onwards).
3) Hand removers lever type. I have had other types of hand remover tools, but found these levers to give me more control & feeling. The lever type hand removers do come expensive or cheap. Bergeon charges £57 (add postage on top) and I'm sure that they are perfect right out of the box. The ones I have are the "el-cheapo" Chinese version and cost about £5 including postage. Disadvantage: the lever tips were too thick for my liking and I had to grind the back-side and polished those surfaces afterwards. A bit more work, but they work fine and I saved £50 .... it's all up to you and your budget which tools to pick.
4) Watch case opener. There are many other openers on the market and they may also work just fine.
5) Magnification. I use relative expensive Sternkreuz eye-loups 2.8x, 3.3x, 5x and 10x. I started with the el-cheapo Chinese eye-loupes but through time and experiences, one starts to upgrade on the most essential tools ..... magnification is one of them, movement holders, tweezers & screw-drivers are some of the others. There are many other magnification methods: Optivisors, microscopes, eye-glass loupes in case you wear glasses, etc. Pick whatever works best for you.
6) Universal movement holder; Bergeon 4040. This is the only holder if your choice is an universal movement holder. If you value your movement, forget about the Chinese look alike's, seriously ! ...... I've been there .....
7) Finger cots. Preventing finger-prints on movement and dial. From our Chinese friends, 50x for £1 or so
8) A decent set of screwdrivers. Ball bearing rotating heads and hardened tips: 0.6mm, 0.8mm, 1.0mm, 1.2mm, 1.4mm, 1.6mm and 2.0mm. In the screwdriver-stand are also some brass tweezers.
9) A divider-tray to keep & store watch parts. I like to work organized & standardized; hence the marking-tape inside the divisions.
10) A few pieces of peg-wood, ø 3mm. Make sure that you "freshly cut" the tips before you start. I use a pointed-tip on one end, a chisel type tip on the other end.
11) A movement "pillow". There are the "official", but I use an old Nokia leather telephone pouch stuffed with some foam
12) Dial protector. One can buy them or make them yourself. I cut one myself out of a 0.2mm plastic sheet. One can also use a clean plastic bag. Again; there are many ways to Rome.
13) A watch ..... I used for this walk-through a CCCP "Tankist" in a 33 Komandirskie housing.
14) Not in the picture: a rubber bellows hand-blower ..... you will see & need this one at the end of this walk-through.

Picture #2;


Best is to let the movement run until it stops and set all the hands in line. Position the hands such that you leave space on either side for the hand-levers. It is also handy is to set the hands not far away from the mid-night date-change before you pull them. Later this will be handy when finding the point of the date-change when the have to be remounted.

Picture #3;


Remove back-cover and rubber-seal. Here I use some paper tissue underneath the crystal to avoid scratching it. A rubber mat or a piece of leather will be even better.

Picture #4;


Pull the winding-stem by depressing the set-lever push-button. Some people find re-engaging of the winding stem later on easier when the setting the watch in the "time-setting" position before pulling the winding stem. To do so, pull the crown out in the time-setting position and then pull the winding stem. I have had no problems with the Vostok 24xx movements in either position and have no preference. However, there are some other movements, like the Poljot 3133 chronograph, where it is a must to set the watch in the time-setting position before pulling the winding stem.

Picture #5;


Winding stem + crown pulled.

Picture #6;


Place the movement pillow on top of the movement / watch-housing (which are laying upside down) and while securely holding the pillow & watch housing, turn / flip everything over so the movement rest on top of the movement pillow. Carefully lift and remove the housing, leaving the movement resting on the pillow.

Picture #7;


Place for stability reasons the movement, which is still in the movement spacer-ring, in the movement holder.

Picture #8 & #9;



Place carefully the dial protector (or plastic) on/over the dial. Take great care not to scratch the dial and / or to touch the fragile lume-dots at the hour-markers. The older the lume, the more fragile the lume has become. Not only the lume hours dots on the dial, but also the lume on the hands have become fragile & brittle. Another problem with some of the older Vostok dials is that through time the (mainly black) paint may have become soft and therefor may stick to the dial protector. In such case the dial protector (or plastic) will cause some damage to the dial surface and I haven't found a method / solution yet to solve that problem :-(
Make sure that the dial protector (or plastic) is clean before placing it.

Picture #10 & #11;



Slide the hand levers on either side underneath the hour hand. If required, use magnification to ensure the proper placing of the levers. Once they are securely underneath, keep them "firm" and lift the hands until all the hands are off. Warning: hands of older watches, which have never been pulled since the watch left the factory, may be quite tight. Therefor make sure that the lever-tips are properly underneath the hour-hand and hold some "pressure" to keep them firmly underneath while doing the lifting. If the hands are really tight, they may need a few lifting attempts to "soften-them-up". Use common sense, delicate feeling and adjusted / appropriate "forces"; these levers multiply your force quite a bit. Also the dial protector protects the dial only till a certain extent.

Picture #12;


Tip: sometimes one doesn't get a good grip underneath the hour-hand. Sometime the hour hand was set too low in the first place preventing the lever-tip to fully slide underneath. This may cause the edges of the hour hand to bend upwards. One can straighten these edges again by placing the bend "eye" of the hand between the flat ends of some brass tweezers and apply (finger) pressure. Be careful when manipulating the hand, the lume be brittle.

Picture #13;


Place & store the hands in a safe place.

The following is for the extended version in case the dial has to be changed out as well.
For just changing out the hands, please continue reading as from point / picture #23

Picture #14;


If you hadn't already, time to put the finger-cots on. Sometimes these finger cots are shipped in a plastic bag with some talc powder. Make sure your finger cots are clean before working on the movement / dial. Working and touching the dial has to done with care and caution. If the dial surface is firm and hard, one can touch it. If the surface paint has become soft, the dial has to handled only on the edges. Avoid as best as you can toughing the lume dots as they can be fragile.
Also take great care of you finger placement. Best is to hold the movement by the wheel train bridge (picture #16) or winding bridge. Avoid placing you fingers anywhere close to the balance.

Picture #15;
In order to get to the two dial-screws, the movement spacer ring has to be removed.
Undo the two movement spacer ring screws only 1 to 1-1/2 turn, enough for the spacer ring to rotate. One can also take the screws fully out, but it is more "fiddly" to get them later back in and would require more touching / handling of the dial / movement with your fingers.


Picture #16 & #17;

Once the movement spacer ring is able to rotate, rotate the "winding-stem-cut-out" in the spacer ring towards the screw and lift the spacer ring up.



Picture #18 & #19;

Unscrew the two dial screws with about 3 full turns. No need to take them fully out, but you have to be sure that they are fully free of both dial feet.



Picture #20 & #21;
Remove the dial. Sometimes this is easier said than done. There can be various reasons why the dial doesn't come easy. Slightly bend or slightly damaged dial feet are common causes. Less common, but it does occur, is that a dial foot (or both) has (have been) broken off and the previous owner / watchmaker has glued the dial to the movement with glue or double sided sticky-tape.
The dial feet are located in the same line / spot as the dial screws. If the dial doesn't come on its own, a little prying may be required. The chisel-end of a peg wood is a good tool to start with. Pry between the movement and the bottom of the dial, carefully avoiding scratching the date-wheel. When the dial gives trouble, use magnification a study what the reason / cause may be.
In extreme cases, when a dial is glued to the movement, a scalpel or a razor-blade may be required to pry and separate the dial from the movement.
Whatever you do: Take your time !!
Alternate prying between either side where the dial screws are located, slowly separating the dial from the movement.
Consult the forum when experiencing great difficulties.

When replacing the dial, or placing another dial, ensure that it is fully flat onto the movement before tightening the dial screws. Press the dial slightly onto the movement and tighten the dial screw. Same at the opposite side.

In this example the movement is a 2414 with a date complication. This is the same as an automatic 2416b movement whereby the hour wheel and washer are underneath a date cover-plate. With 2409 and 2415 movements, there is no date cover-plate and the dial keeps the hour-wheel & washer in place. With those movements, when the dial is off, the hour wheel and the washer are free to be removed or to drop off. Make sure that both (hour wheel and washer) are back in place (with teeth engaged) before (re-)placing the dial.



(For changing the date-wheel, please refer to part 2); How to change a date-wheel on a Vostok 24xx

Picture #22;

Replace the movement spacer ring. First slide the ring underneath the spacer ring screw on the opposite side of where the winding stem sits. Make sure that the cut out slot in the spacer ring is positioned on top, where the other screw sits. Like the removal in picture #16 and #17, but now in reverse. Ensure that the cut out slot in the spacer ring lines up with the winding stem entrance in the main plate before tightening the ring screws.


Continuation for (re)placing the hands.

Picture #23;
Insert the winding stem. For inserting one can have a firm grip on the movement spacer ring.


Picture #24;

For stability and handling reasons I put the movement in a Bergeon 4040 movement holder.


Pictures #25, #26, #27 & #28;

Time to select the right size of the hand setting presser for this movement. I use a set of 3x hand pressers, each of them do have different colors and different hole sizes on either end.
For all the 24xx movements you only require two hole sizes. One which just slides over the cannon pinion and bottoms out on top of the hour wheel and one which goes over the seconds-pinion and bottoms out on top of the cannon pinion (picture #26).



Picture #27 shows that one end of my red presser fits nicely & tightly over the cannon pinion and bottoms out on top of the hour wheel. Since these ends are easy to mix up, one can put a little tape around or make a marker on the correct size pusher.


Picture #28 shows the presser which has the smallest hole, fitting over the seconds pinion, bottoming out on top of the cannon pinion. This happens to be one end of the black presser on my set.


The reason why this is so important is that when setting a hand with the correct size presser, the top of the hand will sit flush with the top of the hour wheel or the cannon pinion respectively. This will place & space the hands at the correct height, leaving enough space between the hour hand and the dial for subsequent removal (either by you or by the next owner / watchmaker) and leaves the correct spacing between the hour- & minute hand.By using the wrong size pressers or method and setting the hand too deep, the hands may touch the dial or each other and subsequent removal could cause trouble / damage.

Picture #29, #30, #31 and #32;

Pull the winding stem out for in the "time setting position" and rotate anti-clockwise until the date changes. When the hands were set not that far away from the date-change, as described in point #2 , the date-change shouldn't be far away. If the date change went too fast and you are too far over, do the 12-8-12 hour date change method and try again. Stop exactly after the date has changed.
When the date has just changed, place the hour hand exactly on the 12-o-clock position. Give it just a little press, just enough for the hand to stay in place.


Repeat the date-change to confirm that the hour hand is exactly on the 12-o-clock position when the date changes. Make small adjustments if required using peg wood (picture #30), carefully avoiding to touching the dial.


If the hand comes off while making the adjustment(s), give it a little press again. Repeat adjusting until satisfied. Press the hour hand down and check whether it sits level / horizontal with the dial and flush with the top hour-wheel;
picture #31


Small level adjustments with the respective presser can be made as described a little further in pictures #35 and #36). Perform the last checks for correct timing and seating.

Picture #32, & #33;

Place the minute hand on top of the hour hand. Again press the hands slightly on with the appropriate presser. Check that when the date changes that both hands are in the 12-o-clock position. Adjust the minute hand with peg wood if required. Repeat changing the date and adjusting the minute-hand until satisfied. Before pressing the minute hand on fully, perform one last check in the 6-o-clock position. Adjust if the minute-hand if required.
It is far more important that the 6-o-clock lines up than that the date changes at exactly 12-o-clock. A date change a few minutes before or a few minutes after 12-o-clock is perfectly acceptable. Only when everything is far off the mark, the setting of the hour-hand has to be repeated.



Picture #34, #35 & #36;


Press the minute hand in place and check the whole 24hrs around that both hands do run free and horizontal. Small level adjustments can be made with the presser tool, as shown in picture #35 & #36.



Picture #37;


On the hand-wound Vostok 2414 or the 2409 movements, the seconds pinion has free axial movement and is pushed up by means of a leave-spring. If not supported, placing and pushing the seconds hand down will only result in pushing the pinion down against the small leave-spring load. Therefore, the leave-spring needs to be supported.
On the automatic Vostoks 2416b or 2415 the movement is the same, but by these movements the leave-spring is supported by the automatic winding bridge and therefor points / pictures #38 and #40 are not required.

Picture #38;


To support the spring, and thereby supporting the seconds hand pinion, I place the movement on a flat surface, such that the crown is free. The edge of my cutting-mat does just that.

Picture #39 & #40;


Carefully place the seconds hand on the pinion and press it down. I used the tip of peg-wood, but a hand presser with the smallest hole will do fine too.
Now the slightly more tricky method; If the hand doesn't go deep enough or sticks too high up, one can flip the movement over and support the seconds hand on a flat surface. Carefully press the leave spring down where the pinion is situated. Do this carefully and perhaps in increments with several checks. Pushing the pinion in too far and the seconds hand may make contact with, and run on top of the minute hand. The only way to correct this is the pull all hands and start all over again :-(
Also, by placing the dial and hands on a flat surface may change the hands alignment or do damage to the lume dots ...... be very careful & gentle.


Picture #41, #42 & #43;


Check all the hands for horizontal / level and have free movement. If required small adjustments can be made as shown in picture #42 on either side of the hand. Be careful not to push the hand deeper onto the hour wheel or cannon pinion.


Check also the seconds-hand tail-end for free movement and space; picture #43.


Picture #44, #45 & #46;

When all is completely to your satisfaction, pull the winding stem, resting the movement on its spacer ring (#44).


Blow the movement / dial and the crystal inside the housing clean from any dust or other fibers.


Place the housing over the movement (picture #45), flip all (including movement-pillow) over. Make sure the movement drop nicely inside the housing. Insert the winding stem, install the rubber-seal and back-cover (all exactly the same procedure as dismantling, but now in the reverse order; #6,#5,#4).


Observe for proper running for a full 24 hours and if all is fine: ........ a job well done ;-)

Hope my write up is of any use ;-)

If despite of the above explanation you still have or encountered problems, please seek help on the general forum. There are many capable comrades willing to help you further ;-)

Lots of Suc6 !

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Great tutorial, dedicated and comprehensive.
Thx for the effort.
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Fantastic, thanks for taking the time to put this together.
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Excellent imagery and well written.

I thought i was the only one using this method with setting the seconds hand on the 24xx, though i occasionally also used a hard plastic plate on the bottom of the movement holder.
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Thank you, thank you, thank you on your hard work...

Послато са SM-N985F помоћу Тапатока
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Very high quality tutorial and helpful pictures. Great job!
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Kudos, Endeavour!
As for removing hands, my method for most feeling and minimal damage is; I place a thin sandwich bag from Spar over the whole thing, remove the second hand with two screwdrivers, and the hour and minute hand (together) with hand levers. Putting them back on is 5 times more difficult, especially on the bloody pogo second hand pinion.
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Thank you so much for making the effort to create the thoroughly detailed and photo-laden post. Excellent, Informative, Interesting, etc., etc., etc.
I may buy some lifters and pushers and try this on one of my Vostok Komandirskies that has an offset hour hand that is driving me nuts.
Your post provides the enthusiasm and confidence to try.
And if I totally destroy a cheapie, easily replaceable watch . . . . :oops:
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Thanks. I recently installed a sandwich dial and had no end of problems installing the hands. I assumed the dial was too thick. But having read this, I probably pushed the hour hand on too far with the incorrect pusher.🤦‍♂️
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