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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 1962 Longines cal 280 mechanical dress watch that was my father's. It has always ran well, but about a year ago I noticed it didn't hold a wind longer than about 12 hours. I sent it to a watchmaker specializing in mechanical movements for servicing. Upon inspecting it, he said it needed cleaning and oiling plus a new mainspring. He sourced a mainspring from his supplier, but advised me upon receiving it that it didn't look like the one he removed. He nevertheless installed the new MS and discovered that the spring slipped in the barrel, resulting in the inability to wind it more than about 10 winds before slipping. I was returned a cleaned and lubricated watch with a new mainspring that still won't hold a wind longer than about 12-13 hours.

I found the correct MS at cousins UK (GR 2673 T) and sent it along with the watch to the watchmaker, but upon seeing it he advised me it was the same MS he installed and returned both, suggesting I should leave well enough alone.

I am curious what others think about this. Is the GR 2673 T the correct MS? There is also a 2673 MS for a cal 280 listed on cousins with the suffix "non-automatic," but I have been advised my barrel requires the T end. If it is in fact the correct MS, how difficult is replacing it? Could the degree of difficulty have been why the watchmaker did not want to attempt installing the MS a second time? Finally, does anyone know of a watchmaker with Longines expertise who could replace the MS? I live in Seattle. Thanks.
 

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The correct mainspring appears to be available at Boley. The 2673T is correct.

That's a very nice watch, is it a reference 7186? It looks to have the same dial as the very rare Longines R.R. 280 rail road chronometres. Some of these had the model name on the dial but others are plain, identical to yours. Was your father connected to the rail industry?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Wizard: Yes, I sent the serial number to Longines and they said it was a reference 7186. What does that mean exactly?
 

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Wizard: Yes, I sent the serial number to Longines and they said it was a reference 7186. What does that mean exactly?
Reference 7186 was one of the references used by the American Rail Road. They were tested in accordance with the American Rail Road standards and if they passed, the movement was given the following inscription:

"TO TEMPERATURE
ADJUSTED
SEVENTEEN 17 JEWELS
LONGINES WATCH CO SWISS
ISOCHRONISM AND
3 POSITIONS"

Note that this is different from the RR280 model, which had a 24 hour dial and slightly different inscription:
"RR280
(serial number)
17 JEWELS SWISS
ADJUSTED 5 POSITIONS
LONGINES"

These watches can also be identified as Rail Road Chronometers by the swan neck regulator.

There were likely identical watches sold to the public, but they would lack the inscription on the movement and the special regulator. The 7186 Rail Road Chronometer is listed on a collector's website as being "very rare".
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks, Wizard. I have two clues that lead me to believe you may be correct. Several years ago, when I had the crystal replaced, the watchmaker commented "This is a very nice movement." I was not familiar with watch terminology at the time, and thought he was referring to how the second hand moved, LOL (it does move very smoothly, more so than my other mechanical watches).

Last year, when I was getting quotes to have it serviced, a reputable Seattle watchmaker, Nesbitt's, took the movement out and brought it to the counter to show it to me. He also said it was a "fine movement, temperature compensated." I didn't think to ask him what that meant, and the fact that he quoted $495 to service it led me to pass on his offer. Thinking back, the quote may have reflected his knowledge that the movement was unique. I have discovered that several of the watches I inherited from my dad are uncommon (e.g., a Seamaster chrono that apparently was worn by Apollo 11 astronauts).

In any case, I still have an apparently rare watch that only holds a wind for about 12 hours, possibly due to having an incorrect mainspring installed, but otherwise appears to run fine. I'm afraid I need to find a watchmaker who will address this issue at a reasonable price or live with it for now...
 

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It certainly seems like you have a Rail Road Chronometer. Congratulations! Longines chronometers in any form are exceedingly rare.

If you're prepared to ship it it to Australia, I'm fortunate enough to know a German-trained watchmaker who specialises in vintage timepiece repairs, he's very affordable and with the relative strength of the US Dollar to the Australian Dollarydoo, you could have it done at a very affordable price - he serviced my great-grandfather's Longines pocket watch (including a replacement mainspring) for under AU$200 two years ago, and he has regulated all my mechanical watches to Observatory Chronometer standards. If you're interested, PM me and I can provide you with his details. I'd suggest emailing him first to make sure he can access the required parts (which I'm sure he can).
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
After 20 months of casual searching on eBay, I am happy to report that I finally stumbled upon a NOS sealed mainspring barrel (Swiss P/N 180/1) for my Longines cal. 280 (£7.50). A local watchmaker installed it today. It appears to wind and run perfectly.

Never quit.
 
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