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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just obtained a watch that does not hack. It runs a bit fast so by the end of two weeks or so I need to set the time back. Talking in general, how many minutes could one safely set the time backwards on a non hacking movement without affecting the timekeeping? In particular, assume the movement doesn't stop when you do set it back, which is true in my case. Given the opposing forces, it would be helpful to also understand how movement designers manage this scenario, if at all. Thanks.
 

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I can't think of many watches where you might want to be careful setting it backwards. Maybe some perpetual calendars, outside of 10pm/3am. The Zenith El Primero Grand Date can break if set too far back after midnight, but as I recall they built in a 2 or so hour security (can go back 2 hours from midnight). Otherwise, even a minute repeater is OK as long as it's not striking while setting. Maybe some of the newer sci-fi looking things with crazy displays, then read the manual.
 

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Hi there,


No need to be a genius to recognise that elastic parts or friction coupling prevent breakage. Probably the Zenith guys need a restart with a successful kindergarten education.

Regards, Roland Ranfft
Absolutely. I'm a huge fan of Zenith in general, including the El Primero with all its faults, but this was idiotic. I'm curious how many have been back to the factory already.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
You can set It back safely as much as you want. You’re not going to break anything. Though I’m not to sure if I understand your question.
The reason for the question is that I'm setting the hands back while the watch is running. Very clearly you can't set it back much or you will break the watch, as it wants to go forward and you are pushing it back. The question is how much back can you go while the watch is running without breaking it. That's why people like a hacking function on a watch movement, but vintage watch movements rarely have that feature.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hi there,


Why do you ask a question, if you are not willing to believe the replies?

Regards, Roland Ranfft
I'd have no problem with the replies if anyone of them in watchmaking terms explained how you avoid damage. These have been simple assertions, not proofs. That's why I posted this in this forum so I could understand technically how this worked. If you could explain, I'd be much obliged. Perfectly happy to have my assumptions proved wrong.
 

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I'd have no problem with the replies if anyone of them in watchmaking terms explained how you avoid damage. These have been simple assertions, not proofs. That's why I posted this in this forum so I could understand technically how this worked. If you could explain, I'd be much obliged. Perfectly happy to have my assumptions proved wrong.
There is a friction clutch called the canon pinion in all watches. There are many different designs, but they all work the same. Generally this is attached to the center wheel, which is the wheel that engages the barrel (which houses the mainspring and is the power source of the watch). The canon pinion doesn't care at all which direction it is caused to slip (hand setting). In some cases the friction is high enough that setting the hands backwards can counteract the "forward" power of the barrel, which will stop the watch during hand setting. This won't hurt anything, the watch will continue running as soon as you stop setting the hands backwards. In a similar vein, setting the hands forwards will be adding power to the gear train, so a fully wound watch will likely gain amplitude during hand setting, possibly rebanking. Rebanking would cause serious timing issues if it went on prolonged, like for minutes, just like setting backwards would have timing issues if it went on prolonged.

Sometimes, usually after several decades or more of constant service, the clutch (canon pinion) will lose some of its friction. Then it is adjusted, or perhaps a new one is installed (they are quite simple to adjust). Then the watch is ready for several more decades of setting the hands, either direction.

Bottom line is there is nothing you can break by setting the hands, regardless of direction, with the exception possibly of certain perpetual calendars or a Harry Winston Opus something that shows the time by making ants crawl around or whatever.
 

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I'd have no problem with the replies if anyone of them in watchmaking terms explained how you avoid damage. These have been simple assertions, not proofs. That's why I posted this in this forum so I could understand technically how this worked. If you could explain, I'd be much obliged. Perfectly happy to have my assumptions proved wrong.
Had you looked at the keyless and motionworks in a watch before, I’m pretty sure you could have figured out the answer yourself. Doesn’t take a master watchmaker to understand.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
...cause serious timing issues if it went on prolonged, like for minutes, just like setting backwards would have timing issues if it went on prolonged....
Thanks very much for taking the time to answer. This was my sense of it, but not being a watchmaker I did not have the sense of what "prolonged" might mean.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Absolutely. I'm a huge fan of Zenith in general, including the El Primero with all its faults, but this was idiotic. I'm curious how many have been back to the factory already.
I'm actually about to buy an El Primero and just read the user manual. It actually says:

Time
Important for models with date: to avoid any risk of damaging the movement, the time should always be adjusted in a clockwise direction.

Does anyone have some info on setting this movement back safely?
 

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Hmm, well there's one thing that can happen if you set a normal El Primero backwards. This movement has an instantaneous date function. After the date jumps, the finger that advances the date disc sits between two teeth on the disc. The wheel that advances that finger is slotted, so that just after or just before the date jump, you can quick set the date- the date finger just rides forward in that slot freely. If it jumps, and you turn the hands backwards an hour or so, the slot that permits the finger to move during quickset will be blocking the finger, so if you do try to quick set, you might break something if you force it. Other than that there is no harm at all in setting the hands forwards or backwards, any time, even around midnight and even just after the date jump- just don't try to quick set the date if you've moved the hands backwards after the date jump.

I can see that rather than explain all that Zenith just says don't set backwards, to avoid that one case where the customer might break it. The whole setting system in the El Primero is pretty whackadoodle, and somewhat fragile, but funnily enough, because of the nest of gearing they use to transmit motion from crown to canon pinion, the setting is smoother and easier going backwards rather than forwards.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Hmm, well there's one thing that can happen if you set a normal El Primero backwards. This movement has an instantaneous date function. After the date jumps, the finger that advances the date disc sits between two teeth on the disc. The wheel that advances that finger is slotted, so that just after or just before the date jump, you can quick set the date- the date finger just rides forward in that slot freely. If it jumps, and you turn the hands backwards an hour or so, the slot that permits the finger to move during quickset will be blocking the finger, so if you do try to quick set, you might break something if you force it. Other than that there is no harm at all in setting the hands forwards or backwards, any time, even around midnight and even just after the date jump- just don't try to quick set the date if you've moved the hands backwards after the date jump.

I can see that rather than explain all that Zenith just says don't set backwards, to avoid that one case where the customer might break it. The whole setting system in the El Primero is pretty whackadoodle, and somewhat fragile, but funnily enough, because of the nest of gearing they use to transmit motion from crown to canon pinion, the setting is smoother and easier going backwards rather than forwards.
Many thanks maillchort for this really quick response. I picked the watch up today, salesperson had no clue, didn't get a response from Zenith either when he contacted them. Knowing this really helped.
 
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