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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So I'm starting out slow in the world of watch repair. I have a basic set of tools I got over Christmas, screw drives, tweezers, case holder etc.
Couple of questions for you all: Magnification loupes; what do you use. I was thinking of either the clip on loupe or just a loupe with the hand band. The eye glasses just don't cut it anymore.

Is there one place you buy your tools? I have been looking at Amazon, eBay and Otto Frei.
Any other tools you guys can recommend for a newbie like myself would be great help.

clip on loupe.jpg or this loupe w hband.jpg or none of these, what do you use??? All comments welcome.
Thanks very much everybody!!
Chris
 

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I believe in high-quality optics and so invested in a Bergeron loupe and headband. The standard seems to be 3x for best combination of distance and magnification. As you are based in the USA, I'd suggest you have a look at the Horotec offerings at Esslinger Watchmaker Supplies Jewelry Tools Watch Parts & all Watch Bands for example. Good quality from a good supplier (although Otto Frei is great, too). Optics aren't where you should cut corners!
 

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I found you can get away with some cheap items e.g movement holder, best case back opener I found was a brass one with 2 prongs rather then the bulky 3 prong ones you can buy. I bought some mid range screwdrivers and use a sharpening stone if the end goes out of shape. Try buying mid range items some can do a good job esp if it's only your first time, yes you could splash the cash on high end tools but will you carry on trying or give up finding it to much like trouble. You will spoil many hairsprings so don't be alarmed . Also buy a good book and don't be afraid to ask for help.
 

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I use Esslinger as often as I can, but other than that usually Amazon.
 

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Since I have astigmatism, I can't get by with just an eye loupe, so I got a set of Bausch and Lomb clip-on eyeglass loupes, which I leave attached to a spare pair of glasses. But if your prescription is simple, you just need magnification. Get good loupes, though, because you'll be spending hours looking through them!

If you look, there are A LOT of old, but still useful tools out there, available for less than lower quality new tools. For example, I spent $40 on 8 pair of high quality Swiss tweezers, mainly Dumont. It was one of the best purchases I've made! You can get by with inexpensive screwdrivers for a while if you know how to sharpen them, but cheap tweezers will break your heart when they flick that click spring into another dimension.

Movement holders don't need to be fancy but they do need to be stable. Cheap plastic spring-loaded ones aren't.
 

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If you look, there are A LOT of old, but still useful tools out there, available for less than lower quality new tools. For example, I spent $40 on 8 pair of high quality Swiss tweezers, mainly Dumont. It was one of the best purchases I've made! You can get by with inexpensive screwdrivers for a while if you know how to sharpen them, but cheap tweezers will break your heart when they flick that click spring into another dimension.
+1...I buy mainly used tools and very good tweezers are a must...

I prefer the Behr double loupe that mounts to glasses to the B&L. The mounting is very secure and optical quality is quite nice. I don't think they make them anymore, but they sell on the used market frequently. I use my Optivisor for general assembly work.
 

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Tools.... well, a good set of screwdrivers and tweezers. A good case wrench with interchangeable nibs. A simple caseback knife and a complex snapback opener (like Seiko's). A set of lupes of various magnification. I have not found head spring holders to my liking so use a biocular headset. I also have a swing arm 5X microscope but that may be overkill for most hobbyists.

And, of course, the Bergeon spring bar tool... like screwdrivers and tweezers, paying good money for the Bergeon versions seems to be money well spent. Indeed, my father's advice for mechanics tools seem apt - buy the best you can actually afford.
 

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I've been collecting tools for the past 3 months, now. I've found a few threads over in the Watchmaking (/f6) forum very handy, especially the getting started guide to watchmaking tools: https://www.watchuseek.com/f6/getting-started-guide-watchmaking-tools-688276.html

I was basically given $200 for Christmas by my parents to go towards my choice of screwdrivers and tweezers, and I bought the Horotec 9-peice set of watchaker's screwdrivers in wooden box. I'm absolutely amazed by how smoothly the heads rotate, even under the pressure required to maintain purchase on the screws. I also bought three types of tweezers most recommended for watchmaking, a #2, #3C, and #5. For the #2 and #5, I got the Dumont Dumostar alloy. For the #3C I chose the Dumont Dumoxel alloy. I'm amazed how perfectly the tips of these ridiculously fine tipped tweezers align. I've never really held a set of high-quality tweezers before, and these just seem unbelievable in their precision.

The recommendation from a few people in the watchmaking forum is to buy the A F Switzerland screwdrivers, and to buy the Horotec blades later when the A F Switzerland blades run out. I found it hard to decide on a set of these screwdrivers. They all seem to have chromed brass handles, and I liked the idea of getting a set that were solid stainless steel instead. I also prefer the feel of the wide, flat, hexagonal heads of the Horotec screwdrivers to the ball-style heads of the common Bergeon or A F switzerland screwdrivers. Depending on how you hold your screwdrivers, this might not be important. I prefer to hold the screwdriver with one hand and the movement holder with the other, so having a wide, flat top allows me to hold the top of the screwdriver with my index finger and twist is with my thumb, middle, and ring fingers. If you have a stable movement holder, you might prefer to hold the tip of the screwdriver with one hand, while twisting it with the other (which is probably far more stable in the end), in which case the Bergeon/A F Switzerland screwdrivers would be better.

I've found that the cheap jaxa-style case openers are adequate, but not optimal. I first learned to open waterproof cases with the LG case opener, and I find myself wanting to spend the money on it now that I've been using the cheap one. The tips of the LG case opener are much nicer, and the openness of the design allows you to see that the tips are getting a good purchase on the notches in the caseback. If I were working on other people's watches, I would spend the money on one of the bench-style case openers, but I trust my grip enough with the jaxa-style opener to open my own watches.

Get a good case knife. Don't buy one of the $3-$5 Chinese/Indian ones. I haven't been able to get the cheap case knife I bought to open anything but my grandfather's old square Concord watch, which has a nice tab sticking out towards the bracelet between the lugs. A person with a strong fingernail could open it without a case knife. Spend the money on the Bergeon knife. I haven't had the chance to use one of the snap back opener machines, but I might get one at some point in the future.

I have the cheap chinese copy of the Bergeon 6111 springbar tool. I haven't had any problem using it to free bracelets from watches, so far. I'm sure the tips on the Bergeon tool would likely last longer, but while the tips last on the cheap tool, it will do the job fine for me. I got it from strappedfortime.com when I bought some straps for my first vintage Omega Automatic.

As for other tools, I've gotten good use out of a cheaper crystal lift. I don't know if mine is the Indian or Chinese version, but it works well for a couple of the plastic crystals on some of the practice watches I've bought. The Bergeon one is probably less likely to damage your watch, but you have to be very careful with this type of tool no matter how good the tool is. I bought the recommended nylon/brass hammer from ofrei.com rather than saving $3-$10 with the cheaper versions.

I got a cheap case vise/holder, and the first few times I used it, the pegs started stretching the holes. Get one of the aluminum holders if you go for a cheap one. Eventually, I would like to get one of the Bergeon adjustable case holders, but for now I will just use my cheap plastic/PVC/ABS (don't have a clue what it's really made of) holder until it dies (or I lose the pegs).

The best thing you can buy if you have a vintage watch collection is a polishing cloth, some elbow grease, and Polywatch! This, so far, is the best $5 I have spent on y tool collection! It is absolutely amazing what you can do with a scratched plastic crystal and some Polywatch. I've gotten my '62 Omega Automatic and my mom's Tissot Seastar looking almost perfectly new with this stuff, and it even makes the dial appear to shine.

There is a lot of help to be had over in the watchmaking forum on this site, and there are a few threads on tools with a lot of great information over there already. :)
 

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I've been collecting tools for the past 3 months, now. I've found a few threads over in the Watchmaking (/f6) forum very handy, especially the getting started guide to watchmaking tools: Getting Started: Guide to Watchmaking Tools

I was basically given $200 for Christmas by my parents to go towards my choice of screwdrivers and tweezers, and I bought the Horotec 9-peice set of watchaker's screwdrivers in wooden box. I'm absolutely amazed by how smoothly the heads rotate, even under the pressure required to maintain purchase on the screws. I also bought three types of tweezers most recommended for watchmaking, a #2, #3C, and #5. For the #2 and #5, I got the Dumont Dumostar alloy. For the #3C I chose the Dumont Dumoxel alloy. I'm amazed how perfectly the tips of these ridiculously fine tipped tweezers align. I've never really held a set of high-quality tweezers before, and these just seem unbelievable in their precision.

The recommendation from a few people in the watchmaking forum is to buy the A F Switzerland screwdrivers, and to buy the Horotec blades later when the A F Switzerland blades run out. I found it hard to decide on a set of these screwdrivers. They all seem to have chromed brass handles, and I liked the idea of getting a set that were solid stainless steel instead. I also prefer the feel of the wide, flat, hexagonal heads of the Horotec screwdrivers to the ball-style heads of the common Bergeon or A F switzerland screwdrivers. Depending on how you hold your screwdrivers, this might not be important. I prefer to hold the screwdriver with one hand and the movement holder with the other, so having a wide, flat top allows me to hold the top of the screwdriver with my index finger and twist is with my thumb, middle, and ring fingers. If you have a stable movement holder, you might prefer to hold the tip of the screwdriver with one hand, while twisting it with the other (which is probably far more stable in the end), in which case the Bergeon/A F Switzerland screwdrivers would be better.

I've found that the cheap jaxa-style case openers are adequate, but not optimal. I first learned to open waterproof cases with the LG case opener, and I find myself wanting to spend the money on it now that I've been using the cheap one. The tips of the LG case opener are much nicer, and the openness of the design allows you to see that the tips are getting a good purchase on the notches in the caseback. If I were working on other people's watches, I would spend the money on one of the bench-style case openers, but I trust my grip enough with the jaxa-style opener to open my own watches.

Get a good case knife. Don't buy one of the $3-$5 Chinese/Indian ones. I haven't been able to get the cheap case knife I bought to open anything but my grandfather's old square Concord watch, which has a nice tab sticking out towards the bracelet between the lugs. A person with a strong fingernail could open it without a case knife. Spend the money on the Bergeon knife. I haven't had the chance to use one of the snap back opener machines, but I might get one at some point in the future.

I have the cheap chinese copy of the Bergeon 6111 springbar tool. I haven't had any problem using it to free bracelets from watches, so far. I'm sure the tips on the Bergeon tool would likely last longer, but while the tips last on the cheap tool, it will do the job fine for me. I got it from strappedfortime.com when I bought some straps for my first vintage Omega Automatic.

As for other tools, I've gotten good use out of a cheaper crystal lift. I don't know if mine is the Indian or Chinese version, but it works well for a couple of the plastic crystals on some of the practice watches I've bought. The Bergeon one is probably less likely to damage your watch, but you have to be very careful with this type of tool no matter how good the tool is. I bought the recommended nylon/brass hammer from ofrei.com rather than saving $3-$10 with the cheaper versions.

I got a cheap case vise/holder, and the first few times I used it, the pegs started stretching the holes. Get one of the aluminum holders if you go for a cheap one. Eventually, I would like to get one of the Bergeon adjustable case holders, but for now I will just use my cheap plastic/PVC/ABS (don't have a clue what it's really made of) holder until it dies (or I lose the pegs).

The best thing you can buy if you have a vintage watch collection is a polishing cloth, some elbow grease, and Polywatch! This, so far, is the best $5 I have spent on y tool collection! It is absolutely amazing what you can do with a scratched plastic crystal and some Polywatch. I've gotten my '62 Omega Automatic and my mom's Tissot Seastar looking almost perfectly new with this stuff, and it even makes the dial appear to shine.

There is a lot of help to be had over in the watchmaking forum on this site, and there are a few threads on tools with a lot of great information over there already. :)
Thanks
 

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Everything fits so much better when you have one of these.

I like to threaten my watch movements into behaving better



DON
 
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