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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,

Not quite sure where to post this, but I thought here would be a good place to start.

I have both mineral / plant based oils and synthetic oils that I use. To be honest, I mainly use the synthetic ones (Moebius 9010 and 9020) on paid work for watches that are a bit more expensive (Rolex etc.), because people expect you to do that and also ask about it. Fine by me, probably costs less than £ 0.50 per watch for the oil if you use it carefully (by that I mean only putting a small amount in your oil dish as I clean that every day).

On the other hand, my father just gave me his old Rado Automatic which he got in 1958 as a present. He wore it until 1973, when he bought himself a Rolex. Since then, it's been in a drawer and hasn't been touched.

He sent it to me by mail, I unpacked it, had a quick peek inside (immaculately clean on first sight), put it on the timegrapher and adjusted it slower as it was doing something like +60s / day. Then I closed it and have been wearing it for the last three days. It keeps pretty constant good time, about -10s per day.

My father never had the watch serviced, so the oil in there is 54 years old.

Now the main argument for synthetic oil is longevity.

In my book, what makes a watch in need of cleaning and new oil is dirt and dust. That mixes with the oil and creates a paste. Also, extreme heat (and dust) can create a pretty sticky substance as it causes the oil to lose its viscosity through evaporation.

The watches that need a service that I deal with tend to have dirt in them. Normally, people get a watch serviced when they encounter a problem - the watch doesn't keep time any more, or it stops sometimes. Can't remember having a watch where the owner complained about a problem that didn't have dirt in it.

On the other hand, clean movements tend to run well and not have problems - no matter when the last oiling was.

I'd be very interested to hear about your experiences and opinions on the matter.

Regards,

Christian
 

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High Christian.

Interesting subject.

You'd know this better than me, but I suspect that the fact that the watch hasn't been serviced in 54 years and yet still runs is probably indicative of the fact that it was barely oiled in the first place.

My experience with watch mending is slim at best, but I have recently worked on some NOS watches from the 1960s / 1970s. These were brand new and clean, but would not run because the oil had turned to varnish. That's the problem with most old oil of the non synthetic type. It probably just loses the more volatile elements by slow evaporation, though it could be that it degrades to gum through slow chemical reactions.

Personally, I would always be using oil that would retain its characteristics over many years. To have a watch that runs occasionally as part of a collection, but to still have to pay to have it taken apart at real expense every few years would rankle with me. I guess synthetic oils wouldn't require that same frequency of cleaning.

EDIT:

Oh I just realised who you are Wilderbeast... I really enjoy those strip down articles you do. It would be good to see one on this Rado watch of your father's.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
High Christian.

It would be good to see one on this Rado watch of your father's.
Probably the only way to find out more about the subject. Your point of a lack of oil is very interesting - that could be the solution. I was really wondering how oil could survive that long without turning close to solid!

I'll put it on my list of projects ;-) - I will take it apart and put all the crucial bits under the microscope.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Well, I just had to do it!

Teardown + Service: 1958 Rado Automatic 21 Jewels | Watch Guy

I hereby bow my head to tony1951 who was absolutely spot-on in his interpretation! I was amazed that the heavier oil survived so well, but the lighter oil had completely evaporated.

Good fun, and yes, I am converted to synthetic oil from now on. Anyone wants a collection of mineral watch oil? :)

As a teaser, a photo of the main spring in the barrel with a lovely 39-year old drop of oil at 10 o'clock!
2012-02-24-110113.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I think what is missing is now a teardown of a watch that has been serviced using synthetic oil. I don't have a watch of which I can say with conviction that is was serviced using synthetic oil 10 years ago - but that's what we would need to check how long that would last.

Does anyone out there have a watch that was serviced a decade ago using synthetic oil? I would love to put the parts under a microscope - especially the jewels and pivots.

Usual conditions - as it's something that I really want to see, I'll service the watch for free and pay for the postage back.

Any takers?

Christian
 

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Hi,
Interesting thread, and it raises me a question; will the current movements seagull, and others from Chinese manufacturers, leave the factory with synthetic, or mineral lubricant?

I',eve several Seagulls, and at least 2 Guihua NNFB2813. And I wonder if they came lubricated with synthetic oil!? :think:

With regards,
LM
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Luisao,

I can only guess because I don't know of a way to tell the oil apart once it's on the movement (maybe somebody else has some suggestions or knows of a way to do that?), but I think that they will use standard mineral / plant based oils. They aren't exactly bad and do last for years. But I am guessing.

Best regards,

Christian
 

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Luisao,

I can only guess because I don't know of a way to tell the oil apart once it's on the movement (maybe somebody else has some suggestions or knows of a way to do that?), but I think that they will use standard mineral / plant based oils. They aren't exactly bad and do last for years. But I am guessing.

Best regards,

Christian
It's almost a given that the factories will use whatever presents the least cost. If that is synthetic then that's what the movement will get.
 

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Luisao,

I can only guess because I don't know of a way to tell the oil apart once it's on the movement (maybe somebody else has some suggestions or knows of a way to do that?), but I think that they will use standard mineral / plant based oils. They aren't exactly bad and do last for years. But I am guessing.

Best regards,

Christian
Thanks Christian, that's also what I think. But like you, I'm just guessing too.

It's almost a given that the factories will use whatever presents the least cost. If that is synthetic then that's what the movement will get.
I also agree, and probably should be just that what happens.

Thanks for the enlightenment.

Regards,
LM
 

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Another fascinating report Christian. I love reading these and especially appreciate the photos you take. I'm wondering if you use one of those USB microscopes and if so which one. The quality is stunning.

Well, your conclusions are also fascinating about the oiling done at the service it had long ago. Just to put another point of view on the synthetic / mineral debate. I saw a comment the other day that said the good result of gummy old mineral oil is that since the watch stops, it gets a service, whereas if it is run extensively when dry, it may suffer irretrievable damage. I must say, I had not thought of that, merely concerning myself with not having to pay for maintenance so often. It seems possible, that if your dad's watch had not been living in retirement, but had been on his wrist day by day, year by year and decade by decade, it might have been completely wrecked, whereas had it been worn and lubed with mineral oil, it would likely have stopped when it needed attention, received it and worked on without wear throughout the time.

This thought made me wonder about what I'd said earlier.
 

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Someone asked about the oiling of new sea-gull watches earlier in the thread. I just got an M177s. I read on a thread somewhere on WUS that a stripped new sea-gull seemed almost devoid of oil except on the balance staff pivots. It might have been Wilderbeast's strip down where this was mentioned, but I'm not sure. I'm wondering how long the watch will run if this was the case. I suppose the most prone to wear parts would be those moving most such as balance pivots and escape wheel. They are lightly loaded but with greater rubbing speed. I am unsure how slower moving pivots would wear if dry. Obviously, the nearer the mainspring in the train the heavier the loads and the slower the rotation. That's the way it would seem to this neophyte anyway. Maybe someone can illuminate the matter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Another fascinating report Christian. I love reading these and especially appreciate the photos you take. I'm wondering if you use one of those USB microscopes and if so which one. The quality is stunning.

Well, your conclusions are also fascinating about the oiling done at the service it had long ago. Just to put another point of view on the synthetic / mineral debate. I saw a comment the other day that said the good result of gummy old mineral oil is that since the watch stops, it gets a service, whereas if it is run extensively when dry, it may suffer irretrievable damage. I must say, I had not thought of that, merely concerning myself with not having to pay for maintenance so often. It seems possible, that if your dad's watch had not been living in retirement, but had been on his wrist day by day, year by year and decade by decade, it might have been completely wrecked, whereas had it been worn and lubed with mineral oil, it would likely have stopped when it needed attention, received it and worked on without wear throughout the time.

This thought made me wonder about what I'd said earlier.
Thanks for the compliment! I'm using a Celestron USB microscope - the one for £ 50 which seems to do the job quite well. For the photos, I'm using a Cannon Digital Ixus 85IS, which has a great macro setting.

I think you have a very good point here. Even synthetic oil will disappear over time, and then I would prefer to have a gunked up watch that stops rather then having one that is perfectly dry and wears down.

I really would like to get my mitts on some watches that haven't been serviced for a long time (some with synthetic oil, some mineral), do get to the bottom of this.

Interesting subject!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Someone asked about the oiling of new sea-gull watches earlier in the thread. I just got an M177s. I read on a thread somewhere on WUS that a stripped new sea-gull seemed almost devoid of oil except on the balance staff pivots. It might have been Wilderbeast's strip down where this was mentioned, but I'm not sure. I'm wondering how long the watch will run if this was the case. I suppose the most prone to wear parts would be those moving most such as balance pivots and escape wheel. They are lightly loaded but with greater rubbing speed. I am unsure how slower moving pivots would wear if dry. Obviously, the nearer the mainspring in the train the heavier the loads and the slower the rotation. That's the way it would seem to this neophyte anyway. Maybe someone can illuminate the matter.
To be honest - if a watch is properly oiled (e.g. as little as possible oil is used), it is very hard even after a short period of time to detect the oil, even under a microscope. I'm reading a lot about the "perfect donut" in the jewel when oiling, and that's all fine. But if I look a couple of hours later, there is no more donut - especially not when using an oil like the Moebius 9010, which is almost like water.

In theory, a layer of a single molecule will of course do the job, and that's probably how modern synthetic watch oil works.

For wear, it does take a lot of time to wear a movement down. Jewelled pivots last for oinks, even when dry. And the non-jewelled pivots turn so slow, that it will take a heck of a long time as well.

The main benefit of oil is the consistency of the beat rate, which is impossible to achieve without oil - I don't think it's that much about wear and tear (apart from the auto winder on a rolex ;-) )

What you would really need is two identical watches, cleaned and put together by the same person, one oiled with mineral oil, one with synthetic, and worn under the same conditions for 10 years. After that, I'd have an educated opinion on the matter. Until then, I'm guessing as well.
 

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Great post Christian. Thanks for the answers. Cheers.

I've mentioned elsewhere (several times) that I inherited my dad's Omega Bumper. recently. He inherited it from his own father in 1966. Grandpa bought in in 1946. This watch was worn 24/7, 365 days a year by the pair of them for 63 years right up to 2009 when it stopped and Dad put it aside. I think it was serviced twice since '66, and not in the last twenty years as far as I know. When I got it, it wouldn't run. I had no idea what was wring or whether it was even worth fixing. This was right at the start of my interest in mechanical watches just before Christmas and I squirted some servisol 50 into it and up she started. Then realising it was only gunked up, I put it in 3mm of lighter fluid face up and let it run for a while in the naptha. I changed this shallow bath twice until it stayed clean and then let it dry.

She ran fine, so I gave a light squirt of servisol into the main gear trains keeping well away from the balance to avoid getting an oily spring. Then I put a small amount of very light silicon oil on the top and bottom of the balance staff. When regulated a bit, the watch keeps time to 1 second a day on the wrist. This amazed me, but I have been warned by all and sundry that this is vandalism so after a month of running it like this during which it worked perfectly, I let it run down and stop. I will get it serviced properly by someone who can do a good job for me, though one is never sure how people advertising their service will do a good job.

It also needs a new set of hands. The hour hand snapped off at the central boss when the watch was being set and I soldered it together again so I could see the thing working.

20120131_140358.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Great post Christian. Thanks for the answers. Cheers.

I've mentioned elsewhere (several times) that I inherited my dad's Omega Bumper. recently. He inherited it from his own father in 1966. Grandpa bought in in 1946. This watch was worn 24/7, 365 days a year by the pair of them for 63 years right up to 2009 when it stopped and Dad put it aside. I think it was serviced twice since '66, and not in the last twenty years as far as I know. When I got it, it wouldn't run. I had no idea what was wring or whether it was even worth fixing. This was right at the start of my interest in mechanical watches just before Christmas and I squirted some servisol 50 into it and up she started. Then realising it was only gunked up, I put it in 3mm of lighter fluid face up and let it run for a while in the naptha. I changed this shallow bath twice until it stayed clean and then let it dry.

She ran fine, so I gave a light squirt of servisol into the main gear trains keeping well away from the balance to avoid getting an oily spring. Then I put a small amount of very light silicon oil on the top and bottom of the balance staff. When regulated a bit, the watch keeps time to 1 second a day on the wrist. This amazed me, but I have been warned by all and sundry that this is vandalism so after a month of running it like this during which it worked perfectly, I let it run down and stop. I will get it serviced properly by someone who can do a good job for me, though one is never sure how people advertising their service will do a good job.
That made me laugh! But it shows that all this precision oiling might be a tad over the top - even though I do it myself. I always take the whole movement apart, clean it and oil it.

But, apparently, there are other ways!

Still chuckling...
 

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I've been thoroughly criticised for doing this. I realise I deserve it having found out a lot more about the subject. :) This tale usually gets pretty frosty reception in horological circles. I spoke to one watch guy around here and when I told him what I'd done he sucked in his breath and said he would service it. When I told him it had a daily rate of -1 second a day he said 'Leave well alone.' and declined to deal with it. The thing is, it might work for a few years like this and then be totalled with worn out pivots and such. I wouldn't like that to happen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I've been thoroughly criticised for doing this. I realise I deserve it having found out a lot more about the subject. :) This tale usually gets pretty frosty reception in horological circles. I spoke to one watch guy around here and when I told him what I'd done he sucked in his breath and said he would service it. When I told him it had a daily rate of -1 second a day he said 'Leave well alone.' and declined to deal with it. The thing is, it might work for a few years like this and then be totalled with worn out pivots and such. I wouldn't like that to happen.
Can't really tell you off if the watch is performing that well. It would be great fun to research this properly! From WD40 to Moebius ;-)
 

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Interesting thread this. It spurred me on to hunt down an article I once read that has some relevance. If you can't be bothered to read it all the pictures alone are worth the visit.

I have to warn you it's a horror story, so apologies in advance to those who can't sleep tonight ;-)

http://home.watchprosite.com/show-nblog.post/ti-432276/

ps Tony my opinion is completely inexpert so feel free to ignore it, but I'd be scared that the oil would damage the dial
 

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That link about service intervals was very good indeed. really enjoyed reading that. The photos show the risks of messing about as I did with the old Omega. To be honest though, the watch has had so few services that it is inevitable worn.

ps Tony my opinion is completely inexpert so feel free to ignore it, but I'd be scared that the oil would damage the dial
Yes - I knew of that issue and was careful not to squirt either lighter fluid or servisol 50 in such quantities that it would get on the dial. I also held the watch face up while the solvent laden servisol was bubbling about in the movement, so it would not drain onto the dial by gravity. The good news is that the dial is fine, but you are right about being concerned for the paint. I don't know what kind of paint Omega used in 1945/6 when the watch was made.

The servisol switch cleaner is maybe 2% oil. I'm guessing. I sprayed it on glass slides a couple of times where it formed a pool and then evaporated leaving small blobs of oil behind. These lasted weeks without shrinking until I got tired of the experiment and wiped the slides. I suspect that the foaming action of the switch cleaner will have left traces of oil distributed around the movement, and in my early totally ignorant watch days, I was hoping it would leave the pivots oiled enough to function. Well the watch functions rather well AT THE MOMENT, but now I know a bit more, I have no confidence that it will continue to do so, which is why after a month, I abandoned the idea of running it like this and let it run down until I find someone I can trust to do a good clean and lube job on it.

In essence it is a simple watch. Hours, minutes, centre seconds and a bumper auto wind mechanism. No date complication or subsidiary hands.

I'd happily send it to Christian if he was interested in giving me a quote. I have very much enjoyed his forensic recording of services, and would love to see an account of this old watch done like that.

It needs a new hour hand and I would like a new crown and crystal. The original crown was replaced in the sixties with a gold filled non omega one. The gold skin has peeled off that. I still have it, but it is worn. The crystal is a bit battered - not too bad, but it's not great and as I said in a post up above, the hour hand snapped off and I soldered it back on. That was a bizarre happening.I was just setting the time and the hour hand clashed with the minute one. next thing I knew as I spun the crown, the hour hand broke and was dangling like a broken wing by a thread from the boss in the centre. My repair is crude but functional I'm no jeweller so it ain't great. It needs a new hand or more likely a set of hands. I don't suppose you can get them singly. The hand are solid gold as is the rest of the case (18ct).
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Interesting thread this. It spurred me on to hunt down an article I once read that has some relevance. If you can't be bothered to read it all the pictures alone are worth the visit.

I have to warn you it's a horror story, so apologies in advance to those who can't sleep tonight ;-)

http://home.watchprosite.com/show-nblog.post/ti-432276/

ps Tony my opinion is completely inexpert so feel free to ignore it, but I'd be scared that the oil would damage the dial
That is a great article - makes you go out and buy a Casio Quartz watch ;-)

Fortunately, most of the time, it doesn't look that bad. As he says as well, it's dirt + oil that creates a pretty abrasive mixture. Great photos and very interesting detail!
 
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