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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I had a silly repair done recently, which I don't *think* I regret. The value isn't important to me, anyway. Anyone else have Quixotic repair stories? You might make me feel a bit less sentimental.

I wanted to make my first watch happy again after 3 decades. When I was 14 (1978) I had the chance for foreign study in Europe. I visited Lucerne briefly, where I bought an affordable watch at the Bucherer store. I wore that watch almost everyday for the next 8 years.



Recently I thought I would sell it, or maybe fix it up. I opened it to find a 25j ETA 2824 inside.



The power reserve was less than 7 hours. It would stop overnight. My watch repair guy convinced to me to try fixing it: "So… if you get a couple hundred dollars when you sell it, the money lasts a week or two. If you keep the watch, it stays around, it means something."

He swapped the scratched crystal and removed some crust. (In the process a bit of color came off at the bottom of the face.) After replacing the mainspring he still couldn't get the power reserve better than 8 hours, so he forwarded the project to a colleague with more ETA expertise and it finally came back to me with 14 hour power reserve and ~10 sec/day accuracy. Pretty good.



Original cost in 1978: $80
Total repair cost: $120
New leather strap: $22
Value to me: totally personal

Many of us here love mechanical watches, and some of us own more watches than we can wear; but these mechanisms don't last forever, and we know they're not a good investment. What story has made you decide to keep a watch alive? What makes you decide to sell it or hide it forever in a drawer? How do you feel when maintenance costs outpace value? The human side of keeping old watches ticking.
 

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I am in exactly the same position as you. I have my first watch that I bought with my very own hard earned money in 1978 (I was 8). Mine was cheaper than yours though, as it cost (from memory) only NZ$26 (50% off on a clearance sale). It is an Edox, 17J with likewise an ETA movement. And I used to wear it on a brown bush strap with leather cover - style! A few years later I put it on a regular strap and pretty much ruined it within months (the bush strap kept it perfect), and I have spent significant money on parts to repair it and I am almost ready to put it back together.

No regrets. I would spend more if I needed to. I have much nicer watches now, but this Edox is special.

BTW, yours is a NICE watch! Power reserve is still very low - should be a couple of days.
 

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If you wore it for eight years without having it serviced, there's probably significant wear on many of the parts, which likely accounts for the low power reserve. I'd be curious to try to fully wind the mainspring manually (I think these can be manually wound?) to see how long that runs. If its higher (20+hrs) there's something binding in the auto module that prevents it from getting much more then a half wind.
 

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If you wore it for eight years without having it serviced, there's probably significant wear on many of the parts, which likely accounts for the low power reserve. I'd be curious to try to fully wind the mainspring manually (I think these can be manually wound?) to see how long that runs. If its higher (20+hrs) there's something binding in the auto module that prevents it from getting much more then a half wind.
I'd second that. It's also an ETA 2836, not 2824 (same as 2824 but with day-date) which is still made today so that parts replacement would not be a technical issue.

Hartmut Richter
 

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I'd second that. It's also an ETA 2836, not 2824 (same as 2824 but with day-date) which is still made today so that parts replacement would not be a technical issue.

Hartmut Richter
hm... unless a lot of dirt managed to get into the watch in this time, an ETA should run longer than 8 years witout service or requiring spare parts.

He swapped the scratched crystal and removed some crust. (In the process a bit of color came off at the bottom of the face.) After replacing the mainspring he still couldn't get the power reserve better than 8 hours, so he forwarded the project to a colleague with more ETA expertise and it finally came back to me with 14 hour power reserve and ~10 sec/day accuracy. Pretty good.
I would rather say, skwatch needs a better watchmaker. But it would indeed make sense to wind it manually first. Allthough the 2924/2836 normally has a pretty efficient automatic wind.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the input, folks! Alas, this one does not wind manually. Wish it did. I certainly would love longer power reserve, but for some reason it never had a good reserve, even when new. Thanks also for the correction on the movement number. I should have caught the distinction. As for better watchmakers, would love to find one nearby, but they are increasingly rare in this pricey part of the world.
 

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That's the only other Bucherer I've seen like the one I used to own. Wish I still had a picture. Ended up giving it away, and it doesn't work for the current owner now.

Anyway, if you want to know about wasting money I think I can comment with some authority. I have nearly $2800 into this JLC when you add it up. $356 original purchase, $2123 for factory restoration, $210 for the 18K logo buckle, and then the strap.




No way could I sell it for that much - more like a little over half if I was lucky. But it was saved from melt down and I have a classic that looks like brand new. You can't get a solid gold Master Ultra Thin for that kind of money now so I'm happy.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you, ulackfocus, for helping me feel way better about my foibles! And that's an exquisite JLC. I love the pure lines and silky face. I think you were completely justified in getting that beauty back to health.
 

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skywatch - that's a very nice vintage watch, and all the more meaningful as it was your first watch. I too would get something like that serviced if I could.

And if it really does have an ETA 2836, or at least is the same size as one, you could always drop a new movement in there. It wouldn't cost all that much in the scheme of things...
 

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That's the only other Bucherer I've seen like the one I used to own. Wish I still had a picture. Ended up giving it away, and it doesn't work for the current owner now.

Anyway, if you want to know about wasting money I think I can comment with some authority. I have nearly $2800 into this JLC when you add it up. $356 original purchase, $2123 for factory restoration, $210 for the 18K logo buckle, and then the strap.




No way could I sell it for that much - more like a little over half if I was lucky. But it was saved from melt down and I have a classic that looks like brand new. You can't get a solid gold Master Ultra Thin for that kind of money now so I'm happy.

I just love the JLC. Maybe I'll find one that I can afford some day. It's a true classic. The kind that I like.
 

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What about this? How do you gauge how much is a worthwhile repair ? I have a 1957 GP Seahawk that's not pricey but I just like it. seahawk 1.jpg Not a memory trigger, just a simple watch. Where do you draw the "too much for the watch" repair value? I'm curious because it seems this is a very tough thing to do at times. I've fixed 2 watches that I got from movie sets that were DOA props. I like them, that's the memory for me. I revived two watches that remind of where I was when I got them.
 

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I like going to watch places and looking threw drawers, boxes and sometimes bags of watches. On one occasion I was heading to my watch guy and as I was winding it with a couple miles to go it popped. the main spring was old and warped it could not take the tension. Sadly I had it working the day before but lesson learned for a young collector.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
New GP Guy and Watch Origins sound like they feel the conflict that I sense; possibly for me, connected to my childhood teaching about not wasting something or throwing good things away (parents growing up during Great Depression and WWII, oddly echoing these tighter days??)

I dislike disposable culture, and I want a beautiful thing to keep breathing, ticking, glowing, singing. Just because something isn't "worth" repair doesn't mean I don't want to keep it alive. Then, in light of the technological advances we all thrive on, it seems so Quixotic. I chuckle about my Romantic tendencies. No judgement, just curiosity.
 

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The problem is labor costs. Fixing even a relatively simple, larger pocket watch still takes one to two hours and level of focus and skill that is a bit beyond the average. Anyone who's doing that for a living needs to charge $30-$40 an hour, at a minimum, just to cover their time and resources. As the watches become smaller and more complicated, the time goes up.

So to some degree, the lower end watches (the ones that commonly sell for $20-$50) are only being preserved by people with either lots of money, or who do the service work themselves. Unfortunately, that latter group (my peeps!) tend to have to rely on donor watches, because it's hard to build up the skills and equipment required to <make> parts if you're only doing this as a hobby.
 

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As of yesterday, I now have 3 watches that need repair. 2 of them were inexpensive. One a Sandoz with french works, Ill probably never see the like again. It was the subject of my thread on Sandoz and it has a unique dial. Iridescent yellow fade to black with Japanese numbers. It was always a bit problematic, as it was a married movement altho the dealer insisted not. I guess I always figured it would literally grind to a halt sooner rather than later. The point is this I paid little but I like a lot. Ive found a new nice watchmaker here in Philly and altho I havent had an estimate done and he is very reasonable on minor things ( like reseating and synchronizing hands on my gruen military precision - and yes, I tried myself, but failed) where do you draw the line on something? If its 100 dollars or more, do I just put it in a drawer and forget it. Trust me a watch with a dial like that doesnt come along often. What if I replaced the movement with a cheap accurate quartz? Believe me,Ive thought about it. A simple, inexpensive? solution?. Would I be drummed out of the vintage corps. If it could be quartzed, Id do it. What do you think?
 

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What if I replaced the movement with a cheap accurate quartz? Believe me,Ive thought about it. A simple, inexpensive? solution?. Would I be drummed out of the vintage corps. If it could be quartzed, Id do it. What do you think?
You'd destroy the watch. I'd just try to find an original donor movement on ebay and and put that in.
 

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I have about 30 watches a year serviced by my watchmaker. As the majority of high frequency watches don't command much money, many of them are not worth the price of service, but I collect them, so if they are going to go in the collection, they're going to work properly.
 

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New GP Guy and Watch Origins sound like they feel the conflict that I sense; possibly for me, connected to my childhood teaching about not wasting something or throwing good things away (parents growing up during Great Depression and WWII, oddly echoing these tighter days??)

I dislike disposable culture, and I want a beautiful thing to keep breathing, ticking, glowing, singing. Just because something isn't "worth" repair doesn't mean I don't want to keep it alive. Then, in light of the technological advances we all thrive on, it seems so Quixotic. I chuckle about my Romantic tendencies. No judgement, just curiosity.
That also describes me. I've rescued more than a few vintages, despite many saying that it wouldn't be worth it financially. It's not about the money for me, it's a hobby.
I do the same thing with cars ;-).
Living in the LA area, we have good local resources for watch repair, but I've often sent mine to specialists all over the US.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
So busy lately I didn't follow posts on this thread - and I wanted to thank you all for helping me feel more normal for my fond tendencies to keep these old beasts ticking. Now I am pondering taking my grandfather's '36 Hamilton in for an overhaul, just to keep it working. Thirty years ago I inherited that and a 1958 Audemars Piguet which haven't been used since the seventies. I doubt that I'll wear them but I love the idea that they have been cleaned and pampered. Joe Band - thanks for the watchmaker reference in Sunnyvale (via PM) I am thinking I might bring these two vintages in to investigate. Silly me.
 
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