Restoration of the Month
As the Before pictures on the left show, this rare Duval 1000M dive watch was a real mess when we first got it. Not only did it need full mechanical and physical restoration due to heavy use/abuse, the hard to find 2 tier glass crystal had been broken, the original screw-down crown and tube were missing (with the tube cut off flush with the case) and replaced by a generic non-waterporoof crown, and the bezel trim ring was missing. Before even considering the standard restoration we had to address the 3 main areas of damage, 2 of which had to be manufactured as the parts are no longer available. We made a 2 tier mineral glass crystal to the original dimensions, and created a new custom bezel trim ring our of a solid circular piece of stainless steel. The bezel trim ring is very important to this model as it helps to secure the unique locking bezel to the watch, and is more difficult to make than your standard bezel in that it not only has to snap over the lip on the case but also have proper clearance on the underside to both allow the turnable bezel to move yet not allow it to raise up from the track it operates in. You can see how the bezel looked "rough" just after we got the dimensions right, and the finished piece on the watch in the after pictures on the right. We had to drill out the remainder of the old tube, and installed a new screw-down crown and tube very similar to the original style. The watch then got a full mechanical service and light case detail/refinish. The original luminous material for the dial and hands was crumbling and unstable so we re-lumed both to match in a vintage color that really enhanced the overall look of the watch. In the last picture you can see that the watch was fitted with a very nice custom handmade blue Horween Chromexcel leather band with constrasting yellow stitching from www.jack-foster.com
This Breitling Navitimer 806 had more than a few problems when it first came in. It was not running, had taken in moisture at some point, had numerous cosmetic issues and the shaft of the hour register wheel was broken with the hand for it was missing. The moisture exposure (likely through the pushers) had caused a very light surface rust on a few parts. The more serious rust damage was to the caseback. After a lengthy search we were able to find a NOS hour register wheel for this Venus 178. We then set to repairing the rust damage to the caseback with a laser welder. The rust damage was severe enough that the caseback would not snap onto the body. After extensive laser repair the damage is no longer visible and the caseback snaps on perfectly. The bezel slide rule had already been refinished at some time (and looked even worse after the moisture) so we had it refinished in the original style. The movement was fully serviced, a new mainspring installed, and the case was lightly detailed. We also replaced the gaskets in the original pushers and crown. Due to the moisture the luminous on the original dial and hands was crumbling. We re-lumed these in a vintage color to match, and it really enhanced the look of the watch. The watch was then fitted with a 22mm custom handmade genuine alligator band with heavy stitching and a vintage 16mm Breitling twin jets buckle was added.
I am often asked what sort of results are possible with our standard service/restoration. I thought that this 1960's Zodiac Seawolf would be a good visual representation of that. This watch was purchased in the late 1960's, and when it was sent to us it: was heavily scratched (case, band, and crystal), the bezel was frozen and would not turn, the crown/stem were frozen and would not turn or pull out, the offset cannon pinion was too loose and the hour/minute hands would not turn, and the date would not advance. This watch was still with the original owner and he wanted to be able to pass it down as a family heirloom.
As the before pictures show, there were several issues that I had to address in this restoration. The rubber gaskets in both the crown and the caseback had melted considerably. In regards to the crown, the gaskets had melted onto the stem and into the case. In the caseback, the gaskets had melted to the point that they had started to run down into the case and onto the movement. There was also a considerable amount of corrosion around the edges of the caseback and case that would have to be removed. The bezel and top of the case was covered in corrosion and debris, so much so that the retaining spring for the bezel would not pull free from the case.
I completely disassembled the movement and removed any trace of melted gasket. I then ultrasonically cleaned the movement, oiled/lubricated it, tightened the offset cannon pinion , and regulated/adjusted it over a period of days. The case was cleaned of the corrosion and melted gasket, lightly polished and detailed, and new gaskets were installed in both the caseback and crown. The acrylic bezel was lightly polished/detailed, and all corrosion and debris was removed. The band was detailed and we replaced the hinge pin in the clasp and installed new spring bars. Before casing it up, a new vintage style crystal was installed.
The finished result is a watch that will make a very nice family keepsake. It looks nice, runs well, winds properly, the bezel turns ( and with proper tension), and the band/clasp functions as it should. All of this was done within our standard service, with only the addition of a new crystal and crown gaskets. The original owner now has a wearable collectible that can be passed on and enjoyed by future generations when the time comes.
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