Rolex 18ct Gold Day-Date Restoration

A recent job we had in the workshop involved restoring a rather tired 18ct Gold Rolex Day-Date Automatic watch. This watch had certainly lived a life – the bracelet was extremely worn and stretched, and the movement had not seen a watchmaker for many, many years.

The Rolex watch before its restoration,
having offered many years of loyal service

To tackle such a job we involved both our on-site jeweller and watchmaker. Our jeweller restored the 18ct gold bracelet, whereas our watchmaker serviced and repaired the intricate mechanism.

To restore such a worn bracelet took our jeweller many hours. Each link needed to be carefully broken down into its individual components, and the pins drilled out. He then needed to rebuild the bracelet – reforming some links and pinning every single link to ensure it is strong for many further years of continued wear and enjoyment.

Our Goldsmith, here on-site in Lewes,
worked tirelessly to restore each and
every link within the bracelet.

Our watchmaker found the movement to most certainly be in need of a thorough service. Pivots which should be clean and nicely oiled were found running dry, with residue of old oils and greases broken down and further interfering with the smooth running of the mechanism.

To rectify these issues the entire watch movement is stripped apart, before going through a full cleaning cycle in a specialist watch movement cleaning machine. The movement is then carefully reassembled, with oils and greases used in certain places to ensure optimal performance of the watch for a full service interval. A new mainspring was fitted during the reassembly process too.

On top of the work to the movement, this watch required a new glass and crown – these jobs were also tackled by our watch workshop. This model of Rolex uses a plexi-glass with a cyclops lens to magnify the date. We sourced and fitted a glass based on the Rolex model reference – this presses onto the case before being secured in place by the fluted bezel.

After all the work was completed, the watch undergoes rigorous testing for timekeeping. It is initially regulated by our watchmaker and checked in multiple positions to ensure it is performing as expected. It then is testing for automatic winding on our Elma Cyclomotion winding machine, as well as for power reserve and performance after 24 hours has elapsed.

If you have a Rolex Day-Date or similar model in need of repair, do get in contact with us. We are experts in the repair and restoration of almost any type of wrist and pocket watch. We hold a Feefo Platinum Trusted Service Award – testament to our many satisfied customers. Our fully insured, freepost repairs service is still operational during lockdown.

Yours sincerely

David Clark PJDip PJGemDip Cert GA
Managing Director
W.E. Clark & Son

What’s the difference between a manual-wind and an automatic watch?

In the world of watch repair we see plenty of different types and styles of watch. Differences can be found in many different areas – be it the style of dial, functions the watch provides, type of case, type of escapement… the list is huge. In this blog post we’re going to focus on the difference between a manual-wind and an automatic watch.

To provide some background – Manual-wind and automatic watches are generally speaking very similar, they are both types of mechanical watch. All mechanical watches rely on certain principles:

  • There needs to be a source of motive force to power the watch
  • A gear train is needed to operate the time indication.
  • Something is needed to control the speed at which the gear train moves (escapement and oscillator)
  • A mechanism is needed to wind the watch
  • A mechanism is needed to set the time
  • All these parts must be attached to a frame or plate

In the vast majority of the above areas, there is no fundamental difference between a manual-wind and automatic watch.

Both manual-wind and automatic watches use a spring (the mainspring) as their form of motive force to power the watch. This spring is coiled inside a small drum (barrel) and when the watch is wound, the spring is constantly trying to unwind. The force this produces is transferred through the gear train and released in a controlled manner by the action of the escapement and oscillator. The manner in which this spring is wound up is where the key difference between manual-wind and automatic watches can be found.

Manually wound movements

A manual-wind watch, as the name would suggest, is wound up by hand. Rotating the crown (winder) results in the mainspring being wound up via a series of wheels. The mainspring is prevented from unwinding by a recoiling click and ratchet wheel. The click allows the ratchet to turn in one direction to wind up, but blocks it in the opposite direction. It recoils slightly to prevent the mainspring being wound extremely tightly, as this could lead to problems caused by too much force being produced .

Two examples of mechanical hand-wound watch movements.

Automatically wound movements

An automatic watch may also facilitate winding using the above system, though the mainspring used in an automatic watch is different. Automatic mainsprings are designed to slip around the inside of the barrel once they reach a certain point of winding. This is necessary because the watch is constantly being wound via an automatic winding mechanism as it is worn.

A disassembled ETA 2836-2 movement, undergoing repair in our workshop.

Automatic winding mechanisms come in a huge number of different designs – some better and more efficient than others! They usually involve an oscillating weight (or rotor) which swings through 360 degrees with the movement of the watch on the wrist. The motion of the rotor is transferred through to the ratchet and mainspring via a reverser mechanism. During watch servicing reversers are often worn out and in need of replacement as they have a hard life, though some types like the “magic lever” system are quite robust.

Automatically wound mechanisms, the oscillating rotor can be seen in here.

So manual-wind and automatic watch are very similar. The difference lies in the method in which the mainspring is wound up, and the type of mainspring used. Automatic watches are wound by the movement of the watch on your wrist, and they may also be wound up by rotating the crown. Manual-wind watches are wound up by rotating the crown only.

We are able to repair almost any type and brand of manual-wind and automatic mechanical watches. From vintage manual-wind Rotary and Omega, through to modern automatic Rolex and Tag Heuer, we are able to help. If you have a watch in need of repair – do not hesitate to contact us. We offer a fully insured, freepost repairs service to clients all around the UK and our Feefo Platinum Trusted Service Award is testament to the excellent service we provide to our clients.

Please ask us any question you may have, or send a photo via our Ask the Watchmaker page.

We look forward to hearing from you soon

David Clark PJGemDip PJDip CertGA
Managing Director
W.E. Clark & Son Limited

We are open

As we are now approaching a year of Coronavirus restrictions in one form or another, it feels appropriate to make this next blog post about how we’ve remained open. We’ve continued to repair watches both modern and vintage, all thanks to our fantastic postal repairs service and our wonderful watch repairs team.

As you may be aware, we operate two showrooms (one in Lewes, the other in Uckfield) where we offer a huge range of services – including watch repairs – alongside sales of jewellery, watches and giftware. In order to comply with Covid restrictions we have been forced to close both showrooms for significant portions of the past year. While this may represent a challenge, we’ve worked hard over a number of years establishing our postal watch repairs service and this has remained open throughout.

Our picturesque showroom located next to the River Ouse in Lewes, East Sussex.

WE Clark & Son has always offered a watch repairs service. We added to this in 2014, launching our in-house and postal service. Since then we have repaired thousands of watches and restored some truly remarkable pieces. As an independent workshop we offer repairs to a huge range of watches. We are able to obtain many obscure parts through our excellent network of suppliers and our watchmakers are experts in the repair of timepieces both new and old.

Watches received via our Secure, Free and Fully Insured Postal Repair Service.

Our postal watch repairs service is simple to use – you fill in the form on our website to request everything you need to send your watch to us. This includes a fully insured, freepost special delivery envelope. You then package your watch and post it to us.

Once we receive your watch it is carefully examined by the watchmaker before we get in touch to discuss the work required and the cost involved. Once you agree and proceed the work we ask for a 25% deposit to be paid. Should you decline the quote, there is a small administration fee payable and we will return your watch back in its original condition.

Renowned specialists in Pocket Watch Repair and Restoration

Once we complete the work and finish testing your watch, it will be ready to release back to you. We then get in touch to arrange payment and return your watch – again via fully insured special delivery with guaranteed next day delivery by 1pm.

With the postal repairs service outlined above we’ve been able to continue offering a comprehensive range of watch repairs to customers all around the UK. We’ve been awarded the ‘Platinum Trusted Service Award’ by Feefo – this award is given to companies who offer exceptional customer service and it’s based on feedback and ratings given by previous customers. We’re proud to offer great service – it really is the foundation of our business.

So if you have a watch in need of repair – do get in touch with us. We remain open and remain committed to offering the same high levels of customer service and quality repairs. From full servicing of an Omega Seamaster or Rolex Datejust, through to battery replacement and resealing of a Tag Heuer Aquaracer, we are able to repair almost any watch.

We are UK Specialists in the repair and restoration of vintage and antique timepieces.