We cater for a huge variety of different watches in our workshop – from modern watches through to vintage pieces upwards of 100 years old. While these watches may look very different, they share many things in common, including having a spring – the mainspring – as a source of power. In this blog post we will briefly discuss the mainspring, how it works and the different types we commonly find in watches.

The mainspring itself is a thin strip of metal curled into a spiral. It’s held inside a part called the barrel. The inner part of the spring hooks onto the barrel arbor, around which the barrel is able to rotate. The outer part of the spring hooks onto the wall of the barrel. Watches with what is known as a “going barrel”, have barrels with teeth on the outside. This engages with the pinion of the centre wheel to power the watch movement.

Vintage watches may have mainsprings made from carbon steel. These springs generally need replacing as the carbon steel is prone to breaking and often found to be “set” – this is when it in effect loses its spring. Modern watch mainsprings are made from an alloy, so these are much hardier. It’s absolutely critical to have a mainspring in excellent condition if you want good results when servicing a watch. Each mainspring needs to be removed from the barrel and checked for breakages, shape and flatness. We do tend to replace mainsprings, just so we can be 100% certain that the source of power is in perfect condition.

There are a number of different types of mainsprings. The variations may include different types of fitting. For example some mainsprings hook onto the wall of the barrel, others are shaped so a section will fit into slots in the top and bottom of the barrel. There are also differences between manual wind and automatic mainsprings. A manual wind mainspring can be wound up but once it reaches a point it will stop. On the other hand, 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.

There are a huge variety of types of mainsprings, and within the different categories there are of course many different size measurements. Mainsprings are measured by their height, length and thickness, as well as the type/size/calibre of watch they’re designed for. In the vast majority of cases, we are able to find the correct mainspring through simply knowing the movement calibre, though with older watches and pocket watches, we often still need to measure the spring.

Do you have a watch in need of repair? We are able to repair almost any type and brand of watch. 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.

We look forward to hearing from you soon

Yours sincerely

David Clark PJDip PJGemDip CertGA
Managing Director

Water Damaged Tag Heuer Restoration

Sometimes watches we work on undergo rather dramatic transformations. One instance where this tends to occur is when dealing with water damage. Water damage occurs when, as the name would suggest, water enters the watch. Sensitive watch movements do not get on well with any moisture – this is one of the reasons why it’s important to have your watch regularly checked for water resistance. Water resistance is not a permanent characteristic. Watches rely on a series of seals and for the case to be in excellent condition. Even the smallest breach or a build-up of dirt can compromise the water resistance.

In this instance we received a rather sad looking Tag Heuer Formula 1. Water had entered the case staining the hands, inside of the glass and damaging the movement. We started by disassembling the watch, removing the movement, dial and hands before fully stripping down the case.

On inspection of the movement, it was damaged and as this model uses a non-serviceable movement made by ETA – one of the big names in watch movement production – a complete movement replacement was necessary. To deal with the damaged hands we ordered a complete new set. We have a parts account with Tag Heuer, so we are able to source almost any part we need to repair Tag Heuer watches.

All case parts were ultrasonically cleaned and the glass was carefully cleaned by hand to remove the staining. The case was then reassembled using a complete set of brand-new seals. The dial was also carefully cleaned as best possible.

Now we simply assemble everything. The dial is fitted to the new movement, before the new set of hands are fitted. When fitting the hands, we use a hand press tool made by Horotec. These tools are a great way to ensure the hands are fitted completely parallel with the dial (and each other), and that the spacing is appropriate and uniform. After these are fitted, we fit this back into the case.

Finally, the complete watch is pressure tested to ensure it passes to the full 200m water resistance using our Sigma SM-8850 pressure testing machine. This is able to test watches rated up to 300m water resistant. It tests using air pressure, so it is connected to a compressor which in turn is fitted with a booster as it requires plenty of pressure to reach 100m+. By using air pressure, we are able to test the watch complete, so with or without the movement inside.

A before and after image of the watch.

Do you have a Tag Heuer watch in need of repair? Get in contact with us to see how we can help. We are able to repair almost any Tag Heuer watch and with our Tag Heuer parts access we offer a comprehensive service. We cater to clients all around the UK thanks to our fully insured freepost watch repairs service. As a Feefo Platinum Trusted Service Award accredited business, you can be confident when dealing with us.

We look forward to hearing from you soon

Yours sincerely

David Clark PJDip PJGemDip CertGA
Managing Director

Service and Repair of an Automatic Day-Date Tissot Watch

We see such a huge range of watches in our workshop – from vintage pieces, sometimes over 200 years old, through to modern wristwatches. In this instance we’re working on a more modern watch – a Tissot Couturier.

Tissot are one of the bigger names in watches. Established in Le Locle in 1853, Tissot famously released many innovative models over the years, including the first watches made out of plastic (the Idea 2001 in 1971), Granite (the RockWatch in 1985) and wood (the Wood watch in 1988).

This particular watch was not working when received. We diagnosed a broken mainspring and set about giving it a full service, clean and light refinish.

The watch is first completely disassembled. As the case was being refinished, this was also taken apart. The movement powering this watch is made by ETA – one of the big names in manufacturing watch movements (and also a subsidiary of Swatch Group, a group Tissot belongs to). It’s an ETA 2834-2. This calibre is 25 jewel automatic with a day-date complication.

During disassembly we check everything as we go to make sure it’s in good order. Jewels are cleaned manually using pegwood to ensure dried up oil and grease is removed. We rinse parts in horological essence which acts as an initial degreasing stage. It’s important to get a movement as clean as possible, so this initial pre-cleaning helps us to achieve that goal. Once the movement is fully disassembled it’s run through our watch movement cleaning machine before it’s ready for reassembly.

Reassembling the movement is done in a specific order. As the movement is being rebuilt, we need to use certain oils and greases to lubricate the mechanism. Each watchmaker has their own preferred lubricants, though there are some widely accepted as the industry standard. The manufacturer provides a data sheet for modern movements so we are able to lubricate the movement to their specification (with vintage watches this may not be the case, so best practices and experience are relied upon).

Once the movement is ready and has been reunited with its dial and hands, we turn our attention to the case parts. The case has a separate bezel and case back which are a high-polished finish, whereas the middle part of the case has a satin finish. These are given a light polish using various different wheels and polishing compounds. Likewise the deployment clasp is given a polish.

Once the case parts are done it’s time to rebuild the case and reassemble the complete watch ready for testing.

Do you have a Tissot watch in need of repair? Get in contact with us to see how we can help. We are able to repair almost any Tissot watch and we offer a comprehensive watch repair service. We cater to clients all around the UK thanks to our fully insured freepost watch repairs service. As Business Partners of the British Horological Institute and a Feefo Platinum Trusted Service Award

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.

We are still open!

We want to update you all on our current status and to reassure you that we are still very much open and operational despite the recently announced second lockdown.

Firsly – Please rest assured – all our watchmakers and watch repairs team take coronavirus safety measures seriously. That means everyone is adhering to the rules and is happy to continue working throughout.

We are able to continue repairing watches during lockdown because we have our excellent postal repairs service. With our special delivery freepost service, all watches are fully insured for up to £20,000 from the moment they leave your hand.

All you need to do is to request the freepost packaging here!

We’re happy to be trusted with repairs to a huge range of watches. From sentimental antique pocket watches, to modern Omega Seamasters or Rolex Datejusts – we see a huge variety of timepieces. It’s one of the great things about being involved in an independent watch repair workshop.

The nature of the repairs we conduct is hugely varied too. From refitting a loose hand, changing a broken glass and replacing a battery to refinishing the case and bracelet or a complete service – our range of repair services offered is extremely comprehensive.

Service is of huge importance to us and we will continue to provide our first-class service solely through our insured, freepost repairs until we are able to re-open our stores.

So please – If you have a watch in need of attention, do not hesitate to get in touch. Your support of an independent business is – as always – truly appreciated.

Why you should get your watch regularly serviced blog post

A phrase we often hear is “my watch has kept going for years and I’ve never had it serviced”. If this is the case, why should a watch be serviced?

We’ll concentrate on mechanical watches in this instance, as servicing is a little different when it comes to the majority of quartz watches.

It’s important to note, there’s a big difference between a watch which is working and a watch which is actually keeping time. If a watch has gone decades without seeing a watchmaker, yet it is still working, this is more down to the fantastic design of the watch movement (like the wonderful Swiss lever escapement) rather than a sign that your watch is in good condition. Most relatively modern timepieces should keep time to a lesser or greater extent. If your watch is losing or gaining minutes per day, this is certainly a warning sign that it needs attention.

Even if your watch is keeping time, there are many other elements to a watch movement which require regular maintenance besides those involved purely in timekeeping. If you have a chronograph function for example, or in an automatic watch the parts needed to wind the watch efficiently. Pictured below we have an image showing the automatic work from an Omega Seamaster we recently serviced. This watch was still running – albeit not especially well – and as you can see the automatic system is looking rather worse for wear.

In order for a watch movement to operate efficiently, it requires periodic maintenance in the form of a service. This involves (briefly) the entire mechanism being completely dismantled, cleaned, reassembled, oiled, adjusted and tested. It’s also checked for wear, with worn parts replaced. If a watch is left without servicing for prolonged periods, the oils and greases start to dry up or act to actually increase friction and parts are left to run dry which then causes increased wear.

If you have a particularly rare or old watch, this may cause issues as worn parts may not be freely available. This could lead to parts needing to be made, exponentially increasing the cost of the repair. You also may have heard about some Swiss brands restricting the availability of their parts for even their modern timepieces. Another reason to look after your watch! That said, we are lucky in that we can source many such parts. Service intervals for different models do vary, though we suggest 4-5 years as a general guide.

We have encountered some surprise from clients at the need to maintain a watch regularly to ensure it’s continued longevity and accurate performance. The analogy I like to make is with servicing your car. Imagine your watch movement is like a tiny engine. If you wear it daily, it’s ticking away 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It’s a truly remarkable thing. Imagine running your car like this! The need for maintenance seems a little less surprising thinking about it in such terms.

When you have a quality timepiece from the likes of Rolex, Omega, and Tag Heuer, it makes sense to look after it. By ensuring your watch is kept regularly serviced it will continue to provide you with years and years of reliable service and may then become an heirloom to pass on to the next generation.

Do you have a watch in need of servicing? Contact us to see how we can help.

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Pressure Test

If you use your watch in or around water we recommend having it checked regularly for water resistance. Our suggestion is to have it checked every 12 months.

It’s necessary to do this because water resistance is not a permanent characteristic of a watch. In order to be water resistant, watches use various different types of seals and gaskets. These seals are perishable – the rubber can dry out for example. It’s of paramount importance that these seals are clean and in good condition.

One opportunity for a seal to be compromised is during a battery replacement – this is one reason why it’s important to take your watch to a trained watch repair specialist. There are many different ways an untrained individual may accidentally cause issues when changing a battery. We could probably write multiple blog posts about this subject alone, without even mentioning the numerous ways they can compromise water resistance too.

To give one example, if the case back is not cleaned prior to opening, dirt and debris from the case back can easily enter the case when the case back is removed. This may work its way into the movement and stop the watch, as well as interfere with the seal. If this watch were to then be worn in water, it could leak and a very costly repair bill would follow.

Suffice to say we follow industry standard best practices when replacing batteries and pressure testing watches. Let’s assume the battery has now been replaced and the seals are checked/replaced and greased properly. Once the case back is secured, this is when we can put the watch into our pressure testing machine.

We’re lucky enough to have an excellent pressure testing machine – the Sigma SM-8850. This is a brilliant piece of kit, which is able to test watches rated up to 300m water resistant. It tests using air pressure, so it is connected to a compressor (which in turn is fitted with a booster as it requires plenty of pressure). By using air pressure we are able to test the watch complete. From a user perspective it’s straightforward to use – taking just a few minutes to perform two different types of test, then providing us details of the performance of the watch alongside the overall pass/fail result. You can see some images of the pressure testing machine below.

Do you have a watch in need of a battery and/or pressure testing? Get in touch and see how we can help.

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A week in the life of our workshop

We are all too aware of the challenges facing the world at this time. Our postal watch repair business, though, remains fully operational. This part of our business operates in such a way that there is no face-to-face requirement to meet with customers. This does not mean that our customers receive any less than they would expect in relation to service. Initially, we receive email enquiries for our customers about watch repairs. The sheer variance is sometimes mind boggling; from a 150 year old family pocket watch, to a simple battery replacement on a 2 year old watch.

Once the enquiry is received customers may hear back from Daniel Blackford, who is the Director in charge of Watch Repairs. He will then issue a FREEPOST Royal Mail Fully Insured Special Delivery Envelope pack, containing protective packaging and instructions on what we required in order that a quotation to repair can be offered.

Once the customer’s cherished timepiece is safely received, a receipt email will be sent to reassure our customer.

We are now regarded as one of the UK’s leading watch repair service, taking on many watch repairs and restorations that often many others just refuse.

This is an example of some of the interesting a wonderful timepieces we have released back to our customers this week.

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Watches shown include: Pocket Watches, Military Watches, Rolex Watches, Omega Watches, Vintage Watches, Longines Watches.

I can personally reassure you, my family business has been established for over 200 years. If you are kind enough to allow us to work on, I would like to offer a personal guarantee, please contact me via the contact us section should you have any questions.

Yours sincerely

David Clark P J Dip P J Gem Dip Cert GA
Managing Director
W.E. Clark & Son – W.E. Clark Watch Repairs

On-site watch repair service

Due to the ongoing success of our watch repair service, we are delighted to announce that we have an on-site repair workshop at our Lewes showroom. Dan has been trained in watch repair and is currently undertaking further training with the BHI (British Horological Institute) to become further qualified.

Dan at work in our Lewes workshop

With our Master Watchmaker undertaking the repairs and restoration to vintage and antique timepieces, Dan works on the more modern timepieces. There are many jobs that we can undertake on-site now thus making us a destination for all your watch repair requirements.

For example, we have specialist equipment that can diagnose the issue within a quartz (battery operated) watch movement. This has benefits such as we are able to service some quartz modules instead of having to replace the entire module which would cost more.

Elma quartz movement analyser

We stock hundreds of replacement glasses and domes for older timepieces. This means we can quickly replace broken or cracked glass. Another common issue we encounter is issues with the hands of watches, maybe they are out of alignment, again we can remedy this.

Many modern timepieces are water resistant, and this means working on them is all well and good, but the correct equipment is required to ensure the watch is pressure tested afterwards to ensure it remains safe to use to the stated depth. Within our workshop we have such equipment, that will ensure you can use your timepiece in water to the stated depth. Prices for this service start at £35.

Sigma Watch Pressure Testing Machine

The rise and rise of the pocket watch

Pocket Watches - Banner Image

We live in unprecedented times. AI, automation and a whole host of other globally significant advancements have changed the world in countless ways in the past two decades. The internet has transformed virtually every aspect of our lives. Mobile phones are a necessity and social media is hugely influential. We are witnessing the development of driverless cars. Climate change is threatening our very existence. So, where do pocket watches fit in to all of this?

A brief history of the pocket watch

Pocket watches have been around since the 17th century (ever since the 16th century, small round timepieces have been carried as a status symbol, but were at that time not small enough to fit into pockets). Early pocket watches were bulky and came to fruition after Peter Henlein, a German inventor, created the first timepieces that didn’t require falling weights.

Early pocket watches weren’t very accurate, but that all changed with the invention of the lever escapement (first introduced by English horologist, Thomas Mudge). In the late 1850s pocket watches in America were being manufactured using mechanised production lines with standardised parts.

At that time pocket watches were used on the railroads for accurate timekeeping. After a railroad engineer’s pocket watch lost time for 4 minutes, causing the famous Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway crash in 1891, stringent standards were subsequently applied to pocket watch production.

Wrist watches, which became popular during the 1st World War, and the development of the quartz mechanism, led to pocket watches falling out of fashion. There was a short revival of interest in the pocket watch during the 1950s as a result of the three-piece suit, but the wristwatch became the timepiece of choice for decades.

In recent years, along with the explosion of interest in vintage, the pocket watch has once again become a sought-after piece of gentlemen’s attire.

The vintage trend

The interest in antique and vintage mechanical pocket watches has spiralled in recent years. Vintage is a growing trend across the board from furniture, lighting, artwork, clocks, and jewellery to clothing.

The pocket watch is an iconic accessory. Celebrities, including Johnny Depp and Justin Timberlake, have been spotted wearing them, as has business man and entrepreneur Peter Jones.

In the W.E. Clark watch repairs workshop there has been a sharp increase in the number of older pocket watches coming in to be restored to their former glory. The demand for vintage pocket watches is booming.

Built to last

Our experienced watch repairer at W.E. Clark, Daniel Stent, says “Our clients like the history behind pocket watches – often these are passed down through the family.

Furthermore, vintage pocket watches were built to last – the quality is often significantly better than you’d get from a modern piece. Take a Hamilton Railroad Pocket Watch for example. You can pick these up for relatively little money given the great quality, with many having features like a safety pinion, fantastic finishing to movement, gold centre wheels, and 5-position adjustment.”

Throw-away era on its way out

People are starting to reflect and shift away from the throw-away era that has become the scourge of modern life. The impending climate crisis is in part driving the U-turn. Younger generations in particular are taking this global threat seriously. Quartz watches brought timepieces to the masses, but the vast majority became throwaway commodities.

The popularity in pocket watches is largely down to a change in consumer attitudes. Younger generations in particular are much more focused on environmental issues and sustainability. Nostalgia also plays a role in vintage consumption, with consumers keen to preserve history and memories in our fast-paced world.

Our watch repairer, Daniel says, “Society is moving away from the ‘throw-away’ era – people demand items with longevity. Good quality vintage pocket watches (and wristwatches for that matter) certainly have this. Provided they’re properly maintained they’ll continue to give many years of excellent service.”

“We recently had a Jaeger Le Coultre GSTP model in for repair – these were issued to the military during World War Two. This was a very fine quarter repeater chronograph; a lovely antique silver verge fusee piece. We also see many examples from brands such as Waltham, from the ubiquitous Traveller, through to the Vanguard and Crescent Street models.”

If you have a pocket watch that is a family heirloom languishing in a safe, jewellery box, or at the back of a drawer, why not bring it back to its former glory. We can fully restore any pocket watch.

If you would like to know more about pocket watches, read our beginner’s guide to pocket watches here.