Quick, Cheap and Easy Home Polishing

As a technician I get asked a lot of questions about watch/ timepiece care and gold care. This is a loaded answer question because there are many levels. Most people want the simple upkeep they can do at home so I will share that with you all.

Red or Yellow Gold & Platinum Ring, Necklace, Watch, Bracelet:

The simplest way to remove all those small surface scratches and tarnish spots is the trusty jeweler cloth. This isn't a micro-cloth but two cloths. One cloth has rouge and the other is for final wipe down. But I add one more step.. soap and water. As many of us have different skin types,  doing a final wash with soap and water makes sure you don't have a reaction or your clothes don't get stained.

Different pressures will result in different results. On matte or non-shiny surfaces you can use this cloth, but with little pressure. On shiny surfaces use more pressures. The trick with rings is an easy one.. use a Ring Mandrel.

White Gold Ring, Necklace, Watch, Bracelet:

Sorry to say to you.. just soap and water for you. The average white gold is plated and you will remove the plating if you polish it. Use soap and warm water. All scratches need to see a professional.

Stainless Steel Necklace, Watch, Bracelet:

The simplest and cheapest cleaner is a dish cleaner (I use Dawn Ultra) , warm water (not hot!!!), a tooth brush, a can of compressed gas and an old towel. Why the can of gas? If you keep your bracelet wet and use the compressed air on it you will see why. Keep repeating until clean. The towel is to wipe down the case and protect your household surfaces.

Old watches.. be careful of your case gaskets! They may be old and may let water in. In this case use a jewelers cloth and hand clean.

For stainless steel necklaces and those really dirty watch bracelets I have used the standard Ajax Stainless Steel Cleaner instead of dish cleaner. Follow up with the can of compressed gas and repeat if necessary.

Question? Ask away.

Complete Watch Movement Service - The Break Down

Watch maker jargin is always very vague... if you haven't noticed yet. While I don't have all the answers, I can give you a few ideas to point you in the right direction to spend your money wisely.

What is a Complete Maintenance Service?

Basic movement bisassembled and ready for cleaning1. Dismantling, cleaning, assembly, oiling and timing of the movement.
Basically they tear down the movement and remove all jewels. They clean the movement using a special machine that looks like a tri-blender-inside-a-box. They place all the parts (or full movement) inside a screened basket separating the parts inside their own section and then a screened cover goes on. The machine will clean, rinse and dry the parts automatically.

2. Replace or repair parts that are worn or damaged.
Once the parts are cleaned and dried, the watchmaker will inspect the parts, fix/replace the parts that don't make the "grade" and assemble the movement while oiling it.

Many watchmakers will automatically insist the hands are replaced. Hands are friction fit so reusing them could cause them to hall off in the future. once the hands fall off, the watchmaker has to clean the movement again costing them time and money. This goes for dials (dial feet could be old and tired and the push-pieces for chronographs/calendars)

It is important to note that not all movement parts can be repaired or replaced. Some older watches more than 20 years old may not have parts available and therefore parts need to be made or repaired by a "Master Retorator". Many repair shops do not "restore" parts because of the great deal of time, money and energy goes into making parts. (restoration typically makes one part at a time, therefore the parts are made by hand using hand adjusted tools.)

The First Ever Wrist Watch Caliber with a Tourbillon

Tourbillon's Father - Abraham-Louis BreguetPeople naturally assume Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1795 (patented in 1801) was the first person to create a Tourbillon small enough to fit in a wristwatch, but you would be wrong. He invented the Tourbillon for pocket watches and clocks. It wasn't until 1947 when OMEGA created it. The OMEGA caliber 30I was the first Tourbillon wristwatch caliber in the world coming in at 30mm wide. Only twelve of these movements were made for the observatory timing trials in Geneva, and they were known as the OMEGA Observatory Tourbillons.

OMEGA calibers set and broke the records in these competitions time and time again and to this day still hold many of the records for the most accurate mechanical watches ever tested.

Leap Seconds - Another Time Change

Mondaine Railroad Iconic Clock
Accuracy is on the minds of all those who crave to be on time every time. Those who like to be late every time all the time, inaccuracy is for you. Back to those who want to be accurate, inaccurate people can stop reading now... thanks, accurate people... have you heard of Leap Seconds?

About every one and a half years, one extra second is added to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and clocks around the world. This leap second accounts for the fact that the Earth's rotation around its own axis, which determines the length of a day, slows down, or speeds up over time while the atomic clocks we use to measure time tick away at almost the same speed over millions of years.

Leap seconds are a means to adjust our clocks to the Earth's slowing rotation which differs from day to day and from year to year. Not only do the days become longer, but the rate at which day lengths increase also grows over time.

The International Earth Rotation and Reference System Service (IERS) observes the Earth's rotation and compares it to The Temps Atomique International (TAI) atomic clocks. When the difference between the two approaches 0.9 seconds, they order a leap second to be added worldwide.

Leap seconds are inserted at the end of the last day and last hour in June or December. When this happens, the UTC ticks from 23:59:59 to 23:59:60 before reverting to 00:00:00 (11:59:60 not 11:59:59pm). When that happens the last minute of the month has 61 instead of 60 seconds. Up to the last leap second being added at 23:59:60 UTC on June 30, 2012, all leap seconds were positive, and given the slowing of the Earth's rotation it is very unlikely that a negative leap second will ever happen.

[source International Earth Rotation and Reference System Service (IERS)]

Jewels in a Mechanical Movement

Have you ever asked a sales person in the watch industry "what a jewel is and it's importance"? I sometimes ask this question, not because I don't know, but to see if they know. Two of the best answers that were so far off the mark were - "they are for decoration" and "the more jewels the faster the movement will run". I also had... "I don't know" and they look in the manufacturers catalog to find the answer, or ask someone else. Some people, if not all were close to the answer.

Mind you, I don't ask questions at big box retailers because I know they are there just to push product. Not a bad thing, but not a source for a good education. I ask sales people in prominent boutiques or galleries that sell watches more than $2,000. It's sad. If you are selling watches (or timepieces if you want to use that term instead) should know the basics, and a "jewel" is a basic.