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Thread: How a pretty face can fool us

  1. #1

    How a pretty face can fool us

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    Unfortunately, this one has to go to a spa pretty soon. I'm sure most of you know, that the Broad Arrow was my last acquisition. In fact, I got it (pre-owned) from a local – reputable– seller, a few months ago. So, why am I going to send it for a complete service?

    I thought I might add some thoughts on behalf of the newer members, less familiarized with the idiosyncrasies of the mechanical watches. I'm afraid "old" veterans won't find anything useful here; my apologies to them.

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    Everybody knows how much I like the Speedmasters; it's not the Moon, the vintage vibe or the mythological package. It's the watch as a whole: the case design; the hand wind movement; the comfort on the wrist; the tri-compax layout; the absence of a date window; the legibility; the understated look; the versatility that comes from different straps or metal/mesh/solid bracelets; the reliability.


    But as everything in life, there are pros and cons, enthusiastic fans and terrible detractors and that's fine. I'm not going to discuss those issues here. What I'm trying to illustrate is how easy a pretty face can fool us.

    Name:  Omega flightmaster_2.jpg
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    The 861 based Omega 911 cal (flightmaster)

    By now, I've accumulated seven watches with the – let's just call it generically - omega 1861 cal. (and variants, older and newer). In fact, I have 2x861, 1x911 (861 based), 3x1861 and 1x1863. Bought 3 new from my AD and 4 pre-owned from different sellers. I guess I begin to know a bit better what to expect from these movements.

    Name:  Omega_Soccer_9.jpg
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    Omega 861 cal (Seamaster Soccer Timer)

    That said, let's return to the Broad Arrow. The case, dial and hands are all in excellent condition; I assume the watch had its case cleaned and very lightly polished before it went for sale, the same for the metal bracelet. The hands were obviously replaced and I even got the older ones.

    Name:  Omega Speedy_proC13b.jpg
Views: 174
Size:  218.7 KB
    Omega 1863 cal. (detail - Speedy Brown dial)

    I asked the seller if I could take a look at the movement and he promptly opened the case to show an apparently (very) clean mechanism. I activated the chronograph and it worked precisely as it should; the seconds (chronograph) hand had no shattering whatsoever,something common with the cal. 1861; not exactly a malfunction, but still, I was glad to see a very smooth movement. I waited a couple of minutes to see if the hour hand (chronograph) moved for itself a bit after stopping the chrono, because that would indicate a bad spring…or worse. Test passed.

    I even tried to identify possible deformations on the balance spring (within the limitations of an inappropriate loupe). That's not a problem specific to this mechanism, but sometimes, is the result of someone trying to regulate…and there goes a toothpick right on the spring. I've seen it before and it's not cool. But no, not here.

    Everything seemed ok,so I bought it. I always assume as a fact of life, that a pre-owned watch needs a service, no matter what the seller says, unless I know that I can trust him.So, the test begun, only to reveal something much more common, than most of us usually think: the watch was reasonably accurate, but hardly precise. Let's explain a bit better.

    After a week, the watch showed an average daily rate (within my usual wearing pattern) of circa +6s.Funny enough, this was close to the average results I got from a timegrapher. Basically, this watch is accurate, meaning: it's close to an external trusted reference. But what about its precision? And the power reserve?

    First hint: the power reserve. In my experience, the 48h indicated by the manufacturer is rather conservative. The movement easily goes to +50h. This one stopped at roughly46h. Not good.


    Second hint: the precision. This is a measure of consistency or, how stable a rate is. Measuring the watch in 6 positions, I got a delta way out of the manufacturer specs (maximum:15 fully wound and 20 after 24h). The watch had rates too far from each other,according to the different positions. There goes the precision. But the average result was still extremely acceptable, showing how misleading an average reading can be, when we're trying to access the real health of a movement.


    Third hint: the amplitude. Measured @ 0h and later @ -24h the watch failed and splashed the minimum acceptable for this movement (-24h) 190. And this happened despite the watch happily keeping the decrease in amplitude with the chronograph running at under 40 with decent beat errors...


    In conclusion: a watch can keep the average rate at such a level, that easily hides possible problems. And a pretty face can also easily fool us. Be aware.


    Thank you for being with me and I hope this text was legible enough, not too boring and remotely useful.

    Disclaimer: I'm not a watchmaker, therefore, everything I said must be taken with the mandatory intelectual reserve.
    Last edited by CFR; Jul 17, 2015 at 04:31 PM.

  2. #2
    I'm afraid old veterans won't find anything useful here
    In a word : RUBBISH , was very informative and readable

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  4. #3
    The Dude Abides Nokie's Avatar
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    Very good reading.
    "Either He's Dead, Or My Watch Has Stopped....."
    Groucho Marx

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  6. #4
    lost in translation birdynamnam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nokie View Post
    Very good reading.
    Oh yes
    "chirp, chirp"

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  8. #5
    Thank you, Gentlemen.

  9. #6
    Random guy vinylgreek's Avatar
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    Even veterans, as you put it, can use the occasional reminder to avoid the pitfall of complacency. Thanks for the post.

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  11. #7
    Thank you, C. Your post was very informative and useful to a mechanical watch novice such as myself. I am pleased with how my Oris is currently behaving, but I will say nothing further! Good luck with getting this beauty into top working order soon.

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  13. #8
    Happily unadjusted 😜 popoki nui's Avatar
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    Very well done, C. I'm nowhere near the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but I understood it quite easily. So sorry your watch has to go in for servicing, but your knowledge about these movements, and just *why* it needs to go in is very impressive. Thanks for the lesson!

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  15. #9
    MWC is that my watch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CFR View Post
    Name:  P7160002.JPG
Views: 180
Size:  166.3 KB

    Unfortunately, this one has to go to a spa pretty soon. I'm sure most of you know, that the Broad Arrow was my last acquisition. In fact, I got it (pre-owned) from a local – reputable– seller, a few months ago. So, why am I going to send it for a complete service?

    I thought I might add some thoughts on behalf of the newer members, less familiarized with the idiosyncrasies of the mechanical watches. I'm afraid "old" veterans won't find anything useful here; my apologies to them.

    Name:  Omega_BA57_9.jpg
Views: 178
Size:  434.1 KB


    Everybody knows how much I like the Speedmasters; it's not the Moon, the vintage vibe or the mythological package. It's the watch as a whole: the case design; the hand wind movement; the comfort on the wrist; the tri-compax layout; the absence of a date window; the legibility; the understated look; the versatility that comes from different straps or metal/mesh/solid bracelets; the reliability.


    But as everything in life, there are pros and cons, enthusiastic fans and terrible detractors and that's fine. I'm not going to discuss those issues here. What I'm trying to illustrate is how easy a pretty face can fool us.

    Name:  Omega flightmaster_2.jpg
Views: 175
Size:  166.2 KB
    The 861 based Omega 911 cal (flightmaster)

    By now, I've accumulated seven watches with the – let's just call it generically - omega 1861 cal. (and variants, older and newer). In fact, I have 2x861, 1x911 (861 based), 3x1861 and 1x1863. Bought 3 new from my AD and 4 pre-owned from different sellers. I guess I begin to know a bit better what to expect from these movements.

    Name:  Omega_Soccer_9.jpg
Views: 175
Size:  168.2 KB
    Omega 861 cal (Seamaster Soccer Timer)

    That said, let's return to the Broad Arrow. The case, dial and hands are all in excellent condition; I assume the watch had its case cleaned and very lightly polished before it went for sale, the same for the metal bracelet. The hands were obviously replaced and I even got the older ones.

    Name:  Omega Speedy_proC13b.jpg
Views: 174
Size:  218.7 KB
    Omega 1863 cal. (detail - Speedy Brown dial)

    I asked the seller if I could take a look at the movement and he promptly opened the case to show an apparently (very) clean mechanism. I activated the chronograph and it worked precisely as it should; the seconds (chronograph) hand had no shattering whatsoever,something common with the cal. 1861; not exactly a malfunction, but still, I was glad to see a very smooth movement. I waited a couple of minutes to see if the hour hand (chronograph) moved for itself a bit after stopping the chrono, because that would indicate a bad spring…or worse. Test passed.

    I even tried to identify possible deformations on the balance spring (within the limitations of an inappropriate loupe). That's not a problem specific to this mechanism, but sometimes, is the result of someone trying to regulate…and there goes a toothpick right on the spring. I've seen it before and it's not cool. But no, not here.

    Everything seemed ok,so I bought it. I always assume as a fact of life, that a pre-owned watch needs a service, no matter what the seller says, unless I know that I can trust him.So, the test begun, only to reveal something much more common, than most of us usually think: the watch was reasonably accurate, but hardly precise. Let's explain a bit better.

    After a week, the watch showed an average daily rate (within my usual wearing pattern) of circa +6s.Funny enough, this was close to the average results I got from a timegrapher. Basically, this watch is accurate, meaning: it's close to an external trusted reference. But what about its precision? And the power reserve?

    First hint: the power reserve. In my experience, the 48h indicated by the manufacturer is rather conservative. The movement easily goes to +50h. This one stopped at roughly46h. Not good.


    Second hint: the precision. This is a measure of consistency or, how stable a rate is. Measuring the watch in 6 positions, I got a delta way out of the manufacturer specs (maximum:15 fully wound and 20 after 24h). The watch had rates too far from each other,according to the different positions. There goes the precision. But the average result was still extremely acceptable, showing how misleading an average reading can be, when we're trying to access the real health of a movement.


    Third hint: the amplitude. Measured @ 0h and later @ -24h the watch failed and splashed the minimum acceptable for this movement (-24h) 190. And this happened despite the watch happily keeping the decrease in amplitude with the chronograph running at under 40 with decents beat errors...


    In conclusion: a watch can keep the average rate at such a level that easily hides possible problems. And a pretty face can also easily fool us. Be aware.


    Thank you for being with me and I hope this text was legible enough, not too boring and remotely useful.

    Disclaimer: I'm not a watchmaker, therefore, everything I said must be taken with the mandatory intelectual reserves.
    any one else think this should get copied to the library too . good read as always
    one night I dreamed I was locked in my fathers watch, with Ptolemy and twenty one ruby stars mounted on spheres and the primum mobile coiled and gleaming to the end of space and the notched spheres eating each other's rinds to the last tooth of time and the case closed - John Ciardi ...

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  17. #10
    Porous Membrane skywatch's Avatar
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    Exquisite photos and nice discussion. Thanks! I know I may be a minority here, but I have made a point to avoid mechanical chronographs; not because I I don't want one... I drool over them just a bit. It's because I don't want to pay the rather high maintenance costs for such complex movements. Beautiful specimens, though!
    Too many watches, not enough wrists.

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