Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A lovely old Orient - circa early 1960's

This charming period-piece hails from the 1960's but I cannot determine the exact year of manufacture as the watch is bare of any such information. The case-back simply displays "ORIENT" and the serial number; and Orient serial numbers have no connections (apparently) to year or month, as do Seiko watches.
The dial says "ORIENT" and then the name of the model, being "Fineness", under which is "17 Jewels".

Dial is unmarked, being finished in what appears to be a very fine creamy-gold textile pattern when viewed under magnification and when matched to the slim gold hour indices and slim black hour and minute hands, it presents a beautiful face, very delicate and extremely stylish.

Like most watches of the 1960's this old girl is small by comparison with the humongous devices marketed today and the dial is a mere 31.0 mm across, with the slim gold rim adding only 3.0 mm to the width. The projecting crown is 1.5 mm in section.
Thickness of the watch, from top of crystal to back of case, is a thin 7.5 mm.

When I received the Fineness (early May this year) I gave it 25 winds and it ran for 40 hours, keeping perfect time for that duration, the ticking of the movement clearly audible when held to the ear, unlike many automatic watches made today.
The movement is in beautiful condition, with no signs of corrosion or other deterioration and it beats away at about 180 bpm, perfectly happy with its lot in life.

The case is gold-filled, with a stainless-steel snap-on back and it sports a slim, supple black leather watch-band with gold buckle, matching the style and period just nicely.

A really lovely watch which gets its share of wear on those occasions when a coat and tie is called for.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Old Gold restoration.........update.

Within the past week I have enquired about three types of refinishing for the watch case and bracelet:-
  • Gold plating (as per the original finish)
  • PVD
  • Powder coating
I also considered anodising but quickly learned through a bit of preliminary research that brass (the watch case) cannot be anodised.
The PVD route is not possible either - not because the application can't be done to what I have but because the cost for a "one-off" is too high and also because there is no-one here in my area who can do it.

So I thought about a powder coating as an alternative to anodising and PVD.

It's practical, it can be done locally, it is reasonably inexpensive and the choice of colours is broad.
But.....I would have to disassemble the bracelet completely - break it down to it's individual components so as to avoid any likelihood of having the coating affect the flexibility of the bracelet.

The decision, therefore, is to go to gold-plating and to reproduce the original coating, albeit this time in 24- carat. (That is the only plating they do......24 carat. The original is 9ct).

Cost to undertake this is AUS$120.

The only thing I need do is remove the stainless-steel clasp (already done), as the plating will not properly adhere to stainless-steel and could cause uneven plating on the bracelet and the case.

At this time I have also polished the brass case to a smooth and relatively blemish-free surface. The bracelet (base metal) will be chemically cleaned by the plater.

The question is - is the cost worth it for a 1970's-style Seiko of somewhat kitchy styling?

Well, like all hobbies, value is in the eye of the user, I s'pose.

There is no way I would ever expect to recover the cost of refurbishing this old dear if I ever came to sell it but then that isn't really the intention behind an interest or hobby, is it?

I think it will be nice to see Madam 1973 back in all her finery!

UPDATE - 13th. July
Another option has entered the arena - black chrome.
Thanks to a chap in Melbourne who is investigating this option for one of his watches, I am now looking at this as a possible alternative.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Restoring Old Gold: a Seiko 6119 needing a spruce-up.

This 1973 gold-tone-encased Seiko, with a 6119 21-jewel movement, was received in exchange for a Bell-matic that was surplus to my requirements.
As you can see from the photos (click on them for larger views) the plating has seen better days - much better days - and whilst running perfectly fine, this great example of 70's watch-styling looks rather tatty......like an over-the-hill Hollywood actress who doesn't know when to call it quits.
So I thought I'd have a shot at stripping it (the watch, not the actress) and see if I could get the case and bracelet re-plated.

The chap from whom I received the watch had advised that he'd never had the back off as he couldn't undo it with his "magic ball" and even with an appropriate tool I found it very difficult; that back must have been screwed on with a rattle-gun (used for car wheels).
But off it finally came, revealing a clean and corrosion-free movement.

There was no sign inside the case-back of the watch ever being serviced - watchmaker's usually leave some indication scratched inside the back-plate, but there is nothing in this case. (No pun intended).

With the movement exposed I then removed the crown & stem before popping the mechanism out and inspecting the dial for wear and tear.

This is in almost immaculate condition, with the only signs of aging being slight deterioration of the metal on the hour & minute hands and the framing of the day/date window.
In all other respects the dial, script, indices and minute markings are in fabulous shape, the aqua colours being bright and unblemished.

The crystal was finally removed and inspected and apart from external surface scratches - only to be expected on a 36-year old watch - the item is unmarked and undamaged. This is the original crystal, with the distinctive triple-facet design running vertically on the oval face. You can see the effect in the first photograph - there is a vertical line which just touches the inside of the 2, 3 and 4 indices. There is a corresponding line on the left-hand side of the crystal.

The final stage of disassembly was to remove the crystal retaining ring from inside the case and then the two bracelet halves.

With the watch now completely broken down into its component parts I will be making some enquiries this week regarding re-plating and hopefully the old girl will once again have a case and bracelet worthy of that magnificent face. Stay tuned.