My automatic watch doesn't wind!

There is a problem that occasionally happens with automatic watches.  Sometimes over many years, sometimes due to being dropped or damaged.  The Oscillating weight that spins inside the watch can break, and stop winding the mainspring of a watch, causing it not to run.

In this example, we are going to discuss a problem that I don’t see very often.  Sometimes, when a watch is not services well, or at all, the oscillating weight that spins inside, can wear down on its axle.  This axle is small, and in a Rolex watch, will often start to wear down, even though it is seated in a jewel.  When this happens, the weight will often clank around inside the watch.  It may spin a bit, but it is unlikely that it will spin enough to wind the watch.

Watch the video here

What Tools do you need?

Watchmakers have hundreds of tools.  Each tool serves many functions, and others serve only one function.  All of the tools we use are very important to perform the correct job, in the correct manor.  This repair only requires a few of the tools we have. 


Of course, you should already have them, but if not, you will need a good set of screwdrivers to work on this.  While we don’t need to unscrew any of the parts, the small screwdriver is used to pull the release clip for the oscillating weight.

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Tweezers are another tool staple you must have.  Over the course of the past 21 years, I’ve gotten myself used to working with only four tweezers.  

These are a must have.  I would recommend that you get yourself a good set of anti-magnetic tweezers to work on watches.  This will keep watch movements safe from magnetic forces which can damage a watch.

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Rolex Case Opener!

Of course, you are going to need the case back opener for a Rolex.  These kits are inexpensive.  You can get a variety of styles, but, keep to basics that work. 

Such as the one to the right!

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Staking Set!

A good staking set can cost quite a bit of money.  You’ll need a staking set to do this work, but you can often get a good set of vintage or antique staking sets on Ebay. 

These kits last a long time, and I own four total.  All of my are antiques.  They have all been passed down to amature and professionals through out the years.  Get a good set, and you can bet they will outlast you.

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Replacement Axle!

The axle you will need for your watch will be specific to your watch movement.  Make sure that when you order the patt, you order the correct part for the model of the watch you are working with.

Click on the image to the right to search for a replacement axle on ebay.


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Never Go Without!

What is the Process?

This repair is a very simple repair to perform.  There are only a few tools you will need, and only one replacement part.  This repair is so simple that you don’t even have to take the watch movement out of the case.  So simple, that you don’t even have to remove the entire automatic winding mechanism.

Your tools are ready, the watch is open.  Lets get started.

Step one:  Once you’ve removed the case back, take a look at the watch movement.  You should be looking down at the automatic winding weight.  The weight is the 1/2 circle that floats and spins.  If you move this out of the way, you should see a slot in the winding plate that has the small retainer clip.  Inside, you will see a small hole, that you can use your small screwdriver to push towards the outside of the watch.  You should hear a click indicating that the weight axle is free to be removed.

Step two:  Gently lift the weight out of the movement.  The axle will come out of the center hole and lower jewel.  Once the weight is removed from the watch, put the watch aside as you will not be needing it until we have replace the axle.

Step three:  As shown in the video, you will need to set up your staking set.  Normally I tell you to work on a watch pad, or soft surface, however, in this case, work directly on your bench.  The circular plate on the stake is adjustable, and should have many different size holes.  Set and align the plate so that a hole, larger then the pin top of the axle is aligned under the stake puch tube.  If your staking set has a locking feature, lock the plate into position so it will not move.

Step four:  Once the plate is aligned, take the oscillating weight, placing it upside down onto the staking plate.  The axle should be sticking upwards.  Make sure that the pin top or cap of the axle, (facing down) will fit through the hole.  Change the position if it does not match up.

Step five:  Using a Flat top stake punch, place it into the tube, and gently place it on the pin tip of the axle which is mounted to the oscillating weight.  Use a small hammer or weighted object and Gently tap down to release the pin from the weight wheel.  We need to be careful here, as not to apply too much pressure because we do not want to bend or damage the oscillating weight.  The pin should fall out of place and leave you with a hole for the replacement.

Step six:  Place the new axle onto the staking plate.  Gently place the oscillating weight over the axle so that the axle sticks up through the hole, opposite of how the old worn axle was removed.

Step seven:  Pick a stake punch that has a hole in it, and has a tapered end.  The inner diameter of the tapered punch should touch the new axle and not interfere with the axle itself.  The inner diameter should also be slightly smaller than the hole in the oscillating weight.

Place this new tapered stake into the stake tube, and gently place it on the axle so that when you tap the stake punch, it will apply pressure to the axle, pushing against the wall of the hole in the oscillating weight.  This will lock it in place.

Check to see if it is still loose, if it is, tap it down a bit more and recheck.

Step eight:  Clean the oscillating weight with the new axle installed.  Use the same procedures you would use to clean any other watch part.

Step nine:  Get the watch back onto your watch pad, and place the oscillating weight back into the winding system.  Place it into the movement gently, and spin if you have to to make sure that it is properly seated, and does not rub against the movement wien the weight is spinning.

Step nine:  Locate the locking clip that we released earlier.  you will need your small screwdriver to place this clip back into the locked position.  Once locked, test the weight again, and make sure that it spins freely and does not come out of the automatic winding system.


Thats it guys.  Once you’ve down all these steps, you’re done.  Screw down the case back and make sure that tight, and sealed.  You’re done!  Congratulations.

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