How to troubleshoot a broken watch!

When you decide that you want to repair a watch, whether it is yours, or someone else’s, the first thing we need to do, is to determine why the watch doesn’t work.  This is not as obvious as it may seem.

Because a mechanical watch is made up of 50 to 300 parts, you should proceed with care when working on any of these parts, they are delicate, small and easy to damage.  If you haven’t been poking around it these marvels of mechanical engineering, they just keep in mind, you need to go slow.  You will get used to all of these parts over time, and you will be able to know how to poke and probe without causing additional damage.

In this example, one of my good customers came in with a beautiful 18k solid gold Breitling, that he said has not worked in many years.  He loves the watch, and wanted to know what it would take to get it operational.

Take some time, and watch the video, and you’ll see in this example, we start in steps.  Look for the first obvious signs of damage to the usual problems.  Then, as we determine that we need to go further, we move on to the next parts.

Enjoy the video…  If you need a list of tools used, please scroll down to the next section of this article, and I’ll cover the tools used.


Below are the tools I used during the repair of this watch.  If you need these tools, you can click on the links to purchase them from my affiliate account on Amazon.  Every product you purchase from here makes me a very small commission, and that money goes to help produce these videos.

Tools used….

What is my procedure for troubleshooting a mechanical watch?

I start at the most obvious place in my mind, and work inward from there…

  1. Check for dried oil and debris in the movement
  2. Hands which have come off the pinions and are stuck
  3. Broken Balance Staff
  4. Broken Jewels
  5. Broken gears
  6. Springs that are used to actuate the chronograph or push springs
  7. Broken Pinions
  8. Dirt in the Gears (Easier to find once the watch is in pieces)
  9. Broken or Warn Main Spring (by this point, the watch is disassembled!)

You will find you’re own process.  As you keep doing this, you will get used to the order in which you take watches apart, and how you find things.  Just remember, it is easy after some time, to overlook the obvious, as in this example, and you may want to keep going deeper, when the reason is looking you in the eye!

Happy watchmaking.

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