So here we have a stunning Bulova automatic. I was very fortunate to get this watch given to be by a friend I was doing some work for on another watch. It was a total non runner and at the time I had no idea what was wrong with it other than I wanted to find out.
I put a post up in all my social media accounts and on my community tab on YouTube with a choice of three watches, the one with the most votes will be the next to be restored.
We had a Seiko Skyline, a rather beaten up Accurist with a lovely looking ETA movement or the Bulova.
The Bulova won! This would be the next YouTube Video Restoration.
If you want to skip the rest of this blog post you can watch the video here in its entirety.
On stripdown of the watch movement there was two main issues, firstly the setting lever screw had sheered and the thread was stuck in the setting lever. I would have to source parts…
Secondly the mainspring, despite the barrel advising not to open and life time guarantee I was forced to open it.
The setting lever was remarkably easy to find, possibly just lucky but there was an NOS one on eBay that I bought instantly. It even came with the screw.
Here are all the parts laid out for assembly. I am no artist when it comes to this…
Before I could assemble I will need to fit the new mainspring. I found the spring using Cousinsuk. I put in the Make and movement reference and was given the size of the spring. I ordered it and it arrived next day. I then set about fitting it into the barrel.
Usually this is a simple process of preparing the barrel wall with grease and then pushing the spring out of the retaining disc using something the same diameter. However on this occasion it just would not come out. I had to unwind and then use my mainspring winder to then fit into the barrel.
I then tested the mainspring with a pin vice to be sure it was holding some power. It was not! it kept on clicking. I knew it was in the right way and already had a good idea what was happening. The barrel arbour was too easy to fit and the mainspring was not engaging with the hook on the arbour. If you look on the photo below you should make out the hook is not engaged with the hole on the spring.
So what to do now?
I hit my Facebook group (Retro & Vintage Watches & Restorations) to seek help and advise from the community. I didn’t have to wait long, most were saying these alloy springs are practically impossible to bend but one or two gave me some tips using strong tweezers.
I was able to get it engaged.
It still didn’t look perfect and testing in the pin vice showed that it was working but was not good enough. It would retain a few turns before popping out and loosing all power.
I removed the spring and tried again to bend just a fraction. You can guess what is coming…
That’s right it bloke. Just on the end where the hole is. I am not surprised really as this would have been its weakest point. What to do now though? Do I risk buying the same and hope the end curve is smaller? It was not a cheap spring at £20.00
Fortunately a good friend and professional watchmaker asked me the dimensions of the spring. These are the height, thickness and length of the spring and the inner diameter of the barrel. The barrel was 10mm. He suggested I buy a spring that was for a 9.50mm barrel as the end curve “should” be slightly smaller. He even sent me a link from Cousins site to a spring that was for an Omega but all the right size. It was also cheaper at £10.00! This proved to be a very good tip in the end.
Its hard to see in this photo, the broken spring you can see is the original and the new one next to it. The curve looks the same visually.
The rebuild went well and without a hitch and you can see that in the video. It has an amazing mechanism for transferring the power of the rotor to the mainspring though a very big series of wheels. Perhaps they could have simplified this (who knows) I am not a watchmaker or designer but you have to think that for every part there is an element of failure so the more components the more chance of a breakage.
Movement is utterly stunning all the same. a beautiful gold colour.
The moment you have all been waiting for …
Here is the finished watch. It has a glorious blue dial that changes in the light. Nice red accents on the 12,6 &9 markers. 20 micron gold plating that is not worn. I have matched it with a dark blue leather strap.
This really is a stunning timepiece and I will be looking out for more Bulova in the future that’s for sure.